VDV Commander General-Lieutenant Vladimir Shamanov told ITAR-TASS today that the airborne troops need their organic light transport aviation back because its absence is complicating their training. He says:
“The results of the air-assault training of the VDV in the first quarter of this year show that the transfer of light aviation to the Air Forces is stalling the system.”
As an example of this, Shamanov said light aviation fulfilled only 60 percent of planned jump training at the VDV’s Omsk Training Center. He said its commander has asked to continue jumps until 7 May.
Shamanov said the VVS ban on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday flights was making the VDV a hostage. He continues:
“We’ve already had cases. The VVS command allocated one helicopter each for jumps by our Spetsnaz and communications regiments near Moscow. However in practice it turned out that the regiment having clear priority, the Spetsnaz regiment, could use the helicopter coming from Levashovo in Leningrad Oblast for jumps in all for only a half day out of five for purely aviation reasons, at the same time as the second, communications regiment, with the other helicopter coming from Ryazan, jumped for a full week.”
“We’ve sent the Genshtab our proposals to create organic sub-units of light aviation in the VDV. Unfortunately, there’s no hope for them since no answer has been received from the Genshtab, but we will continue to assert our position.”
A VDV spokesman said last year, when they still belonged to the VDV, An-2s supported 140,000 jumps in combat training, and the VVS’ Il-76 medium military transport aircraft only 35,000.
The VDV’s light transport force had 7 squadrons of Mi-8 helicopters and An-2 and An-3 aircraft and three airfields until the General Staff Chief’s 1 January directive transferred them to the VVS.
Shamanov also repeated his past calls for each of his three air-assault formations to have its own regiment of 20 combat and 40 transport helicopters. He said a proposal to this effect is being prepared. An interlocutor told ITAR-TASS:
“Having organic helicopter regiments in the VDV’s air-assault formations undoubtedly would raise their air-mobility, fire power, responsiveness of command and control in combat conditions, and in the course of combat training. So the formation commander, who gets a helicopter regiment, could independently, when he considers it necessary, without turning to the VVS command, decide to have air-assault training for personnel including helicopter jumps.”
Recall the early January Genshtab directive that transferred all aviation units in other services and arms, with the exception of RVSN, to the VVS.
Shamanov’s complaint and appeal for a change is interesting. He isn’t one to be afraid to demand special treatment. He warded off the change from divisions to brigades in 2009.
Shamanov last publicly lobbied for an upgraded VDV rotary wing component, both attack and transport helicopters, in late 2009. The Ground Troops would also like army aviation, which they lost to the VVS in 2002, returned to them. ITAR-TASS noted that former Ground Troops CINC Army General Boldyrev said as much last September. He wanted helicopter regiments for air-assault brigades that belong to the military districts.
The organic aviation issue will be another place to watch for a possible policy about-face.
This is quite revealing. Not only on the inconsistencies in Shamanov’s thinking, but the emerging fissures in the whole reform program. It was abundantly clear to observers that the subordination of transport aviation to the VVS would cause manifold problems in the VDV, not least in terms of its implications for readiness and training. However, Shamanov despite his ‘fight’ to dissaude the ministry from pursuing this course failed to reverse the plan. Nonetheless, he was singularly successful in protecting the VDV from the reform concept being applied to it, either on downsizing its officer element or, more significantly, in convincing Serdyukov to avoid applying the brigade-based structure to the VDV. Shamanov’s arguments in this venture were entirely spurious, arguing that the airborne needs to be division-based. How does he explain that since the Soviet-Afghan war, VDV has always deployed with a brigade HQ, and have been used in theater at sub-divisional level? His defense of the VDV, in fact, appeared rooted in beating his chest, and diplaying for his siloviki chums, that he, Shamanov, is a strong man.
Now, like much of the personal image building in Putin’s Russia, he finds himself running around asking: “Please may I have my planes back?”
It seems in Russian defense policy planning there is too much personality and emotion, and not enough business-like logic.
All good points. Describing what they are doing and saying is by far easier than trying to guess exactly why when it doesn’t necessarily make sense. Thanks for reading.
Karaganov covered this issue recently in the Russian press, exactly. He said, “creepy old men” in the West and Russia were trying to revise the old Cold War type analysis, and pouring over tea leaves, trying to figure Kremlin approaches. Guessing games are a thing of the past: don’t you know? Those doing the ‘guessing’ games can go live under the rock of the past. They cannot discern that the times are changin’ and look at this as a guessin’ game, you will be outsmarted for decades if that is your approach, not least in terms of revealing an intellectual approach that stinks to high heaven. However, maybe Putin will recreate the Soviet Union, and some analysts will feel at home.
The smell of the coffee is strong, it ain’t gonna happen. US and Russian interests ae converging across a wide range of issues. Wecould go on, but then the reader needs to appreciate the old Russian military system, how that has now been abandoned and poses not threat to the west, and signals changes ahead.
This is no time for blonde bimbo anaylsis to be regarded by policy planners.