Monthly Archives: January 2010

Commander Provides Glimpse Inside ‘New Profile’

Colonel Anatoliy Omelchenko

For many years, Colonel Omelchenko commanded the 237th Center for Demonstrating Aviation Systems named for I. N. Kozhedub in Kubinka.  In other words, he ran the home base for Russia’s Vityazi and Strizhi flight teams that fly over the Kremlin in Victory Day parades and perform at air shows.

In mid-2008, Omelchenko became deputy commander of the 32nd Air Defense Corps at Rzhev, Tver Oblast.  The 32nd was part of central Russia’s air defenses known as the Special Designation Command (and before that as the Moscow Air Defense District).

With the advent of the ‘new profile,’ Omelchenko became commander of the new 6th Air-Space Defense Brigade (and of the Rzhev garrison as well).  It is one of the country’s 13 new air-space defense (VKO) brigades and likely part of the Operational-Strategic Command of Air-Space Defense (OSK VKO) that replaced the old Special Designation Command.

In late December, the local Veche Tveri paper reported that the region’s governor, other officials, and military commanders had met to discuss coordination and cooperation in the ‘social sphere,’ i.e. housing, communal services, and employment.  The military representatives were primarily VVS and RVSN officers based on what forces call Tver Oblast home and Omelchenko spoke at length in the meeting.

The Defense Ministry has bought 425 apartments in Tver and is considering 705 more.  A civilian official reported on rising unemployment in parts of the oblast.  Then Omelchenko noted that, in the transition to the ‘new profile,’ 4 units were disbanded and 10 units and sub-units were reformed in the process of creating his brigade.  In all, 957 military personnel (557 officers, 180 warrants, 220 sergeants and soldiers) and more than 300 civilian workers were subject to ‘org-shtat measures.’  As of 19 December, 31 officers and 15 warrants were dismissed.  All warrant billets were abolished and their duties given over to sergeants, and 40 officers and 33 warrants were put into sergeant posts.

Omelchenko said units at Andreapol and Bezhetsk were particularly affected.  More than 300 servicemen from the former went to the air base at Kursk and other units.  Its aviation-technical base and independent comms battalion became a komendatura–more than 200 servicemen and 65 civilians were transferred to it, Kursk, or other unitsIts automated C2 center was downgraded and 155 civilians were let go.  Sovetskaya Rossiya published a good account of the angst at Andreapol as its 28th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment disbanded in favor of the 14th Fighter Aviation Regiment at Kursk.

The situation at Bezhetsk was much the same.  Its unit sent 284 servicemen to the air base at Khotilovo and other units.  Two hundred servicemen and 65 civilians from the tech base and comms battalion became a komendatura, went to Khotilovo, or other unitsIts understrength radar battalion became an independent company.  And nearly 150 civilians were dismissed.

Omelchenko noted that the growth in the closed military town of Khotilovo-2 due to its regiment’s change into an air base has strained the housing situation.  The command is unable to provide housing for servicemen according to legal norms.  Two hundred to 250 apartments are needed.  Khotilovo doesn’t have enough jobs for military wives and nearly 200 jobs are needed for women with specialized training or technical education.  They might be found in Vyshnyaya Volochka, but there’s no public transportation.  Khotilovo’s ancient kindergarten has only 40 spots and probably 90 are needed.

Omelchenko’s life was probably easier in Kubinka.

Shurygin Critiques Military Reforms (Part 3 of 3)

On 13 January, Vladislav Shurygin published the final installment of Big Reform or Big Lie.

He focuses first on Putin’s military housing promises.  Former housing chief Filippov said, in early 2009, that more than 90,000 Defense Ministry servicemen needed apartments.  This represented a drop from 160,000 just a few years earlier.  But while the Defense Ministry was housing those 70,000 servicemen who came off the list for apartments, 80,000 waiting for apartments in order to retire joined the list, as did not less than 40,000 dismissed under Serdyukov’s reforms.  So no one really knows how many are on the list; it’s an issue of how many names the Defense Ministry recognizes.

