Academic International Press


Military Encylopedia of Russia and Eurasia

Edited by David R. Jones

MERE Contents

 

Back to Military Encylopedia of Russia and Eurasia (MERE).

Back to Russia / Soviet Union / Eurasia.

Back to AIP Home Page.

Volume 5 Introduction

Readers of this work will note that nearly a decade has passed since the appearance of the last volume. During this period Central Eurasia has witnessed momentous changes, changes which are reflected in our new title--Military Encyclopedia of Russia and Eurasia or MERE. But given the collapse of "Soviet military power" and seeming disappearance of the "Communist threat," some may question whether the resumption of this publication is in fact necessary. More mature consideration suggests, I think, that at present this work is perhaps more important than ever.

In the first place, ethnic rivalries on the territory of the former Soviet Union threaten to provoke the outbreak of a number of local conflicts that may involve others, the West included. As a consequence, the past of these peoples has assumed a significance surpassing mere academic interest. Then, secondly, the former Soviet military-naval establishment not only retains a major place within the socio-political-economic framework of the Russian Republic as such, but it is a rallying point for Russian nationalists. After all, the history of Russia and the Soviet Union is bound up so inseparably with the almost continuous struggle for national survival that any attempt to ignore the impact of military factors on all aspects of Russian life can only deform the resulting discussion. The same experience means as well that the history, traditions and evolving capabilities of Russia's armed forces are both an essential element for understanding that country's past, and of considerable concern for those contemplating the future of our world. And thirdly, at a time when military history in general is gaining in academic respectability as well as popularity, a factual, reliable and comprehensive reference guide to the experiences of the peoples inhabiting one-sixth of our globe's land surface needs no justification.

If the lapse in publication is in one sense regrettable, it also has had a number of benefits. The situation that has evolved since 1985 has brought changes that affect much more than the title of this work. One result of Mikhail Gorbachev's policies of glasnost, and of the later collapse of the USSR, has been an explosion of data on many aspects of the modern armed forces of the former Soviet Union. This, in turn, means that many articles in this and subsequent volumes of MERE could not have been compiled in 1985 with anything like the detail now available.

Of course, this situation has created a number of difficulties for any editor of this work. On resuming this position in 1993 I had to face the problem that many of the contributions prepared earlier now are badly outdated. Even so, it is clearly vital that each entry draw on recent revelations and reflect fully the present state of information on the subject under consideration. All such entries consequently have been updated and, where this has had to be done without consultation with the original author, this fact is noted in the attached bibliography.

With regard to entries in general, a number of points deserve mention. As this work progresses, users will note that the letter "A" occupies what may seem to be a disproportionate number of volumes. Perhaps...but a moment's consideration will suggest that thanks to the alphabet and English military terminology, a surprisingly large number of topics and entries must be included within the range of this letter. Apart from three of the major services (air defense forces, air forces, and army), there are a number of individual arms (aeromobile forces, airborne forces, amphibious forces, armored forces, artillery, and so on), the multitude of entries with the suffixes aerial, aero, air, anti, armored, etc.), and general topics such as the armaments and aviation industries, as well as from the usual range of biographical and geographical entries. For this reason, the number of volumes devoted to these entries, and so to the letter "A," must be equally extensive.

As for the selection of the subjects of entries, the method remains that outlined in the introduction to the first volume of this work and the main criterion remains as before: if a topic has any military relevance and might be of interest to any general or specialist reader, or any student or teacher, it is included. There is no need to repeat here the detailed comments on the selection process made in the earlier introduction beyond stressing that the overall aim of MERE is to reflect the extent and diversity of the military's impact on all aspects of Russian and Soviet history. As a consequence, at least half of the entries selected are unique in terms of their inclusion in a reference work, and appear for the first time here. Also as with the four earlier volumes, all entries published in MERE have been specially written for the purpose, either by a recognized expert selected for the purpose (and named at the entry's conclusion), or by myself as editor (all unsigned entries). In the latter cases I have been fortunate in being able to draw on the knowledge of a host of other specialists (and friends), both those listed on the advisory board and the many others who have been so generous with their time and knowledge, and on the extensive bibliographic resources of the Russian Research Center of Nova Scotia.

