Monthly Archives: July 2010

More Popovkin on GPV 2011-2020

Does the GPV really mean anything?

One has to recall Popovkin’s announced 20 trillion rubles is just a plan until the Duma allocates the money every year.  Then there’s a big question of whether allocated money is used effectively.

Mikhail Rastopshin and others have written about how every GPV in memory (GPV 1996-2005, GPV 2001-2010, GPV 2007-2015) was revised shortly after it began.  Now we have GPV 2011-2020 being formulated only four years into the previous one.  This overlapping and cascading makes it difficult to see (even for those involved) what’s actually been procured with the funding provided.

Five trillion for GPV 2007-2015 (about 550 million rubles per year) seemed like a pretty good amount in the mid-2000s, but, as Vladimir Yevseyev and others have been kind enough to point out, it didn’t buy that much.  Yevseyev said Russia’s rate of rearmament would only provide for modern weapons and equipment over the course of 30-50 years, if then.  A Defense Ministry official responsible for the GPV and GOZ, Vasiliy Burenok, recently said Russia’s rearmament rate is only 2 percent, and it should be 9-11 percent per annum.

Finally, Popovkin’s deputy, General-Lieutenant Frolov stated flatly, and rather shockingly, that the government’s first offer of 13 trillion for GPV 2011-2020 was barely one-third of what’s needed to rearm Russia’s Armed Forces.  Now, according to Popovkin, and probably after some intense lobbying, the government comes back with a counteroffer of about 20 trillion.  This insight into the current dynamic of civil-military relations is perhaps more significant than the GPV itself.  What will the ultimate figure be?  Does it matter?  No, because GPV 2011-2020 will be superseded and rewritten well before 2015.

It’s possible to assert plainly that no GPV will ever get done if GPV 2007-2015 — coming at the peak of  oil prices and Russia’s economic boom — didn’t lead to very much.

Back to other things Popovkin announced yesterday . . .

He reaffirmed Russia’s intention to build its own UAVs:

“We’ll build our own.  It’s possible that, based on the results of this air show [Farnborough], requirements for Russian UAVs will be refined.”

Popovkin said the world’s UAV makers are now modernizing existing systems rather than investing in developing new ones. 

He also announced that the Defense Ministry will soon select the Russian enterprise and location where Israeli UAVs will be manufactured.

On Russia’s new ICBM, Popovkin told the media:

“We’ve accepted the RS-24 ‘Yars’ and placed it on combat duty.  The first battalion is standing up.”

He said Russia plans to acquire 20 An-124 ‘Ruslan’ transports, while modernizing its existing fleet of them by 2015-2016, and buy 60 An-70 transports as well.  He also said Moscow will procure 1,000 helicopters by 2020, calling them “one of the priorities for us now.”  Special attention will be given to heavy transport helicopters.

Popovkin on GPV Financing, Inter Alia

Perhaps lobbying for more money for armaments pays off . . . at least a little.

At Farnborough today, First Deputy Defense Minister Popovkin told journalists financing for GPV 2011-2020 will be almost doubled.

Popovkin said:

 “We’re talking about increasing the amount.”

“With the Finance Ministry we’re now deciding the issue of the amount and the schedule of year-by-year financing taking into account of the state’s economic possibilities.”

“Now we’re talking about 20 trillion [rubles].”

Recall early June’s comments to the effect that the proposed 13 trillion would cover only one-third of the Defense Ministry’s needs.

Popovkin also said [again] that a state program for developing the OPK needs to be adopted at the same time as the new GPV.  He said:

“Both documents will be confirmed by the President this year.”

But he didn’t offer anything on the amount of financing for an OPK development program, but said ‘negotiations’ with the Finance Ministry are being conducted.

On the fifth generation fighter, Popovkin said the Defense Ministry plans to receive its first experimental model in 2013.  He also said:

“By 2015 the Defense Ministry plans to buy ten aircraft from the first assembly run which will go to operational forces.  And from 2016 we plan to implement a series purchase of fifth generation fighters.”

Air Forces CINC General-Colonel Zelin recently told the press more than 60 will be bought starting in 2015-2016.

More to follow . . .

TsOPI Critiques Serdyukov’s Reforms

In last week’s Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye, IMEMO’s Vladimir Yevseyev presented the results of a recent round table on reform in the RF Armed Forces. The Center for Social-Political Initiatives (TsOPI or ЦОПИ), with support from Germany’s Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, sponsored the event.

