One can’t call this news. News not discovered or reported promptly is just data. Not less important to this mind. But on with the story . . .
Last summer, VDV Commander General-Colonel Vladimir Shamanov told the press about pending changes in the Russian Airborne Troops’ manning and structure. Not clear if, when, or at what level they’ve been approved. But fait accompli is Shamanov’s style. His influence is larger than his nominal rank and post, and he often gets what he wants.
Specifically (among many things), Shamanov claimed the VDV will:
- Upgrade some regiments to brigades;
- Establish a logistics brigade;
- Raise some companies to battalions; and
- Add a third maneuver regiment to each VDV division.
That’s all context . . . last October, chairman of the Union of Airborne of Russia (SDR or СДР), retired General-Colonel Valeriy Vostrotin gave out two data points in a comment to Rossiyskaya gazeta:
“We veterans were satisfied with the news that it’s now been decided to reinforce the VDV significantly, to increase their numbers by another 20 thousand men. For me personally, it’s particularly pleasant that, in 2015 in Voronezh an air-assault brigade with the number 345 will be formed and the banner of the famous 345th regiment, which I once commanded in Afghanistan, will be transferred to it . . . .”
So . . . another 20,000 men for VDV, and a new brigade. Not confirmed, but possibly on the horizon.
Today Russia’s airborne forces are thought to number about 30,000. Down from an “on-hand” strength ranging anywhere from 55,000 to 75,000 in the late 1980s or very early 1990s. Desantura.ru gives figures like that.
Going back to 50,000 would be significant, and would add lots of contractees to the ranks. Equipping a new formation and other new units would not be a minor undertaking either.
Again, data not news. May or may not happen. But we were informed.
Wouldn’t it be a better idea to recruit all those extra contractees into the Land Forces which desperately lack them?
You can make a real case for that, but elite troops always seem to get first. Plus, the MOD would say the Ground Troops are getting lots of new contractees too.
Aren’t airborne troops to costly and vulnerable to have so many ? Wouldn’t it be better to increase marines numbers ? And create huge elite infantry like Americans that is supported by tanks, APC, helicopters and planes etc ?
That’s a pithy question deserving of a dissertation in reply. Force structure decisionmakers often debate such issues, but their deliberations aren’t necessarily shared with their publics.
Moscow uses its airborne troops as the ultimate “permanently ready” force. And they don’t always air-drop. So maybe they aren’t too costly or vulnerable. The Russian airborne may be more analogous to the U.S. Marine Corps — in terms of political, public, and institutional support, former members in key places, etc. There is also the similarity that Moscow’s VDV doesn’t always drop and the USMC doesn’t always go over the beach now.
Don’t know if one can agree with “huge” infantry at a time of cutbacks and emphasis on smaller-footprint forces. Even tanks and APCs struggle to remain relevant in light of urban warfare, COIN ops, etc.