Monthly Archives: August 2010

Is the Helicopter Carrier Tender for Real?

Speaking in Yerevan today, Defense Minister Serdyukov told journalists:

“We have announced an international tender for construction of a helicopter-carrying ship.”

He indicated Russia is talking about two ships.  He also welcomed the French builders of the Mistral to join in the tender.

The tender will take place next month, and the winning bid will be selected before year’s end.

After months of negotiations with France on building Mistral-class amphibious assault ships, the Russians couldn’t reach agreement on the terms of a deal.

The two sides may have agreed on building two ships in France’s STX shipyard.  French President Sarkozy told its workers last month they’d be building two ships with the Russians.

Maybe the Russians wanted to buy one and build three, but Serdyukov says the international tender is for two ships, so it seems likely Paris and Moscow had agreed on a ‘2+2’ formula.  So something else is probably the sticking point.

RIA Novosti suggests talks with Paris stalled over its unwillingness to sell Moscow the NATO standard tactical communications system aboard Mistral, according to an unnamed expert who spoke to Ouest-France.

The expert said the comms system is tied to the SENIT 9 tactical combat information system.  It’s described as an important node NATO isn’t prepared to share with Russia.  The French expert says the Russians “don’t have a very good command of military computers and are trying to fill the gap.” 

Officially, the Elysee says negotiations with Russia continue, it’s confident of a successful outcome, and it isn’t worried about the Russian tender.  It hasn’t commented on participating in it either.  Meanwhile, the French media claims Moscow has stopped its exclusive talks with Paris.

Tender for Helicopter Carriers May Just Be Formality

Mistral Schematic

Kommersant reports today that United Shipbuilding Corporation (OSK) has gotten the Defense Ministry’s permission to hold an open tender for procurement of helicopter carriers.  The paper concludes the Defense Ministry is refraining from a sole-source purchase of the French Mistral, and will consider similar proposals from OSK’s shipyards.  But the military [at least some military officials] haven’t hidden the fact that they prefer Mistral [but Defense Minister Serdyukov has always maintained they’ve been talking to other suppliers], so the tender could just be a formality. 

OSK President Roman Trotsenko says a special commission from the Ministry of Industry and Trade will conduct the tender, but details are sketchy.  A Defense Ministry source told Kommersant that, without a tender, a deal to buy a helicopter carrier [presumably Mistral] would be considered illegal.  So there won’t be a sole-source buy despite a year of government-to-government talks.

The paper reminds readers of OSK’s recent unsuccessful antimonopoly complaint in regard to the government’s consideration of Mistral.  Although the complaint was not reviewed, it must have had some impact on the decision to compete the helicopter carrier purchase.  Kommersant sources say OSK Board Chairman Igor Sechin also had something to do with it.

Trotsenko says far east shipbuilding plant ‘Zvezda,’ Petersburg’s ‘Admiralty Wharves,’ and Kaliningrad’s ‘Yantar’ will bid for the ships.  ‘Zvezda’ already has a joint venture in place with South Korea’s Daewoo – builder of the Dokdo helicopter carrier.  The OSK President says ‘Admiralty’ and ‘Yantar’ might work with ‘Northern’ shipyard or a foreign builder. 

Kommersant has a letter sent from Sechin to Prime Minister Putin this spring saying not only is Dokdo an alternative to Mistral, but Dutch and Spanish helicopter carriers are as well.

Trotsenko says OSK yards can build a helicopter carrier in 30 months for $500-700 million against a Mistral pricetag of €420-680 million.

Kommersant concludes the tender won’t end the conflict between OSK and the Defense Ministry.  Mistral will remain the latter’s priority.  The paper’s sources don’t know if the military wants to buy Mistral itself or place an order for a new unit in a French shipyard (STX).  OSK hasn’t been able to arrange a cooperative agreement with STX.

Mezhprombank-controlled ‘Northern’ and ‘Baltic’ shipyards will participate in the tender according to a representative of the bank. Kommersant’s sources think Mezhprombank, its owner Sergey Pugachev, and shipyards are the favorites among Russian contenders.  Pugachev was an early supporter of buying French, then building other units in his shipyards.  And, according to Kommersant, the Defense Ministry supports Pugachev.

