Monthly Archives: February 2010

More on Carriers from Gorshkov Conference

Navy CINC Vysotskiy (photo: RIA Novosti)

RIA Novosti has more coverage of Navy CINC Vysotskiy’s carrier comments from yesterday.  Vysotskiy said there’s a plan to build and launch an aircraft carrier by 2020, and the technical proposal for it has to be developed and ready by the end of 2010.

“According to the plan, by year’s end we’ll receive the technical proposal for a future aircraft carrier with the basic tactical-technical characteristics.  Then development of the working documentation will begin.” 

He said experimental-design work (OKR) was already under way.

Vysotskiy noted that a Federal Goal Program (FTsP) was needed to construct an aircraft carrier, because financing to do it in the State Defense Order (GOZ) would be very complex.

Former Navy CINC, now advisor to the Defense Minister, Vladimir Masorin, remarked that carriers make it possible to influence the situation in the world, and its different regions.  He added that, if Russia wants to become a great naval power, it has to have carriers and they will have to be nuclear-powered.  He believes the main thing is preserving Russia’s scientific potential and carrier pilot skills:

“Aircraft carriers can’t be built in a short period.  We have to preserve our scientists, designers, and pilots.”

Navy CINC Vysotskiy on Parity, Space, Carriers

Navy CINC Vysotskiy

ITAR-TASS reported Navy CINC Vladimir Vysotskiy’s remarks at a military-historical conference dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the birth of long-time Soviet Navy CINC Sergey Gorshkov.  Vysotskiy said: 

“For the first time in history Russia threw down the gauntlet to old naval powers.  Having achieved nuclear parity with the U.S. Navy, the [Soviet] Navy became a strategic service of the armed forces.  Thanks to this we are developing many of the most serious goals to ensure keeping this parity, and we are correcting all approaches which were laid down in the ‘unforgettable’ 1990s.  Russia is the inheritor of a great state that has to possess an oceanic fleet capable of defending national interests wherever they are.  And they are everywhere in the world’s oceans.” 

In Vysotskiy’s estimation, “putting the fleet into operationally important areas of the world’s oceans allows us to look with certainty into the future, with the support of the Supreme CINC.”

Vysotskiy pointed to Gorshkov’s emphasis on nuclear weapons, submarines, and naval aviation, and noted that, “The memory of Gorshkov allows us to stand not on a crude defense, but to move forward.” 

RIA Novosti’s account quoted Vysotskiy on space and aircraft carriers:

“Without air supremacy it’s impossible to conquer space.  The one who understands this is on the right path.” 

He observed that space and air forces are the main danger even for submarines.  And submarines have to rely on space-based comms.  Vysotskiy said it’s essential for Russia to build ‘aviation-carrying systems’ which are very similar to space systems in their own way. 

“Today it’s necessary to understand the significance of these systems, it’s necessary to do this today, this must be a collective work of the state.” 

In other words, he wants the state to see things the same way and pay for it. 

He said today 9 countries have ‘aviation-carrying fleets,’ and 14 will by 2014. 

“If China intends to have one, this is understood, and if even Thailand intends to have one, then we also need to understand this in Russia today.” 

He also noted that costly investment in [naval] construction is justified even in a time of crisis since 90 percent of the world’s cargo is delivered by ships which need to be protected.  But one wonders how much of Russia’s is.  All in all, a weak justification.

Happy Defender’s Day

Medvedev Lights Flame at Tomb of the Unknown Along Kremlin Wall

In his Defender’s Day eve address on Monday, President Dmitriy Medvedev said:

“The defense of native land, service in the army and fleet has always been considered our holy duty.  And those who chose the military profession as the business of their entire lives command great respect among our people.”

Apparently, not too holy since Medvedev didn’t serve, even though he would have been due for conscription at the zenith of the mass mobilization Soviet Army and one of the coldest points of the Cold War [1983].  Of course, there are lots of presidents who didn’t serve in their countries’ armed forces.

