Much has been said and written about the prospects of territorial defence in Belarus, which is intended to ensure the sustainability of the state military organization under modern conditions (small army, equipped with obsolete weapons and with small funding). In fact, the Belarusian authorities have decided to solve the issue of strengthening the regular army using the strategy “cheap and cheerful”. At this rate they have started to do things with very obscure goals (which are even not yet declared). For example, last year a new independent body of military control was established in Belarus. It is called Department of territorial defence (hereinafter referred to as TD) and is directly subordinate to the Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces. At the same time a number of new regulations governing the operation of territorial defence was worked out.
In particular, Field Manual for territorial defence forces, which defines the basis of training and using the military units, was approved. All TD units form separate infantry battalions and separate infantry companies. Speaking about the structure, it’s necessary to say that the battalion consists of command unit, basic and support units. The basic units include the infantry and fire support companies. And the support units include engineer companies, reconnaissance platoons, intercommunication platoons, logistics platoons, car platoons and platoons of guards.
There were reports that the preparation of TD units would be based on the Army mechanized brigades. It is expected that large-caliber weapons, including anti-tank missiles and portable anti-aircraft missile systems (old units from the army arsenal) will be provided to TD forces. Taking into consideration the experience of local conflicts, the massive training of snipers is planned. However, while the slogan “Belarus will be saved be a sniper!” is quite popular, it is really doubtful. At the same time there is no information about the stage of implementing these plans.
Incidentally, at the moment the TD units are virtual: they exist only in the form of certain plans and lists, but there are no combat units. At least, despite the best efforts we failed to find them. Maybe they will appear in the future.
Starting the discussion of the formation, or to be more precise, the reorganization of the territorial defence of the Republic of Belarus (as it exists only in written form for a couple of years already), it’s essential to pay attention to the effectiveness of using the TD forces in case of a military conflict. Simply speaking, whether the game is worth the candles. And in order to find that out it’s necessary to answer two questions: what are the main tasks of the TD units and who is the potential enemy.
The tasks are more or less clear: the defence of key objects, anti- diversion activity, and deployment of the partisan movement in the temporarily occupied territory. Everything is concrete and logical. In general, the same functions are assigned to the similar armed forces of several other European countries, most of which belong to NATO. But here there is one difference: the Europeans are not going to fight each other. Their TD will be used only in case of external aggression, coming from outside of NATO and the European Union. Calling a spade a spade, it is about confrontation with Russia and its allies, which means with us as well. So, it is logical to say, that Belarusian TD system must be ready to perform its functions in the event of a conflict with the countries of the North Atlantic Alliance.
And here there are the most interesting things. Belarusian TD units will be equipped mainly with small arms. Also some mechanized and artillery units can be attached to them. So, we are talking about general military readiness for combat or, in other words, Third generation warfare, based on the principles that have arisen between the two world wars. However, at the moment Western countries, and primarily the parts of NATO, are using the concept of the Fourth generation warfare. Its general principles are:
— The battlefield is the whole society of the enemy. So, there is no “line of battle” and “rear”. Every object is considered as strategic;
— The target of destruction is the enemy’s will of resistance;
— Wars are conducted primarily by remote destruction weapons in the situation of overwhelming superiority of own forces in the air and the absolute superiority in the information field;
— Key role is played by orbiting alignments of satellites, monitoring the theater of war, pointing of weapons to the enemy targets and providing information on the enemy’s ability to further resistance.
In this case, the alignments of military satellites, are not only a key element of victory in a possible conflict, but also a necessary condition for the decision to initiate a conflict in the West. Simply speaking, the Western countries will not start the war without having satellites. In this case the risk of uncertainty is too high. At the same time in the West there is extreme sensitivity to own losses in manpower.
And now it’s necessary to answer one question: how venerable housefathers, who served in the Army 20 years ago, armed with Soviet weapons from 60-70-ies, will be able to neutralize, for example, the orbital system “Echelon”(taking into consideration the fact, that the satellites are situated at the altitude of 242-3000 km)? The answer is obvious: in case of a conflict with the modern western army Belarusian TD forces will only watch as cruise missiles, guided by space satellites, will destroy the objects, that should be protected by TD. In a situation of defending the objects from modern guidance systems the TD forces can be used only for camouflaging important objects.
At this rate, instead of providing large funds for the development of TD forces (which was declared by Belarusian government), it would be quite more logical to use these funds for acquisition of anti-satellite weapons systems in other countries and developing the own ones. Taking into consideration the importance and high cost of modern military satellites, it can be stated, that the loss of even a single satellite for may become a severe and irreversible loss for an aggressor. However, the Belarusian authorities are not trying to put such weapons systems on the arms. And, therefore, they don’t intend to fight with the satellites. As the result we can make an interesting conclusion: either the Belarusian authorities are ready to immolate their own armed forces (which is at least stupid) or they don’t consider the threat of invasion from the West. In the latter case all this fuss with the TD and threatening rhetoric accompanying it is quite questionable.
Speaking of financing, it’s necessary to admit that Belarusian authorities say, that the organization, training and maintaining combat readiness of TD forces, including 120,000 people will be relatively inexpensive. At the same time Estonian “Defence League” (which is ten times smaller in size, than Belarusian TD) has an annual budget of 20 million euros. Assuming that our TD forces should be no worse than Estonia’s, it must be admitted that 200 million euros would be enough to purchase 15-20 anti-satellite missiles in Iran or in China. In this case the rationality of such solution is obvious: the missiles, once purchased, would be fit for use for 15 years, and the TD forces will require investments each year. It is possible to send these € 200 million for more pressing security issues — for example, to upgrade military aircraft fleet. If this is not done urgently, five years later the only thing we will have will be the memories that once we had Air Force. Because now we only remember, that last year we had bombers in our Air Force…
The question of combating diversions is also very ambiguous. The invasion in Libya has shown that the main task of Western commandos is not only sabotage and disruptions in the rear, but mainly the reconnaissance and target designation. In the case of a similar conflict with our country, it is unlikely that “Green Berets” will be sent to Belarusian swamps and forests in order to cut telegraph poles and capture strategically important agricultural towns. The poles and objects will be destroyed with long distance weapons, aimed by satellites or by these “Green Berets”. At the same time the soldiers of our territorial defence forces will not even realize that the enemy is somewhere nearby aiming the missiles to the bridges and telegraphs. And here there is the second question: those who are these diversionists, which Belarusian authorities are preparing to fight against? It turns out that most likely they are not Western soldiers.
Statements about the organization of a guerrilla movement in general resemble a bad anecdote, because the modern means of air and space intelligence ensures detection of any guerrillas in almost any weather and climatic conditions at our flat relief. And there is only one step from detection to destruction. According to the experience of Iraq and Afghanistan, the effective modern guerrilla movement should deal with mine warfare, sabotage and extremely brutal and cruel attacks on the enemy. And the war is waged especially in urban areas. This requires special military training, that is professionalism. If Belarusian leaders seriously hope to fight behind enemy lines in occupied territory, the appropriate training for intelligence and security apparatus of the state as a whole is quite more logical, rather than counting on the selflessness of turners and steel makers. Who, frankly speaking, at the moment don’t have any reasons love the current government.
And, therefore, it won’t be a pleasure to them to defend this government. It’s about having the will of resistance. Especially, if the aggressors buy the loyalty of the local population for dollars and euros, and among them there are no Poles, dislike for whom is historical for Belarusians. Uncertain prospects for deployment of guerrilla warfare are predetermined by total collapse of state ideology, which has made the definitions “state” and “top bureaucracy” synonymous. In addition, the results of the NATO aggression against Yugoslavia show that is not necessarily to occupy the country in order to force it to its knees. It is necessary simply to destroy almost everything, driving the country back to the Stone age. Here the third question arises: who is a real threat for Belarus during the armed conflict in the opinion of the authorities?
Further it’s necessary to admit, that the backbone of NATO is the United States. Any NATO aggression against Belarus is impossible without the approval or at least the U.S. (given the dubious quality of fighting of European armies except the British and Polish). And the cornerstone of U.S. global power is the fleet, providing the necessary infrastructure and a safe distance from the enemy for their military units anywhere in the world. And the carrier striking forces play almost the main role: each of them consists of 2-3 aircraft carriers and 20-30 support ships. Each carrier striking force can use approximately 3,000 sea-based cruise missiles for a single stroke from a single direction. At the same the force if supported by at least four submarines “Ohio”, modified according to the SSGN project and armed with 154 cruise missiles on board. All these missiles can be launched in 6 minutes. How Belarusian TD forces are going to resist the modern fleet, striking, for example, from the North Sea? The question is rhetorical.
There is one more interesting thing: how quickly TD forces will be able to achieve unit readiness in the period of conflict. it’s necessary to note, that only the sound of the term “TD forces” is menacing. In fact, the military unit, consisting of people “pulled out” of civilian life (perhaps even contrary to their wishes), needs to be trained for quite a long time in order to become a real threat for enemy. Until recently Belarusian authorities thought, that an aggressor require a period of 6 weeks to 6 months to deploy their strike group. And during this time Belarus will be able to mobilize and prepare to resistance. However, in recent years there has been a transition to the American strategy of creation of operational shock groups, that can in the shortest time get to the remote theaters of war and to conduct combat operations there for a long time.
At the same the time of deployment of the American expeditionary group is determined only by the presence of an appropriate infrastructure on the territory. That’s one of the key points: having an opportunity to destroy the infrastructure of NATO troops in neighbouring areas and have the determination to use such an opportunity. So, in order to do that, it will be quite logical to use those 200 million euros a year for the purchase of missiles in Iran, China or Pakistan. But Belarusian authorities have no such plans, which is evidenced by the elimination of the national bomber air fleet.
Thus, the conclusion is obvious: the Belarusian system of territorial defence, regardless of the amount of the funding, could not resist the modern army, waging the Fourth generation war. It’s just like fighting with musket against a man with a machine-gun. The result is obvious, even if there will be 120,000 musketeers. By the way, not only Belarusian TD forces, but all forces of such kind are not able to resist such an army.. This is true for the countries like ours (with plain relief). Mountains change the situation: they create a natural camouflage and are a fortification at the same time. But as we noted above, Western countries have their TD forces, because they are made specially for fighting the Third generation army. It’s necessary to underline, that we are talking about territorial defence forces, which is not the same as “ready reserve”. These are different things.
Speaking about our country, we can admit that only Ukraine and Russia have the Third generation armies. The aggression on the part of Ukraine is impossible: the country is actively implementing the principles of its great son, Daddy Makhno, and is busy with such kind of problems.
Only one country remains: it’s Russia. The conclusion sounds quite unexpectedly. But otherwise, it is necessary to question the psychic health of our military and political leaders, who are planning to send money to a senseless project of territorial defence. Of course, it is senseless in case of confrontation with NATO, but it may be quite effective against Russia. Especially, taking into consideration the fact, that recently we have got the reasons to dislike not only Poland…