Alongside Pugachev and Mezhprombank, OSK feels its chances to win the tender aren’t great.  Moscow Defense Brief analyst Mikhail Barabanov also says Mezhprombank yards are the favorites to build Mistral in Russia.  Such a deal’s been reached at a political level between Paris and Moscow, so the tender might just be a formality.  CAST’s Konstantin Makiyenko agrees.  But he thinks Mistral orders will go to ‘Baltic,’ since ‘Northern’ is loaded with frigate and corvette orders.  Meanwhile, OSK would like to buy both yards from Mezhprombank, but the sides haven’t reached agreement on a price.

BMD-4M Update

BMD-4M

An item on pending troop testing of the BMD-4M for VDV . . . .  No, they aren’t in the force yet.  Despite the optimism expressed below, it remains to be seen if the Defense Ministry will actually order the system upon completion of troop testing.  It sounds like the designers and builders have footed the bill — 200 million rubles — for the system’s development thus far.

From this week’s Voyenno-promyshlennyy kuryer:

“Troop testing of the modernized airborne combat vehicle BMD-4M is being conducted in the course of the 98th Airborne-Assault Division’s command-staff exercise (KShU), which will take place from 23 to 28 August near Ivanovo.”

“During the airdrop of military equipment, seven BMD crews will be inside the combat compartment of these vehicles.  Immediately on landing, the crews will move out to fulfill combat missions on unfamiliar terrain in the notional enemy’s rear area.”

“An airdrop of parachute troops and military equipment from aircraft of Military-Transport Aviation will occur in the course of the divisional KShU, which will be directed by VDV Commander General-Lieutenant Vladimir Shamanov.  In all, it’s planned to airdrop 15 pallets with military equipment, including the BMD-4M.”

“After the completion of troop testing of the modernized combat vehicle, development of which Kurganmashzavod, the Volgograd Tractor Plant and other enterprises of the ‘Tractor Plants’ Concern are engaged in, it will be accepted into the arms inventory of the ‘winged infantry’ and included in the state defense order.”

“Development and production of the BMD-4M is being conducted with the agreement of the Defense Ministry at the concern’s expense.  Expenditures on the first test models amounted to nearly 200 million rubles.”

Update on Next Bulava Test

Today’s Kommersant cites Interfaks saying a session of the state commission deciding on the next Bulava SLBM test will happen during the next week.  Kommersant’s own OPK source confirmed this, calling the session a formality since the commission’s already announced that testing needs to continue in the near future.  The source says, after the commission meets, another week is needed to prepare for a launch, so look for the next test in late August or early September.

Kommersant quotes an unnamed OPK official who said the planned launch in the 11-13 August timeframe was postponed because “additional stand tests of the system were conducted with the goal of more rigorous preparation for the launches.”

Kommersant reminds readers three launches are planned before year’s end — two from Dmitriy Donskoy (proyekt 941U Akula) and one from Yuriy Dolgorukiy (proyekt 955 Borey).

The paper’s OPK source claims, in view of Bulava’s failures, “this strategic missile system will only be accepted into the inventory after a minimum of five consecutive successful tests.”

Melee in the 4th Tank Brigade

An embarrassing melee for the Russian military . . . Viktor Baranets from Komsomolskaya pravda has received confirmation – including video posted on his paper’s website — of a major brawl in the Naro-Fominsk-based 4th Independent Tank Brigade (once part of the elite Kantemir Tank Division).  The video from 4 or 5 July shows a large hand-to-hand battle on the parade ground.  It wasn’t posted until 10 August.  The entire incident was apparently a flare-up from an earlier confrontation between Russian soldiers and, yes once again, conscripts from Dagestan.

An ‘unofficial’ version Baranets got from a Defense Ministry spokesman indicates that, the day before the big fight, some Russian recon unit conscripts got in a scrape with Dagestanis in a local club (conscripts able to leave the garrison – part of Defense Minister Serdyukov’s effort to ‘humanize’ military service). 