According to Shurygin, the Defense Ministry has sifted the housing list and pushed tens of thousands of names off it.  Some in closed garrison towns have been counted as having housing while others were pushed into seeking dismissal at their own request and losing their rights to apartments.  Shurygin believes not more than one year after Putin declares that all servicemen have been housed Russian courts will still be full of military men suing the Defense Ministry over housing.

A lot of Shurygin’s information comes from the Duma roundtable on the preliminary results of Serdyukov’s reforms, held late last November.

There’s not one decision by ‘reformers’ and ‘optimizers’ that doesn’t bring sad consequences, according to Shurygin.  He cites the catastrophic state of Russia’s overflowing arsenals and munitions depots.  This summer Serdyukov transferred responsibility for them from the GRAU to the MDs and fleets who aren’t technically prepared to manage them.  Shurygin notes it was GRAU personnel who were punished for the November blasts at the Navy’s arsenal in Ulyanovsk.  Convenient people are punished rather than those who are truly guilty, according to him.

Arsenal management is split between the lower-paid military officers who supervise the storage area without adequate resources, and better-paid OAO Oboronservis people who operate the ‘technical’ area.  Disarmament of unneeded munitions is performed without the experience of servicemen, long ago dismissed, who knew how to assemble and disassemble them.  GRAU personnel are now just contracting officers who are no longer technically qualified for their work.

Now rotated to forestall corruption, factory voyenpredy now work on munitions, aircraft, and submarines, whether they are experts on the production of these systems or not.

Shurygin spends time describing the closure of the 5967th Arms and Equipment Storage Base (the former 16th Guards Tank Division) in Markovskiy village, Perm Kray.  He says the formation performed well in Stabilnost-2008, but was disbanded anyway. 

The Defense Ministry rapidly closed it last November.  No troops were left to guard the equipment, including 433 tanks, and money to pay for moving equipment arrived late.  All officers, warrants, and contractees were placed indefinitely outside the TO&E, and it was quietly made clear that they could be put out for ‘violating their contracts’ for any reason.  Civilians in support services were dismissed, and servicemen had to be brought in to perform essential jobs.  The kindergarten and military hospital are in limbo; the hospital doesn’t even have guards.  People in Markovskiy not only lost jobs, but also their emergency medical services which had been provided by the base.  Shurygin reports that the garrison’s telephone network and electricity grid are being sold to private operators.

Shurygin sums up a bit:

“The Defense Ministry has forgotten about one of its missions–this is guaranteeing the social defense of servicemen, civilian personnel, military pensioners, and family members.”

“The military unit, military hospital and KECh (apartment management unit) are our town-forming enterprises.  Eliminating them and putting nothing in their place, the Defense Ministry has thrown its servicemen to an arbitrary fate,  since a preliminary analysis of the consequences of dismantling our units was not conducted, and the mechanism for transferring the garrison to municipal control still hasn’t been determined, and also the timeframe, mechanism for transferring property hasn’t been determined.”

“And there are hundreds of such garrisons today!  And many thousands of such complaints!”

Shurygin asks somewhat rhetorically why Putin and Medvedev are silent about all this.  And he goes on to try to get at the nature of the Putin-Serdyukov relationship, postulating that maybe the latter is some kind of secret silovik, a KGB operative who visited Dresden and Putin in the late 1980s.  Sounds a tad far-fetched.

Nevertheless, it is true that Putin seems to trust Serdyukov, and Serdyukov is an ‘untouchable.’  Shurygin concludes an effort to remove Serdyukov would be the cause of one of the first conflicts between Putin and Medvedev.

Shurygin quotes General-Major Aleksandr Vladimirov, who says Serdyukov’s reforms have taken on such momentum that they cannot be stopped.

In them, Shurygin sees the complete destruction of the former Soviet military machine [a bad thing from his viewpoint].  Specifically, he sees the liquidation of its mobilization system, military science, personnel policy, state order, rear services, and technical support systems, its military service ideology, and its historical regiments [replaced by nameless brigades].  He sees the sale of a great part of its facilities, infrastructure, and land.  He also sees the liquidation of its military-industrial complex [but this clearly started long before Serdyukov].