Medvedev went on to thank Russia’s veterans with the 65th anniversary of the Great Victory fast approaching [9 May].

Then he noted:

“. . . strengthening the defense capability of our country–this, absolutely, is the fundamental basis for our development.  Our strategic goal is the formation of an effective army and navy, adequate for the level of modern threats, capable of withstanding any level of aggression and being a real factor in guaranteeing international stability.”

“Before us stands the main mission–to reequip the army and fleet with the newest armaments.  It is essential to concentrate resources, all our best forces, and our country has done this more than once, in order to create new quality types of military equipment and finally escape from a system of “patching holes” in old armaments.  Some has already been accomplished here, but this is a basic task for the near future.”

“Strengthening Armed Forces personnel will also remain a priority.  People who have received a modern quality education answering the demands of the time need to be occupied with military affairs.  People who are prepared to complete contemporary combat missions, to complete them in the most effective way and, absolutely, physically and morally prepared.”

“The most important condition for the successful modernization of the Armed Forces–this is increasing the quality of life for servicemen.  The current military labor stimulus system (I have in mind the so-called order 400) is already giving positive results today.  From 2012 new salaries will be paid to all our country’s officers.”

“Everything necessary is being done so that this year all military men needing permanent housing will receive it.  I am keeping this issue under my personal control.”

“By the end of 2012 the issue of providing servicemen with service housing will be fully resolved.  I am sure that such guarantees will increase the wellbeing of your families and the prestige of military service as a whole.”

“Next it is important also that all measures to transfer the army and fleet to a new quality should be fulfilled efficiently and on schedule.  I am expecting precisely this from the Defense Ministry.”

On Tuesday, Medvedev participated in reigniting the eternal flame on the grave of the unknown soldier below the Kremlin wall.  The flame had been moved temporarily to Victory Park on Poklonnaya gora during the renovation of the tomb of the unknown.

Medvedev also visited a military unit in the Moscow suburbs and had tea with a senior lieutenant and his family in their new apartment.

The KPRF and its leader, Gennadiy Zyuganov, played the lead in presenting an opposite point of view on Defender’s Day.  The KPRF faithful marched from Triumfalnaya ploshchad to Teatralnaya ploshchad for a rally.  The party predicted 10,000 attendees, the police said there were 1,500, and Ekho Moskvy reported 4,000.

One KPRF leader said his party was coming out in defense of the army and fleet, their history, their power and against this senseless reform which Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov is conducting.  He said the KPRF would hold rallies in 8 regions where elections are being held on 14 March.  Those demonstrations, however, were focused on more ‘bread and butter’ issues like communal service rate increases.

Zyuganov himself was in vintage form, saying:

“The army is currently in an exceptionally poor state.  A totally useless man is today in charge of the army.  He has no right to hold this office.  Not a single military man would want to pronounce the family name of Serdyukov properly, without adding some insult.  This means that Mr Putin and Mr Medvedev have put in charge of the army a man who is incapable of teaching servicemen, rallying them together or setting key objectives concerning military security and army training and equipment of our armed forces.”

He continued, saying Russia has “no possibility not only to produce, but even to reform its existing military complex.”  He claimed Russia is 10 years behind NATO in military potential, and he said Russia’s strategic forces are “on their last legs.”  Addressing Prime Minister Putin, he asked why a minister like Serdyukov was being retained.

IA Regnum reported on a rally in support of army reform and modernization led by United Russia youth wing Molodaya gvardiya and the local branch of veteran’s organization Combat Brotherhood in Ulyanovsk.  Press reports said attendees were looking forward to restarting An-124 transport aircraft production at Aviastar, and having OPK enterprises serve as a locomotive for the rebirth of local industry.

Limited Productive Capacity, High Demand for Arms and Equipment

Surprisingly little attention, beyond routine press service reports, went to last Tuesday’s (16 February) government conference on the State Armaments Program, 2011-2020 (GPV-2020).  RIAN and older media reporting indicates the GPV-2020 will be adopted next month.

