Milyutin transformation: an enlightening experience – part I

Military-Industrial Courier
Published in issue number 45 (411) for November 16, 2011

Recently, the club captains of the Russian Federation held a scientific-practical conference "On the 150th anniversary of the military reform Lopatkin Milutin and its significance for the modern military building." Published are their reports and presentations.

Changed the style of the Ministry of War

Address by the President of the Russian Federation Militaries Club

In 1861 Tsar Alexander II appointed defense minister of Russia, Dmitry Alekseevich Milutin. His stay in office for 20 years, was marked by the most effective, most efficient military reform in the history of our country after the reign of Peter I. This reform not only had great significance, the results we see today. Suffice it to mention the military-administrative division – military district conscription, the system of military education.

I would like to list the major milestones in the biography of this remarkable man. He was born 195 years ago, June 28, 1816 in Moscow, in a poor noble family. By the way, except Lopatkin it gave Russia two more talented and well-known public figures – Z’s and Vladimir Alexeyevich Milutin. In 1833, Dmitri was the first officer’s rank at the time – ensign, in 1835 entered the Imperial Military Academy, from which he graduated with a small silver medal, and since 1839 has participated in military operations in the Caucasus, for distinguished service was promoted to captain . Then, according to the established rules then in 1840-1841-m has made a 13-month trip abroad for the first acquaintance with Europe, then returned to the Caucasus, where he remained until 1844.

From an early age Dmitry Milyutin engaged in scientific activities, and in the years 1852-1853 saw the publication of his major work – five-volume study of "History of the War in 1799 between Russia and France in the reign of Emperor Paul I», highly regarded by his contemporaries and to this day has not lost its value.

Summer 1853, seeing the inevitability of armed confrontation with Turkey, Minister of War, Prince Dolgorukov Milutin attracted to work in his agency. In August 1855, in connection with the defeat of the Russian troops in the Crimean War, a commission was established "for the improvement of the military", chaired by General Riediger. Its members came and Milutin. A month later he was, and gave an extensive note "Thoughts on the disadvantages of the existing Russian military system and the means to remove the add." 39-year-old general has shown a truly national approach to the problems of the commission and in that time has made a number of completely new ideas related to military construction.

In December 1856 at the request of Prince Baryatinsky, governor and commander in chief in the Caucasus Separate Caucasian Corps (a year – Caucasian Army), Dmitri sent him to the post of Chief of Staff of the Caucasian troops. For four years he spent in the Caucasus, is involved in the planning of military operations, as well as directly in combat operations, which is very appreciated Baryatinsky and emperor.

Decree of Alexander II in 1860, the Adjutant General Milutin appointed companion (deputy) minister of war. He immediately set to work actively in the War Ministry. And it was a very serious time for the country, when the last few months there, serfdom, a turning point in the life of the people and the state. Dmitri called it a watershed between the old and the new Russia.

A year later, the War Department was headed by Milutin. However, he hoped Baryatinsky take this position by providing Lopatkin Chief of the General Staff. But the minister was a former slave of the prince, who took over the reins firmly in his hands, and the celebrated Marshal of ally turned into his implacable opponent. Began petty squabbles, but they have not prevented Miliutin confidently lead the Ministry of War, showing complete independence from Baryatinsky.

That could make Dmitri? First of all, changed the style of work of the War Office, as already adopted such formulaic, quite bureaucratic forms of activity – focused reports, beautiful, well-designed schemes and so on. Milutin all broke and made a live stream in the operational functioning of the administration. He created the county, the country is divided by 15 military-administrative units, has introduced a new system of manning – conscription instead of conscription, now serving in the Army for six years in the Navy – seven. Serious changes have occurred in the system of training and education of the officer corps.

And how can you not remember that it was Milutin during the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878, has insisted on the continuation of the siege of Plevna, ended in failure when three storm the fortress. After its fall, the Russian troops were able to move in a determined attack on the Balkan theater of war and gained a complete victory over the enemy.

In preparation for the conference, found a quote, and I want it to read: "Many did Milutin and modernization of the Russian army, realizing that no new technical equipment can not create a modern military. This task he associated with the development of the domestic defense industry, considering that Russia can not be limited buying guns abroad for the whole army. "

Understand what is at stake?

Anatoly Kulikov , General of the Army

The very thought and action set
Although not completely and incompletely

In the history of our country seven times transforming the military organization and more than 15 times reformed armed forces. But we must recognize that the greatest success in this, along with Peter, I got in the 60-70-ies of the XIX century, Dmitri Milutin.

Total 12 years

I want to stress that any reform is only one problem – the object of reform should acquire a new quality. It is the task of finding a new quality of the army and navy was intended to resolve the military reform Milutin.

" When Milutin was presented to the emperor, they were talking about reform for several hours and it was a conversation between two senior military professionals and true patriots of Russia "
Purpose of military reform Milutin were to be to turn into a massive Russian army equipped with modern means of warfare, making it a reliable pillar of the state, but to maximize the reduction of the military budget.

