Monthly Archives: December 2009

Another View of the Year in Military Reform

Yaroslav Vyatkin has offered his view of the Russian military’s year in Argumenty nedeli.  He sees some of the same roadblocks as Stepanov below, but he also provides a list of what defense industry may have delivered to the armed forces this year.

He begins by describing how the five-day war with Georgia and unready Russian forces led to the decision to concentrate a large, but skeletal, ground force structure into 85 permanent readiness brigades.  He believes several years are needed to make these brigades more than ‘half-finished.’

However, not everything planned has been done.  Contract service failed, providing less than half of the soldiers promised, according to Vyatkin.  Likewise, the current professional sergeant corps program is slipping.  This year’s premium pay initiative had to be modified, because of dissension and jealousy in the ranks, to cover all officers in the best units.  Vyatkin also notes that, in the RVSN, Spetsnaz, and units stationed abroad, every officer will get the premium on a non-competitive basis.

Military reform has not been easy; there are unhappy officers and warrants who had to relocate or got dismissed, and personnel have often been treated like cogs in the military machine. 

On the positive side, Vyatkin expects Russia’s 5th generation fighter, the T-50, to fly in matter of days now.  He offers his count of the results of defense production for 2009:  6 mobile and 3 silo-based SS-27/Topol-M, a battalion’s worth of new RS-24 ICBMs, for a total of 20 strategic missiles, new aircraft including 3 Su-34SM (sic?), 9 Yak-130, 16 Mi-28N, and 2 Ka-52, 82 new T-90A1 tanks, 50 BMP-3, 200 other armored vehicles, 150 BMD-2 and BMD-4, and for the Navy, Neustrashimyy-class frigate Yaroslav Mudryy, and one submarine (maybe the Sankt-Peterburg, Nerpa, or Yuriy Dolgorukiy).  Who knows which one is being counted.

A View of a Year of Russian Military Reform

Nasha versiya’s Aleksandr Stepanov says the Russian military’s revolutionary changes in 2009 make Defense Minister Serdyukov the reformer of the year, but he’s looked a little closer to see a more mixed picture.

According to Stepanov, the Defense Ministry’s professional sergeant training program ran into problems because it lacked enough qualified candidates.  He reports more than half of them left Ryazan when they were housed in barracks rather than dorms.  Much like problems experienced by contract soldiers, there were disputes over their free time and days off, and whether they could leave the garrison. 

Unlike Serdyukov’s desire, warrant officers could not be eliminated in one stroke.  The Navy is keeping its michman schools in order to man the submarine fleet with the required number of technical specialists.  Warrants in the RVSN and VVS will also be allowed to serve to retirement if they choose. 

Stepanov calls officers who can’t be dismissed for lack of housing ‘dead souls.’  They don’t have duty posts, and are placed ‘at the disposal’ of their commanders.  They receive only basic pay, which can be difficult to obtain, and not other supplements and bonuses that provide most of an officer’s monthly salary.  Recall that General Staff Chief Makarov put the number of ‘dead souls’ outside the TO&E, but not dismissed, at 37,000.

He puts the military’s apartment deficit at 90,000, and most military men doubt the Defense Ministry will fulfill its housing promises.  The apparent dismissal of the military’s housing chief is a sign that things aren’t going well on this front.  Despite the budget money spent, the problem isn’t being solved.  The Defense Ministry can’t get the quantity of apartments it wants at an acceptable price, and many construction projects are frozen due to the effects of the economic downturn.  The military department has to buy or use land no one else wants, for instance, an allegedly contaminated former munitions dump where it is building thousands of apartments for servicemen in Vladivostok.  Given the unresolved military housing problem, the visit to Novaya Izhora and the possibility of building large single-family homes (cottages) seems a little strange. 

Serdyukov’s Order 400 which brought premium pay to the military brought not a little tension to servicemen and units.  It has been modified.  Now all officers in the best units will receive it.  For example, not just pilots but also officers working in ground crews.

The decision to add priests to the army officially was a new development for 2009.  Ninety percent of them will be Russian Orthodox, but other ‘traditional confessions’ will be represented later on a proportional basis.  These clergymen are supposed to fill the gaps left by ‘socialization work’ officers or zampolits that have been largely cut.  There is now only 1 indoctrination officer position authorized per battalion.

The armed services all look forward to new weapons systems, but the state of the OPK doesn’t inspire confidence that they will be delivered.  The Bulava SLBM debacle and the fact that the VVS won’t entertain buying Russian manufactured drone aircraft attest to this.

