Daily Archives: January 13, 2010

Why the Command Changes?

Writing in Grani.ru, Vladimir Temnyy reminds that Komsomolskaya pravda also indicated 58th CAA commander Anatoliy Khrulev would be retired.  This follows a theory that the Defense Ministry is cashiering all commanders from the five-day Georgian war.

But Temnyy says there are more serious reasons for the changes.  He says Serdyukov’s struggle to introduce the ‘new profile’ still has an ‘information-propaganda quality’ and real changes are coming with extreme difficulty, especially in the largest service, the Ground Troops.

According to Temnyy, here is where the greatest structural changes came–more than 20 combined arms divisions liquidated to make 80 brigades.  And although the Genshtab reported last month that all reform plans were fulfilled, today realistically not more than 10 percent of the troops entrusted to former CINC Boldyrev are ready to fulfill combat missions.  The rest are in a drawn out transitional state. 

Temnyy expects more retirements in other services.  He concludes that Serdyukov didn’t get to pick any [well, not many, certainly not most] of these military leaders.  Recent years of war, chaotic reforms, scandal, and intrigue have formed such a pack of military leaders that, if you grab any one of them, you get a real zero.

Some other thoughts…Utro.ru turned to one Yuriy Kotenok, who said the changes are a continuation of the army reforms.  He believes the departure of Boldyrev and Makarov is hard to explain since he calls them the ‘designers’ of victory in the five-day war.  They preserved the training and the units that fought, so in his opinion, their retirement won’t do anything to raise combat readiness or lead to anything good.  About the formula “retired on reaching the age limit” for service, one thing can be said, when the leadership needs it, it falls back on this method.  And considering that several [sic?] hundred thousand officers and warrants have fallen under it, the practice is sufficiently widespread.

Not terribly convincing…

One more try…Gzt.ru quotes a Defense Ministry spokesman, Aleksey Kuznetsov, who said that Postnikov is 53 and this is a good age for a Ground Troops CINC.  Kuznetsov said, in this reshuffling, the Defense Ministry’s desire for younger personnel and rotations is being pursued.  Commanders should get leadership experience in the central apparatus and then take it out ‘to the troops.’

Privately, a number of Defense Ministry sources told Gzt.ru that before the end of May chiefs of staff and deputy commanders would be changed in all MDs.  In the Genshtab, they’re expecting more high-level retirements.  By spring, Serdyukov may shed those generals who don’t agree with something in the reforms he’s introduced.  Vitaliy Shlykov hints that having new command teams in the MDs may not make the reform process easier in the short run, since they’ll need time to get oriented.

Postnikov New Ground Troops CINC

General-Colonel Aleksandr Postnikov

This morning ITAR-TASS reported a number of changes in the Ground Troops and military distict leadership.  SibVO commander Postnikov becomes Ground Troops CINC, replacing Vladimir Boldyrev, retired on age grounds–he just turned 61. 

Postnikov will be 53 in February.  Commissioned in 1978, he’s served in many combined arms command posts, including in the GSFG and several military districts.  He served in army-level staff and command posts in the MVO and SKVO.  He was chief of staff, first deputy commander of the SKVO from 2004 to late 2006, when he moved to SibVO, becoming its commander in mid-2007. 

Postnikov now goes by Postnikov, but his real surname is Streltsov.  After marrying the daughter of former Army General Stanislav Postnikov, he adopted the hyphenated Postnikov-Streltsov, later dropping Streltsov completely.  The recent problems at the frozen ‘Steppe’ garrison in Postnikov’s SibVO didn’t hurt his promotion chances.  He eagerly publicized every SibVO effort to implement Serdyukov’s ‘new profile,’ and it apparently paid off.  

Postnikov’s chief of staff, first deputy commander also benefited.  General-Lieutenant Aleksandr Galkin moves from SibVO to become SKVO commander, replacing 57-year-old General-Colonel Sergey Makarov, sent off to retirement. 

General-Lieutenant Aleksandr Galkin

Galkin commanded the 41st CAA before moving up in the SibVO.  He’ll be 52 in March.  He doesn’t strike as particularly fit. 

General-Lieutenant Vladimir Chirkin will replace Postnikov as SibVO commander.  Chirkin was chief of staff, first deputy commander of the PUrVO. 

General-Lieutenant Vladimir Chirkin

Chirkin once served as chief of staff of the SKVO’s 58th CAA, and later as a deputy commander of the MVO.  He served in the GSFG and several MDs.  He will be 55 this year.  Interestingly, he was born in Khasavyurt, Dagestan and has four children.  He needs more apartment space. 

In a move that may reflect continued downgrading of the central apparatus and staff in Moscow, the very junior General-Major Sergey Surovikin will leave the [once?] prestigious Genshtab Main Operations Directorate (GOU) to replace Chirkin as chief of staff, first deputy commander in PUrVO.  Officers used to leave GOU only to move up or to retire. 

General-Major Sergey Surovikin

Surovikin commanded the 20th CAA before replacing the very experienced General-Colonel Rukshin as GOU Chief before the war with Georgia in 2008.  Surovikin will turn 46 this year.  He reportedly fought in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Chechnya.  He commanded the 34th and 42nd MRDs.  He is said to come from the ‘iron fist’ school of military leadership.  While commanding the 34th, one of his colonels blew his brains out in front of the entire staff after Surovikin upbraided him.  Serdyukov’s weeding out of GOU apparently occurred on Surovikin’s watch; about 500 posts, including lots of colonels and generals were reportedly eliminated from GOU in late 2008 and early 2009. 

It’s strange Surovikin would return to the ‘sticks’ so soon, and simply to what would be the next rung of the career ladder for him.  Did he cope with the GOU assignment or not?  Maybe he accomplished what was intended and wanted to return ‘to the troops.’  But his GOU tour seems like an abbreviated one. 

General-Lieutenant Andrey Tretyak moves from chief of staff, first deputy commander of LenVO to take over GOU from Surovikin.  Before his LenVO tour, Tretyak commanded the 20th CAA, and served in various MDs plus the GSFG. 

General-Lieutenant Andrey Tretyak

Tretyak is probably about 50-51, and was born into a serviceman’s family in Soviet-occupied East Germany. 

Finally, General-Major Ivan Buvaltsev will take Tretyak’s place as LenVO chief of staff, first deputy commander. 

General-Major Ivan Buvaltsev

Buvaltsev has been serving as first deputy chief of the Defense Ministry’s Main Combat Training and Troop Service Directorate.  He previously headed the MVO’s combat training directorate and commanded a tank division.