Here’s a mulligan after fouling the current authorized strength of the Russian Armed Forces on the first cut….
On May 26, Mil.ru 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.
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:
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 1,013,628, they have 1,075,000 962,950.¹ In last year’s conscription campaigns, 267,000 men were drafted. That’s 25 percent of 1,075,000 28 percent of 962,950.
25 28 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 28 percent, how many personnel are in the 11th Army Corps? 16,000 Roughly 14,300. 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.
¹ President Putin’s ukaz of March 28, 2017 ticked the Russian MOD’s uniformed personnel upward from 1,000,000 to 1,013,628. Just nine months before, by ukaz, he dropped the number of MOD servicemen to 1,000,000 from 1,134,800 — where it had been since early 2008.
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I was going to comment earlier that actual manning should be closer to 950k but seems you corrected it. Since conscripts are distributed highly unevenly between the branches it doesn’t make any sense to assume some universal 28% of the force as conscript. The bulk are in ground forces and supporting roles. Doesn’t make much sense that Russian forces are manned at 95%, and some of the larger formations reflect a partial mobilization basis presuming reasonable notice on VPO in lead up to a conflict.
I don’t understand the narrative of “higher than the Russian MOD would be willing to admit.” We’re not making shocking discoveries here. There is no plan to abandon conscripts in the Russian military, and no official quota for conscripts in the Army Corps, that they are not meeting, which you have stumbled onto by virtue of guesstimates. In general, the color of toilet paper in Russia is classified, so in that sense its true they’re not willing to admit this as they do not share even the most basic data about the armed forces that in West are considered routine.
The real takeaway here is that dread-fortress Kaliningrad is not manned by crack contract troops at 95% but actually substantially manned by conscripts and at lower level. This is deeply invalidating for the Baltic high-end fight, as the Russian MoD appears insufficiently vested in realizing aspects of that threat narrative.
I consider you to be one of the most informed and balanced analysts. Now that the flattery is done, could you elaborate on how you come to the 950K actual total?
Let’s ball park it, in the post above he lists 267k last year’s draft. Typical contractor figures are 390-400k, including NCOs. Now we have 230k+ officers, if not a bit more, and cadets in military institutions. I have not looked at this lately so don’t go off my count because its the sort of thing you need to check in on but I do not do it by taking a .95 multiplier off of the announced top level number.
Also the MR regiment never got made into a brigade because they’re going to smash all of that together into a division – hence the tank regiment.
Thanks for the response. Rumors have been around for awhile about the Baltic forces uniting into a division. The only Defense comment so far was that a new Motor Rifle unit would start forming this year. As for the overall total, I attempt to track it in blocks:
Block 1 – officers and warrants. In 2016 Deputy Defense Minister Pankov stated that when they talked about military staffing level ( ie, 95%), they were referring to the cadre of officers and warrants not the overall total. (218,000)
Block 2 – contract servicemen (405,000)
Block 3 – conscripts (228,000)
Block 4 – military school cadets (62,000 – 1,300 foreign = 60,700)
Block 5 – students taking military training at Civilian Education establishments Military Departments (96 – ROTC similar). Of the last posted total of 61,200 (2018-2019), 10,500 were studying to become Regular Officers while the rest become Reserve Officers, Warrants or Sergeants upon graduation (provided there is not a shortage and Regular service is required). Apparently this training period and reserve service counts against or in lieu of national service (conscription). So do they all count against the total?? Million dollar question.
The above totals would give an active operational force of ~850,000 and a potential overall total of 910-970,000. A year ago, the Head of Mobilization and Organization had stated the active total was just over 830,000.
When you factor in another planned 70,000 contractors and 10,000 or so Officers then you would be over 1,013,628. Anyhow it is interesting and gives one something to do.
Baltic Fleet Army Corps taking more than 3,000 conscripts this fall…. https://bit.ly/3mmX1Af
Discharging “about” 2,500…. https://bit.ly/31IQb0i