The Golts article on Sergey Shoygu’s tenure is largely on-point.
But, for whatever reason, Golts neglects a positive change wrought by the new defense minister: the surprise readiness inspections conducted since the beginning of this year.
While no longer a “surprise” and not as large-scale as the MOD would like us to believe, the exercises demonstrate what’s wrong and needs fixing.
But let’s return to some criticism, or witticism.
Along with Golts’ article, Kommersant published a sidebar listing Shoygu’s “significant” decisions. Olga Shkurenko compiled it.
“New Annals of Military Organizational Development”
“‘Ogonek’ has recalled the loudest of loud initiatives to strengthen the army and navy put forward during the time Sergey Shoygu has been in the post of defense minister.”
“On 7 November 2012 the minister decided to resurrect the tradition of Suvorov and Nakhimov cadets participating in the 9 May parade.”
“On 12 November it became known that shoulderboards soon again will be worn on the shoulders, not on the chest.”
“On 7 December it was decided to resubordinate military VUZy to the CINCs and Commanders of the services and branches of the Armed Forces (the MOD’s education department managed them previously).”
“On 9 December Shoygu proposed reestablishing the Defense Ministry’s film studio.”
“On 24 December the MOD announced that the troops will get a new uniform in 2014 and stop wearing undercollars.”
“On 14 January 2013 Shoygu announced that by year’s end the army ‘should forget the word footwrappings.'”
“On 25 January the Air Forces agreed with the minister on returning red stars instead of tricolors to the sides of airplanes and helicopters.”
“On 4 February Shoygu gave the order ‘to install showers in all military units before the end of 2013.'”
“On 26 February plans were announced to reestablish the institution of warrant officers.”
“On 7 March mass media announced that the MOD had disposed of gas masks for horses.”
“On 13 March ‘Interfaks’ reported from a source in the company ‘Russian Balloon’ that in 2014 purchases of inflatable tanks, aircraft and missile systems would begin.”
“On 18 March the MOD press-service said that in 2013 172 dining halls of military units are transferring to the ‘smorgasbord’ feeding system.”
“On 29 March the reestablishment of the first sports company was completed. Then the minister proposed creation of analogous ‘scientific companies.'”
“On 2 April the MOD culture directorate was created. The poster contest ‘Homeland Army’ and the rebirth of army KVN¹ are among its first initiatives.”
“On 3 April an OPK source said that the army was rejecting camouflage on tanks and other combat equipment and returning to a one-tone color scheme.”
“On 9 and 16 April the recreation of the historic Preobrazhenskiy and Semenovskiy regiments was completed.”
“On 4 May the earlier disbanded Taman and Kantemirov tank divisions [sic] were reestablished by decision of the minister.”
“On 22 May in the State Duma the minister proposed to send those conducting alternative service in the army and navy to perform construction and housekeeping duties.”
“On 23 July after the exercises in the Eastern Military District the MOD chief proposed ‘increasing by several times’ ammunition expenditure norms.”
“On 31 July Shoygu ordered commanders to begin every morning in the barracks with a rendition of the Russian Anthem, to compile an obligatory military-patriotic book reading list and take the preparation of demob albums under their control.”
“On 14-17 August the first competitions in the tank biathlon took place in the Moscow region at the minister’s initiative.”
“On 16 August it was announced that the ‘office suit’ is being introduced for military men and civilians serving in the department.”
“On 20 August it became known that in the MOD they are working on the issue of rearranging the Russian anthem in two variants — for a standard choir and for young people.”
¹KVN is a little hard to describe. Literally, the “Club of the Happy and Resourceful.” A television game show where teams from various institutions and organizations compete in answering questions and performing skits.
On the subject of Shoigu’s changes, can you comment on the growth in the number of senior officers? I get the impression that there are quite a few more 4 and 3-stars than under Serdyukov, but I don’t have hard numbers.