Prime Minister Putin told the attendees, “We are talking about the time frames and kinds of weapons systems we need to provide to our army and fleet, that have to be put into the arms inventory.”  Noting that nuclear deterrence forces, space, and air defense would be emphasized, Putin also said:

“We have to satisfy, as I already said, the troops’ need for modern communications, command and control, reconnaissance and, of course, complete the fifth generation aircraft, new combatant designs for the Navy.”

He reiterated earlier declarations that modern armaments in the forces must be 30 percent by 2015, and 70 percent by 2020.

Other Putin sound bytes:

“We have to provide essential financial resources for this task.  The Finance Ministry, the Economic Development Ministry have made the necessary calculations, and today we’ll need to analyze them.  Right off I want to note that we can’t allow any inflated estimates, ineffective expenditures.”

“The State Armaments Program has to give long-term guidance for developing the defense-industrial complex itself.  This must enable our enterprises to embark on a corresponding modernization.”

“We’ve conducted a whole series of meetings on these issues, but the Defense Ministry must provide the corresponding technical parameters.  We have to support the technological equipping of our defense-industrial complex exactly under these parameters.”

Finally, Putin indicated defense orders will go to enterprises that will be in a condition to produce truly competitive systems in terms of combat power, range, and protection.

Participants in the conference also reportedly discussed a new draft Federal Targeted Program (FTP or ФЦП) on the Development of the OPK.

On 15 February, Putin met with Industry Minister Khristenko and Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTС or ФСВТС) Mikhail Dmitriyev.  Khristenko told Putin last year OPK enterprises received 148 billion rubles in state support (6 billion in credits, 60 billion in capital injections, 76 billion in state-guaranteed credits, and 6 billion in subsidized interest rates on export credits).  According to Khristenko, this support allowed the OPK to increase its production 10 percent.

Unnamed Defense Ministry sources said the 76 billion rubles in state-guaranteed credits are difficult to use, and not all were used.  The 60 billion rubles in capital injections were basically a direct budgetary grant, and, according to one aviation plant manager, 20 billion of it went (get this!) to compensate RSK MiG and other producers for the fiasco with their 34 faulty MiG-29s sold to, and returned by, Algeria.

FSMTC Director Dmitriyev told Putin the volume of Russia’s current arms export contracts is $34 billion, and exports will be $9-10 billion over the next two years.

Aleksey Nikolskiy writing for Vedomosti indicated Dmitriyev said several enterprises have orders for some systems scheduled out to 2017, and some foreign customers have raised the issue of quicker deliveries.  He argued that additional production capacity is needed, but Putin proposed only to review the issue of synchronizing domestic and export orders for arms.  He said, “We have to understand in what time frame we can and have to produce for ourselves and our foreign partners.”

A source close to Rosoboroneksport said the issue concerned limitations in production capacity for the S-300PMU2 and S-400 air defense systems, the Su-35 fighter, and surface-to-surface missiles that don’t allow for simultaneously meeting the demands of foreign customers and the Russian Armed Forces.  Vedomosti noted that VVS CINC Zelin already complained about limited productive capacity for the S-400.  A similar jam exists with the Su-35, which is supposed to enter the VVS and some foreign air forces by the end of 2011.  A Defense Ministry source said there’s a proposal to build two new factories for air defense systems, and to enlarge existing enterprises producing critical equipment, and the government might soon adopt the proposal.

Konstantin Makiyenko of CAST (ЦАСТ) told Vedomosti, for the past 2 years, Rosoboroneksport has received more orders than what it has supplied abroad, and the lack of sufficient productive capacity has become the main limiting factor on the growth of arms exports.  He says either increase the capacity or the army will have to wait for arms it doesn’t need too much, but air defense systems and fighters don’t fall into the category of things not urgently needed.

As Mikhail Rastopshin and others have been so kind to note, there have been a raft of OPK development and armaments programs over the years, but they don’t seem to get completed, each melding into the next albeit under a longer deadline.   In early 2009, Dmitriy Litovkin estimated no more than 20 percent of any arms program has ever been accomplished, even during the years of high oil revenues.