No one has talked much lately about Serdyukov’s new uniforms for the military.  Stepanov says fashion designer Yudashkin’s uniforms will cost three times more than the old ones.  But, from 2012, officers and contractees will no longer be issued uniforms; they’ll receive a 20-25,000 ruble stipend to pay for their uniforms.  However, a complete set of uniform items is expected to run from 130,000 to as much as 300,000 rubles.

The Defense Ministry had planned to outfit soldiers with more modern boots this year, but didn’t have the money.  So it appears that old footrags and woolen pullon boots can outlast even the greatest reformers, according to Stepanov.

Shortcomings of the Air Forces

Su-30MKI (photo:

Recent months have seen a spate of press items criticizing the Russian Air Forces, their capabilities, and plans.

Writing for Pravda-KPRF on 17 December, retired Colonel Robert Bykov notes that Russia’s tactical aviation consists of about 1,800 aircraft, almost all of which are more than 20-30 years old.  The service life of the Su-24 has been artificially extended to 40 years.  Problems in 80 percent of Russia’s MiG-29s have reportedly been fixed.  He quotes General Staff Chief Makarov from late 2008 to the effect that only 5 of 150 Air Forces regiments had their complement of 24 aircraft, while others had pilots and practically no flyable aircraft, and this resulted in the degradation of pilot skills. 

Whereas in Soviet times, the Air Forces received a reported 400-600 aircraft per year, for 15 years, the Russian Air Forces have received only a handful or none.  Bykov notes that the plans announced at MAKS-2009 amount to only 67 aircraft to be acquired by 2015–only about 15 per year.  He goes on to describe deficiencies in the Su-34–only two aircraft so far, and they supposedly lack an air-to-air weapons system.  The Su-35 has not been accepted yet, after one crashed and burned during runway tests in April 2009.  Then he plugs for what he calls one true success–the multirole Su-30MKI.  Bykov says Russia could get 50-60 of these per year right now from the Irkutsk Aviation Production Association (IAPO), five years sooner and for half the price of the Su-35.  He concludes that, if the fiasco with the Su-34 and Su-35 continues, Russia will be left without tactical aviation in the future.  He blames Mikhail Pogosyan, general director of Sukhoy, as well as those who can’t straighten out the Bulava SLBM mess and want to buy Mistral from the French, for blocking acquisition of the Su-30MKI for Russia’s Air Forces.

In Forum.msk, Lieutenant Colonel Yuriy Karnovskiy notes that the ‘new profile’ for the Air Forces means only 1,000 of the newest airplanes and helicopters will be put into the new organizational structure, and the rest will be written off.  The idea of the reform for the Air Forces is to concentrate the most combat capable forces into a small number of air bases to allow for more intensive training and to conserve resources. 

However, pilots of the Domna-based 120th Fighter Aviation Regiment have written him to describe how they’ve been reformed into a squadron and subordinated to an air base in Chita commanded by a helicopter pilot.  They described the mixed group as complete bedlam, lacking a normal flight schedule, but they have to fly anyway.  Mid-ranking ground support personnel have been cut.  The squadron has no trainers.  General Staff Chief Makarov’s mantra about one pilot per operational aircraft is becoming reality.  The next step in the reform will make squadrons into detachments.  Karnovskiy concludes, when there’s only one aircraft per theater of military operations, the president will announce that the armed forces have completely introduced the ‘new profile’ and the housing problem for pilots has been solved.

Another good analysis on this issue came from Mikhail Rastopshin in Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye on 23 October.  He notes that the Air Forces received no new aircraft between 1994 and 2003, and only three since then–a Tu-160 and two Su-34.  He reported that ‘experts’ conclude the Air Forces probably have only 500 combat aircraft capable of taking off.  Air Forces CINC Zelin has politely noted that his service’s rearmament rate is inadequate.

Rastopshin explains how Long-Range Aviation’s old Tu-160, Tu-95MS, and Tu-22M3 can’t be modernized to serve as particularly effective bombers against a robust air defense.  He sees the loss of 4 aircraft officially, or 8 or 10 unofficially, against Georgia as evidence of the Air Forces’ problems.  He explains how many of Russia’s missiles have a short launch range that leaves aircraft in range of enemy air defense weapons.  Russian smart bombs can only be used against a fully suppressed air defense.  Aircraft like the Su-24, Su-25, and Su-27 have been modernized, but not sufficiently to operate against serious defenses.  Old ordnance and anti-radar missiles don’t allow aircraft to stay out of the enemy’s tactical air defense zone.

