Moral factor in war
Moral factor in war

Man has always been and remains the main force in battle. Therefore, it is necessary to reckon with human nature, to take into account possible manifestations of devotion and betrayal, perseverance and panic, courage and lack of will, courage and cowardice.

The role of the moral factor in war is extremely important. This has been pointed out by many theorists of military affairs. "In war, the moral factor is related to the physical as three to one," Napoleon argued. Moreover, the nature of the moral factor is constant. At all times, one can find examples of courage, dedication and self-sacrifice, heroism and courage, military valor, the ability to endure difficulties and hardships, mutual assistance and mutual assistance. We see this among the soldiers of Leonidas at Thermopylae, among the legionnaires of Caesar, among the soldiers of Dmitry Donskoy, among the infantrymen of Suvorov, among the soldiers of the Panfilov rifle division, among the Pskov paratroopers of Troshev, etc.

Comprehensive accounting and full use of the moral and psychological factor in the interests of fulfilling the assigned task have a profound effect on all aspects of the combat activity of troops, decisions of commanders (commanders), as well as the nature, course and outcome of military operations.

Man has always been and remains the main force in battle. Therefore, when planning a war and in the course of hostilities, it is necessary to reckon with human nature, take into account possible manifestations of loyalty and betrayal, perseverance and panic, courage and lack of will, courage and cowardice both on the part of one's own troops and on the part of the enemy's troops. You should also take into account world public opinion, the moral and psychological state of the population of the warring states, their will and determination to continue resistance.

The opinion of the greats

“In a big war, opponents may have approximately equal material resources; in this case, victory will be on the side where the combat training is better, the leadership is talented and the morale is higher, - writes the English Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery in his "Brief History of Military Battles". - No matter how experienced the general may be, when, as happens in every battle with a decisive enemy, the moment comes and victory hangs in the balance, power ultimately passes from his hands directly to the soldiers. Victory will depend on their courage, combat training, discipline, unwillingness to admit defeat, on their steadfastness and perseverance."

The dark side of life
The dark side of life

At one time, the English statesman and philosopher Francis Bacon wrote: “Walled cities, arsenals and weapons depots, thoroughbred horses, war chariots, elephants, artillery and so on, all this is just a sheep in lion's skin, if people are not full of courage and warlike fervor ". Military history confirms the absolute correctness of this statement.

Karl von Clausewitz gave such a comparison of the physical and moral factors: "… physical phenomena are like a wooden handle, while moral phenomena represent a genuine sharpened blade, forged from a noble metal."

Russian statesmen and military leaders attached the greatest importance to the moral factor. So, in 1870, the Minister of War, Field Marshal Dmitry Milyutin, in a note to the tsar, in which he motivated the need for military reform, pointed out: “The strength of the state is not in one number of troops, but mainly in its moral and mental qualities, reaching high development only then, when the matter of defending the fatherland becomes a common cause of the people, when everyone, without distinction of rank and status, unites for this sacred cause."

Russian military theorist and historian General Nikolai Petrovich Mikhnevich in his extensive work "Strategy", along with other problems, revealed the importance of moral and material forces in achieving victory. “Victory is no longer so much in numbers and energy as in economic development and in the superiority of morality,” the general pointed out. At the same time, he considered moral data as "the highest part of military art", as a real one given in solving any military question. In a future war, when greater sacrifices and greater moral stress will be required, success will more than ever "depend on the moral qualities of the troops." Mikhnevich referred to the data of moral order as energy, courage, endurance, perseverance, perseverance. The main moral values are the talent of the commander, the military valor of the army and the spirit of the people.

What determines the state of the troops

It is of interest to raise the question of the relationship between material and moral factors in the work of the French military leader and military theorist Marshal Foch "On the principles of war" (1903). Foch considered the theories, which are based solely on material values: terrain, fortification, weapons, organization, administration, supply, numerical superiority, etc., to be false. They concerned the lower part of the art of war and left aside the most important data for the command and the executors, "spiritualizing everything, giving life to everything, namely, a person with his moral, intellectual, physical abilities." Since, in his opinion, the moral factor has an invincible predominance, therefore, “war = the alignment of moral forces; victory = moral superiority of the winner, moral oppression of the vanquished; battle = struggle of two wills."