Formulation of two conflicting objectives has created enormous difficulties in solving them.

Military reform Milutin was almost the first after the military reforms of Peter I and quite successful "name" military reform, which had embodied in the person of the Minister of War, which it planned, organized and performed, though, as always in our history, not fully and not fully .

Milutin himself, no doubt, was a great professional, intellectual and moral authority in the army and society.

He was a man well known and respected in the army successfully fought, wrote an excellent and recognized by society and the officer corps of Russia works on military history and statistics, crystal honest, had a distinguished military career of his military work and still have outstanding organizational skills.

An interesting fact. When Milutin was presented to the emperor, they were talking about reform for several hours and it was a conversation between two senior military professionals and true patriots of Russia, which was conducted in one language, with full and thorough knowledge, mutual understanding of the subject matter. After that Dmitri was appointed minister of war, and two months later presented to Alexander II project will develop a complete military reform.

Military reform Milutin performed publicly, that is, all the steps of the War Ministry reported in the press, discussed and corrected.

The reform program included the rearmament of the army, changing its structure and order of military service (still on the basis of compulsory military service), and the reorganization of the central building of local military command. We have also discussed the issues of officer training, combat training, their equipment, creation of mobilization reserves, devices irregular forces, building barracks, and more. January 15, 1862 – the day of submission of the program the king – is the beginning of the military reform. Introduction to January 1, 1874 vsesoslovnye completed her military service.

What has actually been done?

1. There was a reorganization of the military command. The overall objective of the restructuring of central government – the Ministry of War, according to Milutin, "was to bring the whole building harmonious appearance and simplify the complicated mechanism of it, and this is recognized to be useful to merge together in a circle of uniform action and eliminate unnecessary tumors, which were formed during the time more or less randomly, without any plan. "

2. Martial-district military command system (15 military districts). Here, let me dwell in detail, because this system existed until recently. What was before the troops to the management?

Local military administration until the beginning of the Crimean War did not exist. In peacetime, the command and control (armies and separate housing) with the command (commander), who is the Head (governors, governors) of the regions in which the troops were stationed.

Even more complex looked operative management system. Thus, directly subordinate to the emperor and the army in a separate building, except for two cases, subordinated to the Minister of War. At the same time, and the Grenadier Guards corps, who were in a special position, were subordinated to special commander of the royal family.

The variety of options of command of troops, of course, did not contribute to the early establishment of groups in the theaters, but also hindered the redistribution of power in the war and administration.

After the reform, the whole country was divided into 15 military districts. Stood at the head of the district commander. He obeyed all the military units and institutions located within the county. Military district system has a number of advantages: Eliminate excessive centralization of management, create more favorable conditions for the operational leadership of the troops, at times reduces the period of mobilization. Given Russia with its vast territory it was of great importance.

Creating Military District Office gave an opportunity to focus in the War Ministry only general direction and control over the activities of the military units in the district. The control system closer to the troops, become more flexible.

In the same way a little earlier undergone significant transformation and governance Navy.

3. Along with the reorganization of the military command worked to reduce the army and its reorganization. Solution of the reorganization and reduction of the army in order to reduce the cost of its maintenance was associated with the creation of conditions for their deployment in wartime. This takes into account a country’s ability to deploy the army in time of war, the possibility of potential enemies of Russia (France, Austria, Prussia) and the need to defend the country’s borders in the East, Central Asia and the Caucasus. For seven years (1863-1869) in the organization of the army was created a system that allowed in the event of war to increase the number of troops, without the formation of new units. However, it was not justified. In this regard, in 1873, a decision on the second phase of the reorganization of the army. Increase in the number of the army in time of war shall be implemented by the newly forming new tactical units.

4. At the end of 1870 to develop a new system of recruitment of the armed forces of a special commission. It is composed of representatives of various ministries and agencies – military, marine, interior, finance, education and others. Commission is chaired by Chief of General Staff Gen. Heyden, the general management of performing military Minister Milutin.

Commission’s draft Charter on military service in December 1873 was considered at the general meeting of the State Council. His discussion was held in a heated struggle. Some members of the Board shall be deemed premature military reform, others demanded privileges for certain categories of persons. Alexander II is to discuss the draft charter in conversation with Milyutin noted that "there is strong opposition to the new law, many are frightened, see him as the democratization of the army."

Still, 1 (13) January 1874 statute was approved by the emperor. In Russia introduced universal military service. Charter for the first time determined that the protection of the throne and of the Fatherland is a sacred duty of every Russian citizen that all of the male population over 21 years, irrespective of the estates subject to military service. I want to remind you that even in 1798, conscription was fixed by law in France, then in Prussia, Austria-Hungary, Italy and other countries.

5. Performed military justice reform and destroyed system of corporal punishment of soldiers.

6. Re-started the Army and Navy. Since 1867 artillery park was replaced with new rifled-loader guns treasury, in 1868 and 1870 put into service rifle Berdan (№ 1 – for the infantry and number 2 – for the cavalry and Cossack troops). In 1876 approved in principle a new shipbuilding program, which provided for the construction of the armored fleet. The ships are equipped with new models of artillery, mine and torpedo.