Yevseyev described early reform as cutting personnel without changing the army’s structures during a time of political paralysis in the 1990s.  In the Putin era, he says there were still failures and the army’s equipment levels dropped, but the army began to believe it could still fight.

At this time, former Defense Minister Ivanov more than once declared the end of army reform, the troops started to get limited quantities of new weapons, and there was an unsuccessful attempt to move to professional enlisted force.  Yevseyev tries unconvincingly to point out successes in the Putin-Ivanov period.  His leading examples are especially dubious:

“— the elimination of cadre units and formations and forming of permanent readiness units numbering nearly 200 thousand servicemen on a contract basis.”

“— partial fulfillment of the federal targeted program of transition to manning with servicemen conducting military service on contract in a number of formations and military units in 2004-2007 that as a whole with a corresponding change in legislation in 2008 allowed a reduction in the conscripted service term to one year.”

The hollow unit problem wasn’t tackled until late in 2008, and Yevseyev has already labeled contract service a failure.  Moreover, the contract service program probably didn’t attract more than 80,000 soldiers.

And contract service didn’t have anything to do with one-year conscript service.  That change was made to try to encourage more young Russian men to serve rather than avoid serving.  Professional enlisted service, had it worked, would have allowed Moscow to continue drafting only 260,000 men per year for two years, rather than 540,000 per year to serve for a year as it is now.

But Yevseyev comes to the right conclusion:

“. . . radical change in the reform of the Armed Forces did not happen.  The main reason for this was that the Russian leadership could not take the fundamentally important decision on bringing the size of the Armed Forces into correspondence with the economic possibilities we have and with observable (future) external threats.”

Yevseyev writes that the most acute phase of military reform came with Defense Minister Serdyukov, and the war with Georgia, which revealed the army’s shortcomings.
 
But, says Yevseyev, Serdyukov’s initiatives like reducing officers and cutting warrants ran into difficulties.  Forty thousand officers placed outside the TO&E couldn’t be retired because they still lack permanent housing.  And many would-be officer graduates in 2009 and 2010 were forced into sergeant’s duties.

Yevseyev says Serdyukov’s reform is bringing an increased flow of negative consequences as shown in the results of TsOPI’s polling. It surveyed more than 2,500 people, including nearly 1,700 servicemen, in nine major cities.  According to 61 percent of respondents, reform has degraded the entire military command and control system.  Sixty-four percent said the army’s ‘new profile’ has seriously reduced their social status.  Thirty-two percent are not sure their housing, pension, and pay rights will be observed during Serdyukov’s reform.  Twenty-three percent are worried about their outplacement rights, and 8 percent about their medical benefits.

Yevseyev and his colleagues discussed three major problems for the Armed Forces:  rearmament, infrastructure, and manning.

They say 40 percent of Soviet arms and equipment were modern at the end of the 1980s, with the percentage declining to only 10-12 percent by 2005, and 5 percent at present.  They give a useful rundown of what’s been produced over recent years.

In 2004-2008:

  • 36 ‘Topol-M’ ICBMs;
  • 2 battalions of Iskander SSMs;
  • 2 battalions of S-400 SAMs;
  • 150 T-90 tanks;
  • 700 armored combat vehicles;
  • 20 self-propelled artillery systems;
  • 1 Tu-160 strategic bomber;
  • 3 Su-34 bombers;
  • 30 helicopters;
  • 1 diesel submarine;
  • 2 corvettes; and
  • 13 smaller ships and auxiliaries.

In 2009:

  • 49 new or modernized aircraft;
  • 31 helicopters;
  • 304 armored combat vehicles; and
  • 20 artillery systems.

Yevseyev and company conclude:

“It would seem that the situation with equipping the country’s Armed Forces is beginning to be corrected.  But in reality such rates of military equipment supply allow full rearmament across 30-50 years, which significantly exceeds the length of its service life.”

So this will make it difficult to increase the share of new weapons and equipment to 30 percent by 2015, even for permanent readiness units and formations.

They point next to the massive lingering Russian military structure.  Four years ago there were 26,000 military organizations of one type or another, and now only 6,000.  And that will be reduced to 2,500.  But they say, instead of consolidating and realizing cost savings, some of this process was fake, and some organizations were just named as subsidiaries [filialy] of larger ones.  As an example, they cite the shift from regiments to brigades and 1,000 reported TO&E changes, of which only 30 actually involved a physical unit relocation.