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Survival on the water, or how to escape from a sinking ship

With the increase in the size of the army, the role of the moral factor is growing more and more. Victory is due to the development to the highest degree of the moral element, by which Foch meant the quality of the troops, command, energy, enthusiasm, etc. Anything that cannot be quantified. "The desire to win is the first condition for victory, therefore, the first duty of every soldier," the marshal emphasized. But what is the source of the desire to win, the high moral factor? In answering this question, Foch reduces everything to command, which in the desire to win is the value of the first rank. Unshakable determination to win is implanted in the soul of the soldier by the command. "The great results of the war," writes Foch, "are a matter of the command." The Gauls were defeated, he repeats, not by the Roman legions, but by Caesar, etc.

“Theory must reckon with human nature and give due place to courage, boldness and even insolence,” wrote Clausewitz. - The art of war deals with living people and moral forces; from this it follows that it can never reach the absolute and certain. There is always room for the unknown, and, moreover, it is equally large both in the greatest and in the smallest matters. Courage and self-confidence are opposed to the unknown. As great as the latter, just as great can be the risk - the space left to the unknown. Thus, courage and self-confidence are an essential beginning for war; therefore, the theory must advance only such laws in the sphere of which these necessary and noblest military virtues can freely manifest themselves in all their degrees and modifications. And risk has its own wisdom and even caution, only they are measured on a special scale."

The morale of troops is greatly influenced by victory and defeat. Victory inspires soldiers, mobilizes their strength. The positive impact of victory can last for a long time and is largely determined by its price and scale. Defeat, on the other hand, puts the troops in a state of oppression. It should be noted that the moral strength of the troops, undermined by defeat, is able to recover. This largely depends on the scale of the defeat. If this is a defeat in battle, then often the moral strength is fully restored. However, defeat in a major battle or in a war in general often leaves a negative impression not only on its participants, but also on subsequent generations.

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Secrets for survival in extreme conditions

The moral factor is difficult to calculate. Nevertheless, Clausewitz proposed to estimate the ratio of moral losses of both sides during the battle. “The indicators of this ratio are mainly two phenomena. The first is the loss of space in which the battle is taking place, the second is the advantage in reserves. The more quickly our reserves melt in comparison with the enemy, the more we expend our forces to maintain balance; this already reveals a sensitive sign of the enemy's moral superiority, which almost always evokes in the commander's soul a sense of a certain bitterness and underestimation of his own troops. The main thing, however, is that all the troops that have withstood a long battle are likened to a more or less burned-out plan; they shot their ammunition, they melted, their physical and moral strength was exhausted, and their courage, of course, was broken. If, in addition to the numerical loss, we consider such a military unit as an organism, we will have to admit that this unit is far from what it was before the battle. Consequently, the loss of moral strength can be measured, like an yardstick, by the amount of expended reserves."

Influence of the moral factor on the course and outcome of the war

The study of the Thirty Years (1618-1648) War leads Clausewitz to the conviction that the greatness of the slogans for which the struggle is going on, and the correct assessment of moral factors are an indispensable condition for the high manifestation of the art of war of all times. No skilful use of the terrain, no geometrical constructions of operating lines can afford to ignore the moral element. Just as the value of the merchant who is at the head of the business is measured not only by his art, but also by the credit he uses, so for the whole war the authority of the commander at the head is of great importance.

Survival in a war
Survival in a war

According to the German historian Hans Delbrück, "the mistake that led Napoleon to death was not that he operated strategically incorrectly, but that he overestimated the inner spiritual forces of his empire, which united the French people into one whole."

From the point of view of the Soviet military theorist Alexander Svechin, one of the main reasons for Russia's defeat in the Crimean War (1853–1856) was “the disbelief of the aristocratic leaders of the Russian army in its strength, in the strength of the Russian state. These leaders more than others felt the cultural, political and economic backwardness of Russia, underestimated our efforts, did not notice the collapse in the enemy camp, brought doubts to the leadership of the troops, paved the way for the defeatist sentiments of society."

