Daily Archives: January 14, 2010

More on the Command Changes

Interfaks-AVN reported today that Boldyrev’s resignation was his third attempt.  He allegedly tried to resign following the Defense Minister’s criticism of commanders in the five-day war with Georgia and while the ‘new profile’ reforms were being drawn up.

Aleksey Nikolskiy in today’s Vedomosti makes the good point that, at 57 and his rank, SKVO commander Sergey Makarov could have served another three years under the law.  So, following this logic, he was moved out for a reason.  Nikolskiy claims new GOU Chief Andrey Tretyak is close to General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov.  He notes that Postnikov and Galkin served under Nikolay Makarov when he commanded the SibVO.  The command changes may have been Makarov’s idea, and just approved by the Defense Minister.  And all those promoted are proponents of the Serdyukov-Makarov reforms.

Nikolay Poroskov, writing in Vremya novostey, notes that, in his nearly three-year tenure, Serdyukov has now changed out just about every significant military leader.  Poroskov notes that Defense Ministry spokesman Aleksey Kuznetsov had cited age and rotation as reasons for the changes, but he adds a third one–sources tell him it is the results of a personnel inspection conducted in the Defense Ministry.  The Main Military Prosecutor and others a conducting a major anti-corruption inspection that will last until 1 March.

Dmitriy Litovkin in Izvestiya says the departed generals like Boldyrev and Sergey Makarov weren’t officers who didn’t fit the ‘new profile.’  They know how to fight and how to control large force groupings.  But it may be that Serdyukov is really insistent on keeping to 55 as a general age limit for service.  Not really convincing…

A source has told Ivan Konovalov, writing for Kommersant, that the changes were about Nikolay Makarov putting his own guys in place in the MDs.  Konovalov notes the strange, meteoric rise of Surovikin, and his equally quick return to the ‘sticks.’  Konovalov has a source who says Surovikin didn’t cope well with GOU work at a time when it was being drastically cut.  The colonels and generals in GOU didn’t jump like conscripts, apparently.  At any rate, Serdyukov has said three-year rotations are going to be the norm.

In a more fanciful vein, Argumenty nedeli writes that N. Makarov could replace Serdyukov–who’s done his duty and his time.  Serdyukov could replace Sergey Ivanov as a deputy prime minister in charge of the defense sector.  Poor Ivanov would take responsibility for the North Caucasus.  Seems unlikely.

Yuriy Gavrilov in the government daily Rossiyskaya gazeta tries to damp things down a bit by saying the changes aren’t so revolutionary.  It’s not surprising that two ‘Siberians’ should move up because the SibVO is one of the best MDs [but there are only 6].  And Gavrilov draws the Siberian connection between N. Makarov, Postnikov, and Galkin.  A source has assured that Surovikin committed no missteps at GOU resulting in his return ‘to the troops.’  We get the same story about learning at the center, then taking the experience back out to the field.

Funny no one’s yet mentioned the old Siberian army ‘mafia’ led by former Ground Troops CINC Army General Kormiltsev when Sergey Ivanov was defense minister.  He had his ‘Siberians’ in key spots.  Actually, it might have been a former Transbaykal MD (ZabVO) ‘mafia.’  A lot of the members came to SibVO when ZabVO was shut down in 1998.

In Nezavisimaya gazeta, Vladimir Mukhin repeats the rumor that Serdyukov might go, and a military man could replace him.  But the issue is whether President Medvedev can, or feels like he can, replace one of Putin’s men.  Perhaps it would all depend of the circumstances of a possible Serdyukov departure, promotion, etc.  It’s very difficult to see why they would go back to a uniformed officer after having Sergey Ivanov, basically a civilian as minister, and Serdyukov, who is a complete civilian.