And you can’t do an armaments program without OPK development, and Russia’s defense-industrial base has been increasingly poorly positioned to support the arms program in recent years, according to Rastopshin and others.  And don’t forget about declining RDT&E.  Hard times for research institutes and design bureaus could mean that, rather than modern or futuristic weapons based on ‘new physical principles,’ new units of obsolete designs could be produced under an armaments program.

Here’s a telling reminder.  The  much-vaunted 2003 Urgent Tasks of the Development of the Russian Armed Forces document called for modern weapons at the level of 35 percent in 2010, 40-45 percent in 2015, and 100 percent by 2020-2025.  And now Moscow’s talking 30 percent by 2015 and only 70 percent by 2020.

As recently as 2006, the Russian military claimed 20 percent of its weapons inventory was modern.  But in March 2009, Defense Minister Serdyukov admitted the starting point was actually lower:

“. . . the bulk of [arms and equipment] are physically and morally obsolete. Natural loss is not being compensated by procurement.  As a result, the proportion of modern arms and military equipment is around 10 percent.”

This was when President Medvedev said large-scale rearmament would begin in 2011.

Nevertheless, in his November 2009 address to the Federal Assembly, Medvedev said:

“One of the most difficult yet fundamental tasks is reequipping the troops with new systems and models of armaments and military hardware.  There is no need to discuss some abstract notions here: one needs to obtain these weapons.  Next year, more than 30 land and sea-based ballistic missiles, five Iskander missile systems, about 300 modern armored vehicles, 30 helicopters, 28 warplanes, three nuclear submarines, and one corvette-class combatant must be delivered to the troops, as well as 11 spacecraft.  All this has to be done.”

A pretty daunting list when foreign customers are asking for their weapons too.

Retired Officer Rails Against Army’s ‘Sergeantization’

One retired Colonel A. A. Karasev, deputy of the Saratov city duma and chairman of the Saratov branch of the Union of Soviet Officers, has written in about communists and former servicemen picketing Prime Minister Putin’s reception office in Saratov on 17 February.

According to him, they demonstrated their concern about ruinous army reforms and carried signs saying “Putin!  Return Serdyukov to the Furniture Store.”  And, of course, they addressed an open letter to Putin.

Their letter said they’d taken to the streets before what used to be Soviet Army and Navy Day to make their woes, pains, and demands known to the head of government, and to defend the army, OPK, veterans, and their families from the outrages committed by bureaucrats and Duma deputies.

Their particulars included:

  • The U.S.-Russian balance of strategic forces is broken.  The leadership’s rush to a new strategic arms agreement is only reducing Russia’s security.
  • The OPK continues to be destroyed.  Defense factories in Saratov have closed.  Remaining plants get financing only in late spring or summer each year.
  • The Defense Ministry has not thought out its reforms of the army in the American mold.  The combat possibilities of Russia’s brigades are less than those of the formations and units of the ‘probable enemy’ [they really think the U.S. and Russia will go head-to-head?].
  • ‘Sergeantization’ [i.e. officer cuts and efforts to create professional NCOs] of the army means its enfeeblement.  There isn’t a sergeant with an intermediate specialized education [i.e. vocational high school diploma] who can replace an officer from a higher command or engineering school.  Promising contract-sergeants 20-30,000 ruble pay after training only adds extra tension to their relations with officers.
  • Military pensions have fallen to the level of pay for the least qualified workers, and below the subsistence minimum in many cases.
  • Military wives have not received social guarantees to compensate for their inability to work in many garrisons.

They want all these problems rectified, of course, but want to start with firing Serdyukov and his team.

The tension over what they’ve termed ‘sergeantization’ is interesting. 