It was the moral factor, according to the British military leader Montgomery, that caused the defeat of the German army in the First World War:

“The war ended almost simultaneously in all theaters, but this circumstance is hardly connected with strategic considerations. The collapse of the Turks and Bulgarians had no meaning for the Germans and Austrians, except that it brought them to despair. The fact is that the Austrians and Italians are full of war, and the Germans too. Germany's defeat in the war came as a result of the Ludendorff offensive in 1918, not an Allied counteroffensive or blockade. The morale of the German soldiers was finally broken, and they crashed into defensive positions, which there was no means to overcome, like the allied forces had in previous years. When the Germans requested an armistice, their old front line remained unchanged, and although they lost some of their positions in the month that they admitted defeat, the Allies never succeeded in defeating their armies. The main factor throughout the war was the dead end, by chance generated by the state of technology of that time. Even the use of tanks could not completely overcome it and make a decisive tactical victory possible. The war of 1914-1918 could not be won, it could only be lost when the soldiers of one side or the other were finally denied patience. Soldiers on both sides fought hard and courageously, but in the end the Germans broke down."

It was the moral factor, in the opinion of General of the Army Makhmut Gareev, that was the basis of the USSR's victory in the Great Patriotic War, determined and determines the combat capability of the armed forces: “One of the most important factors that ensured our victory was the spiritual strength of the people and the high morale of Soviet soldiers. And the local wars of recent years, especially in Iraq, have shown that the loss of the spirit of the army is the worst thing, nothing can be compensated for."

Fraud methods
Fraud methods

In turn, the moral factor was the main reason for the defeat of the Syrian and Egyptian troops during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. A typical example of that war is the battle of the 81st tank brigade of the 3rd tank division of the army of the Syrian Arab Republic against the Israeli forces on October 8, 1973. Of the 60 Syrian tanks that remained on the battlefield, only 20 were knocked out, and the rest in good condition were abandoned by the crews.

But how to build and maintain high army morale?

On the eve of the Battle of Kulikovo, for example, the ideological influence was carried out on a religious and patriotic basis and had various forms - from Dmitry's trip to the Trinity Monastery for the blessing of the church "for battle" and prayers for the entire army to the appeal of the Russian command to all soldiers with an appeal to give their lives for the homeland and faith. Dmitry's personal communication with the regiments on the eve of the battle and the detour of the army in the morning, as well as the personal example of the prince in battle, contributed to the increase in the fighting efficiency of the Russian army.

Another example. In the Manual for training commanders (personnel) and troops, approved by the French command on October 25, 1915, the section entitled "Training of the Spirit" is highlighted. Chiefs of all degrees, it says, must constantly take care of the moral preparation of their units, maintain general confidence and inspire the confidence of newcomers, maintain internal cohesion; officers, in conversation with their subordinates, should inform them of the general situation at the front, explain the duty that everyone still has to fulfill, and remind them of the brilliant feats already accomplished by the old ranks of this unit.

The strength of a country in its people

Austro-Hungarian Field Marshal Franz Konrad once noted that modern war is such a complex military phenomenon that only a collective concerted effort to wage it can ensure success …

First of all, from the experience of the Boer War (1899-1902), Field Marshal Konrad came to the conviction that success or failure lies in the people who are waging the war. No brilliant leadership, a well-trained and armed army is able to replace the weakness of spirit among the people, the lack of will to victory in them. The strong spirit of the people inspires their army, and the latter goes to victory. The weakness of the state is determined not by its lack of a strong army, but precisely by its internal and, consequently, its external weakness. Strong Rome had strong victorious legions, but with the fall of Rome, the glory of its legions faded.

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How do you recognize terrorists in a crowd?

At one time, the chief of the Prussian general staff, Moltke, was full of the idea of an armed people.“In our country,” writes Moltke, “the main concern is not about the technical education of the troops, but rather about the development and strengthening of moral qualities, about the military education of a young man … They say that the school teacher won our battles. Knowledge alone, however, does not yet bring a person to that height when he is ready to sacrifice his life for the sake of an idea, in the name of fulfilling his duty, honor and homeland; this goal is achieved by his education. It was not the scientist who won our battles, but the educator, that is, the military estate, which gave the nation physical strength, spiritual vigor, love for the motherland and courage."