Newsru.com also has the video.  It got a Moscow Military District spokesman to confirm that the mass fight grew out of a smaller conflict between soldiers from an air defense battalion and from a reconnaissance company. 

According to Baranets’ version, the next day a large group of soldiers from Dagestan attacked six Russian troops.  One of the latter managed to get help.  The brigade commander ran out and emptied his Kalashnikov over his troops’ heads.

Ten soldiers went to the hospital, several Dagestanis went to the guardhouse.  And, according to Baranets,  they are organizing a separate company for these ‘hot-tempered southerners.’  He says these things are common where there are high concentrations of soldiers from Dagestan.  He concludes they happen because Dagestanis refuse to subordinate themselves to anyone but their compatriots.

The entire incident was kept quiet because officers were threatened with the loss of their monthly and yearly premium pay if they talked about it.

RIA Novosti reported some extra official information from the military prosecutor.  The brigade’s chief of staff, deputy commander for socialization work, and six other officers received disciplinary reprimands, and two others [sub-unit commanders] were dismissed.  Three conscripts face criminal charges from the fight involving 20 men.  But as Newsru.com points out, the video looks like more than 20 men were fighting. 

Most of the press coverage also noted the recent Baltic Fleet case in which Dagestanis forced other conscripts to spell out the word KAVKAZ with their bodies.  Forum.msk wrote that most of the seven Dagestanis implicated in this incident received sentences over one year in prison.

There are, of course, lots of other incidents of this nature worthy of attention.  People have forgotten April’s confrontation in Kamenka, or last November’s incident at the Shilovskiy range below Novosibirsk.  There was also the alleged beating of 44 Dagestani soldiers in Aleysk in mid-2009.  On 20 and 21 February 2007, Viktor Baranets wrote about 140 Dagestanis who took over their regiment on Kunashir in the southern Kurils in late 2006.

It’s always hard (maybe impossible) to say whether it’s the Dagestanis or the Russians (the Slavs, etc.) who are to blame in these instances.  But it’s certain this is a complicated relationship that’s making life difficult in the army.  And the problem is getting worse.

Vladimir Yermolin’s Grani.ru blog contained some good thoughts on it.  He says the Russian Army has long since become a battlefield without rules.  Not only was the 4th Tank Brigade incident open clan warfare, but it took place in broad daylight, apparently without officers present.  Yermolin believes inter-ethnic skirmishes are growing in force, scale, and bloodiness.  No one in the army knows how to deal with this clan problem, so why not legalize it and give it an organizational form that might control it [one supposes he means it’s time not only to end extraterritoriality in manning, but actually create national units].  Next time the commander might not be able to handle the situation like he did this time.

Finally, Yermolin concludes:

“In a country which has already been in a condition of permanent Caucasian war for almost two decades, you could say extremely harsh feelings of people locked in the barracks is a natural development.”

Two New Armies for the Central Military District

This week General-Lieutenant Vladimir Chirkin spoke to Krasnaya zvezda about several things.  Recall that Chirkin is acting commander of the troops of the ‘Combined Strategic Command of the Red Banner Central Military District.’  He has been commander of the SibVO until now of course.

His interview brought two things immediately into focus.  First, it appears that OSKs will actually be unified or combined strategic commands rather than ‘operational-strategic commands.’  Either way the acronym is OSK.  But combined strategic command connotes a couple significant things.  They may really unify all armed services and branches on their territory for warfighting.  Second, they are beyond the ‘operational-strategic’ level of warfare; they are intended to be strategic.

In this interview, Chirkin was asked and talked at length about the scale and scope of Vostok-2010 in Siberia, as well as the performance of his troops in the exercise.