In the Defense Ministry’s view, officers who’ve been cut, or turned into sergeants themselves, either weren’t needed or weren’t performing officer work or supervising troops.  So officers have been cut, and those that remain will really be officers with real units to command.  Some of them will get premium pay to reward them for now, and, from 2012, much higher base pay, for example, maybe 60,000 rubles for a lieutenant.  Meanwhile, as the Defense Ministry sees it, there won’t be any problem with newly-minted professional sergeants entering the ranks and earning higher pay [which still won’t approach that of officers].

The KPRF has an alternate scenario for the future.  It sees many officers, who were needed, put out of the service and replaced by some poorly trained contract sergeants who will earn more than before.  Two-thirds of officers don’t get premium pay for now, and the KPRF is probably skeptical that greatly increased pay for all remaining officers will be actually be delivered in 2012.  The future it sees has a mass of officers and sergeants, not differentiated by much of anything, including pay.  While the officer-NCO interaction was long ago worked out in Western armies, it’s still a troubling vision for an army in the throes of major structural changes and lacking a professional NCO tradition.

KPRF Ramped Up for Defenders Day

This came from the site on Saturday.  Instead of МО for Министерство обороны in the upper left, they’ve put it as МебельтОрг or furniture sales, making light of Serdyukov’s background in the furniture business.

The bottom says, “Serdyukov’s Plan is the Destruction of the Armed Forces!  We’ll Save the Army, We’ll Save Russia!”

Sitnov on Serdyukov’s Reforms

General-Colonel Anatoliy Sitnov

Yesterday’s published a speech (or an excerpt) given by former Armaments Chief, retired General-Colonel Sitnov.  He now serves as deputy director of RUIE’s (РСПП) Commission on the OPK.  Not heretofore a prominent critic, he offers a fairly withering critique of Defense Minister Serdyukov’s reforms.

He first offers up Milyutin as an example of someone who made an army reform match its purpose.  According to Sitnov, Milyutin’s reform of the army enabled it to defend Russia from rapidly growing military powers in the West.  He says Milyutin also devised the mobilization system since it was impossible for Russia to maintain a permanent army large enough to cover its expanses.

Then Sitnov fast forwards.  His first major complaint is cutting the officer corps from 355,000 to 150,000.  He believes this was done because the country’s authorities fear it.  He criticizes the Defense Ministry’s remaking of the army on the ‘American principle.’  Sitnov says Russia is now trying to defend an enormous country with brigades that are no more than ‘patrol forces.’  He alleges Russia’s brigades can fight for only one day since they lack rear services, reconnaissance, maintenance, staffs, and command and control systems.  He argues that Russia long ago settled on the division as its basic military unit to cover its open spaces.

Sitnov concludes the Russian Army is unready to fight 5th generation wars.  He says America is already fighting 4th generation wars, employing automated systems that integrate units and highly intelligent weapons.  But 5th generation war features automated command and control, robot systems, and the use and control of systems with automated means of guidance, targeting, and destruction.

And this, he continues, is just the technical part.  He rhetorically asks whether an army can perform its missions when the country has no agriculture, industry, science, education, system of state administration or strategy for its development (ouch!).  The army reflects society and, in Russia’s case, society’s imbalances are reflected in its army.

Sitnov spins off into a geopolitical monologue.  He sounds like other ex-generals of the Soviet generation.  If the U.S. continues to occupy positions on Russia’s periphery, Russia’s territorial integrity will become an issue in 10-15 years.  Foreign pressure on Russia to share its empty spaces and resources, like Baykal’s fresh water, will intensify.

Lastly, Sitnov believes it would be naive to think Serdyukov took the decisions on army reform; rather he thinks Serdyukov was just the instrument picked for a policy of purging the army.  Now he says, parallel with the army purge, there is a campaign against the MVD.

Sitnov’s criticism of brigades makes some sense, but defending the MVD?  Also, most observers probably would agree that Serdyukov was simply sent to fix the army, once and for all, and the leadership didn’t worry too much about how.

Makarov Meets the Press

Chief of the General Staff Nikolay Makarov

General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov spoke at length to the press yesterday. In no particular order, here are some of the impressions and reports that followed in his wake.