Finally, Yevseyev and the round table participants point to a potential unit leadership void when officers and professional enlisted are being cut (or not recruited) at the same time.  They say, given the training time they need, conscripts shouldn’t comprise more than 30 percent of a permanent readiness unit.

Yevseyev sums up:

“. . . the process of implementing military reform in the Russian Armed Forces now prompts the most serious misgivings.  In essence, the military personnel training system is being destroyed, the decline in the Armed Forces’ equipping continues, their system of manning and command and control is being broken.  All this leads to the weakening of the country’s defense capability and requires taking immediate measures to eliminate the negative consequences we are already experiencing.”

Chernavin on Bulava Design and Testing Problems

Svpressa.ru provided its version of this week’s comments from a Navy Main Staff source: 

“. . . there’s no alternative to equipping new proyekt 955 ‘Borey’ missile cruisers [SSBNs] with the Bulava missile.  Its acceptance into the arms inventory is delayed some, but the testing will be successfully concluded in any event and the missile will be accepted into the arms inventory.  There are no insurmountable obstacles to this.” 

Then former Soviet Navy CINC Vladimir Chernavin answered Svpressa’s questions about naval strategic systems.  He is still focused on what he sees as bad decisions in the process of designing and testing Bulava, rather than defective components and assembly problems.  But like most, he sees no alternative to Bulava at this point. 

Asked why the Navy doesn’t opt for Sineva, Chernavin said: 

“’Sineva’ is a magnificent missile, but it’s liquid-fuelled.  And this is a very dangerous ‘cargo’ for nuclear submarine crews.  The liquid fuel used in it is so corrosive, it burns through metal.  In addition, it’s extremely poisonous.” 

“In Soviet times solid-fueled missiles were put on proyekt 941 nuclear submarines.  But back then for technical reasons we could only make them in very large dimensions.  Proyekt 941 nuclear submarines had 20 90-ton missiles.  And each carried 10 MIRVed, highly accurate nuclear warheads.  The fact is one nuclear submarine [SSBN] could destroy up to 200 important targets, you can say, cities.  The biggest designer of missile-space equipment Vladimir Chelomey and his firm in Miass made all these missiles.  When I was still Soviet Navy CINC, we began to develop a missile [SS-NX-28 or Bark], like the ‘Bulava,’ to replace our heavy missiles on proyekt 941 boats.” 

Fleet Admiral Chernavin

Asked why it didn’t succeed, Chernavin replied: 

“Unfortunately, after Chelomey’s death, the continuity was broken.  One of Chelomey’s assistants headed the firm.  We gave it great resources to perfect this heavy missile – reduced dimensions, increased accuracy.  This work stopped with the USSR’s collapse.  And when the country’s leadership decided to restart it, they took as a basis not a naval missile, but the ground-based ‘Topol M.’  They changed design bureau accordingly.  The idea was tempting – to make one all-purpose missile for ground pounders and for sailors.  This would significantly reduce production costs.” 

But what was the stumbling block? 

“They didn’t figure that the firm that made the ‘Topol’ had no concept about naval missiles.  I remember a sad instance.  When ‘Topol’ specialists learned that a submarine-launched missile had to launch while the nuclear submarine is moving, they grabbed their heads.  Everyone knows ‘Topol’ fires from a stationary platform.  Everything in the calculations had to be completely changed.  The ground-based design bureau encountered problems that Chelomey had already solved, and it had to reinvent the wheel.  Another, to put it mildly, mistake was committed by cutting costs in the very course of missile development.  With Chelomey it was laid out as follows.   After the creation of a prototype so-called pop-up testing began.  We had an old specially reequipped diesel submarine in the Black Sea for this.  A missile tube was placed in it.  A telemetered missile is ejected from it.  Not less than two of such tests were needed.  Only after this did they proceed to other tests, of which there were a great number.  ‘Market consciousness’ in new Russian conditions gave the project’s directors the idea of economizing on tests.  There were no preliminary tests, but immediately they put ‘Bulava’ on a submarine and all steps were conducted with the wave of a hand, having skipped several phases of testing.  Now we all see what a ‘pretty penny’ this ‘economizing’ has cost the state.  The end of testing is not in sight, but ‘Bulava’ won’t fly.” 

 Does Bulava have any future?  

“I think there’s no longer time to give up.  Whether we want this or not, we have to get ‘Bulava’ in shape.” 