Asked about the formation of the four new OSKs, Chirkin provided a short dissertation on why the Armed Forces command and control system is being overhauled:

“Recently the Russian Federation adopted a new National Security Strategy and Military Doctrine.  The Defense Ministry and General Staff put amendments in these documents.  Possible threats of wars and conflicts, basic forms and capabilities for fulfilling strategic missions were determined.  The National Security Concept of the Russian Federation proposes that the state could encounter real and potential threats.  I won’t reveal all the subtleties, but I will say one thing — the new system of command and control is being created accounting for the realities of the current time and changing international situation, so the state can independently confront possible threats to its security and the security of its allies, and achieve strategic goals.”

“Such a decision was predicated on the realities of our times and repeatedly  thought over by both the General Staff of the Armed Forces and the country’s leadership.  Reforming the system at all levels is the basis of military reform.  In a word, this decision strengthens the preceding results and gives the process a new turn.”

Chirkin says the formation of his new OSK is not interfering with planned combat training at the brigade level and below.

He says there shouldn’t be any concern about excess officers in his command:

“Officers who meet all requirements and wish to continue serving will be appointed to positions.  Firstly, the Combined Strategic Commands in Yekaterinburg and Khabarovsk [i.e. Eastern Military District] will require supplements of several hundred officers ready to serve in their directorates, departments, and services.  You understand the territories and quantity of troops are increasing.  And this means professional-administrators will be needed, and there are not just a few of these among SibVO officers.”

“Secondly, in Chita a combined arms army will be formed.  Officers and civilian personnel will also be required there.  Besides, in Transbaykal, several more formations and units will be formed, which must make up a large formation [i.e. объединение, an army].  And this, you understand, is hundreds more officer positions.  The main thing is an officer should be a qualified specialist, a master of his trade and have the desire to continue serving.”

Recall in early June, General Staff Chief Makarov told the Federation Council three new armies comprising six brigades would be formed, and so it looks like Makarov’s old home, the erstwhile SibVO, and its massive territory in its new Combined Strategic Command of the Central Military District incarnation, will receive two of the new armies.  Look for generals with a strong SibVO pedigree to command them.  No indication of where Makarov’s third new army will appear.  The Eastern Military District might be a good bet.

As a postscript, Chirkin noted that the SibVO has gotten 4,500 apartments to distribute to dismissed or retired officers.

Training Helo Pilots at Syzran

 

SVVAUL Cadet in a Simulator

Krasnaya zvezda often profiles parts of the Russian military, and on 30 July, it interviewed the Chief of the Syzran Higher Military Aviation School for Pilots (SVVAUL or СВВАУЛ), Colonel Nikolay Yartsev.  Yartsev is a 1984 graduate of the school, a Hero of the Russian Federation, an Honored Military Pilot of the RF, and Pilot-Sniper.

SVVAUL is Russia’s sole higher military educational institution for helicopter pilot training.  In its various incarnations, it’s existed for 70 years.  It trains helicopter pilots for the Air Forces, Navy, and other ‘power’ ministries and departments.  It’s a 5-year commissioning school, so some of the initial two years isn’t particularly specific to helicopter training. 

Asked if the current level of cadet training in the school meets the demands of the time, Yartsev points out that SVVAUL is accredited through 2012 and fulfills the ‘state order’ for military specialists in helicopter aviation.  It is fully staffed with professors and instructors; more than half have scholarly credentials.  All have great teaching experience, and many have not only years of service in operational forces, but also long combat experience.

Yartsev goes on to say SVVAUL can train 1,500 cadets simultaneously.  Its faculties have displays, mock-ups, and examples of weapons and equipment that support the practical direction of student training.

Yartsev says, thanks to the Air Forces, two years ago the school got a modern Mi-24 simulator, and this year an even more modern one.  It’s supposed to get two more simulators, a KT-24P and Mi-8.

The school has an 8-hectare field training base including 3 airfields for its 3 training-helicopter regiments.  In their third year, cadets learn to fly the Mi-2U, and SVVAUL is preparing to switch to the Ansat-U for primary training.

In their fourth and fifth years, students fly Mi-24 and Mi-8 helicopters.  They get 35 hours as pilot and 10 as pilot-navigator (operator) in this phase of training.  Yartsev says in 2009 the average cadet graduated with 135 flight hours, but a few got about 250 hours along with their third class pilot’s qualification.