One last one of interest.  In Sovetskaya Rossiya, Colonel I. Ivanov writes that only 30-35 percent of the Air Forces’ inventory is operational.  Regiments have only 30 percent of requisite supplies, and shortages of equipment and personnel for airfield maintenance exist.  Defense Minister Serdyukov’s new logistics corporation, OAO Oboronservis and its affiliate OAO Aviaremont, will now run the Defense Ministry’s aircraft repair plants.  Ivanov complains that Aviaremont’s main concern will be profit rather than combat readiness.  He doubts current aircraft can continue to fly for another 5-7 years while waiting for new ones.  He claims average flight hours per pilot have increased because more fuel is available, but also because there are now fewer pilots to share the hours.  Like Karnovskiy above, he lampoons Makarov’s comment about cutting pilots down to the number of operational aircraft and increasing their flight hours.  If Russia has only one airworthy aircraft and one crew, the Air Forces can report 100 percent combat readiness.  Ivanov says most training is limited to three aircraft at a time, so there’s little chance for regiment-level command and control training.  Pilots don’t get enough practice missile firings.

He concludes that the U.S. has a great advantage in ALCMs, while the Russian munitions inventory has seen little improvement in the past 15 years.  The new Kh-555 and Kh-90 with conventional warheads are accurate, but are not being produced in quantity for the Air Forces.

Ivanov claims only 2-3 Tu-160s are getting flying time, so they don’t make for much of a leg of the nuclear triad.  He says getting 2 Tu-160s to Venezuela required an enormous and expensive effort.  His bottom line–the Air Forces can’t safeguard Russia against the colossal advantage enjoyed by U.S. and NATO aerospace forces.  Serdyukov’s reforms aren’t helping this situation either.

Television Covers Plight of Former Garrison at Pereyaslavka-2

In recent days, TV Tsentr and REN TV have covered the situation of  civilians and military pensioners left in Pereyaslavka-2 when its unit relocated under Defense Minister Serdyukov’s ‘new profile’ reforms.  Pereyaslavka-2 is a military ‘monotown’ or garrison town that owed its existence to its unit.

Pereyaslavka-2 is located in Khabarovsk Kray, and its unit belonged to the Air Forces and Air Defense Army (AVVSPVO) in the Far East Military District.  Pilots and technicians went to their new base, but 400 civilian workers were dismissed.  When the unit left Pereyaslavka-2, 120 former military families were ordered to leave service apartments they long occupied.  These people did not move with the units and are deemed to lack any connection to the Defense Ministry and must surrender Defense Ministry housing.  Some of these former servicemen have been waiting ten years for a state housing certificate or a permanent apartment.  Their apartments are to be turned over to local civilian housing authorities. 

The Defense Ministry says these civilians must take their problems to civilian authorities.  Khabarovsk would like to take over Pereyaslavka-2, but it has not received the proper documents to do so.  Khabarovsk officials say it’s up to the Defense Ministry and the federal government to transfer responsibility for the garrison’s housing to local control.  Khabarovsk can’t take Pereyaslavka-2’s housing on its balance sheet until the garrison’s status as a closed town is lifted, but only the RF government can do this.  Meanwhile, the current inhabitants fear the local housing authorities will redistribute their apartments.

In November, Tikhookeanskaya zvezda said 2,500 families of the officers and civilians were left behind in Pereyaslavka-2.  They wrote the regional government asking who would be responsible for the normal functioning of housing, municipal services, and heating this winter in place of the Defense Ministry.  Regional officials said they were working with the military and everything was under control.  The region would retrain dismissed officers and make available some of the apartments needed for the military.

Recall this fall that former Air Forces personnel and civilians in the western Russian garrison town of Shatalovo put on their own mini-Pikalevo to protest their unit’s relocation to Voronezh.  The unit’s move left 3,000 residents in a town given up by the Defense Ministry, but not yet taken over by Smolensk Oblast.  See Kommersant for good coverage of the events in Shatalovo.

Leadership Looking at the OPK’s Problems

Since fall, Putin, Medvedev, and Serdyukov have focused on the problems of Russia’s defense-industrial complex (OPK) and whether it will be up to the job of rearming the armed forces by 2020.