But what if its designers aren’t up to it?  

“I think they’re up to it.  They’ve hit so many bumps that they, on the whole, have gained experience and will guide it to the end, but again this will cost not a little money.  But less now than if we set out today to develop a missile from scratch.  Of course, in principle, it wasn’t necessary to let these people build a naval missile.  Now we have to get unscrewed.  And throw resources around.  But, I’m sure, they’ll still get ‘Bulava’ to fly.”

Pressing the French on Mistral

Vladimir Socor has a good piece describing Russian shipbuilders’ complaints to the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) about the Mistral purchase as another way to press Paris to finalize the deal on Moscow’s terms.  Socor says: 

“In line with the Russian government’s tactics, [Deputy PM and OSK Board Chairman] Sechin is signaling that Moscow could turn to other international shipbuilders, or ultimately to Russian shipbuilders, if France does not sweeten the terms of the Mistral deal for Russia.” 

“Thus, Sechin’s subsidiaries [Yantar and Admiralty] ostensibly seek anti-monopoly action in a case handled by Sechin himself for the Russian government.” 

This points up the bizarre circumstance in which Sechin is negotiating with the French, while his OSK subsidiaries complain about the potential deal. 

But, as Interfaks wrote on Wednesday, FAS says it lacks jurisdiction over the complaint from Yantar and Admiralty.  FAS also says there’s no basis for a complaint since no deal for Mistral has been reached. 

The shipyards argue they’ve been excluded from bidding to build amphibious assault ships for the Navy, and the terms of the competition weren’t publicly announced.  Their complaint seems to have merit since, from the outset, the Defense Ministry went directly after a specific ship and supplier, without issuing general requirements for a ship class. 

According to Interfaks, OSK supports Yantar and Admiralty, and calls the Defense Ministry’s actions ‘obscure.’ Its representatives periodically speak of Mistral like a done deal, but how the deal will proceed remains unclear.  An OSK source says, “And every time such statements deliver a blow to the self-esteem of domestic shipbuilders who know how to make these ships.”  

And, as Socor notes, talks continue also with the Dutch and Spanish [as Defense Minister Serdyukov has always pointed out] and now the possibility of a deal with the South Koreans has been thrown in, further roiling the waters. 

Izvestiya yesterday said OSK President Roman Trotsenko sent a letter to Defense Minister Serdyukov proposing a review of the military’s plans to acquire Mistral.  In its place, Trotsenko suggests building the South Korean Dokdo under license in a Russian shipyard.  He says he can build it in three years, and more cheaply than Mistral by one-third.  OSK has a joint production agreement with Dokdo builder Daewoo. 

Dokdo

The Defense Ministry insists Russian builders demurred when asked if they could build these ships.  Izvestiya doubts Trotsenko’s offer is realistic given the lack of available Russian buildingways.  But the paper concludes the appearance of the letter shows the struggle for the amphibious carrier contract isn’t over.

Bulava SLBM Test Next Month

Bulava

This afternoon a Navy Main Staff source told Interfaks the next Bulava SLBM test will occur in mid-August from modified proyekt 941 Akula (Typhoon-class) SSBN TK-208 Dmitriy Donskoy.  This is earlier than previously announced.  The Navy source also claimed that the new proyekt 955 SSBN Yuriy Dolgorukiy will be the launch platform for one of this year’s three planned Bulava tests.  He also reiterated that Russian military men are committed to Bulava, seeing no alternative to it as the Navy’s nuclear deterrent for the future.

In May, Defense Minister Serdyukov said three identical Bulava missiles are being assembled in the hope of discovering a common flaw in their construction.  Serdyukov said the next Bulava launch wouldn’t occur before November at the earliest.

Bulgakov Adds More to His Portfolio?

General-Colonel Bulgakov

In addition to his new title Deputy Defense Minister for Material-Technical Support and his responsibility for arms and equipment supplies, General-Colonel Dmitriy Bulgakov has apparently also picked up Grigoriy Naginskiy’s duties as Chief of Housing and Construction. 

Bulgakov accompanied Prime Minister Putin on a tour of military apartments under construction in Volgograd today.  The contractor told Putin the land was acquired three years ago, but delays in installing utilities held up construction until this year.  They also complicated the process and added 5,000 rubles to the per-square-meter cost of the apartments. 

Bulgakov was quoted saying the first batch of apartments in the new mikrorayon for servicemen (739 apartments) will be turned over in December.  He also said 1,978 servicemen need housing in the city.