Yartsev describes the Russian helicopter pilots’ experience in the Afghan war.  He says the USSR lost 333 helicopters and hundreds of pilots and crew members.  Twelve SVVAUL graduates became Heroes of the Soviet Union.  Thirty became Heroes of the Russian Federation while in combat in the North Caucasus.

Information available about Fort Rucker, home of the U.S. Army’s helicopter school, provides an interesting contrast.  Fort Rucker trains current officers and warrants to become rotary-wing pilots in as little as 9 months.  The program may train as many as 4,000 student pilots every year.  It looks like each student gets over 200 hours flying a TH-67 trainer and 70 hours in simulators, before even beginning many hours of advanced flight training in whichever specific combat helicopter they’ll eventually fly.  U.S. Army aviation has over 100 simulators in use and dozens in procurement.

Frontal, Army Aviation to OSK Commanders

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.’

Zelin said:

“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.

Prosecutorial Prophylaxis

In this instance, the military legal system’s effort to prevent the scourge of dedovshchina, or hazing and other violence against servicemen . . . .

Today’s Krasnaya zvezda covered military prosecutors’ special campaign to warn servicemen against breaking the ‘regulation rules of relations’ between them this month.  The paper talked to the acting military prosecutor of the SibVO’s Yurga garrison to find out what measures he’s trying.

Recall our last mention of Yurga covered its role as test bed for Defense Minister Serdyukov’s attempt to ‘humanize’ military service, so this is obviously a good spot to work to uproot dedovshchina culture.

The Yurga prosecutor said he’s used anonymous questionaires to gather a ‘sufficiently complete picture of the existing situation.’  Taking this and information from sub-unit commanders, the prosecutor proceeds to ‘individual prophylactic conversations.’  He calls such ‘prosecutorial warnings’ a very effective instrument; 18-year-old soldiers have to sign a paper acknowledging they’ve been warned about possible criminal liability for violating regulations and this may have a psychological and deterrent effect on them.

The prosecutor also conducts round tables and extra dissemination of special SibVO ‘pamphlets’ in sub-units.  More on these later.  The pamphlets include a hotline number for reporting violations of law and order (presuming that conscripts have a phone, and aren’t afraid of who’s listening to their call).  He puts up displays informing soldiers of judicial punishments meted out for various violations.  All and all, the prosecutor expects more inquiries coming into his office this month as a result of the campaign.

Moskovskiy komsomolets has a number of these ‘pamphlets’ and concludes they’re generally given to conscripts all over Russia.  They urge the victims of barracks violence not to break the law themselves, show courage, and, if absolutely necessary, hide on the grounds of the unit rather than go AWOL.  But, the paper notes, the ‘pamphlets’ don’t say how long to hide out, or how to eat while hiding.

The ‘pamphlets’ urge conscripts to tell their tormentors that they intend to go to their commander, and to believe that the law is on their side.  It exhorts them not to even think about resorting to using a weapon or committing suicide.

Moskovskiy komsomolets concludes, for all their absurdity, the pamphlets show the fundamental plague of today’s army remains the legal illiteracy of conscripts, their inclination toward violence, and the inability of their officers to cope with them.

Vesti FM interviewed ‘Citizen and Army’ coordinator Sergey Krivenko about the pamphlets.  He said at least they show the Defense Ministry acknowledges dedovshchina is a problem, and it’s growing, not declining.  He believes the pamphlets’ appearance is an indication of hopelessness; military reform is not transforming conscript service or giving conscripts adequate legal protection.

Deputy Defense Minister Shevtsova

Tatyana Shevtsova at the FNS

Last Friday, Tatyana Shevtsova became the newest deputy defense minister – the ninth overall, seventh civilian, second female.  By all accounts, Shevtsova will oversee and audit Defense Ministry spending and other activities.  Kommersant calls her an ‘oversight and monitoring specialist.’  The Defense Ministry’s spokesman has said as much, according to Vedomosti (read it in Moscow Times as well).  Shevtsova’s another member of Defense Minister Serdyukov’s former team at the Federal Tax Service (FNS or ФНС).  Kommersant describes her as a ‘trusted individual’ who will help Serdyukov supervise all but the Defense Ministry’s purely military functions.  In particular, several commentators believe Shevtsova will track outsourced service and support activities paid for in the state defense order (GOZ).

