Maskirovka (literal translation: masking, camouflage) is a term of art in Soviet and Russian military thought, which includes Western military concepts of deception, but goes well beyond. Their usage include deception, counterintelligence and concealment, as an integral part of all planning, in which the highest levels of command are involved. Much of what the West considers information operations is part of this discipline. Depending on the scale of the activities, maskirovka can be strategic, operative and tactical.
Strategic and operative maskirovka
Bacon wrote "The Battle of Kursk was also an example of effective Soviet strategic and operative maskirovka. While the Germans were preparing for their Kursk offensive, the Soviets created a story that they intended to conduct only defensive operations at Kursk. The reality was the Soviets planned a large counteroffensive at Kursk once they blunted the German attack. .... German intelligence for the Russian Front assumed the Soviets would conduct only “local” attacks around Kursk to “gain a better jumping off place for the winter offensive." The counterattack by the Steppe Front stunned the Germans.
The opponent may try to overload the analytical capability. As a warning to those preparing the intelligence budget, and to those agencies where the fast track to promotion is in collection, one's own side may produce so much raw data that the analyst is overwhelmed, even without enemy assistance.
The tactical maskirovka (camouflage) is carried out by the entire military personnel in everyday combat activity to hide from the enemy's reconnaissance the locations of the positions, fire weapons, regions of concentration of troops and equipment, combat field manoeuvre, command posts and observatories, combat and march formations. This is achieved by using natural masks (plants, terrain compartments, buildings, embankments, and similar), bad visibility conditions (night time, mist, rain, show), implementation of technical methods of masking using the available camouflage items. Maskirovka includes special battledresses, artificial camouflage masks, painting, nets, models of dummy combat, special and transport equipment and arms (guns, tanks, aircrafts, ships), and false objects (positions and regions of dislocations, command posts, ship bases etc.). Blackout measures must also be kept. Also used are smoke bombs, pyrotechnics to show fire and other signs of life in false dislocation regions, and audio masking (muffling or imitation of the sound and noise of movement of tanks, artillery fire, operation of combat engineering machines, etc.). There is also radio-maskirovka and other kinds or maskirovka to counter enemy's reconnaissance.
- Smith, Charles L. (Spring 1988). "Soviet Maskirovko". Airpower Journal.
- Maskirovka (military), Large Soviet Encyclopaedia (Russian)
- Bacon, Donald J. (December 1998). Second World War Deception: Lessons Learned for Today’s Joint Planner, Wright Flyer Paper No. 5. (US) Air Command and Staff College. Retrieved on 2007-10-24.
- Luttwak, Edward (1997). Coup D'Etat: A Practical Handbook. Harvard University Press.