Training to fight – Russia’s Major Military Exercises 2011–2014


  • Johan Norberg

Publish date: 2015-12-11

Report number: FOI-R--4128--SE

Pages: 100

Written in: English


This report examines what writing in open sources in Russia such as the MoD website and the military press revealed about how military exercises contributed to the fighting power of Russia's Armed Forces in the four years 2011-2014. The main conclusion is that Russia's Armed Forces trained to launch and fight largescale joint inter-service operations, i.e. launching and waging interstate wars. The report focuses on two types of exercises that are relevant for the fighting power of Russia's Armed Forces: annual strategic exercises and surprise inspections. The former rotated between Russia's four military districts on a regular basis and were the crowning event of the annual training cycle in the Armed Forces. The Armed Forces probably planned these exercises carefully to maximise the effect of the training. The latter pertained more to checking and developing combat readiness. The map in figure 1 sums up the major military exercises in Russia in 2011-2014. It shows that the Russian Armed Forces carried out at least one joint inter-service exercise each year in the three years 2011-2013. This enabled senior Russian military and political decision makers to exercise in a scenario where Russia was fighting two operations at the same time. In 2011 and 2012, smaller parallel joint inter-service exercises took place simultaneously. In 2013, the parallel exercise was a Navy exercise, but probably coordinated with the annual strategic exercise. In 2014, the size of the annual strategic exercise, 155,000 men, made parallel exercises redundant. In 2013 and 2014, the Russian Armed Forces also carried out surprise inspections to check and develop combat readiness, both in separate functions in the Armed Forces and in systemic tests in entire military districts. Altogether, these exercises related to Russia's collective ability to launch and wage interstate wars in all of Russia's strategic directions.