2011 should be interesting on the Aerospace Defense (VKO or ВКО) front.
The President’s poslaniye has been turned into orders, including Medvedev’s directive to unify missile defense (PRO), air defense (PVO), missile attack warning (PRN), and space monitoring systems under the command and control of a single strategic command before next December.
This issue will likely take more than a year to come to any kind of resolution. Moreover, it’s likely to be a bruising bureaucratic battle royale over control and organization that does nothing to improve Russia’s military capabilities, certainly in the near-term and possibly longer.
Both Deynekin and Svpressa.ru below make the point that there are real live officers who’ll get jerked around (again) by major moves in aerospace-related branches. Konovalov wonders whether the Kremlin won’t spend too much effort against the wrong threat.
According to RIA Novosti, a Defense Ministry source says the issue of establishing this command by taking PVO from the Air Forces (VVS) and giving it to the Space Troops (KV) is being worked. And he doesn’t rule out that “significant organizational and structural changes” could occur in the KV. But, of course, the final decision on this strategic command lies with the Supreme CINC.
RIA Novosti interviewed former VVS CINC, Army General Petr Deynekin, who said:
“. . . the new structure [VKO] shouldn’t be subordinate to some new command. It should go under the Air Forces, since they are the most modern service of the armed forces.”
He also warned the Defense Ministry against a reorganization which creates more tension in the officer corps.
Olga Bozhyeva in Moskovskiy komsomolets reviews the past history of transformations involving PVO and Missile-Space Defense (RKO), and concludes the VVS and KV will both end up subordinate to a new command under the General Staff.
Interviewed for Novyy region, Leonid Ivashov sees nothing new in Medvedev’s order on a unitary VKO command. But it will be an uphill task. He says Russia currently has practically no missile defense system. The PVO system’s been reduced to point defense, and it doesn’t cover much of Russia’s territory. More than anything, he sees it as a defense-industrial issue – can the OPK provide the military with new air and space defense systems?
Svpressa.ru concludes there’s no doubt aerospace attack is Russia’s biggest threat, but over the last two decades armed forces reformers have just played their favorite game of putting services and branches together and taking them apart again, and:
“No one considers the money and material resources expended, or even the fates of thousands of officers who’ve fallen under the chariot wheel of organizational-personnel measures.”
Svpressa.ru describes how RKO and the Military-Space Forces (VKS) went to the RVSN under Defense Minister Sergeyev in 1997, then PVO went to the VVS, and they had to create the KV as a home for elements the RVSN no longer wanted in 2001. The article concludes that this kept VKO divided in half. Now VVS and KV generals are already hotly debating how Medvedev’s new order on VKO will be implemented.
Svpressa.ru asked Aleksandr Konovalov what he thinks. Konovalov says VKO is being created against the U.S., when Russia faces more immediate threats from countries without any space capabilities.
In terms of how a unitary strategic command of VKO might be established, Konovalov concludes:
“It’s still impossible to judge this. I think Serdyukov doesn’t know the answer to this question yet. Another thing worries me more. Here we’ve created four operational-strategic [sic] commands – ‘East,’ ‘Center,’ ‘South,’ and ‘West’ – in the Armed Forces in the event of war. And in peacetime on these borders four military districts remain. I can’t understand how they will interact. And it’s all right if I don’t understand. It’s worse if the Defense Ministry itself is also ignorant. Judging by everything, it’s impossible to rule this out. And there are much more real enemies than the U.S. against these newly-minted operational-strategic [sic] commands and districts. That’s something to think about. But VKO . . . If there’s extra money, VKO could also be created. It could be useful some time.”