The 41-year-old Shevtsova was born in Kozelsk, Kaluga Oblast, and graduated from the Leningrad Financial-Economic Institute in 1991.  She’s a candidate of economic sciences (Ph.D.). 

She started in the tax service in 1991 as an inspector in the central rayon of St. Petersburg, eventually heading the tax service’s St. Petersburg directorate.  Kommersant reminds that Serdyukov was a deputy director in the St. Petersburg directorate during Shevtsova’s time there in the early 2000s. 

Shevtsova went to Moscow to head the tax service’s large taxpayer department in early 2004.  In mid-2004, Serdyukov became Director of the FNS, and Shevtsova became one of his deputies. 

Shevtsova stayed at the tax service under Mikhail Mokretsov after Serdyukov left for the Defense Ministry in early 2007.  She was in charge of the oversight directorate and all nine inter-regional inspectorates for large taxpayers.

When Mokretsov and others members of Serdyukov’s FNS team departed for the Defense Ministry in mid-2010, Shevtsova did likewise, becoming an advisor.  According to one official who spoke to Kommersant, she spent the last few months ‘studying the situation’ in the Defense Ministry.

A former Defense Ministry official told Vedomosti Shevtsova is “a talented economist as well as an exacting official, whose subordinates at the Federal Tax Service were very afraid of her.”  She reportedly will turn ten Defense Ministry oversight bodies into a system.

Kommersant said Shevtsova will direct oversight organs for administrative, organizational, and financial activities as well as military housing.  The paper’s source says this could translate into oversight over everything except military command and control and operations.  The ninth deputy minister will reportedly gain some responsibilities once discharged by the chiefs of the ministry’s apparatus, Rear Services, and Housing and Construction Service.

Radio Svoboda was kind enough to interview Aleksandr Golts who concluded:

“It’s more or less obvious Anatoliy Eduardovich Serdyukov rapidly gathers his team in those areas important to him.  As we know, at present a so-called second civilian branch of the Defense Ministry is being formed.  Operational troop command and control, combat training remain with the Genshtab.  At the same time, a very strong area which will withdraw from the ministry a great number of functions connected with service and support of all Defense Ministry units and formations is being formed.  This is very complex work in the realm of the state defense order and the like.  Evidently, Ms. Shevtsova will work in this area.”

 Asked about her first steps, Golts commented:

 “If there will be first steps, we haven’t found out anything about them.  The Defense Ministry very precisely hides the most important directions of its activity from any public scrutiny.  Everything happens very quietly.”

Radio Svoboda also asked Viktor Baranets about ‘civilianization’ and the appointment of a reported 50 women to high posts under Serdyukov:

“They are already sarcastically joking  in the army about the ‘feminization’ of the Defense Ministry leadership.  A large number of women who’ve appeared in key Defense Ministry posts, at various times crossed paths with Serdyukov, and with Putin, and with Medvedev.  Of course, they’re Petersburg natives . . . .  There are unofficial reports that [Shevtsova] actively assisted Serdyukov in destroying Khodorkovskiy’s empire.”

Baranets’ sources in the Defense Ministry also say Shevtsova will be responsible for large sums of service and support funding being directed to contractors.  His general and colonel friends joke:

“We only have one vacant post left – deputy defense minister for corruption.  Because all the other jobs are filled.”

 Or anti-corruption one supposes . . . .

Igor Korotchenko told Vedomosti the Defense Ministry’s growing civilian component is designed to supervise the generals’ spending and accounting, especially in the GOZ.  Ruslan Pukhov calls the ‘invasion’ of former tax officials perfectly normal since Western defense ministries are full of civilian auditors who scrutinize massive military budgets.