At the same time, Marshal of the Soviet Union Boris Mikhailovich Shaposhnikov in his fundamental work "The Brain of the Army" pointed out that "the implementation of the idea of an" armed people "is possible only with an internal policy based on the working masses. The latter are the educator of their armed cadres, and not vice versa. In other words, the task that the bourgeois general staff tried to solve must be solved in the opposite way."

“Thus,” writes Shaposhnikov, “we establish: 1) the modern army does not live outside of domestic politics; 2) the army is a cast of the state; 3) the political mood of the army requires special work on itself, identical with the internal policy in the state; 4) it is not the army that educates society - society educates the army."

“Modern war, which requires millions of men to mobilize and replenish the armed front, cannot rely only on the consciousness artificially created in the barracks; only if the tasks of the war are clear and close to the broad masses of the population, one can expect that the armed forces will fight for a long time with great enthusiasm and perseverance, - noted the Soviet military theorist Alexander Svechin. - Otherwise, you will have to observe phenomena similar to those that took place in the Austrian infantry: units of the latter fought very well in the first battles, but when the hostilities erased the barracks make-up, when the personnel left and the troops were diluted with replenishment, when the armed people began to appear at the front, the fighting efficiency of the Austrian infantry quickly and strongly fell; followed by massive surrenders. The same, but on a slightly smaller scale, we observed in the old Russian army."

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13 extreme facts that could one day save a life

“Ultimately, it is extremely important to remember that the real strength of a country is not in its military, not in its gold and dollar reserves. She is in the national character, in her people, "said the British commander, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. And one cannot but agree with this.

Impact on the enemy

An important role in the war is played by the moral and psychological impact on the enemy's troops, the need for which was pointed out in his time by the Soviet military theorist Vladimir Kiriakovich Triandafillov: “Our agitation and propaganda should give the enemy troops correct information about what is happening in their country, how distributed the hardships of war between the haves and have-nots, to expose individual government measures aimed at preserving civil peace in their country, at "fooling" the masses.

This task, enormous in size, requires organization on a national scale. The ways of penetration into the thickness of the enemy troops are varied. Correct organization of work on a mass scale requires systematic and continuous reconnaissance of the deepest rear of the enemy side. The technical organization of propaganda will require a lot of funds (literature in the language of the enemy, the compilation and reproduction of this literature, its delivery to enemy territory, its distribution). Against the enemy troops, morally unstable, politically vacillating, it is possible to undertake major offensives with relatively small forces, with lower norms in means of suppression. On the other hand, every major success of our troops can create the same favorable conditions for further political work, for our further agitation and propaganda …

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What is included in the emergency briefcase? What does it take for the apocalypse?

It is necessary to quickly inform the enemy soldiers about these successes, point out the harmful policies that are contrary to the interests of their class, which the government is pursuing, weaken their will to further wage the war, call for voluntary surrender, guaranteeing their immunity. Only in this way, correctly using political agitation to prepare the prerequisites for a military strike (and the results of these strikes are for further political agitation and propaganda), can we achieve a consistent physical and moral defeat of the enemy, the gradual creation of an internal front in his rear, and the transformation of the war into a civil war. " …

Under certain conditions, it is much more effective to influence the will of the enemy, suppressing his resolve to resist, than to destroy him physically.

“To kill a person in battle means only to reduce the army by only one soldier, while a living but deprived of the presence of mind is a carrier of fear that can cause an epidemic of panic,” wrote the English military theorist and historian Liddell Garth. - The impact on the psychology of the commander can nullify the combat effectiveness of his troops. The psychological impact on the government of a country may be sufficient to deprive this government of all the resources at its disposal, and then the sword will fall out of its paralyzed hand."

