Control of moral and psychological support of combat operations: questions of theory and practice.

Author:Goncharov, S.V.

The early 1990s were a turning point in every sphere of sociopolitical and economic life in Russia. Morale activities in the Armed Forces required new forms as well. Party and political work (or, in combat situations, political work) gave way to educational work and moral and psychological support (MPS). A brief analysis of the first results of these changes shows that they have been fairly successful. Many studies have been carried out and their results have been used to compile and verify in military units a number of draft guidance documents and to issue study guides, methodological recommendations and research papers. Substantial practical experience has been gained in moral and psychological support of combat operations in "hot spots."

At the same time, it is evidently too early to say that MPS has taken its final shape. Despite a thorough theoretical justification of the content of this kind of support, the mechanism of its efficient operation in real combat conditions has yet to be fully developed. Among the problems (organizational, logistical, personnel, legal and others) arising in the development of such a mechanism special note should be taken of a psychological personality problem largely connected with the need to foster a special type of mentality among one-man commanders. This implies an understanding of the role of the spiritual factor in achieving victory and a clear vision of the ways of its maximum realization and of one's own role in this process. So far, unfortunately, many commanding officers and NCOs do not include moral and psychological support within the scope of their functional duties in view of existing stereotypes and for other subjective and objective reasons.* At the everyday level, MPS continues to be seen as a set of measures to be carried out by officers of educational agencies. All of that naturally reduces the potential of this type of support, preventing full use of all its potentialities.

At the Combined Arms Academy of the RF Armed Forces the search for a solution of this problem has acquired particular urgency with the introduction in 2001 of "moral and psychological support of troop activities" as a separate discipline. This search has resulted in the development within the framework of this discipline of a combat operations MPS model, which is now being tested in the training process. The main specific feature of this model is that it is designed for a study of the substance and content of MPS by students as future all-arms commanders. In addition, mastery of the subject does not imply a memorization of ready-made formulas or methodological recommendations, but rather a logical understanding of the material. All of that enables the students to arrive at a clear-cut dynamic image of the action to be taken in controlling moral and psychological support in a combat situation and to develop a creative, systems approach to the solution of MPS problems.

Of conceptual importance for the aforesaid model is the proposition that the substance and content of the moral and psychological state (state of morale) of military personnel is the main control object in the MPS process. In scientific literature, morale is taken to mean...

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