Although extensive quotations from relevant documents, and in rare cases a whole document, may be published in translation, none of what follows had been taken completely from another single source. Rather, all the available sources have been consulted and in the case of a term, concept or type of weapon (e.g., aerial bomb), all have been used in an effort to demonstrate how the subject has developed over time.

This raises the nature of the topics included as entries in MERE. In general they have been selected so as to facilitate reference by both specialist and "buff" at a number of levels. In terms of content, they can be broken down into the following rough categories: military politics and planning; military thought and doctrine, including the relevant concepts and terms; the military histories of the nationalities comprising the former Soviet Union; military institutions, educational institutions and units; the military-naval press; military science and technology, including the ships, aircraft types and weapons systems designed and/or deployed; important pieces of military legislation; events such as significant smaller actions, battles, operations, campaigns, and wars; biographies; marches, insignia, uniforms, and decorations; and military contributions to art, literature, music, and culture in general.

Apart from these obvious classifications, on occasion it is necessary to devote some space to the biographies of rulers, who in Russia traditionally have sought to clothe themselves in the regalia of the military leader or vozhd, or to major political and international events that have a military significance. In these cases MERE's entries will make no attempt at completeness, but instead will focus on the military aspects of the topic in question and provide bibliographic indications for the use of any reader wishing to explore the issue more fully.

With regard to the regular entries, it is obvious that in many cases a particular person, event or other subject can be researched from a number of points of view (e.g., a general or admiral through his biography, the battles he fought and his contributions, if any, to military thought, technology, administration, etc.). In pursuing such topics, the use of MERE is facilitated through a system of cross-references. Further, an index volume will be prepared at the end of every ten volumes.

Thirdly, in the case of many topics discussed in MERE, the accounts or data provided by standard references is limited, and often remains unsupplemented by any easily accessible monographic or scholarly treatment. As an "encyclopedia" in the traditional sense of that term, MERE attempts to fill these gaps by providing all the relevant, available information in a systematic form. This explains why the reader of this and other volumes of MERE will find a number of extensive narrative entries on seemingly obscure subjects. Yet these, it is hoped, will make an original contribution to the existing scholarship, and provide a firm basis for the work of future scholars. While it is of course true that no one entry can hope to comprehend the totality of a topic like "army," I do hope that the reader who has finished with such a generic entry then will be able to satisfy his thirst for details through a host of lesser entries. Followed in a descending order from the general to the particular, MERE's entries will provide him with even the most minute aspects of the subject in question.

The present volume encompasses a number of such cases. For example, the entry on the campaign in Adzhariia during late-1914 and early 1915 can serve as an starting point for those seeking to explore Russia's campaign's against Turkey in World War I, while the entry "aerial blockade" is followed by detailed accounts of the Red Air Forces' wartime experience in such operations. I trust that extended treatments such as these will be of interest to a reader who chooses to "dip" in MERE for pleasure, as well as for the answer to a particular query. In addition, since these extended entry-essays often deal with topics that usually are ignored elsewhere, they may serve as a complement to the standard textbooks and, in many cases, the available monographs as well.

Volume Five marks the beginning of our consideration of the broad range of entries included under the general rubrics of "aerial" and/or "air." Given the Rus-sian/Soviet practice of using these terms interchangeably as translations for the term vozdushnyi, I have had a certain latitude in choosing just where to include the appropriate entries for a number of topics. In part I have been guided by standard usage in the West. Yet in part I have used the form that will prove most convenient for readers of the type referred to above. Someone seeking information on the various weapons systems (as opposed to the actual aircraft) involved in aerial or air combat, for instance, will find a number of entries of interest grouped under "aerial" (armaments, artillery munitions, bombs, cannon, etc.), rather than scattered through "aerial," aero," and "air." But in any case, all entries in this category are cross-referenced (e.g., "See AERIAL...," or "See AIR...") to guide the researcher.