What else does Shurygin see?  A physical cut in army manpower, in the officer corps and high command, the overturning of the military education and junior command personnel training systems, the practical destruction of the Suvorov military school system, the reduction of the armed forces’ presence abroad [could blame Putin, Yeltsin, and Gorbachev for this].

So Shurygin concludes that the field has been cleared, what will be built in its place and who will do it?  Russia’s leadership doesn’t know the army, is afraid of it, and doesn’t believe it is loyal to the leadership.  Reform has been placed completely in the Defense Ministry’s hands and it does as it pleases.  The criteria according to which the armed forces are being built aren’t obvious, but they are being built under the tyranny of the most unprofessional officials.  The professionalism of the high command is so low, that this itself is a national security problem.  And all the problems are getting worse.  Russia’s political elite has lost the skills to control the state and army, and the army as a school for training the nation’s elite has been lost.  The officer corps has been degraded and lumpenized.

The army’s situation has increased the power of the police and special services over society.

Quite simply, according to Shurygin, Russia is losing its capability to mount an armed defense even within its national boundaries.  The armed might of the USSR is gone, and that of Russia hasn’t been created.  But in the Kremlin, they don’t know what an army is, and this is why they weren’t capable of picking the right strategy for reform at a time when there was an historic chance to conduct it without hurrying.  When they could have selected what was right for Russia, they picked complete destruction, cuts, and breaking everything that could be broken.  Their remorselessness and arbitrariness rivals the Bolsheviks when they broke the Russian Army in 1917.  But at least the Bolsheviks eventually created the Soviet Army [well, after a fashion perhaps].

The greatest problem, according to Shurygin, is the officer corps.  It has been totally purged and cut.  The very best officer personnel, who had the courage to have their own opinions, preserve their independence, those who didn’t bow to the bosses, and served without ‘influence’ or protection, were the ones sent away.  In a year, the army’s lost the greatest portion of its most experienced and educated officers.  The Serdyukov reforms have broken the back of the officer corps, once and for all.

Officers who remain exchanged their honor for a tripling of their pay over three years.  The officers bought with this money are doomed to complete injustice and submission because any ‘disagreement’ with the policy would result in expulsion from the ‘feeding trough’ and dismissal.  The Kremlin can do as it sees fit, cut, drive off, take away benefits, and what’s needed is only one quality, complete submission.

If there’s a gap between the rulers and the officers, Shurygin believes the gulf between officers and soldiers is just as wide.  The army can’t be restored without restoring the officers corps, in Shurygin’s opinion.

Can the army survive the reforms of Kremlin commissar Serdyukov and his oprichnina?  No one knows the answer, but society needs to know because it will pay with blood for the mistakes and failures of the reforms.

Will the Army Survive the Reforms of 2009?

Military commentator Anatoliy Tsyganok gives some of his familiar answers to this question in

He lists three important factors that will determine the state of Russia’s defenses over the next 10-15 years (without necessarily fully exploring each):  information security, demographics, and weapons development.

He’d like to see “information troops” as a branch of the armed forces.  Not sure he could write his columns if they existed the way he describes them.  More interestingly, he asserts, by 2011-2012, the number of 18-year-old Russian males will be less than the number of conscript billets in the armed forces.  So something has to give.

Then Tsyganok spins off into a variety of interesting and familiar directions.

Regarding the shift to 3 levels of command, Tsyganok maintains it doesn’t improve the control over forces and it actually reduces combat readiness.  He questions whether the MD can transform itself from an administrative command into a warfighting front under modern conditions when it will have little time and may already be under attack.  Later he gives officer manning figures for the old regiments vs. the new brigades.  The former had 252 officers and more than 100 warrants against 900-1,800 soldiers and sergeants.  The latter has 135 officers against as many as 3,800 troops, so control is worse.

On the issue of tanks, Tsyganok says the reduced reliance on tanks might be right for a small war in the Caucasus, but a larger tank force remains useful elsewhere since not every war will be of the local variety.  With only 2,000 tanks, Russia would have only 285 for each MD and the KSDR, or 2 brigades and an independent battalion’s worth for each.

Tsyganok says the U.S. Army’s ratio of combat to combat support brigades is 1:3 and Russia’s is 1:0.88, leaving the latter deficient in combat support.  Without adequate combat support, the Russian brigade can’t cover the same kind of territory as its American counterpart, according to him.

Nor is the Russian brigade terribly mobile.  Tsyganok says, in Zapad-2009, one brigade rail marched 450 km in 7 days, while he claims a Chinese regiment exercising at the same time covered 2,400 km in 5 days.

Tsyganok is not impressed by Russia’s armaments program.  He asks why Russia should build new ships when it can’t maintain what it’s got.  He claims Russia’s ‘new’ corvettes will be outfitted with 20-year-old weapons.  Tsyganok complains that updating the electronics on 30-year-old Su-24, Su-25, and Su-27 aircraft doesn’t produce sufficiently combat capable platforms for today.

Turning to training and education, he runs through the familiar and modest results for 2009 (60 percent of the ‘new profile’ brigades got satisfactory evaluations) and reductions in the number of officers studying at the Combined Arms and General Staff Academies.

Tsyganok then tackles the formation of OAO Oboronservis to replace most of the army’s rear services.  According to him, it is quite a behemoth valued at perhaps more than a trillion rubles or 2-3 percent of Russia’s GDP.  He cites VVS CINC Zelin’s criticism of the high cost of capital aircraft repairs by its Aviaremont holding.

On military housing, Tsyganok says, the Defense Ministry’s claims notwithstanding, servicemen received less than 30,000 apartments in 2009.

He ends by discussing military corruption, which he describes as theft which knows no limits.  Officially, losses from economic crimes in the armed forces amounted to 2.5 billion rubles in 2009, adding to the 2.2 billion in 2008.

Tsyganok says:

“The prosecutor and other law enforcement mainly fight against low-level corruption, but they don’t touch its ‘apex.’  To increase the number of cases uncovered, they seize on rank and file corruption, but they don’t conduct a systematic fight against corruption in the ranks of the highest leadership.  Attempts to create special control organs still haven’t brought success:  in a thoroughly corrupt system, uncorrupted structures either don’t work or else quickly become corrupted themselves.  To ‘purge’ the main corrupt people, political will is needed, and we still don’t have it.”

It will be interesting to see if there is some kind of move against corruption in the Defense Ministry and other high places in the armed forces, as rumored during last week’s command changes.  The rumor probably shouldn’t be believed until some solid evidence appears.

Chechens as a Conscription Resource

On 13 January, ITAR-TASS announced that, for the first time since the Soviet collapse, the armed forces will conduct preliminary military registration in Chechnya of males born in 1993 and earlier.  The SKVO is organizing town and rayon draft boards.  The preliminary registration will continue until the end of March.  Administration heads are asked to get organizations and institutions to help spread the word about registration.

There is no move to draft young Chechens yet, and this represents an effort to inventory and organize potential manpower from the republic.

In recent years, small numbers of Chechens were called to serve in special operations units like the Vostok and Zapad battalions, but only in Chechnya.  In 2008, the republic’s military commissar said nearly 700 Chechens were conscripted during his tenure.  He said he had recommended that Chechens not be sent to serve outside their home republic for several years, and even then in limited numbers at first.

The military commissar said Chechnya had 50,000 men of draft age, and only 8-10 percent would be exempt for health reasons.

By spring 2009, however, the commissar reversed himself, saying he was confident Chechens would be drafted in fall 2009 or spring 2010.  The available Chechen manpower was also put at 80,000.  And its percentage of medically unfit men is one of the lowest in the Russian Federation.

Chechen human rights activists have opposed sending young Chechens outside their republic to serve.  Valentina Melnikova of the Union of Committees of Soldiers’ Mothers of Russia has said that after two military campaigns in Chechnya, not many parents are ready to send their children to serve in the Russian Army, where the majority of the officers took part in the counterterrorism operation and have a negative attitude toward Chechens.  She said, “There is no reason to involve Chechens in military service.  Almost every family has either lost a member or has had a member mutilated in the war.  Something like that is not easy to forget and this means that if Chechens end up in military communities, we are to expect new conflict situations and even crimes.”

Is Russia Ready for Netcentric Warfare?

Is It Really This Simple?

Dmitriy Litovkin addressed this recently in Izvestiya.  He defines netcentric war as generals in the Arbat controlling not only armies but individual soldiers in real time via a military Internet.  He calls the U.S. concept as gathering all forces into one information space and turning the armed forces into one huge reconnaissance-strike system. 

Litovkin cites one Robert Nikolayev, who worked in an NII, probably the Voronezh Scientific-Research Institute of Communications, now known as OAO Sozvezdiye [Constellation].  Nikolayev worked on the Manevr [Maneuver] system from 1983, which was to unite all fire means in one communications system and tell field commanders what the staff wanted, where friendly forces and targets were, and what weapons to use on them.  But Nikolayev indicates the Armed Forces Communications Directorate viewed the system as a threat and killed it.  He says it was a good system and it supposedly helped the Warsaw Pact defeat Western forces in a NATO war game.  In the early 1990s, Nikolayev worked on Polet-K for the VDV and it went through testing, but wasn’t fielded.

Litovkin says a new tactical C2 system called Sozvezdiye [isn’t this the firm’s name] is in the works, but no one wants to talk about it since it’s a state secret.  He describes it as an Internet-based computer network with secure email.

Litovkin thinks buying Israeli UAVs or French ships will make Russia’s task harder since it surely won’t get SENIT-9 or SIC-21 that give Mistral its automated C3 capability.  Russia will have to provide its own.

Litovkin adds comments from Mikhail Barabanov.  He says the USSR’s lag in electronics and computing equipment during the 1980s hurt the early efforts and then its collapse stopped the development of these sectors for a while.  He thinks Russia will not only have to overcome the continuing lag in information systems, but also change its military organization, manning, and training to become netcentric.

Rossiyskaya gazeta’s Sergey Ptichkin published a similar article not long ago.  Also see this for more on Russian netcentric warfare efforts in the 2009 exercises.  It covers the comms chief’s promises about individual soldier comms by 2011.  The VDV chief of staff also talked about this for his troops in his year-ender.

Golts on Command Changes, ‘Effective Management’ Producing Cynicism

Writing in Yezhednevnyy zhurnal, Aleksandr Golts says the age limit story for Boldyrev, et al, doesn’t hold water.  These guys were honored for their performance in the five-day war, and then tossed out.  Surovikin obviously got demoted.  It was a general pogrom.
The brief Georgian war was not great victory, but the leadership couldn’t punish the general incompetence then.  First, it had to give out medals, and wait a year before firing them.
Another possibility is the retired generals were being repaid for their unsuccessful implementation of Serdyukov’s reforms.  They bore the hard burden of cutting tens of thousands of officers.  Then they lost their jobs because the process didn’t go as well as Genshtab chief Makarov has claimed.  Why were they fired if they’ve just been honored as great military leaders?
This takes Golts back to the issue of honor.  The Defense Ministry leadership is worried about the morale of officer corps.  It wants this new honor code to become corporate rules of conduct officers operating as members of the same caste from lieutenant to general.  But Golts concludes the new code won’t change the reality that junior officers are crap, they’re serfs.  Does a new code mean anything when generals get awards they don’t deserve, then they’re forced out?  Does it mean anything if officers are dismissed after 10-15 years of service and don’t get their benefits.  Getting officers to request dismissal or putting them outside the TO&E seems so brilliant as a  bureaucratic move, but it’s disastrous for morale.  ‘Effective management’ like this only infects the new generation of officers with cynicism, and no honor code will remedy that.

Poor Return on Defense Ministry Auctions

 On 10 January, Interfaks-AVN reported that the Defense Ministry has sent the federal budget a fraction of an expected 10 billion rubles in proceeds from sales of its property in 2009, according to a Federation Council committee source.  The Audit Chamber expected 10.6 billion rubles, but only 1.5 billon has been forwarded to the budget.  The income was supposed to come from the sale of vacant land, unused property, and excess equipment.  So, either the sales did not produce the anticipated profits or corruption in the Defense Ministry drained them away.  The source said there was accurate accounting of what was to be sold, and what should be gained from the sales, and so there’s an obvious temptation to steal.

 In a November Duma roundtable, the Deputy Chairman of the Defense Committee, Mikhail Babich said:

“Corrupt practices in the army and navy increase every year, not least because of the Defense Ministry’s noncore functions.  At present the Defence Ministry itself takes stock of its noncore assets, values them itself, and sells military property, land, real estate, and entire military cantonments itself. Is this really the Defense Ministry’s function?  Why doesn’t the Defense Ministry hand its noncore assets over to the Federal Agency for the Management of State Property and the government, for a subsequent sale in accordance with the law?”

It doesn’t because pretty early on Defense Minister Serdyukov won a battle to keep this right inside his department.

Nezavisimaya gazeta’s Vladimir Mukhin picked up on this story yesterday.  He concludes right off that Serdyukov’s ambitious plans to profit from unused Defense Ministry property turned into a fiasco.  He notes the Defense Ministry hasn’t made a secret of this, saying on its auction site that more than half of planned auctions didn’t occur because of the lack of applications to participate.

Mukhin quotes Aleksandr Kanshin, chairman of the Public Chamber’s veterans, servicemen, and families committee, saying the unmet plan for selling excess military property (VVI) is more or less connected with last year’s economic crisis, but from the other side, it’s not really the Defense Ministry’s business to be salesman for state property, and military men have no experience, personnel, or resources for this.  Another interlocutor says there have been significant instances of corruption arising in the sale of VVI.

Simultaneously, the Defense Ministry’s Personnel Inspectorate and the Main Military Prosecutor (GVP) have launched a widespread anticorruption inspection under orders from Serdyukov.  The inspection covers Defense Ministry directorates, the armed services, branches, military districts, and fleets.  A law enforcement source told Interfaks the inspection aims to prevent crimes by officers and generals and will continue until 1 March.

The source said corruption and other offenses by several generals and senior officers had already been uncovered, and the central attestation commission might relieve them of their duties.  Offenses were noted in the VVS, VDV, Railroad Troops, and Ground Troops.

More than 40 percent of offenses by officers involved the theft of property or funds, and crime by senior officers is rising.  The GVP reported damages to the state from military corruption exceeded 2.5 billion rubles.

Krasnaya zvezda’s interview with the MVO military prosecutor is quite astounding.  He says he’s been implementing the national anticorruption plan since 2008, using an interdepartmental group, including “state security organ employees in the troops” [FSB officers] and command representatives.  So, in 2009, prosecutors and FSB officers investigated 190 cases.  Based on these, they gave commands 200 reports leading to disciplinary action against more than 300 “responsible parties.”  More than 130 investigations were directed to the “military-investigative organs” [the military section of the Investigative Committee or SK].  More than 100 criminal corruption cases were developed.  He credits the system of coordination among the “organs” involved.  But corruption sometimes has a very organized character.  He cites the loss of 128 million rubles to a corruption ring of officers from the Defense Ministry’s “central apparatus,” the apartment management directorate and staff of the MVO who stole and sold 140 vehicles and pieces of equipment in 2005-2008.

Mukhin gives some attention to the GVP’s figures too.  He adds that the GVP uncovered 1,500 corruption crimes in the ‘power’ ministries as a whole in 2009.  Every other case was either aggravated, or especially aggravated.  In 70 percent of cases, officers were the culprits.  In the GVP, they say that dishonest military commanders are making a fortune on auctions and contract bidding.

Mukhin then reminds everyone that it was Prime Minister Putin who, in late 2008, gave the Defense Ministry the right to handle its own VVI, rather than the Federal Agency for the Management of State Property.

Commenting for, Vladimir Temnyy also blames Putin for letting the Defense Ministry run these auctions.  The first thing Serdyukov intended was to inventory and get rid of noncore property and functions which lead generals to embezzle state funds, but this has apparently happened anyway since 9 billion rubles are missing.  So why wasn’t somebody like Serdyukov, as everyone expected, able to pull off a successful process of shedding VVI and benefiting the state.  Two reasons–the crisis and theft by his subordinates surpassing all conceivable limits.  Could the reformer become a victim of his own trust in his people?  The state won’t get the money back anyway because it’s already gone into fabulous suburban homes occupied by modest colonels and generals, according to Temnyy.  So the sale of VVI has raised military living standards after all, at least for some.

