It Was That Bad

General-Lieutenant Yevgeniy Burdinskiy

General-Lieutenant Yevgeniy Burdinskiy

Another lesson in the value of collecting and following data points over the long term.

On October 24, GOMU Chief General-Lieutenant Burdinskiy made a simple statement to the Russian media:

“The manning of the armed forces is 95 percent, since 2012 this indicator has risen by 35 percent.”

So Russian armed forces manning was only 60 percent of the nominal org-shtat in 2012. The forces were undermanned by 40 percent.


On these pages, reports of Russian military commentators to the effect that undermanning was 20, 25, or even 30 percent have been repeated and highlighted many times. But no one would have written or believed 40 percent undermanning. Now the report has come from GOMU itself.

As recently as seven years ago, that’s how bad undermanning was, and that’s how hard the Russian MOD worked to conceal the state of affairs with its manpower.

Now the MOD can demonstrate how dramatically its personnel situation has changed, but only by admitting just how bad it was in the past.

12 responses to “It Was That Bad

  1. Pingback: It Was That Bad - Policy

  2. When they say manning was 60%, do they mean each 1000 man battalion was 600 men, each 3,000 men battalion was 1,800 men and so forth? Or do they mean they had 60% of battalions fully manned and 40% were paper formation?

  3. It’s the first…on average, Russian units and formations were manned at 60 percent of authorized strength. Some higher maybe, others much lower, not any kind of consistent pattern. But about 60 percent across the force. Fully manning just 60 percent of units might have made more sense but would have effectively shrunk the force structure and made units harder to flesh out. All this would be hard given Russia’s size and extensive borders. So they kept the structure and tried to man them all of it to some level, again, on average to about 60 percent of authorization.

  4. Yes, they’ve gradually approached full manning. For the other questions, see and

  5. Worth noting too that the Russian MOD is expanding denominator in the manning equation…the force structure is growing and with it the need for more soldiers to flesh it out. For example, various brigades are returning to division status and some new divisions are being laid down.

  6. “collecting and following data”. Yes, it certainly takes lots of that. By my count there are close to 850,000 operational personnel and around 110,000 in the military educational system. When this draft is finalized at month’s end, there will be around 239,000 conscripts in that operational total and the latest report states there is a 1.7 contractors per conscript ratio. The remainder are officers and warrant officers. Ground forces would be around 320,000 with another 30,000 assigned to Navy Coastal Troops.

  7. how about it was 70% and by going up by 35% it has increased 0.35*70~ 24.5 points to 94.5~95%

  8. It’s possible, but only Burdinskiy knows what he meant. It’s also possible he meant simply manning today is 95%. Seven years ago it was only 60%, so it’s improved 35 percent. Rather than do the math, he may have just compared two static pictures in 2019 and 2012. But even 70 percent manning in 2012 is worse than the Russian military leadership ever let on at the time.

  9. Pingback: Demobbing | Russian Defense Policy

  10. Pingback: Demobbing [Corrigenda] | Russian Defense Policy

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