At an OPK conference in Nizhniy Novgorod on 24 December, Serdyukov noted that the oblast has nearly 16 billion rubles worth of state contracts for arms and equipment.  Defense Ministry armaments chief Vladimir Popovkin said, however, that the region’s producers who fail to supply weapons on time will be subject to millions of rubles in fines.

Conference participants also discussed necessary measures to organize timely placement of tasks and financing with contractors.  In particular, the Defense and Finance Ministries are reportedly trying to make production advances available in January 2010 for next year’s contracts.

In Vremya novostey, some Nizhniy Novgorod producers gave their own views on their problems.  They call the state’s pricing policy one of their main problems.  Despite the government constant statements about an increasing State Defense Order (GOZ), defense enterprises are not being paid on time or fully.  The oblast’s production grew in 2009, but the Defense Ministry has not hurried to pay for it.  Advances range from 30-70 percent, but firms often wait a long time for the balance and may have to take out expensive loans in the interim.  The profitability of the region’s defense producers was low in 2009 in part because of higher prices for natural gas and electricity.  Enterprises shaved some personnel to improve their bottom lines.  They’ve asked for tenders in December, rather than in spring or summer for the 2010 GOZ, and for higher advance payments.  They say they cannot cut prices as the government has asked because they work within the real economy where inflation is a factor.

On 22 December, Putin discussed the 1.17 trillion ruble 2010 GOZ (8 percent higher than this year’s) with the government’s presidium.  He said the GOZ can’t “be limited only to modernization,” the forces need to receive “large shipments of modern equipment, not just individual samples.”  Putin noted the recent series of conferences on the OPK and said, “We’ll be seriously occupied with these problems.  However it’s already now obvious:  it’s necessary not simply to increase financing for the state defense order, that’s necessary itself, but it doesn’t solve all problems.  It’s necessary to seriously increase the demands for quality in production, reestablish effective cooperation links, to work on personnel support for the OPK.”  He also said long-term rearmament programs need to be formed and they need to be closely linked to the missions facing the armed forces.   Defense industry needs to make its technological development and modernization plans, conduct RDT&E and organize series production of equipment for the troops under these programs.  Putin promised to concentrate the work of the government’s Military-Industrial Commission (VPK), the Defense Ministry, and other core ministries on this in 2010.

On 18 December, Putin visited St. Petersburg to have a conference on shipbuilding.  He called for naval shipbuilding to develop a minimum 30-year plan of development.  He said there’s nothing wrong with buying foreign equipment if, in the future, Russian ships are built with 100 percent domestic materials and equipment.  He called on naval shipbuilding to have clear priorities and not shift between projects.  Writing in Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye a week later, Vladimir Shcherbakov noted that Putin’s words don’t square with the government’s actions.  Shcherbakov doesn’t believe buying the French Mistral amphibious landing ship will do much to move Russian shipbuilding forward.  He contrasts the government’s willingness to send money to the Amur Shipbuilding Factory working on the Akula-class SSN Nerpa for lease to India and its inability to help save smaller shipyards like Avangard in Petrozavodsk from bankruptcy.  He suspects Mistral may be a special deal just for Mezhprombank’s United Industrial Corporation (OPK) and its shipyards.  Whereas Putin had praise for civilian shipbuilding, he criticized the quality of naval construction.  Putin called for military shipbuilding to reestablish its technological and production links among enterprises, but he didn’t say anything about the state’s United Shipbuilding Corporation (OSK) which is supposed to perform this function.  To Shcherbakov, the government, Defense Ministry, and Navy just aren’t prepared to provide proper financing and orders to shipbuilders.

On 12 December, TV Tsentr’s Postscriptum featured independent views on rearmament from Leonid Ivashov and Ruslan Pukhov.  They talked about the role of corruption in high prices for defense production.  Pukhov said, “Of course, there is monstrous corruption and ineffective management, which exists in an entire range of defense enterprises, and then this collusion between the purchasing authorities of the armed forces branches and services and military-industrial complex enterprises, when under the cover of secrecy a huge quantity of resources are doled out, and it is practically stolen.  In the opinion of many high officials and directors of the Defense Ministry, kickbacks often go up to 50 percent.”  Ivashov said, “There are many causes for high prices.  Which of them is first, I don’t know, however there is pervasive corruption, Putin recognized this, and Medvedev recognizes this, it exists and, it means a system of kickbacks exists.  And for a defense enterprise director or even a group of enterprises to receive a defense order, they openly demand a kickback, this raises the price.