Recall also that Nikolay Poroskov said one source told him the recent command changes weren’t just about age and rotations, a third reason was the results of the personnel [and GVP?] inspection above.

Also, there’s the talk about devising a new “officer’s honor code.”  Certainly, it will prohibit corruption.  Can’t be a coincidence.

Babich on the Command Changes

Duma Deputy Mikhail Babich

United Russia Duma deputy, and deputy chair of the Duma’s Defense Committee, Mikhail Babich believes that those who don’t agree with reforms in the armed forces are being pushed out. reports on what Babich told Interfaks

Babich says: 

“Changing military commanders–this is not a planned rotation.  This is an attempt to stop the possibility of a leak of any objective information from the troops.  Former Ground Troops CINC [Army] General Boldyrev, being a sufficiently professional military commander and understanding the hopelessness of what’s occurring, calculated it was better for him to go out on his pension than to continue putting today’s reforms into practice.  This also goes for the dismissal of very promising, well trained, and organized General [-Colonel] Sergey Makarov, but it’s only tied to the fact that the SKVO commander correctly, but very professionally established his position in relation to the negative consequences of transferring the district’s troops to the so-called new profile.  Rotating military commanders, undoubtedly, will continue to the point when those who don’t agree (with the conduct of reforms) or who have their own point of view no longer remain at all in the armed forces.” 

Babich sees General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov appointing his SibVO loyalists to MD posts in these personnel changes. 

“The Genshtab chief is promoting people personally attached to him who owe him their military careers.  In this way, he’s trying to buy some time to cover up the negative consequences of the ongoing military reform, which are increasingly obvious today.” 

Babich said a just completed check of unit and formation combat readiness in the DVO “ended in complete failure.”   

“According to the results of the check, practically all units of the air-assault and motorized rifle brigades put on alert turned out to be not combat ready.  A complete zero–beginning from manning, ending with equipment readiness, its capability to exit the parking area, availability of mechanic-drivers and drivers, who are qualified to operate this equipment.  Despite the fact that they’ve already reported to the Supreme Commander-in-Chief [Medvedev] ten times about the fact that since 1 December 2009 all units and formations of the Russian Army have been transferred to the permanent combat readiness category and are fully combat ready, really not one of them is such.  The real situation is completely otherwise, but the Genshtab chief continues to mislead the Defense Minister and the country’s highest military-political leadership about the real state of affairs.” 

President Medvedev Gets Report from Serdyukov

Serdyukov and Medvedev at Vystrel Training Range

President Dmitriy Medvedev and Defense Minister Serdyukov met at the Vystrel training area near Moscow yesterday.  Medvedev set his priorities for 2010–nuclear forces, rearmament, and military housing.

On force modernization issues, Medvedev emphasized this year’s priority on preserving the strategic nuclear component.  Looking over infantry weapons, he said he wants Russia to create modern, effective, and economical small arms.  They should be competitive with the best foreign models, he added. 

He inspected some new wheeled vehicles and armored vehicles from KamAZ, and looked over the Tigr vehicle which will go to special operations sub-units.  He was told it was not adopted widely in the armed forces because it has a powerful American-made engine.  Serdyukov said a similar Russian engine is being developed.

Serdyukov reported that ineffective repair work was cut by 28-30 percent this year.  The Defense Ministry also significantly cut ineffective RDT&E, and savings from both were put toward buying new arms, according to Serdyukov.  He asserted that, in line with Medvedev’s direction, financing for the 2010 GOZ is beginning earlier than in the past, as early as 15 January.

Serdyukov said Russia bought 43 new aircraft in 2009, against only 2 in 2008, and 1 in 2007.  It also got 41 helicopters, against 10 in 2008, and 2 in 2007.

Serdyukov assured Medvedev that all servicemen in line would receive apartments this year.  Medvedev responded that, “No weapon will be as important in comparison with meeting the promise we gave officers to supply them with apartments.”  Serdyukov reported that the Defense Ministry met its housing target for 2009 by obtaining 45,614 apartments.

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.