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New Study on Russian Reflexive Control

National Defence University
Publication date 3.4.2020 15.03 | Published in English on 3.4.2020 at 15.12
Press release

Major Antti Vasara’s study Theory of Reflexive Control: Origins, Evolution and Application in the Framework of Contemporary Russian Military Strategy examines what is meant by reflexive control, how it can be applied, and the methods that can be used to apply it. The study is a part of the Finnish Defence Studies publications published under the Finnish National Defence University.

Major Antti Vasara’s newly published study Theory of Reflexive Control: Origins, Evolution and Application in the Framework of Contemporary Russian Military Strategy is a comprehensive analysis of the theory of reflexive control and its meaning in the context of Russian military strategy. The study combines reflexive control with the broader concept of systems theory, and Vasara examines issues from perspectives that are rarely discussed in Western source material. 

The study discusses the development of the concept during the Soviet era and concludes with the developments in the field in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Vasara discusses conceptualization and application of the reflexive control theory in connection with the debate in Russia on the nature of warfare and influencing military decision-making, and presents a comprehensive model of reflexive control using these principles. This model is a system-theoretical and cybernetic model of the Russian approach to command and control, which is divided into constructive (creative) and destructive measures.

As Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Thomas, U.S. Army (ret.) argues in the Foreword to the study:

– Vasara’s paper is unique for its attempt to decipher the Russian approach to reflexive control and offers Western audiences another way to understand it based on the model he proposed.
His division of the topic into constructive and destructive measures is relevant
to ascertaining the goal of Russia’s Reflexive Control methodology.
– He has offered analysts not only a creative approach to Reflexive Control that others can study and use but also areas in which to study the concept further. Western institutes devoted to studying Russian deception techniques should put this paper on their required reading list.

The open access study can be downloaded from the Doria publication archive:

The original Finnish diploma report Refleksiivisen kontrollin mallit ja vastustajan päätöksentekoon vaikuttaminen Venäjän sotaharjoituksissa 2010-luvulla written on the General Staff Course and published in 2019 is available at: