Last week KZ ran a piece titled “Fifth Generation Reconnaissance Man.” Easy to overlook, it turned out to be about the Black Sea Fleet’s new 127th Independent Reconnaissance Brigade based in Sevastopol, Crimea.
The article informs us that the brigade was formed after last year’s invasion. It has the latest and greatest in weapons and equipment, including mobile EW and ELINT systems and Orlan and Leyer UAVs. But its men, the article says, are the main thing.
The new brigade is 100 percent contract-manned, according to the article, but it is less than clear on the point. Is it fully manned and all personnel are contractees or is it less than 100 percent manned but men on-hand are all contractees? The article offers no other information on the brigade’s TO&E.
KZ notes that the commander and sub-unit commanders have combat experience and medals. Colonel Aleksandr Beglyakov commands the 127th. But there’s precious little about him. What looks like a fragment of an Odnoklassniki profile appears below.
If it’s him, he’s young at 37, but not exceptionally so for a Russian O-6. He attended the Novosibirsk Higher Military Command School — cradle of Russian Army reconnaissance men. He’s completed his mid-career school — VUNTs SV “Combined Arms Academy of the Russian Federation Armed Forces.”
The brigade’s recon men appear to be organized into groups like GRU Spetsnaz. At least one sergeant came from an independent Spetsnaz regiment in Stavropol. He says we are the “most polite” of all “polite people.” We come quietly, fulfill our mission, and leave quietly, according to him.
The KZ author describes another soldier as a “fifth generation reconnaissance man” — physically strong, equally skilled with weapons and modern digital systems.
This article brings us to the independent reconnaissance brigade, the ORBr — what it is, its origin, and what its future will be.
The first modern Russian Army ORBr, the 100th Independent Reconnaissance Brigade, is based in Mozdok. It was formed in 2009 under former defense minister Serdyukov and was branded “experimental.” There have been reports it would disband, but it apparently hasn’t.
One apparently knowledgeable observer shared this description:
“The 100th Experimental Independent Reconnaissance Brigade (Mozdok, North Ossetia) was formed in the summer of 2009 on the basis of the 85th Independent Spetsnaz Detachment [ooSpN] of the 10th Independent Spetsnaz Brigade:”
“command, air-assault battalion, reconnaissance battalion (two reconnaissance companies + a tank company), SP howitzer battalion, SpN detachment, UAV detachment, anti-aircraft missile-artillery battalion, EW company (expanding into an independent ELINT battalion), engineer company, maintenance company, material-technical support company, medical company, in the future its own helicopter regiment.”
“A mixed squadron transferred into the brigade from Budennovsk. The helicopter sub-unit carries out missions for the ground formation and is operationally subordinate to it. The squadron provides cover for the brigade’s armored columns, transports supplies, and conducts all types of reconnaissance.”
“The brigade’s command was formed on 1 December 2009.”
It’s a very interesting and unique brigade by Russian Army standards. It has surprisingly robust combined arms firepower to go along with its reconnaissance and intelligence capabilities.
ORBr roots extend to Soviet times. But it was different then. The 25th ORBr in Mongolia had three reconnaissance battalions, a “deep reconnaissance” (SpN??) battalion, and fewer technical intelligence systems. Its helo squadron had 20 Mi-8s and an Mi-2 for the brigade commander. Soviet forces in Mongolia also included the 20th ORBr. Most Russians who served in or comment on these formations are pretty adamant that they reported to the GRU.
Is it reasonable to suggest that they are trying out experimental stuff in the hottest hot spot of what has since Georgia-2008 become the best-equipped and “progressive” military district?
Additionally, do the organic rotary wing assets have anything to do with experimental Soviet MRBs from the 80s? (which, IIRC, possessed helicopter units)
Possibly, but, as Russian observers have noted, there’s nothing really experimental since they had lots of experience with them in Mongolia. One suspects the helos are a function of a) having the air-assault bn, and b) having the recce mission. Helos are necessary or nice-to-have for both. Wouldn’t expect to see rotary-wing aviation go back to the army now that it’s entrenched with the VVS. But Shamanov sure would love to have his own air arm. Could happen if the VVS becomes the backbone of future rapid reaction forces.