Daily Archives: January 7, 2010

Medvedev’s Take on Combat Capability

RF President Dmitriy Medvedev

 You may recall after the five-day war with Georgia, and before Serdyukov’s reform announcement, President Medvedev issued his own theses on combat capability.  

Though he’s not a learned military theoretician, Medvedev’s statement is obviously important.  Find coverage at Rosbalt.  

Medvedev said:  

“The development of five factors is necessary for the effective resolution of combat missions.  We are talking about improving the TO&E structure of the troop basing system.  If we speak plainly and directly, all combat formations must be transferred into the permanent combat readiness category.  Second is increasing the effectiveness of the armed forces command and control system.  It’s impossible to count on success in modern combat without this.  Third is the improvement of the personnel training system, military education and military science.  We need an army equipped with the most modern weapons–the fourth factor.  We’ll give first priority attention to this issue, but fundamentally new high-technology weapons types will have special significance.  The fifth factor is improving the social condition of servicemen.  These five factors will determine the combat capability of our armed forces.”  

This is fairly close to what our military scholar published in Voyennaya mysl.  

Medvedev went on to add that, by 2020, Russia will add to its nuclear deterrence, intelligence, air superiority, ground and naval strike, and operational troop redeployment capabilities.  Russia has planned for serial ship and submarine construction, and establishment of an aerospace defense system, according to Medvedev. 

Before becoming president, Medvedev traveled to Kaliningrad in January 2008.  He was still a first deputy prime minister in charge of ‘priority national projects,’ of which housing is (was?) one.  On that occasion, he noted that the resolution of the social problems of servicemen directly influenced the combat capability of the armed forces.  He said it was necessary to solve their housing problems, “otherwise combat capable armed forces won’t exist.” 

Next, there should be some interesting Putin comments on combat capability, also questions in many public polls on the armed forces are couched in terms of what people think about their combat capability.

Defense Ministry Considering New Ranks?

An old story worthy of a slow Orthodox Christmas Day…. 

In mid-October, an unnamed source told Interfaks that the Russian military might introduce a new rank–either ‘brigade general’ or ‘senior colonel’–in between its colonel (O-6) and general officer ranks.  The story called forth a variety of official and semi-official reactions. 

According to one account, the Defense Ministry termed discussion of a new rank “premature.”  Other accounts said no decision on the introduction of a new rank had been made.  Others dismissed the story as pure rumor, saying the issue was not being worked in the Genshtab or Main Personnel Directorate.  One Genshtab source attributed the story to the imagination of journalists. 

The Interfaks source said the Defense Ministry might confer a new rank on the commanders of its 85 new permanently ready Ground Troops brigades and 33 air bases.  The new rank would supposedly “enhance their status,” and distinguish them from “ordinary” colonels. 

However, in late November, State-Secretary and Deputy Defense Minister Nikolay Pankov said the issue of new ranks was speculation, and had not even been raised.  He said the current rank structure would remain, and denied that either ‘brigade general’ or ‘senior colonel’ would be introduced. 

Deputy Defense Minister Pankov Said No New Ranks

Who knows whether a new higher rank would be significant to Russian officers?  One new brigade commander said that, when you’re living month to month, higher pay is the best incentive and recognition.  The best commanders are already being ‘incentivized’ with Serdyukov’s premium pay.  But, in a couple years, all officers are supposed to share in a new and significantly higher base pay scheme.  

Several well-known defense commentators like the idea of a new rank to distinguish the new brigade commanders.  Anatoliy Tsyganok says he is more concerned about whether they will receive the education and training needed to become operational and operational-strategic commanders at a time of wholesale changes in the Russian military educational system. 

‘Brigade general’ or brigadier would fit well into the current Russian system, since a Russian one-star is a General-Major.  Moscow reportedly would not go with ‘senior colonel’ because it might look like Russia was following the lead of China, North Korea, and Vietnam. 

If this issue comes back around, it’s worth remembering how Pankov flatly denied it.

Evaluating Combat Capability

Part 2 of the Voyennaya mysl article focuses specifically on methods of evaluating and calculating indicators of combat capability for tactical units.

Every unit possessing personnel, arms and equipment, and necessary material supplies has combat capability.  The level of combat capability multiplies the following factors:

  • The quantitative level of personnel, arms and equipment, and supplies.
  • The suitability of arms and equipment.
  • The quality of supplies.
  • The condition of personnel (morale-psychological and physical, discipline, professional training, and combat integration).
  • The condition of the command and control system.

Determining the Combat Capability Level of a Sub-Unit

Decrements in each of the factors take the theoretical armaments potential of 1 down to a combat capability level of .43 in the author’s example.

He goes on to show how each of the factors themselves are individually broken down and evaluated.  What could be called sub-factors in them are each evaluated by a familiar excellent (1), good (.95), or satisfactory (.9) standard.  He describes how of positive, good, and excellent training evaluations are converted into the professional training sub-factor.  He has an interesting chart showing things like less than 70 percent positive evaluations is an unsatisfactory, not less than 70 percent positive evaluations is a satisfactory, etc.

The author summarizes by saying his approach allows for identifying problem areas in combat capability with an eye to improving combat potential.  The results of inspections can be used to evaluate soldiers and then the entire sub-unit.  So 60 percent of soldiers at excellent (.8), 20 percent at good (.7), 15 percent at satisfactory (.6), and 5 percent at unsatisfactory (.4) gives the sub-unit an overall evaluation of .73.  This has to be multiplied against the quantitative first bullet above, if it’s .8, then .73 x .8 yields a combat capability level of .584.

The point is, at this working military academic level, the Russians have what might be a fairly rigorous methodology for evaluating their own combat capability.  Who knows if the high command thinks this way when it talks publicly, but combat capability clearly isn’t the same thing as combat readiness.  And the concept of battle readiness needs a closer look.