On 9 December, Viktor Litovkin reviewed Putin’s recent activity on OPK issues, noting that his 8 December visit to Uralmashzavod and other Sverdlovsk Oblast enterprises was his third trip to OPK plants in two months.  He earlier visited missile producers in Kolomna, and liquid-fueled rocket engine maker Energomash in Khimki.  Litovkin noted that Russian tank production is now more important to India than Moscow.  In Nizhniy Tagil, Putin called for a unified plan of future design work for armored systems.  Putin said Uralvagonzavod would receive 10 billion rubles in early 2010 to establish and run armor “service centers” for the Defense Ministry, relieving troops of this noncore function.

In early December, Air Forces Commander-in-Chief indicated he is not happy with the development of Russia’s new S-500 air defense system.  He doesn’t want a continuation of the S-400, but a system to counter missiles in “near space.”  Sergey Ivanov once called for it to be a 5th generation anti-air, anti-missile or aerospace defense system.

Serdyukov Says He Accomplished Everything Planned for 2009

Defense Minister Serdyukov (photo: Liliya Zlakazova)

In part one of his Rossiyskaya gazeta interview, Serdyukov said all Russian formations and units are now in permanent readiness status, practically all are manned at 98 percent or better, and no longer depend on the mobilization of men and equipment.  This is why they are now prepared for war in 1 hour.  Serdyukov said 2009 exercises showed problems with officer and soldier training, so this year the armed forces will focus on individual and battalion and lower level training.  He wants to give Russia’s Military District commanders real experience as interbranch and interservice commanders.

Serdyukov discussed the effort to introduce more physical training for soldiers and officers into the military’s day.  He believes a greater physical load on soldiers will leave less time and energy for disturbing legal order (i.e. for hazing, violence, and other crime) in the army.

Regarding next steps, Serdyukov says, “Undoubtedly, the most costly over time will be completing tasks in the systematic rearming of the army and navy.  We calculate that by 2012 in percentage terms we’ll have up to one-third, by 2020 from 70 to 100 percent modern types of equipment and armaments.”

Asked about arms procurement for 2010, Serdyukov said an increase in the volume was not bad given the economic crisis’ impact on Russia’s budget.  He emphasized the sharp cut in repairs in favor of buying new equipment.  The OPK is not ready for the task of modernizing the armed forces, and itself needs a modernization program which he expects in the first quarter of 2010.  Serdyukov defended the possibility of some arms purchases abroad as a way of catching up in areas where Russia lags.  He said there’s no final decision on the Mistral amphibious landing ship, but discussions are ongoing with France, and other countries.

Asked about unhappiness over his reforms in the officer ranks, Serdyukov said he’s aware of this, and his General Staff representatives are often out among the troops to observe situations, and report on them and possible changes.  For example, when it comes to premium pay, all officers in the best units now receive it.  In 2010, every third officer will get premium pay.  He says the Defense Ministry will try to start premium pay among contract soldiers in 2011.

Serdyukov admitted that he has absolutely not solved the military’s housing problem, but he thinks the Defense Ministry is moving out on its goal of 45,000 apartments in 2009, although he did not say how close it is to this goal.  He said that dismissed officers living in official apartments cannot be settled somewhere else at present.

In part two of his Rossiyskaya gazeta interview, Serdyukov said this year’s premium pay initiative will be the basis for military pay reform.  A lieutenant will make 45-50,000 rubles per month, a colonel 180,000, a large ship or submarine commander even more.  A contract soldier will earn 30,000 per month.  Basic pay will increase, supplements will be reduced in number, and pay for specialties will increase.  But the new system won’t be introduced any earlier than 2012.

Turning to law and order in the military, Serdyukov said the struggle against dedovshchina is not a temporary campaign.  He blames officers who are unprepared to deal with it.  He calls discipline in the ranks a major unresolved problem.

What Others Say About Bulava and Borey

New Borey-class SSBN Yuriy Dolgorukiy on Sea Trials

According to Navy Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Vysotskiy, the slight delay in the laydown of the 4th Borey SSBN unit came from “technological causes” unconnected with the problems of the developmental Bulava SLBM.  Vysotskiy also denied that there were any financing problems behind the postponement.  He said, “All preparatory work for the laydown was complete.”  The laydown was moved from 22 December to sometime in the first quarter of 2010.  Sevmash shipyard officials in Severodvinsk report that they weren’t told any more than that.  However, Vladimir Yevseyev of IMEMO told the delay in the next Borey is connected with the unsuccessful test launches of Bulava.  Yevseyev said, “There really is a connection with the postponement of the laydown.  The perspectives are unclear, two boats out, one building, but no missiles.  It’s only possible to put Bulava on boats of this class, therefore after the last unsuccessful launch they decided to wait it out, it’d be strange to spend so much money and lay down a boat without missiles.”