RBCdaily quoted Makarov on the possible Mistral purchase:  “Ships of the Mistral type have very great multifunctionality, and they surpass our ships in all parameters by three times.”  He went on to say that Russian shipbuilders would only be able to produce helicopter carriers of this quality in 5-10 years.  Aleksandr Khramchikhin commented that, in the first place, Russia doesn’t currently have comparable ships and, in the second, it will take 50 years.

Makarov said the final decision on buying the Mistral had not been made.

According to Rossiyskaya gazeta, Makarov said the Russian Army went to brigades vice divisions to avoid the previous need to flesh out units with reservists and take days to bring them to combat readiness.  ‘Modular’ battalions by contrast are permanently ready for battle in an hour.

Makarov didn’t rule out establishment of some type of ‘rapid reaction forces,’ though these are closest in nature to today’s VDV.  And this wouldn’t mean VDV would simply change its name. And other services need rapid reaction capabilities too for action in the air, on the sea, etc.  Aren’t permanently ready brigades rapid reaction forces already?

On the Navy headquarters move to St. Petersburg, Makarov claimed Moscow is overflowing with army and navy leadership [but haven’t they just cut 200,000 officers and lots of excess command structures to create a personnel pyramid?].  And with today’s networks the fleet can be commanded from thousands of kilometers away from the Genshtab and other main commands.

Makarov doesn’t foresee any change to the one-year conscription policy, but there may be changes in NCO acquisition.  Instead of six months training in MD training centers, they may only get 3, so they can serve 9 months in troop units.  Makarov thinks they’ll cut back on conscript sergeants once their professional ones start to appear.

Moskovskiy komsomolets quoted Makarov on the new strategic arms agreement with the U.S. to the effect that it’s 97 percent complete, and it only remains to agree on the relationship between offensive and defensive weapons, and there will not be anything in the treaty to Russia’s detriment in this regard.

On Mistral, Makarov said, after study, we’ve concluded we need this type of ship, which can be an amphibious assault ship, hospital, command ship, and helicopter carrier.

On the Navy and Piter, MK notes Makarov wanted to avoid Baluyevskiy’s fate and didn’t contradict his superiors.  He expounded on his vision (perhaps dream) of Russian netcentric warfare:

“Earlier it was like this:  the closer to subordinates, the more reliable the command and control.  Now all leading countries, including us also, are going to netcentric command and control systems.  This allows completely remote means of reconnaissance, command and control, electronic warfare, fire, command posts–all spread over an enormous distance, but located in a single information-communications space and capable of solving tasks in real time.”

On a related note, Makarov said the new Sozvezdiye tactical level command and control system will be part of the netcentric structure toward the end of the year.

Gazeta’s coverage focused on Makarov’s comments about establishing the personnel pyramid, i.e. going from armed forces with about 500,000 officers and warrants to one of 150,000 officers and 720,000 soldiers in the space of a year.  It also noted Makarov’s remark that brigade commanders in their training assembly at the General Staff Academy are learning new warfare and command and control principles.

Izvestiya quoted Makarov at length on the Navy Main Staff’s move to Piter.

“Presently all command and control organs are concentrated in Moscow, but we want these command and control organs to be as close as possible to the troops they control [didn’t he also call this the old way of doing business?].  The dispersal of command and control and fire means at great distances doesn’t have any great significance, what’s important is maintaining uninterrupted and clear command and control of troops and weapons.  Therefore, the transfer of the Navy Main Staff to St. Petersburg won’t place any kind of extra burden on the command and control system, with the exception perhaps, only in the initial period of its functioning in a new place.”

Viktor Baranets in Komsomolskaya pravda focused on Makarov’s words on the U.S. and Iran, noting his statements that the U.S. has a plan to strike Iran, and, if it occurs, it’ll be terrible for Iran, the region, and the U.S.

Krasnaya zvezda covered the Iran issue.  It noted that Russia’s need for ready units forced the shift to brigades.  It also covered Makarov’s comment that the Voronezh conference agreed on changes needed in the Sozvezdiye C2 system, and that it would be received this July and fielded in November.  KZ also quoted Makarov at length on the capabilities of the 5th generation fighter aircraft.

