Air Forces CINC, General-Colonel Aleksandr Zelin had many announcements yesterday on the eve of his service’s holiday, but none more interesting than the not-completely-surprising news that frontal and army aviation will transfer from the Air Forces to be directly subordinate to Russia’s four new ‘operational-strategic commands.’
“The Air Forces will remain a service of the Armed Forces, its Main Command [Glavkomat or Главкомат] will continue functioning, the transfer of four Air Forces and Air Defense commands [i.e. armies] to the commanders of the new military districts — Western, Southern, Central and Eastern is planned.”
“Frontal and army aviation is transferring to the commanders of these districts and, accordingly, to the unified strategic commands. As regards the aviation component of the RF strategic nuclear triad — Long-Range Aviation, it, like Military-Transport Aviation and the Operational-Strategic Command of Aerospace Defense [ОСК ВКО] will remain immediately subordinate to the Air Forces CINC.”
So what’s happened?
After years of lobbying, army aviation is leaving the Air Forces, but not exactly returning to the Ground Troops. It is, however, returning to a Ground Troops-dominated environment in the OSKs.
The OSKs look more and more like U.S.-style unified, combatant commands, and the RF armed services like force providers.
One supposes that the Air Forces, like the Navy, will have to continue playing a very large role in developing doctrine, tactics, acquisition, training, and operations and maintenance of frontal aviation at least, and probably army aviation as well.
Zelin had more fragmentary comments on this subject. The Air Forces CINC will retain:
“. . . immediate authority to direct combat training of all aviation and air defense forces, development of all directive documents, and also material-technical support.”
“This entire system is arranged just to optimize command and control and concentrate the main forces and means in the troops [i.e. OSKs].”
He added that these measures must:
“. . . prevent theft and waste of material and financial means and guarantee their strict centralization.”
One wonders how aspects of this ‘material-technical support’ (MTO) role for the Air Forces CINC will track with General-Colonel Bulgakov’s new MTO empire in the increasingly civilian Defense Ministry.