Monthly Archives: April 2010

More Money in GPV-2020

ITAR-TASS yesterday cited a Military-Industrial Commission (VPK) source who said the volume of financing for the State Armaments Program 2011-2020 (GPV-2020) will be 13 trillion rubles (roughly $430 billion).  The source said this amount includes purchases of new arms and equipment, development of new types, soldier gear, and other army necessities.  He said the Finance and Economic Development Ministries are familiar with the amount and have not objected.

As background, ITAR-TASS reminded that this money is supposed to get Russia to not less than 30 percent modern armaments by 2015, and not less than 70 percent by 2020, according to Prime Minister Putin’s goals.

Deputy Defense Minister, Armaments Chief Vladimir Popovkin has said the RF Security Council will review GPV-2020 in June, and it will be the basis for developing a new Federal Targeted Program for OPK development.

So, 13 trillion rubles over the 10-year period is 1.3 trillion rubles in procurement per annum (undeflated, of course).  At face value, this is a significant increase over the old GPV 2007-2015, which was reportedly funded at 5 trillion rubles for 9 years, or about 550 billion rubles in military purchasing per annum.

But it’s not so easy.  First, the cascading and overlapping way the GPVs are done (how did the last years of the old one mesh with the first years of the new one?) would make it well-nigh impossible to judge what was actually bought, even if it were clear how much money was disbursed when and what was bought with it.  But none of those things are clear to outside observers, and probably not clear even to officers and officials inside the system.

Victim of the ‘New Profile’

Obvious individual suffering from Serdyukov’s ‘New Profile’ military reforms hasn’t been readily apparent until now.

Russian media today carried sad news about a 34-year-old lieutenant colonel, one Aleksey Kudryavtsev, serving in Udmurtiya, who hung himself in the forest upon learning his unit would be disbanded.

Press said he served in v/ch 93233, which Yandex shows is the military commissariat [draft and mobilization office] for Igra Rayon of the Udmurt Republic.  Kudryavtsev must have been one of the few remaining uniforms in the commissariat since most military men were early victims of Serdyukov’s cut in the officer corps.  Some officers have been able to serve on as civilians.

Despondent on finding out about his imminent dismissal, the lieutenant colonel stood to lose not only his post, but also his service apartment.  He wrote his wife a note saying not to look for him and to start a new family, and then disappeared last September.  His body was finally located in a remote wooded area.  He left sons of 4 and 8 behind. and Argumenty nedeli covered the story.

Fifth Generation Fighter Update

On 26 April, ITAR-TASS reported what is now termed the ‘second phase’ engine for the fifth generation fighter could be ready in 5-6 years, according to NPO Saturn’s managing director Ilya Fedorov.  In his words:

“The RDT&E on the components for making the engine is now being conducted.  It is going on not just at Saturn.  Salyut and the Petersburg Factory named for Klimov are also conducting scientific-research work.”

Fedorov seemed confident the ‘second phase’ fifth generation engine could fly in 5-6 years, depending mostly on what decision the Defense Ministry makes.

Obviously, Saturn wants and needs the work now.

Sukhoy says the fifth generation fighter’s first test phase, consisting of six flights, was successfully completed.  The aircraft’s reliability and controls, engine operation, and other basic systems were tested at a range of speeds and altitudes.

ITAR-TASS reminds that engine signature reduction measures are supposed to provide the new fighter an unprecedentedly low level of radar, optical, and infrared detectability, allowing the plane to raise significantly its combat effectiveness against air and ground targets.

Recall that Saturn put its 117 or 117S engine–a modernized AL-31F like on the Su-35–on PAK FA as its ‘first phase’ engine.  Everything else is up for debate.  As previously written, the Defense Ministry could decide to forego a truly new engine for a while. 

Meanwhile, talk about future fighter engine work isn’t really helping sort out the competition between ODK/Saturn and Salyut, or the general shakeout in a Russian industry with many players and interested parties.

Early last month Sukhoy General Director Mikhail Pogosyan said the PAK FA would be commissioned with ‘first phase’ engines, and ‘second phase’ ones would require another 10-12 years of development.  He doesn’t sound like a fan of new engines, and obviously wants to get his airframes on the assembly line and out the factory doors.