Hitler attached great importance to the moral and psychological impact on the enemy. He declared: "We will conduct all our real wars before the start of hostilities." In his book "Hitler Says" Rauschning cites the following words of the Fuehrer: "How to achieve the moral defeat of the enemy even before the war starts, this is the question that interests me … People kill only when they cannot achieve their goal in another way. There is a broader strategy armed with psychological weapons. Why should I demoralize the enemy by military means, if I can do it better and cheaper in another way?.. Our strategy is to defeat the enemy from the inside, to conquer the enemy using him."

However, according to the testimony of Liddell Garth, Hitler dug his own grave by failing to convince the neighboring peoples that his "new order" was more beneficial for them. His political actions were skillful enough to provoke discord in other countries, but failed to disarm the opposition.

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How to be vigilant so that you are not caught off guard?

Role of the media

It should be noted that the war is not limited to the theater of operations, it is waged both behind enemy lines and in neutral states. During this war, various methods and methods are used - sabotage, economic, ideological, etc. Every moment in the conduct of a war represents a tangle of political interests. War is not waged in an airless space.

The most important role in war is played by the media.

“One of the important functions of the strategic leadership is to provide a daily report to the press about events in the theater of operations,” said Major General Svechin. - Given the enormous interests of the population associated with the war, an attempt to keep silent about the important events that have taken place leads to the spread of false rumors and monstrous assumptions. One of the elements of a calm, regular work of the rear is the correct information. The Austrians, who did not give any information to the press in the first days of the war, soon felt all the inconveniences of the situation.

Press releases must be unconditionally truthful; the rear has a lot of connections with the front; he will soon become aware of the distortions of truth in the ballot papers, and above all he will suffer the credibility of high command and which he needs to cope with his dire task.

But, of course, the messages should not sow panic, despondency, and in no case talk about our assumptions, disclose preparations for new operations.

The messages of the belligerents are reprinted and commented on by the entire world press. The high command must bear this in mind; in the struggle on the political and economic fronts, these messages play an important role; in the “current moment” of campaign speeches and articles, these data are in the foreground. Nevertheless, it is necessary to refrain from rude propaganda techniques in the text of messages.

At the same time, messages must sometimes break the veil of anonymity and secrecy that surrounds the actions of troops and individual commanders. When the operation has already developed and is nearing its end, the enemy has time to give himself an account of the majority of the units operating against him. Revealing the exploits of individual divisions and regiments, indicating the names of distinguished leaders represent the best reward that the high command can give to heroic units and their commanders, and this reward will be a very important incentive for others to strain their efforts to the extreme.

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The anonymity of the work in general does not correspond to the nature of the combat activity. The feat requires immediate recognition, and not the arrangement of an evening of memories afterwards … In most cases, the description of the battle, published two weeks later, is no longer a military secret. Only the high command is competent to acknowledge the absence of military secrets in this description, and only they can break through the barrier of military censorship. The latter is necessary, but the bureaucratic approach to censorship kills the population's interest in the war and, entangling everything in the actions of the army with anonymity, increases the insolence of idlers and lowers the impulse of the best workers."

Newspapers, magazines, books, movies, songs, paintings, posters, all of this has an impact on the morale of personnel, their morale, readiness to fight on the battlefield.

“Speaking of the army as an independent organism, one should not forget that a victorious, invincible army is a mighty tree that grew on the soil of its native country, with roots deeply penetrated into its spiritual and physical thickness. The degree of power of a tree depends on those life-giving juices that it drinks from the country, from society, which were processed at the army school, without losing its original essence. Hence the enormous role of writers touching upon issues in the field of spirit, from the field of everyday life of society and the army in philosophical and fictional works, since their teachings and models are used to educate the thoughts and feelings of contemporaries ", wrote General Alexei Nikolaevich Kuropatkin about the influence of the works of Leo Tolstoy on officers and lower ranks of the Russian army.

“Information support for the implementation of military tasks is of great importance,” General of the Army Gareev says. - The USA and other NATO countries have strict instructions and rules on this matter. During the war against Iraq or Yugoslavia, all flows of information and messages in the media were strictly controlled. And some Russian media during the first and partly the second Chechen war openly sided with the terrorists and morally shot their soldiers from the rear. In a big war, this is extremely dangerous, as evidenced by the Russo-Japanese and the First World Wars."

By Vasily Mikryukov,

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