Serdyukov Not Abandoning Bulava SLBM

Reporting on a Rossiyskaya gazeta interview to be published Thursday, ITAR-TASS quoted Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov saying he is not giving up on the Bulava, despite a string of unsuccessful test launches.  Asked if the Bulava’s problems influenced the delay in the laydown of the fourth Borey SSBN, Serdyukov stated, “The laydown will happen, and we certainly aren’t abandoning the Bulava.  What’s the cause of unsuccessful launches?  I think there are really many causes, among them, the unpreparedness of the production base to make everything precisely.  Here the question of production discipline still has an impact.  Someone tries to replace materials with others, this also drags a mass of consequences.  In general, there is an entire tangle of problems and, unfortunately, they are not being resolved as quickly as we would like.  Nevertheless, I think that the missile will fly.”

Makarov Declares Transition to ‘New Profile’ Basically Complete

According to Rossiyskaya gazeta, General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov told a foreign military attache audience that Russia’s new military doctrine, with a reinforced emphasis on possible first nuclear use, has gone for President Medvedev’s signature.  Makarov has declared the military’s transition to a ‘new profile’ basically complete.  He says all remaining formations and units are now in a permanent readiness condition.  Although only 9 days remain in 2009, he insists the Defense Ministry will get 45,500 apartments for servicemen this year.  In line with planned cuts, Makarov said officers who have served their full careers and have housing were dismissed this year, but 37,000 were put outside the TO&E to await housing before being dismissed.  He says some 20,000 warrant officers were retained, but the rest were dismissed or transferred to sergeant positions.  General officers were cut from 1200 to 780, and Makarov claims the military is already down to only 150,000 officers.  Makarov called rearmament one of the most complex problems of reform, that will be costly and drawn out to 2020. He looks forward to a new strategic arms agreement with the U.S. that doesn’t harm Russia’s interests like START.

Defense Ministry’s Closed Session Unimpressive

General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov

General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov gave the main report at the 17 December session with Duma Defense Committee members.  Makarov talked about the military’s ‘new profile’ reorganization to include a reduction to three levels of command.  He talked about major exercises in 2009 and plans for the Vostok-2010 exercise to begin in late June.  Committee Chairman Viktor Zavarzin billed the topic as “The Course and Interim Results of the Realization of RF President Dmitriy Medvedev’s Decision on the Formation of a New Profile of the RF Armed Forces.”  Deputy defense ministers Nikolay Pankov and Vladimir Popovkin also reported. 

According to Gazeta, the session went 3 hours.  Committee members were unhappy because they either didn’t get an answer to their questions, or didn’t even get to pose a question.  There were not more than 15 questions.   The lengthy reports and long, drawn out answers used most of the time.  Pankov talked about officer and warrant officer cuts, but said nothing new.  Popovkin gave a secret report on arms acquisition for 2010.  He apparently indicated there aren’t, and won’t be, any alternatives to the troubled Bulava SLBM.  Deputy Committee Chairman Mikhail Babich managed to propose sharing Defense Minister Serdyukov’s Order No. 400 premium pay equally among officers of good units, rather than giving it to a few.  Someone also proposed postponing the elimination of warrant officers until the first professional sergeants appear in the ranks.

Sovetskaya Rossiya reported that Serdyukov didn’t have much to say and showed some irritation.  Makarov maintains everything’s great, but mid-ranking servicemen say otherwise; life is not like the Defense Ministry paints it.  The official answers to questions were unconvincing, and former Black Sea Fleet Commander Komoyedov says the speakers didn’t assess Russia’s combat capabilities.  For his part, he sees major problems in training personnel and rearmament.  Komoyedov concludes military men are becoming cringing and servile because they fear being put out of the Armed Forces.  N. V. Kolomeytsev wanted to know how exactly how many officers remain and how many have been put out.  Apparently, Pankov must have said only 59,000 were put out this year.  Kolomeytsev says the session was closed to keep information from getting out, but also to conceal that the Defense Ministry reforms are being introduced by incompetents.