I’ve compiled a list of the 20 senior officers that I have been able to find, I would be glad if you could extend it:
генерал армии Сергей Шойгу – Министр Обороны Российской Федерации
генерал армии Валерий Герасимов – начальник Генерального штаба
генерал армии Аркадий Бахин – первый заместитель Министрa Обороны
генерал армии Николай Панков – статс-секретарь – заместитель Министрa Обороны
генерал армии Дмитрий Булгаков – заместитель Министрa Обороны
генерал армии Юрий Якубов – помощник Министрa Обороны
генерал армии Михаил Моисеев – генеральный инспектор Министерствa Обороны
адмирал флота Феликс Громов – генеральный инспектор Министерствa Обороны
генерал-полковник Олег Остапенко – заместитель Министрa Обороны
генерал-полковник Валерий Евневич – помощник Министрa Обороны
генерал-полковник Александр Зелин – помощник Министрa Обороны по авиации
генерал-полковник Александр Постников – заместитель начальника Генерального штаба
генерал-полковник Олег Салюков – заместитель начальника Генерального штаба
генерал-полковник Владимир Зарудницкий – начальник Главного оперативного управления
генерал-полковник Василий Смирнов – начальник Главного организационно-мобилизационного управления
генерал-полковник Виктор Горемыкин – начальник Главного управления кадров
генерал-полковник Владимир Чиркин – главнокомандующий Сухопутными войсками
генерал-полковник Анатолий Сидоров – командующий Западного военного округа
генерал-полковник Александр Галкин – командующий Южного военного округа
генерал-полковник Николай Богдановский – командующий Центрального военного округа
One might say “a few more” rather than “quite a few more.” Let’s look just at your four stars. Your last three don’t count — they are old men brought back as inspectors, etc. Just an honorary thing. It’s interesting Shoygu elected to wear a uniform, even more interesting to ponder how he got it — can’t track his promotions, so it must have been a political-administrative action. Gerasimov and Bakhin were promoted by Shoygu, so they are truly new four star generals. Pankov got his rank in the FSB. He’s been in MOD for a remarkable 12 years! Maybe he’s the “eminence grise” — the political minder behind all these military men and high-ranking civilians. Bulgakov also preceded Shoygu. You left off Shoygu’s men who came from MChS and sport four stars — Tsalikov and Volosov. And there’s Shevtsova, who somehow managed to survive the investigations of Serdyukov’s people and put on four stars. There was, of course, a conscious effort to suppress the bloated rank structure under Serdyukov. But no move to reinflate it is really palpable at this point. There are still plenty of relatively junior general-majors and rear-admirals running about in important operational posts.
I agree to some extent with your suggestion that there isn’t quite as much rank inflation as in the times before Serdyukov, but I think that you underestimate the problem. The 3 honorary four stars all draw the full pay due to their rank, as far as I am aware. They carry with themselves a coterie of other retired officers, also on full pay. That’s not a good example to set to the rest of the armed forces. Shoigu’s stars are entirely artificial in a different sense, since he was appointed Army General during his time at MChS. However, in the Russian system this is acceptable for senior political appointees. Even that doesn’t excuse Shoigu’s maneuver to put Marshals’ insignia on four star shoulderboards, an act of showmanship which can only increase the lust for promotions across the military. Including Shoigu, there are now 3 new four stars at the MoD after Serdyukov’s fall, so the negative trend is fairly clear.
It is clear that Pankov is the overseer of the MoD, above all because he is in charge of the personnel desk. While Pankov is unique and thus not directly relevant to the argument about ranks, it must be noted that he was the only four star at the Ministry before Bulgakov was promoted by Serdyukov with no explanation. That is one of the signs that lead me to think that the rank structure is swelling quite consistently.
I have avoided the issue of uniformed civilians entirely, for many Russian ministries are full of similar paramilitary ranks and these are not considered equivalent to military ranks de-facto, notwithstanding formal legislation. I think the civilian bureacrats should be left out of this discussion, for their uniforms are a mere formality. At the same time, I am inclined to see the presence of relatively low-ranking officers in many positions as a Serdyukov legacy rather than Shoigu’s policy, unlike you. Evev though I can’t quote a precise figure, many of the three stars have been recently promoted by Shoigu, while very few retired. The absence of an “up or out” promotion system is going to be a big problem for the Russians if this pattern doesn’t change.
Here are a few more 3-stars I’ve found:
генерал-полковник Сергей Каракаев – командующий РВСН
генерал-полковник Владимир Шаманов – командующий ВДВ
адмирал Виктор Чирков – главнокомандующий ВМФ
адмирал Александр Татаринов – начальник Главного штаба ВМФ
адмирал Константин Сиденко – командующий Восточного военного округа
What’s Serdyukov been up to lately? The grapevine has gone completely silent on him.