In any case, here I have chosen to employ the term "aerial armaments" for a generic entry that describes the overall development of aerial/air weaponry in Russia and the Soviet Union, and which places this evolution within the history of military aviation as a whole. This general treatment then is supplemented in this and the immediately following volumes by a number of more restricted but still generalized entries (e.g., aerial bombs, aerial cannon, aerial machine-guns, and so on). Again, these place Soviet/Russian developments in the same wider, though again more specialized, world-wide context. Particular sub-types of these weapons (e.g., high-explosive aerial bombs, incendiary aerial bombs, etc.) then are treated in still greater detail by another series of individual entries and, finally, each individual weapon of importance (e.g., a particular model of machine-gun) will have a fully detailed entry under is own designation. In this manner, a reader may rest satisfied with a general account provided at two levels of detail, or work his way through a particular topic from the most general down to the known specifics of a particular class, type and model of weapon.

Along with earlier prepared articles, all the appended bibliographies have been revised to reflect the sources used in compiling each revised entry. These too have been updated and expanded to include examples of the relevant literature drawn from the appropriate periods, the most recent included. They include as well all important works that deserve note in their own right and which, if they are not readily available at the moment, may become so as access to Soviet bibliographic resources increases in the future. Most of the works cited, of course, contain additional bibliographic references that will aid the researcher and where appropriate, bibliographic and historiographic works are listed as well. At the same time, I have expanded the format of the individual bibliographical entries by including, whenever possible, the first names of authors and page numbers of the articles or essays cited. This should increase the ease of using MERE's bibliographies which, I hope, will continue to prove to be one of its most valuable aspects.

This is particularly important with regard to entries on Soviet and Russian military terms. As in other aspects of life in the former Soviet Union, the military took care to define its terminology with precision, and to update continually such definitions through publication of a number of handbooks, encyclopedias, and dictionaries. Although changes in such definitions and the associated concepts can be traced by means of such works, as is done in the appropriate entries, efforts have been made to supplement and illustrate these evolving concepts by drawing on other examples of the contemporary literature. Not only is the significance of revisions in the basic concept under discussion underlined within the entry as such, but in such cases a bibliography has been compiled so as to permit the interested reader to investigate further the concepts involved by each term in any given period of its use.

Another innovation in this and future volumes is the inclusion of a larger number of maps and figures than previously, as well as both black-and-white line drawings and illustrations. I am indebted to Mr. Graham Lavers of Halifax, Nova Scotia, for preparing all photographs while the maps, figures and line drawings have been taken from works and illustrations contained in the collections of the Russian Research Center of Nova Scotia, and prepared by the editor specifically for this work.

Dates are always a problem in works that span the course of Russia's past. As is well known, Peter I unfortunately adopted the Julian calendar (known as "old style") for his empire which, at the time, was already eleven days behind the Gregorian ("new style") one then being introduced in most of the rest of Europe, but only adopted in Russia by the Soviet regime as of 1 February 1918. To avoid any possibility of confusion, dates from 1700 to February 1918 are given in both forms (i.e. old style/new style), and those before 1700--when Russians used a Church calendar adapted from that of the Byzantine empire--in their generally accepted modern form.

To avoid repetition, standard references are indicated by one of the abbreviated titles that are to be found, along with a list of other abbreviations employed, at the beginning of each volume of MERE. Within the text the names, titles or abbreviations found enclosed in square brackets [ ] after a quotation refer to the author or work in the following bibliography from which the quotation has been taken. If there are two works by the same author, either a date or short title will indicate which is relevant. With regard to the transliteration system used for this and the immediately following volumes, this remains the modified Library of Congress system found in volumes one to four. The modifications introduced include "ya" and "yu," but only "e," (instead of "ia," "iu" and "ye") at the beginnings of Russian words and names and, although soft signs are retained within names and words, all signs at the ends have been omitted.

Finally, it remains for me to thank all those who have aided my preparation of these entries with their advice and expertise. In particular, I wish to express my gratitude to Mr. Harry Woodman for the data he so kindly volunteered on early Russian aerial bombs, as well as to the references he provided on other areas of aircraft armaments. Nonetheless, the inevitable errors and lacunae in the entries that follow are entirely my own, and I trust that those with further information (which will permit the publication of supplementary volumes), or those who wish to contribute to future volumes, will contact me as editor either via the publisher or directly at the address below.

David R. Jones
Russian Research Center of Nova Scotia
1929 Connaught Ave.
Halifax, NS B3H 4E2
Canada

 

Go to Academic International Press Home Page.


Click here to send us e-mail with your comments.

© 2000 Academic International Press