7. Introduced major changes in training and quartering troops (physical training soldiers, demining case, literacy, settling in garrisons in purpose-built barracks, set up a training unit to prepare the non-commissioned officers in the units, introduced the principle of "to teach the soldier what was necessary to War "), they receive a new uniform.

8. Implemented the reform of military education.

By the beginning of the 1860s in Russia there were four military academy – Nicholas General Staff, Artillery, Engineering, Medical and Surgical. In 1867 opened the Military Law.

Many of the existing military schools, and there were more than 20, converted to military school. After military schools military special education continued in military schools. In January 1863 the military schools handed over to the Ministry of War, in which structure was formed Defence military educational institutions.

However, the military school could not meet the demand for officers, so the fall of 1864 are cadet schools with shorter periods of training. By the mid-1870s, the number reached 17. They fully meet the needs of Army officers. The total number of graduates of military schools increased from 389 in 1865 to 3270 m in 1873, which is almost ten times. Thus, the influx of military officers from the nobility, no education was stopped.

I want to draw your attention to the fact that the reformed military education for over 15 years.

Were you able to give a new quality Miliutin the Russian army?

Of course yes, if only because the army until recently lived on this, maybe not entirely ideal scheme.


1. In Russia, there was a mass people’s army in battle-sufficient and mobile.

Organization of troops, adopted in the 1860s, is focused on minimizing the army in peacetime and its maximum increase during the war.

Reorganization of the Ministry of War and the introduction of military district system creates a relative unity of management, eliminated excessive centralization.

Activities in rearmament is to ensure its new types of weapons.

Conversion of military training were aimed at training the troops to what is necessary in war, the introduction of new technology and the development of personal initiative soldier.

Reform of military schools substantially changed the whole system of officer training, the issue was resolved on the staffing forces officers in peacetime.

As a result of military service vsesoslovnye basically created mobilization reserve.

That is, Russia is much closer the organization and appearance of the army to the best Western European standards.

2. Under the leadership of the Ministry of War Milyutin Russia did not have (as subsequently) to experience the bitterness of military defeats.

Successfully complete the Russian-Turkish war, did not even require a general mobilization.

When Milutin in 1864 ended 60 years of age exhausting wars in the Caucasus country.

3. For 13 years, a considerable area was conquered Central Asia and the Turkestan governor-generalship. Following this success hotheads eager to India, Milutin kept them from this venture and are tied to a more realistic problem. The capture of the fortress of Geok-Tepe and Ashkhabad (without which "Turkestan and the Caucasus remained disconnected") in January 1881, has crowned a career worthy of War.

No doubt, much has been done.

But …

Unfortunately, not everything went as smoothly as planned. Complete re army and navy with new samples has not been completed. Multi-standard weapons, and not enough heavy siege artillery, long-range field artillery pieces were a serious shortcoming of technical equipment of the army. At the Naval Ministry of Finance had allocated only to a partial re-by 1877 the Baltic Fleet and strengthening the Navy in the Black Sea.

Failed to solve the problem and reduce military spending. By 1874, they have increased compared to 1862 m by 51 percent (from 114 to 172 million), although their share in the national budget was almost at the same damage.

Experience shows that the reform of the armed forces even when significantly reducing them is costly.

Military Reform 1860-1870-ies was instrumental in the restructuring of the armed forces of their training, acquisition and upgrading, however, due to incomplete unable to fully ensure a solid foundation of the state’s defense, which was confirmed at the beginning of the twentieth century.

For the belligerent forces

Turning to the individual thoughts and deeds count Lopatkin Milutin, looking at the contemporary reality and taking into account the above, come to the following conclusions.

First, Milyutinskaya military system at the time played a positive role. It is basically rooted in us is so strong that almost half a century, existed in Russia. But, in my opinion, is not to blame for Milutin that his system of "exploiting" a hundred and fifty years. If you remember, the same thing happened with Peter’s system, which has existed almost unchanged until the end of the XVIII century.

Secondly, of course, the system was not flawless, and I must say frankly, in two decades lame on many criteria. Indicators of its obsolescence are primarily a result of Russian-Japanese War. Fundamentally, nothing has changed in the Soviet era. Even reform Frunze in the 20 years was carried out, so to speak, within Milyutin system. Though looking for new approaches to systems acquisition, management and training, however development of the practice of military affairs was late again for the theory, capabilities and needs ahead of this imbalance, undoubtedly reflecting the state in the first place the control system and the economic development of our state.

However, thanks to this system, the Soviet Union was able to realize its potential for mobilization and form an army that won the victory over the forces of the fascist bloc. Incidentally, this fact suggests that Milutin developed plans for reform is for the belligerent forces, and not to get bored in peacetime army.

Victor Barynkin , Colonel General, Doctor of Military Sciences, Professor


Translation by Ralph Davis. See the original in Russian:


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