Deputy Signals Chief Goes Down for Corruption

Colonel Andrey Kolupov (photo: Kommersant)

While President Medvedev may despair of the continuing corruption plague in Russian government and society, the Defense Ministry went after a fairly high-ranking figure this week. 

There’s been nothing general on the military corruption situation since earlier this year, so the Kolupov case is just an interesting, isolated one. 

A decorated combat veteran of Chechnya and Dagestan, Colonel Kolupov is the General Staff’s Deputy Chief of Communications, and he was in line to succeed his retiring boss until a check uncovered his failure to return a Defense Ministry apartment in Voronezh when he received another one in Moscow. 

In 1996, he had a 54-square-meter apartment in Voronezh with his wife and daughter.  In 2002, Kolupov became a senior officer of the MVO’s communications directorate.  Two years later he had a second daughter and received a three-room, 81.7-square-meter Moscow apartment, which he privatized in 2008, according to Kommersant

Meanwhile, Kolupov let his mother-in-law to privatize the service apartment in Voronezh rather than returning it to the Defense Ministry.  The loss to the state was put at 6.3 million rubles.  The colonel has been charged with large-scale fraud.  He apparently hasn’t acknowledged wrongdoing, and refused to speak with Kommersant

Kolupov’s housing machinations are less egregious than ones occurring in the Railroad Troops Command in recent years.  But there seems to be a campaign against apartment manipulations by senior military officers.  Generally, it might be possible to conclude that the Defense Ministry’s anticorruption efforts are relatively more vigorous and effective than those of other ministries, but it would also be impossible to prove this with any certainty.  And the key word is relatively.  The scale of Defense Ministry efforts may not be significant in an absolute sense against the scope of its overall corruption problem.  One can easily think of other apartment- and housing-related corruption, involving military men and civilians, that isn’t scrutinized similarly.

General Staff Chief Makarov’s Press Conference

Sound bites from General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov’s press conference today dribbled out one at a time, as usual.

Makarov told reporters President Medvedev signed a decree establishing four operational-strategic commands (OSK) to replace the existing military districts on 6 July, but the text hasn’t been published.  Makarov also said arrangements putting the OSKs in place would be complete on 1 December.

Makarov talked more about the new “unified system of material-technical support (MTO)” also apparently covered in Medvedev’s decree.

Rear Services Chief, Deputy Defense Minister, General-Colonel Dmitriy Bulgakov, as expected, will head the unified MTO system, and new First Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin will supervise the new state armaments program, 2011-2020, as well as coordination with military industries. 

Makarov stressed uniting transportation and supply functions under Bulgakov:

“We had a disconnect when all transport for supplies of material means to the troops was at the disposal of the Deputy Defense Minister for Rear Services, but he didn’t have anything he needed to move with this transport.  The other Deputy Defense Minister, on the other hand, had armaments, but no means for transporting them to the troops.”

“This is very important because now the management of transportation and armaments is concentrated in the hands of one man.  The correctness of the decision was confirmed by the recently completed ‘Vostok-2010’ operational-strategic exercise in the Far East.”

 “Now one official serving as a Deputy Defense Minister heads a unified system of material-technical support which has united rear services and armaments.  He alone personally answer for both the transport of supplies of material-technical means, and for these means themselves.  Now one man answers for the state of affairs with armaments and for their supply to the troops, who will also now be responsible for that.”

The way Makarov puts it, Popovkin be on the hook for product quality:

“He will work with defense-industrial complex enterprises to control their production of armaments and military equipment for the Armed Forces.”

Popovkin’s old job of Chief of Armaments, Deputy Defense Minister will disappear most likely.

Makarov told reporters Russia plans to move to netcentric command and control by 2015, once it equips its troops with new C3 systems united in one information space.  Such systems are now scarce, but he says, they are working hard so to install digital equipment everywhere.  Makarov calls this the main renovation that he’s giving all structures and troops starting in the fall of this year.  He says Russia’s new command posts unite reconnaissance, target designation, and troops and weapons to execute combat missions in real time.

It’s interesting that RIA Novosti took time to explain that the netcentric concept is an American creation more than 10 years old, and one not loved by those used to strictly centralized command and control.

Makarov told the press the army will begin forming light brigades, which it currently doesn’t have, this year.  They’ll have light combat vehicles of some type.  While not providing details, Makarov emphasized that light brigades will be built around a standard vehicle, so that, as in Vostok-2010, a brigade can fly in and its personnel can marry up with their normal vehicles in their place of deployment. 