KZ also indicated that Makarov noted the U.S. as an example where units and commands are often separated by great distances when he talked about the Navy Main Staff and Piter.

Generally, it seems those invited to this press availability only asked Makarov ‘soft ball’ questions.

GOU Chief Tretyak Speaks, A Little

General-Lieutenant Andrey Tretyak

In today’s Krasnaya zvezda, the new Main Operations Directorate (GOU) chief speaks on the anniversary of his organization.  On 20 February, the GOU will trace its lineage back 308 years to Prince Shakovskoy.  Shakovskoy was general-quartermaster in 1702 (early in Petr Velikiy’s Great Northern War) and he began the establishment of organs of operational command and control with the basic missions of preparing proposals for planning troop employment and providing command and control during combat.

Tretyak says the missions standing before the GOU today are imposing and large-scale.  The GOU has to help transition the armed forces to a new level, and create a modern, combat-capable, and mobile army that won’t allow anyone the chance to threaten Russia or its allies.

He continues saying the deep transformation of the army was objectively necessary and the short period for the transition was dictated by the development of ‘leading armies’ and the threats facing Russia.  In 2009, the shift to a three-layer command system and permanent readiness formations and units was completed.  Tretyak says the tasks today are to complete their combat coordination (слаживание) and installations (обустройство).

Addressing the world geopolitical situation, Tretyak says, although a large-scale war is a low-probability event, many other threats have appeared.  For instance, the widening of conflict zones into areas that affect Russia’s vital interests.  He cites South Ossetia as an example.

So the General Staff constantly analyzes and evaluates the world’s military-political situation and develops practical measures to keep the armed forces ready to carry out their missions to guarantee Russia’s military security.  The main part of this job falls on the General Staff, responsible as it is for strategic planning, military organizational development, armed forces development, and the military organization of the state overall, as well as for coordinating the activity of all troops and military formations in the area of defense.  

The General Staff works with the country’s military-political leadership, federal executive organs, other state and military structures, and with the defense-industrial complex.  According to Tretyak, the most important role in this connection goes to the GOU, the history of which is inseparable from that of the Russian Army and the General Staff.

All this sounds a bit doctrinal and it is, but it gives the new top man’s view on how and where his people fit in.  It’s a bit like the new boss issuing a mission statement.

After a longish history lesson, Tretyak reminds that great military leaders have come from the post he now occupies.

Of course there’s nothing about his most recent predecessors Rukshin and Surovikin.  They didn’t fare terribly well.  And there’s the near-debacle in the five-day August 2008 war, i.e. many press reports saying that the GOU had been moved out of its spaces and just dismissed Rukshin had to be begged to run a lot of the war effort.  Afterwards, many have claimed it was the planning previously done by Rukshin that kept the war from becoming a total fiasco for Moscow.  And there’s nothing about cutting the GOU from 550 officers to 150 while its workload is unchanged, or perhaps even increased.  See for reporting on this.  Tretyak’s got his work cut out for him.

More details from his bio:  born 11 March 1959, so he’ll soon be 51, in Magdeburg, East Germany.  Graduated from the Kiev Higher Combined Arms Command School in 1980.  Platoon and company commander in the GSFG, then battalion chief of staff, and battalion commander in the Belorussian MD.  After graduating the mid-career Frunze Military Academy in 1991, he became deputy chief of the operations section for a division staff, chief of staff-deputy commander for a regiment, commander of a regiment, commander of a brigade, and division chief of staff in the Far East MD.  He completed the General Staff Academy in 2001, and commanded a division in the Siberian MD.  Here he was also chief of staff-first deputy commander of a corps and an army.  Then he commanded an army (probably 22 CAA)  in the Moscow MD.  From April 2008, he was chief of staff-first deputy commander of the Leningrad MD before taking up his current duties in January 2010.

