On May 26, noted the Russian Baltic Fleet’s 11th Army Corps is demobbing about 2,000 servicemen after a year of conscript service. It’s not often the MOD site gives figures on troops going into the reserves.

Troops living well in stylish Kaliningrad barracks

Troops living well in stylish Kaliningrad barracks

If 2,000 are demobbing, a roughly equal number should remain to finish the last six months of their draft terms. So the 11th Army Corps has about 4,000 conscripts. 

The 11th Army Corps is one of four large ground formations established in Russia’s four fleet areas in the mid- to late 2010s.

By way of maneuver elements, the 11th is composed of a motorized rifle brigade, MR regiment, and tank regiment. It was rumored the MR regiment would become another brigade but it hasn’t happened yet.

The 11th is supported by tactical missile and artillery brigades, a SAM regiment, and recce battalion.

Here are a couple manning scenarios for the corps:

Possible 11th Army Corps Manning

The lower level is what Russian units looked like in the 2010s. The higher represents a more standard Soviet-era organization, similar to a division numerically.

What do 4,000 conscripts mean in the grander scheme of things?

If Russia’s Armed Forces are manned at 95 percent of the authorized number of 1,130,000, they have 1,075,000. In last year’s conscription campaigns, 267,000 men were drafted. That’s 25 percent of 1,075,000.

Are conscripts 25 percent of the 11th Army Corps’ manpower?

At the lower postulated level — about 8,800 — 4,000 draftees would be 45 percent. At the higher — about 12,600 — they would be 32 percent.

If those 4,000 are 25 percent, how many personnel are in the 11th Army Corps? 16,000. Certainly conceivable and this number sounds more like a corps even if the organization doesn’t look like one.

But if undermanning persists, perhaps 80-90 percent, conscripts are a more substantial share of 11th Army Corps manpower. In a corps of 12,600 on paper, manned at 85 percent of strength (10,700), 4,000 conscripts are over 40 percent of the force. In one of 16,000 manned at 80 percent (12,800), draftees are a third.

Full insight here is lacking, but if forced to make a judgement, it seems very possible the actual manpower of the Baltic Fleet’s 11th Army Corps is lower and the percentage of conscripts in it higher than the Russian MOD would be willing to admit.

8 responses to “Demobbing

  1. Pingback: Demobbing - Policy

  2. Christer Holm

    The Official manpower strength of the Russian armed forces is 1 013 678 military and not 1 130 000 as you wrote. That is according to an Ukas by Putin in 1 July 2017. Have you seen a later Ukas with a 100 000 increase in manpower?

    Another thing in your calculations is that you base them on the assumption that all Russian branches of the Armed Forces uses the same percentage of conscripts. That is probably not correct. Why should the Strategic Rocket Forces use the same percentage of conscripts as the Ground Forces?

    The Russian Military Forces are still a mobilization force. In case of a full wartime mobilization it is the ground Forces that will receive the bulk of reservists. Why should not then the Ground Forces have a larger percentage of the conscripts compared to other branches in peace time?

    Finally a strange thing concerning conscripts. In 2018 246 000 conscripts were drafted. In 2019 the sum was 267 000. This year it looks as if it will be like 2019 again but I have seen one source telling that instead of 135 000 drafted this spring it will be 140 000. If recruiting contract soldiers is going well, why do they increase the number of conscripts instead of decreasing them?
    I fully agree with your conclusion that manpower are in fact lower than they would like us to believe.

    • Touché! I suffered a serious (though thankfully brief) case of cranial flatulence. Or perhaps a minor stroke, I don’t know. Thank you for reading observantly. I’m working on corrections right now. I think it was 1,134,000 for so long that 1.13 million merged in my brain with 1,013,628. Anyway, thanks.

    • And the Russian armed services definitely don’t have the same percentages of conscripts, but again, can only look at so many variables in this equation. If you look at a piece called “Where Conscripts Serve” from 2017, there’s a WAG at maybe 37 percent of personnel being Ground Troops.

      And contract recruiting is definitely a hard slog for them. But the Russian MOD doesn’t talk about retention problems.

  3. Fascinating. Thanks for the insight.

    A few questions – I thought support units comprised 30% of a fighting force’s numbers. Or is the 15% estimate based on Russia’s historical weakness (relatively speaking) in logistics?

    If memory serves, I remember reading (maybe in your blog) that Russian units can deploy about 1/3 of TOE numbers. So out of a brigade of 3,000, a 1,000 strong BTG is force generated.

    Assuming the 1/3 ratio is accurate, seems like this BF formation can generate 2-3 medium sized BTGs for immediate deployment; and perhaps another one with some moderate preparation.

    Does this sound about right?

    • 15% was the Soviet norm. Haven’t seen evidence to guess anything different, particularly in the 11th Army Corps’ case. There are so many variables that could be changed in this equation.

      The BTG is another issue — manning, training, and readiness. Readiness is certainly higher today than when BTGs were first a thing. But a battalion may not be sufficiently manned or sufficiently trained when needed. If it is manned, readiness is probably easier to achieve. Training it to fight and win, or even survive, is another question.

  4. Very interesting subject in which a lot of “tracking” (your term) is required. Some points that I wish to raise:
    1. 1,013,678 is the authorized strength of the Russian Defense forces. They are not there yet, don’t even claim it, however the present target date for this is end of 2027.
    2. The military draft also supplies the National Guard, Kremlin Regiment and military forces to the tune of 14-15,000 per draft. The 2018 totals were 260,500 drafted of which 232,280 went to the Ministry of Defense and the others (28,220) went to the 3 Paramilitary forces. I never found a 2019 breakdown but the 28-30,000 seems to be normal.
    3. Shoigu announced that effective years end 2019, there were 228,000 conscripts and 405,000 contract soldiers serving. I believe the variance would be represented by those conscripts exercising the 2 year option of contract service in lieu of conscript service. There have been reports of 5-10% exercising this option and that variance from my point 2 would represent 4-5%.
    4. From my observations in regards to your article subject, would suggest the total of conscripts in Ground Forces units would represent 33% plus.

  5. Point 2. should read Kremlin Regiment and EMERCON military forces.

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