Answering a question, Makarov said Russia will buy more Il-78 tankers in GPV 2011-2020, but he didn’t specify a number.

Makarov announced an intention to equip all Russian combat aircraft with new targeting-navigation systems over the next three years.  He said the new equipment will increase the accuracy of air strikes and allow the Air Forces to “abandon the previous practice of area bombing.”  He said the new system was tried on a Su-24M2 during Vostok-2010.  Installation of the targeting equipment on the Su-24M2 began in 2007.  Makarov said the VVS has nearly 300 Su-24 of all variants, and naval aviation about 60.

Stoletiye.ru had an interesting observation on Makarov and efforts to streamline command and control in the Russian Army.  It said the move to 4 OSKs and other steps are intended to reduce duplication of officer responsibilities and make 2-3 officers responsible for the fulfillment of combat missions.  It quoted Makarov, “We’ve eliminated the system of spreading responsibility throughout the Defense Ministry.”

Kramnik on Vostok-2010 and Military Reform

This is complete finally.

Ilya Kramnik’s RIA Novosti piece about the exercise has been quoted by others, but it hasn’t gotten attention as a whole on its own.

So what does Kramnik think?  He cites Makiyenko to the effect that Vostok-2010 showed that reform has been positive for the army, but there are, of course, problems.  Troops aren’t uniformly well-trained, and the failure of contract service has really hurt.  But Kramnik gives Defense Minister Serdyukov a lot of credit, on the order of being a 21st century Milyutin.  But back to the problems again.  Things like contract service, tension over officer cuts and premium pay, military education cuts, and the failure to deliver new weapons have to be fixed.  But Kramnik believes Serdyukov is the kind of guy who’ll go back and fix what he didn’t get right or get done.  Then Kramnik shifts to the type of conflict the military reform is preparing the Russian Army to fight.  Obviously [?] not a nuclear one, but rather, again turning to Makiyenko, a Central Asian local war scenario that might threaten the RF’s internal stability.  The conclusion is that, if reform stays on track and occurs quickly, the army will be able to meet this challenge.  Some, however, might well argue that even a properly and rapidly reformed Russian Army might not be enough to contain and damp down the kind of conflagration Makiyenko describes.  Finally, Kramnik concludes that even the U.S. front isn’t secure; an American regime in 2012 or 2016 might take to renewed active support of new ‘color revolutions’ in Moscow’s back (or front) yard.

Here’s a verbatim text:

“The official results of the just ended ‘Vostok-2010’ exercise are still being reckoned, and this will be done by the Defense Ministry.  Meanwhile, it’s already possible to make some conclusions.” 

“‘Vostok-2010’ was the largest of all in the post-Soviet period of Russian history.  More than 20 thousand men, 75 aircraft, 40 combat and auxiliary ships took part on the ground, in the air, and at sea in maneuvers conducted from Altay Kray to Vladivostok.”

“The aim of the exercise was to check the three-level command structure — operational-strategic command – operational command – brigade, and other new elements in the Armed Forces command and control and support system, and to uncover deficiencies needing correction.  An expert of the Russian Center for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies Konstantin Makiyenko expressed his opinion on the recent maneuvers:  ‘The recent maneuvers fully refuted the propagated myth about how the army is being destroyed as a result of the actions of the current Defense Ministry leadership.  It’s obvious the army is alive and developing.  Units participating in the exercise demonstrated their combat capability, despite the fact that they are not in the ranks of the best military districts, and scarcely armed with the most modern equipment.'”

“‘It’s especially worth focusing on the good morale of the officer personnel — it’s not possible to speak of general enthusiasm, of course, but I didn’t see dim eyes among the officers.  As a group, they are interested in the success of the current reform and hope for its success.'”

“While agreeing with this point of view, one has to note that the situation with soldiers looks a little different, both RIA Novosti’s reviewer [Kramnik] and Konstantin Makiyenko have also noted this.  Very much depends on the branch of troops and the basic training of the soldiers themselves.  Contract-servicemen in a ‘Tochka-U’ operational-tactical missile launch battery look and are trained much better than conscript-soldiers in motorized rifle units.  In the words of motorized rifle officers up to the battalion commander level, the reduction in the number of contractees has negatively affected platoon and company training.  Ideally, the service term of a specialist-soldier (mechanic-driver, weapons system operator, etc.) needs to be three years, that is achievable only on the contract manning principle for these positions.”