Pukhov Criticizes Serdyukov’s Reforms

Ruslan Pukhov (photo: Radio Rossii)

In today’s Komsomolskaya pravda, Viktor Baranets interviews Ruslan Pukhov, Director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, and Member of the Defense Ministry’s Public Council.  Pukhov provides a fairly balanced assessment of Defense Minister Serdyukov’s reforms, one year on.

Pukhov believes Serdyukov managed to reorganize and shake up the Defense Ministry apparatus, and partially achieved more rational use of the military’s budget money.  He says the main thing is the breakthrough on the ‘organizational measures’ of military reform.  He calls the ‘new profile’ the deepest organizational change for Moscow since 1945, citing its large-scale relocation of troops and equipment, cutting of personnel and obsolete armaments, reorganization of military education, and civilianization of many military jobs.  Pukhov concludes the administrative tasks of the reform are largely complete.

However, Pukhov also agrees with Baranets that the reforms have created a structural shell that has to be brought to life, made effective, and combat capable.  This will be harder than what’s been done so far.  Pukhov says there are few who doubt the army needed a radical, not just a cosmetic, reform, and the five-day August 2008 war proved it.

Pukhov thinks the reforms have created a new army, fundamentally different from the Soviet or previous Russian Army.  In scale, they can only be compared with the military reform of Peter the Great.  If it’s possible to reproach the Russian leadership for anything, it’s for dragging the process out with half measures which turned into a permanent degradation of the army, according to Pukhov.

Asked about Serdyukov’s greatest achievement and greatest failure, Pukhov says the former is having the political and administrative will to complete the first phase of reform.  But the greatest failure is Serdyukov’s inability to win the support of the entire officer corps, and this has put part of the officer corps against him.  Bureaucratic and poorly explained changes have often demoralized personnel, and poorly thought out personnel cuts have created discontent in the ranks, from contractee to general.  Military discontent with the methods of conducting the reform could discredit the reform itself, and make it too difficult for the political leadership to continue supporting Serdyukov, although for now Kremlin is satisfied with Serdyukov and his role as the army’s ‘surgeon.’

Pukhov says many of the measures have been extremely painful, affecting the fate of hundreds of thousands of servicemen, and often been implemented in a typical Russian fashion he describes as ‘up the ass.’  The Defense Ministry’s ‘secret-bureaucratic’ approach itself has had an effect here as well.

After practically calling Serdyukov’s the army’s proctologist-in-chief, Pukhov cuts him some slack, saying he didn’t personally plan and implement the largest part of the ‘orgshtat measures.’  They were done by military specialists in the Defense Ministry, General Staff, and service and district staffs, by men who’ve served out there themselves and are now engaged in transferring their colleagues, cutting some, putting some outside the TO&E, ‘optimizing,’ and so forth.  But Pukhov notes, all this could be done humanely, with respect toward the men and their professional experience.

Pukhov agrees with Baranets that a ‘soulless’ style of dealing with people, a lack of concern about human capital, and disregard for the human factor is traditional in the army.  And, unfortunately, it permeates the entire military system, according to Pukhov.  And a significant portion of the officer corps has become victim to such an approach during these rapid reforms.

Pukhov ends with some criticism for the top military leadership which often says it has come all the way from the bottom ranks, like those being ‘optimized’ today.  But what’s happening, including the aforementioned ‘excesses’ of reform, in Pukhov’s view, should make one think that there are some unhealthy morale-psychological tendencies in the army, which started long before Serdyukov, and can’t be considered normal.  Perhaps, for the success of reforms, the leadership should focus on the human aspect and recognize that the army, first and foremost, is people, and not pieces of iron.

So it sounds a little like Pukhov is saying the civilian Serdyukov didn’t realize how military men would implement his changes in their own organization, and what the human costs would be.  Again, it sounds like he wants to cut Serdyukov some slack, and share the blame for the pain caused with others around him wearing uniforms with big stars.  This tends to overlook the reality that many of those with the stars who objected were sent packing by someone.