Specifically, Pogosyan said:

“We need to determine how much financing there will be for the phase two engines, how many of them there will be, and many other issues need to be resolved.”

Of Foreign Arms and Furniture

Defense Minister Serdyukov

Defense Minister Serdyukov is looking at a mini-scandal over a tender for new office furniture for the military’s headquarters.  The 14 April tender called for 125 pieces of furniture worth 18.3 million rubles to be delivered in 15 days, but also included agonizingly detailed specifications for each item, leading Russian furniture industry representatives to conclude a specific supplier has been picked in advance.  Moreover, the list of acceptable models, fabrics, and materials makes them assume the furniture will be Italian-made.

Of course, Defense Minister Serdyukov knows the furniture business.  He started in it in 1985, working his way from a department manager of a Lenmebeltorg store to general director of the St. Petersburg ‘Furniture Market’ company, before entering the federal tax service in 2000.  And for his past employment, he’s still derided as mebelshchik—‘furniture man.’

For now the mini-scandal is confined to more liberal papers and websites, and hasn’t resonated in other media.  It is a handy opportunity to take a shot at Serdyukov, but, ironically, it results from the Defense Ministry’s effort to be more transparent about defense procurement by publishing tenders. 

Still, none of this makes the story is insignificant.  It’s emblematic and may foreshadow more serious criticism to come in the burgeoning area of arms imports.  If this is how the management operates when the issue is minor, not affecting anything the least important or serious, how will it operate when turning abroad to buy Mistral, UAVs, armored vehicles, submarines, sniper rifles, or soldier systems?  A little malfeasance, or even just the appearance of something wrong, can spoil even the most sensible policy.

At any rate, more to the story itself . . . says Russia’s furniture manufacturers are offended that the Defense Ministry leadership decided to furnish its offices with Italian cabinets and tables.  

Aleksandr Gordeyev, director of the ‘TNP Furniture World’ factory group, says:

“We regard the striving of such a large and influential state structure to buy furniture abroad as a sign of disrespect toward Russian furniture makers.  Why then all these declarations and announcements of the authorities about the need to support the domestic manufacturer, that is the most real sector, the real taxpayer, particularly in the crisis period?” says domestic furniture makers are launching their own organization—the “All-Russian Furniture Union”—to represent 200 manufacturers in 40 regions.  Its first step will be an appeal to Prime Minister Putin on the unacceptability of placing state orders with foreign producers.

According to Novyye izvestiya, the appeal says:

“At this moment, when Russian furniture manufacturers are struggling with the consequences of the difficult economic crisis, the decision of the state’s representatives to make a unilateral financial gesture to foreign competitors looks, at the very least, illogical.”

Gordeyev continues:

“We aren’t insisting on having some kind of preference over foreign competitors, but rights and chances need to be equal for all.  But in effect, in essence, they aren’t even allowing Russian producers access to the competition.”

He tells, “In Russia, there is a big real sector ready to fulfill similar orders, however, all the big orders from state structures go past us.”  The Defense Ministry’s order is a month’s production for a medium sized furniture factory.

Novyye izvestiya points out that Russian furniture is the equal of Italian models and the Russian furniture market was bigger than Italy’s, at least before the economic downturn.

It also points out, in fairness, that it inspected the tender at and saw nothing specifically about Italian manufacture, but concluded that, since many of the specs insisted on certain models and fabrics, what domestic furniture makers are saying is not exactly far from the truth.

Andrey Radukhin, General Director of the RF Association of Furniture and Woodworking Industry, said:

“A serious specified supplier made these specifications and, most likely, the furniture is already in Moscow.  It’s a shame such an order passes over our office furniture producers.  Their labor utilization is a minimum of 30 percent, to at most 50.”

Another industry figure told Novyye izvestiya, it would take a Russian firm 3 months rather than 15 days, as specified in the tender, to make the furniture order to specification.

Then he added:

“No one in Italy could take such an order for half a month.  This was all arranged for a specific supplier, most likely, Italian.”

Gordeyev and another industry source were quoted in to the effect that the Defense Ministry’s order must be for the delivery of furniture already made and in-stock.  Russian producers could not meet such a specific order on short notice, so this effectively froze them out of the competition.

Viktor Ilyukhin, head of the KPRF faction in the Duma, told

“Furniture-mania turns out to be characteristic of many ministries, not just the Defense Ministry.  So acts the Internal Affairs Ministry as well as the Finance Ministry:  expensive cars, offices, furniture, hotels, service staff.”

“I’m not surprised at the situation around the military department.  Our Defense Minister Serdyukov has the mentality of a businessman, a big bureaucrat, who is accustomed to good service, luxury, expensive furniture.  He brought this style to the armed forces.  In fact, the armed forces have become a platform for big business.”

“Today practically all military unit and sub-unit commanders are occupied with business.  This gets done proceeding from the Defense Minister’s guidelines:  sell everything you don’t need.  It’s a misfortune for Russia that such a Minister heads the Defense Ministry.”

“Among the military there is great dissatisfaction with Serdyukov’s policy.  Only because of this one thing, the country’s political leadership should think carefully where Serdyukov should be.  Whatever brilliant ideas he’s put forward, his proposals won’t be accepted because of his insignificance and lack of authority in the military.”

“Today the army needs a sufficient quantity of modern military equipment and arms, in management, [it needs] discipline and organization.  Finally, as never it needs to resolve issues of social protection of servicemen.  Today military men are socially protected less than civilians and government officials.  Minister Serdyukov needs to concentrate here on these areas.  And not on buying Italian tables and chairs.”

Gennadiy Gudkov, deputy chairman of the Just Russia faction in the Duma, commented:

“The Defense Ministry tender, in my view is a direct violation of the law on state procurement. I recall the law prohibits excessive detail in the order which narrows the boundaries of the tender.  Only general requirements should appear in the technical specifications.”

“I have seen similar tenders for the purchase of luxury cars that were tailored specifically for one model of Mercedes. All this says that no tender is really being conducted, that there, possibly, we may have a serious corruption incident in the form of a large kickback.  If I were the Prosecutor General and the SKP [Prosecutor’s Investigative Committee], I would conduct an anticorruption analysis of this tender.

“If I were Serdyukov, I would launch a serious investigation, because this tender, by the highest standard, casts a shadow personally on the Defense Minister.”

The editor-in-chief of Kompaniya writes:

“A greedy man with poor taste would not spend 18.3 million budget rubles for 125 pieces of furniture for the offices of the Motherland’s defenders (approximately 146,000 rubles each).  Behind a solid-beech table with natural olive-wood veneer with a top upholstered with natural dark-green buffalo leather sits an intelligent and refined man.  Such a man, for example, as Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov, who’s proposed a new variant of army reform.  The Minister plans to optimize the military’s service time, liberating them from noncore housekeeping functions.  Soldiers will receive weekends off, and contractees—officer’s pay.  Anatoliy Serdyukov’s words are like ‘drinking honey’ in a kitchen ‘of solid maple and cherry veneer with an individually soldered stained-glass ‘Beatrice’ by Arte del Vetro (Italy).’  But it won’t happen.  Generals and bureaucrats still don’t share such things as ‘the beautiful life’ and it doesn’t due to hope for more than ‘serving.’”

German Armor

Serdyukov Wants Troops to Ride Inside

Reports about Russia looking abroad for light armored vehicles and not buying BTR-80s and BMP-3s in GVP 2011-2020 came into better focus this week . . .

On Tuesday Defense Minister Serdyukov announced Russia will buy armor for vehicles and light armored equipment from Germany.  In his meeting with representatives of public organizations, he said:

“The RF Defense Ministry will proceed from the need to guarantee the protection of personnel.”

“We have forced KamAZ and other Russian companies to enter into contacts with foreign firms.  They’ve already begun to make contact in order to buy light armor and use it in reconnaissance vehicles, BTRs, BMPs and other transport means.”

Kommersant talked to KamAZ officials who didn’t know anything about buying armor for vehicles abroad.

Serdyukov said, in particular, they were talking about purchasing light armor from one German company (reportedly Rheinmetall).

ITAR-TASS said Serdyukov was referring to poor protection of personnel inside Russian armored vehicles when he warned:

“We, of course, won’t buy Russian vehicles and armored equipment in the condition they are in.”

“We want Russian industry to produce what we need and what the times demand, so that they (OPK enterprises) will modernize their production and create quality equipment.”

In, Sergey Ptichkin writes that Rostekhnologiya’s Sergey Chemezov and FSVTS’ Mikhail Dmitriyev have concluded that the purchase of foreign arms for the Russian Army is a ‘done deal’ at this point.  Dmitriyev said in particular that the political decision to buy Mistral has been made, and the contract will be signed this fall.

Ptichkin concludes:

“In connection with this, by all appearances, a large number of domestic military programs are being rolled up.  Billions are needed to support the import of ships and weapons.”

Chemezov also said, reluctantly, that Russian armor really doesn’t meet the Defense Ministry’s sharply increased requirements, therefore purchases from Germany are justified.  Ptichkin wonders what Rostekhnologiya’s [Chemezov’s] specialty steel holding will do if Germany supplies Russia’s defense industries.

Media sources alluded to past statements by Deputy Defense Minister, Chief of Armaments, Vladimir Popovkin to the effect that foreign purchases would only be to ‘patch holes’ in the Russian Army and OPK.  They imply that either arms imports have expanded beyond ‘hole patching,’ or the ‘holes’ are bigger than originally thought.

Nezavisimaya gazeta writes that buying armor abroad will be catastrophic for Russian metallurgy.  Without part of the GOZ, they reportedly won’t be able to modernize.  Uralsib metals analyst Nikolay Sosnovskiy said, without state orders, enterprises which still produce something won’t be able to survive.  He said buying foreign armor for BTRs and BMPs will lead to buying it for tanks, which is much more costly.  Sosnovskiy says armor orders were ‘second tier’ for the past 20 years, so no one was working on new types.  On the other hand, Aleksandr Khramchikhin thinks the competition posed by foreign armor will force the Russian industry to improve.

Despite this little uproar, it seems unlikely that the Defense Ministry or Russian government are suddenly ardent fans of free trade in all things.  Moscow’s economic management remains more paternalistic and state-directed than that.  Rather purchases abroad are probably viewed as the only way to:  (a) rearm Russian forces quickly with badly needed high-quality arms and equipment; and (b) shake the OPK enough to get it started on the road to competitiveness.

Hint of Navy Main Staff Move? yesterday provided a hint that the Navy Main Staff might soon leave Moscow for St. Petersburg.

It reported that a ‘tasty morsel’ of Defense Ministry property in Tushino is being prepared for sale–the base of the Central Fleet Depot, Naval Infantry v/ch 40135, as well as large Military Polyclinic No. 10 (which is apparently being closed as no longer needed).  The old buildings are coming down and the grounds will become a shopping center.

According to the report, the Central Fleet Depot includes:

  • V/ch 40135–a convoy battalion and service company;
  • The Navy Main Staff security battalion–a full-fledged combat capable sub-unit;
  • A construction company; 
  • The Navy Orchestra; 
  • A training unit for the units of central subordination;
  • Polyclinic No. 6; 
  • An automotive battalion.

All of these are effectively service and support elements for the Navy Main Staff.

The depot is a transit point for Navy conscripts as well as transferring officers.  It has a small hotel for the Main Staff.  Until this winter, there was also a branch of the Central Navy Archives here, but it was closed and sent to Gatchina, near Piter.  Now it seems the Central Navy Depot has been closed too.  The sailors and anchors at its gates have been replaced by civilian security guards.

Look for the rest of these Navy Main Staff support elements to turn up near Piter.

Electronic Warfare Chief Interviewed

Colonel Oleg Ivanov

 On Radioelectronic Warfare (REB or РЭБ) Specialists’ Day, Krasnaya zvezda interviewed the Chief of REB Troops, Colonel Oleg Anatolyevich Ivanov, about trends and developments in his branch of service.

Ivanov says the growth of information technology for military command and control has given rise to a new kind of confrontation–achieving C2 supremacy and it can exert a decisive influence on a war.  And REB has ‘priority significance’ in this area.  The basic mission of REB is gaining and holding C2 supremacy in combat actions.

Ivanov notes also REB Troops’ role in information protection.  He says they exert control over the military radio transmission network and radio discipline has been pretty good; the number of violations are down.

Ivanov says formations (brigades), units, and sub-units participated in Kavkaz-2009 and Zapad-2009 to create a complex radioelectronic situation for the networks of the exercise participants.  Combined arms units learned to fulfill their missions in conditions of active radioelectronic jamming.  REB units and sub-units worked out their radioelectronic suppression missions against the probable enemy’s targets as well as the radioelectronic defense of their own troops.  REB Troops received positive evaluations.

Asked about defense industry support to the REB Troops, Ivanov says 120 enterprises are involved, and they are largely divided, as in Soviet times, into two practically independent directions–those that work on REB systems and equipment against troop C2 on the one hand, and against weapons C2 on the other.  Sozvezdiye leads the former, and Rostekhnologiya’s ‘Electronic Technologies’ the latter.  He notes that Vega, OSK, and some independent enterprises are players also.

Not surprisingly, Ivanov says to accelerate the development of new EW systems ‘structural integration’ of these OPK enterprises is needed.  And a lead organization to make scientific-technical decisions is needed too.  Coordination of efforts will optimize the use of time and resources for creating new systems and equipment.

But Ivanov doesn’t say who his favorite to be the industry lead is.

Ivanov says Russian EW means are equal to the best foreign counterparts.  They can neutralize and block the most dangerous armaments (particularly, highly-accurate weapons) in real time.  Automated jamming stations from the 1980s and 1990s are serving well with modernization and are meeting current requirements [does this mean there’s been nothing new in the interval?].  But Ivanov says fundamentally new and unique multifunctional systems are being created along with incremental improvements in older systems.  He can’t say more owing to their secret nature.  He thinks it’s possible, however, to say they represent technological breakthroughs.

Ivanov calls EW comparable in effect to the employment of modern highly-accurate weapons, and, by some indicators, even superior to them.

KZ asks Ivanov about personnel issues, particularly one-year conscripts and young officers.

He responds that the issue of training specialists is very acute.  The rapid introduction of new equipment leads to the need for mass retraining of specialists, not just soldiers and sergeants, but officers too.  Officers might get a two-week retraining course, but a soldier takes several months and then only half a year remains for him to serve.

So all personnel are tested in the Inter-Service Training Center to evaluate their capabilities for assimilating the training program, then divided into training groups.  Next, REB Troops are trying to keep trained specialists as contractees.  Lastly, efforts are made to simplify and automate systems to ease demands on personnel.  But practice shows that making a high-class specialist in a year is very difficult, but an acceptable level of skill is possible if servicemen are focused on combat training as prescribed in their programs [i.e. not busy shoveling snow or building the commander’s dacha].

Turning to officers, Ivanov says Russian EW officers have lots of opportunities in the civilian sector, so manning the officer ranks is an ‘issue of special discussion.’  The problem, he says, isn’t as acute as the late 1990s, owing to a rise in status of officers in recent years.  But he doesn’t sound exactly convinced on this score himself.

Summing up the future for REB Troops, Ivanov concludes they have great possibilities, and coming qualitative changes in the development of EW forces and means must support its growth into a specific fundamental type of combat action which in many ways will determine the course and outcome of a battle.

Putin Reports on OPK and Military Housing

Putin Reports to the Duma

Yesterday Prime Minister Vladimir Putin reported on the government’s work over the last year to the State Duma.  His remarks focused on government efforts to handle ‘bread and butter’ economic and social issues during the 2009 crisis.

There was relatively little on military issues, except for some remarks on defense industry and military housing. 

He largely reiterated familiar themes like increasing modern weapons to 70-80 percent of the inventory; he congratulated those working on the fifth generation PAK FA and he emphasized development of a new strategic bomber.  Without being too specific, Putin suggested that OPK enterprises with heavy tax arrears might be getting some relief.

On housing Putin promised almost 52,000 military apartments this year.  But Duma deputies didn’t ask him about press reports that many of the 45,600 built last year remain empty because of construction defects, bureaucratic red tape, and even the fact that some were not really built in the first place.  Putin reiterated an earlier promise to house servicemen who didn’t get apartments in the first post-Soviet decade.  And he noted that privatization of service housing remains a possibility since the deadline has moved back.

First Putin’s description of the economic scene.

Putin said Russia’s GDP fell a record 7.9 percent, and industrial production declined 10.8 percent last year, but the government responded by greatly increasing budget expenditures—27 percent more than in 2008—even though revenue declined almost 21 percent.  Putin said the government used Russia’s accumulated reserves to finance the shortfall.  It spent 5 trillion rubles—1 trillion more than in 2008—on pay, pensions, social benefits, education, health, and housing, according to Putin.  He said 1.65 trillion rubles were invested in ‘developing the economy.’  Putin concluded that most of the government’s anticrisis program, the use of the budget, reserves, Central Bank resources, and state guarantees worked, and prevented the destruction of the real economy and the financial system.

Last year’s State Defense Order (GOZ) was one part of last year’s government spending program to counter the economic crisis.  Putin says the government spent 1.1 trillion rubles—150 billion more than in 2008.  He continued:

“During the crisis we also rendered targeted support to the defense-industrial complex and high-technology enterprises.  Last year’s gloomy forecasts by some politicians on the collapse of the defense-industrial complex were not borne out.”

“I know how many serious problems have accumulated here, we’ve been seriously occupied with this.  If you noticed, I’m always conducting special meetings on distinct sectors, there we deeply immerse ourselves in these problems.  Yet the volume of output of military production in 2009 increased by almost 13 percent—this during a general contraction!  The growth of production in shipbuilding generally was 31.6 percent, in the missile-space industry—16.5 percent, in aviation—9 percent.”

“Tests of fifth generation fighters are going successfully, and I want again to thank everyone who worked on this machine, who now gets it ‘on its wings.’ “

“Of course, we do not limits ourselves to just this.  Following the fighter we need to begin work on the future aviation system long-range aviation [PAK DA], this is new Russian strategic bomber, missile carrier.  We conducted a serious inventory in the defense-industrial complex and are embarking on formation of long-term programs of rearmament in all fundamental combat systems:  in command and control and intelligence systems, armored and naval equipment, highly-accurate weapons.  As a result, the share of modern weapons in the troops should increase to 70-80 percent, and this will indeed be  weapons of a new generation.”

“The question of restructuring the tax arrears of OPK enterprises has come from [Duma] deputies.  Enterprises have such a possibility.”

“In December 2009 the government issued a corresponding decree, calculated for 2010.  It talks about indebtedness which arose before 1 January 2009 (the KPRF raised these questions).”

 On military housing, Putin first addressed war veterans in line since before 2005.  He said 28,000 of these veterans have been housed, and he wants to house any who were left out or joined the queue later.  The government has directed 34.5 billion rubles at this, according to Putin.

Turning to more recent servicemen, Putin says:

“We have also not retreated from another most important task, another priority.  In 2009 the Defense Ministry delivered 45,600 new apartments to servicemen.  You know there has never been such a thing.  In 2010 another 51,900 apartments will be allocated.  That is, over two years—almost  one hundred thousand.  As a result, we will finally end the demand of armed forces servicemen for permanent housing, as we promised.”

“But we have another category of people whom we should not forget.  The question is about those who retired from military service in the 1990s or beginning of the 2000s, without receiving housing.  I remind you, in that time due to the inpossibility of solving this problem at the federal level, they sent them into municipal lines [for housing], where, unfortunately, things are moving slowly.  Or more precisely—practically not moving.”

“Of course, people are not to blame for the fact that at the time the government simply could not afford to meet its obligations to them.  And we were obliged to return to this issue.”

“It was originally planned to complete the provision of housing to such citizens in 2012-2013.  But I think we can do it earlier—to give retired military men housing in 2010-2011.  For this purpose we will ask you [Duma deputies] to direct an additional 34 billion rubles.”

“Incidentally, free housing privatization has been extended until 2013.  Now, veterans and servicemen can calmly arrange ownership of housing.”

Just to complete this picture, Deputy Defense Minister and Chief of Housing and Infrastructure, Grigoriy Naginskiy, recently admitted that only 21,061 of those 45,600 apartments from 2009 are actually occupied because of poor construction and problems formulating ‘social lease contracts.’  But Naginskiy promises that 99 percent of the 45,600 will be occupied before 1 June.  That’s quite a promise.  Viktor Baranets has written recently about builders’ efforts to ‘economize’ and squeeze out extra profits on military apartments.  Olga Bozhyeva has written about servicemen turning to the courts over housing issues, as well as ‘virtual’ Defense Ministry apartments that don’t exist.  The Main Military Prosecutor has actually investigated cases of this in Chekhov.

To round out the economic picture, Putin asserted that signs of recovery include a forecast of 3 percent or more GDP growth for 2010, and industrial production growth of 5.8 percent and real income growth of 7.4 percent for the first quarter of the year.

Who Defends Officers?

On 13 April, made the point that officers don’t have a place to turn for help or protection against abuse in the army, unlike conscripts who have the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers of Russia (KSMR or КСМР).

In response to the suggestion that officers need a “Committee of Officers’ Wives and Mothers” to help them with problems in the service, KSMR Chairwoman Tatyana Znachkova said:

“There’s no one to defend officers, and many of them live unhappily, not better than conscripts.  So their wives could create a committee for their defense.  Officers or their wives actually have come to us very often in recent times.”

Asked what their complaints are, she says:

“Legal violations in the unit, low wages, problems with obtaining housing.  But we can’t help them.”

“So I advise them to create their own organization because their problems are so very great.  But they are silent.  It’s understandable why the officers themselves are silent, they’re not allowed to gripe, but why are their wives silent?  No one can prohibit them.  If the family is without housing, without work, without money, what’s to lose . . .”

Svpressa continues, many of the officers cut have been thrown overboard, without housing, without work.  So in Voronovo, near Moscow, where a unit was closed a year ago, residents say former colonels and lieutenants go around to nearby dachas offering to do repairs or any kind of work on the houses.  They do it to feed their families since they don’t have any other work.

Anatoliy Tsyganok tells Svpressa:

“Officers have now been thrown to the whims of fate.  There’s really no where for them to complain.  Their problems are resolved well only in words.  Look for yourself, in just the last year, more than 3 thousand officers discharged into the reserves without housing and deceived by the state about the payment of monetary compensation have turned to the European Court . . .  The main part of complaints concerns nonpayment to servicemen of money for participation in this or that combat action or peacekeeping operation.  Part of the complaints are collective.  And the quantity of such complaints will increase since there is more and more of a basis for them.”

Asked about the basis of complaints, Tsyganok says:

“Some officers are outside the TO&E, receiving a fifth of their usual pay for several years, although they are supposed to be in such a situation not more than half a year.  They are waiting for apartments from the Defense Ministry.  They have every basis for placing law suits in Strasbourg.  In the framework of armed forces reform almost all billets in voyenkomaty at different levels were cut.  And 90 percent of former voyenkomat officers, dismissed without apartments, will also appeal to the ECHR [European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg].  These are educated people who understand they won’t get the truth in a Russian court.  And their only hope is the European Court.  Today there are very many officers left without apartments.  They don’t know in what order, when and who will give them apartments.  These people have a direct road to the ECHR.”

Tsyganok goes on to mention how President Medvedev has promised to house officers, and claimed that an unprecedented 45,000 apartments were acquired for them last year.  Tsyganok believes the number was actually less than 30,000.  He notes that in St. Petersburg officers are being offered prefab housing, fit only for summer living, built for the Defense Ministry at a vastly inflated price (5-6 million rubles vs. 1.25-1.35 million market price).  Officers with apartments in abandoned military towns have to hope the nearest municipality will take them over and assume responsibility for services, but they usually don’t want to.

Tsyganok describes the difficulty in employing former officers.  Businesses generally don’t want anyone new over 40.  An initiative to use officers as teachers didn’t get off the ground.  So, according to Tsyganok, many officers choose between working for security firms or criminal groups.

He repeats his familiar lament that Russia is losing its well-trained, well-educated military intelligentsia—officers who completed 4-6 years in a VVUZ, mid-career branch-specific training, and 3 years in the General Staff Academy.  He concludes:

“So I presume, Russia is flashing back to the former Red Army.  In case, heaven forbid, of some conflict, I believe the current Russian Army won’t survive.  In these conditions, I think it doesn’t compare even with Georgia . . .”

Tsyganok says it’s absurd for an officer to have to repair dachas like a guestworker to feed his family.  It’s even more absurd for him to choose between security guard and criminal.  But the saddest thing in this situation is there’s no place from which to expect help.  So maybe officers need an organization to protect their rights, and in light of the current military reform, the need is very acute.

Organizations and institutions that exist, or have existed, to help officers are like most civil society in Russia—weak or eventually dispersed or coopted by the authorities.  There are ones that come to mind—the All-Russian Professional Servicemen’s Union (OPSV or ОПСВ), the Movement in Support of the Army (DPA or ДПА), and the All-Russian Officers’ Assembly that last met in 2005 or so.

On 14 April, Viktor Baranets picked up some similar themes, saying today’s reformist thinking from Defense Ministry and Genshtab chiefs is generally incomprehensible to Russian Army commanders.  For many years, they inspired the troops by telling how superior contract manning would be, and these serious intentions were underscored by hundreds of billions of rubles.  But the result was fewer contractees than before.  And now the Genshtab has said it’s changed its mind about more professionals and is reversing course.

Similarly, for years there’s been talk of ‘raising the prestige of the officer corps.’  And what does Baranets see in reality:

“And the fact is a large number of majors and even lieutenant colonels have started to be put in sergeant billets.  I’m not talking about captains and senior lieutenants.  Because, do you see, there aren’t enough professional junior commanders.  They’ve only just begun to train them.  But why do we need to ‘pay’ for the tactical calculation of reformers at the expense of downgrading people?  Putting officers in lower positions by every army canon is a form of punishment.  And no kind of service expedience can justify this violation.  And where is the logic even?  With one hand the chiefs give such officers impressive premiums for good service, and with the other they write orders on a transfer to a position which is not seldom even 4 steps lower than the one they occupy!  The rampage of personnel abuse has already gone to the point that they’ve already warned cadet-graduates of the Voronezh Military Aviation University [sic] (tomorrow’s lieutenants):  only those who graduate with a gold medal and distinction will get officer’s positions, the rest—sergeant’s.  In such confusion I don’t exclude that soon General Staff Academy graduates will command platoons.  It’s time for the Main Military Prosecutor to sort it out:  but how do these reform outrages accord with the demands of our laws?  But does it even make sense to put a specialist with higher education, whose 4-5 years of preparation cost the state millions of rubles, in a position yesterday still occupied by a junior sergeant who has secondary school and 3-months of training behind him?”

Viktor Litovkin noted this morning that Serdyukov’s Military Education Directorate Chief, Tamara Fraltsova, told Ekho Moskvy that the VVUZ system will again produce an overabundance of lieutenants this year for a shrinking number of junior officer posts in platoons, companies, and batteries.

Fraltsova said:

“Today the army has the right to pick the most worthy officers from the number of VVUZ graduates.  We’ve tightened the rules for passing examination sessions.  Now a cadet can be put out of the military-education institution for one 2, an unsatisfactory evaluation received in the course of a session.”

Litovkin says the overproduction of lieutenants (and decline in officer posts) led to young air defense officers being assigned to sergeants’ duties last summer.  A similar thing happened with VVS pilots; not every graduate-pilot could find an operational aircraft.  So great resources—3-6 million rubles per pilot—were poured into the sand.  Litovkin sees it as indicative of an armed forces reform in which great resources are expended in vain.  Not to mention the trauma to lieutenants who, against the law, are placed in lower-ranking duties.

More on Armaments from Burenok

Interfaks reported more on Burenok’s presentation at the ‘Army and Society’ exhibition.

Burenok said he expects arms and equipment now in service to be decommissioned en masse in 2013-2015.

“Now, the percentage of equipment which requires repairs, because it was used incorrectly or has parts missing, is considerable, and is a significant factor affecting the combat readiness status of the arms and equipment inventory.”

Burenok believes the current condition of armaments can support armed forces’ missions at no more than the minimum necessary level.

“This primarily has to do with the fact that equipment manufactured back in the Soviet period is becoming increasingly worn-out and obsolete, as well as the fact that there is not enough money and resources to restore the armaments and equipment inventory to a good state of repair, while the existing resources are not being used very effectively.”