“Speaking about the attainability of the announced goals of the reform, one can say the following:   the will of the military leadership which certainly exists, is the main component of success, a firm understanding of the goal is also obvious, and the possession of authority — it’s not possible to doubt this.  As a result, the current Defense Ministry leadership needs only time to realize its ideas.  Overall, the military reform being conducted is the most significant event of Russian history in the last ten years — since the suppression of the separatist rebellion in the North Caucasus.  The Serdyukov-Makarov reform in the military sphere is the most radical and deepest since the time of Mikhail Frunze’s reforms in the 1920s, if not since Dmitriy Milyutin in the 1860s and 1870s.”

“As proof, it’s possible to note the fact that the Defense Ministry leadership is constantly searching and ready to correct those steps which, when checked, turn out to be incorrect or unattainable in real political-economic conditions.  So, the current principles of manning the army will undergo a serious correction:  it’s obvious that neither the organization of contract service, nor, even more, the existing format of conscript service corresponds to the demands of the time.”

“Evaluating the correspondence of the Defense Ministry leadership to its missions, it’s possible to say, that at present Russia has the most appropriate military leadership since the collapse of the USSR.  At the same time, it’s obvious that the radicalism of the reform, the compressed time of its implementation, unavoidable resistance in the environment and hard economic conditions didn’t allow for avoiding a large number of mistakes and excesses.  Among the most fundamental failures it’s possible to name the collapse of the army’s transition to the contract manning principle, serious social tension arising in connection with the rapid reduction of officer personnel, the ambiguous situation with the scale of servicemen’s complaints after the introduction of the differential pay system [premium pay or Serdyukov’s Order No. 400?], the hurried and not completely thought out reform of military education and many, many other things.  It’s  particularly worth focusing on the implementation of the state armaments programs which fail one after another, not being executed in a significant part.  As a result, the lag of Russia’s Armed Forces behind the most developed countries in the level of  technical equipping continues to grow such that in conditions of a quantitative lag it could become very dangerous.  All these mistakes have to be corrected, since they impact on rudiments of the army’s combat capability.”

“For what type of wars does Russia’s new army need to prepare?  Obviously, the time of long wars between the great powers has gone into the past — nuclear weapons haven’t left chances for such a development of events.  The most probable type of conflict in which the Russian Army will be involved is a local conflict on Russia’s borders and the territory of the former USSR, in the course of which there could be clashes with the most varied enemy:  from a regular army to many bandit formations and terrorist groups.”

“In Konstantin Makiyenko’s opinion, Central Asia presents the greatest danger in the future of a possible hot conflict with Russia’s direct participation:  ‘The U.S. and NATO, obviously, are less and less controlling the Afghanistan situation, and it’s not excluded that in the foreseeable future they may have to abandon this country.  The return to power in Afghanistan of the ‘Taliban’ movement looks most realistic in the event of such a development of events.  The arrival of Islamic radicals in power would unavoidably be a catalyst for conflicts on the territory of former Soviet republics of the region already riven by contradictions.  Weak authoritarian regimes in Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, not to mention what’s become the ‘failed government’ in Kyrgyzstan, could be easy prey for the Taliban.  As a result, Russia might be forced to consider the likelihood of a large Asian conflagration which it would have to prevent, or if it didn’t succeed — extinguish, at a minimum with the aim of preserving its own internal stability.  One very much wants to believe that the reform will bear fruit before the described situation becomes a reality.'”

“Besides the described scenario it follows to study also the probability of another development of events:  as experience has shown, on the territory of former USSR republics, the rise of openly anti-Russian regimes with external support at their disposal can’t be excluded.  For today, such a situation is a low probability due to the fact that the current administration in the U.S. — the main sponsor of ‘colored revolutions,’ is clearly not inclined to continue the policy of George Bush.  However by 2012, if President Obama loses the election, the situation could change, and this risk is even greater in 2016 when the administration will change in any case.  Meanwhile, you have to note that even the Democrats remaining in power in the U.S. is not a guarantee of a peaceful life:  Obama’s point of view on a coexistence format with Russia is hardly shared by all his fellow party members.  In the worst case, a return to the next variant of Cold War and new spiral of the arms race isn’t excluded.”

“The coming decade isn’t promising Russia an easy life.  The success of military reform is all the more important.”