Category Archives: Rear Services

The Defense Ministry’s Vehicle Fleet

Yesterday Newsru.com relayed an Interfaks story indicating that the Defense Ministry’s tender for a three-year lease on 553 automobiles for 10.3 billion rubles attracted just one bidder.

The Defense Ministry’s requirement included armored and luxury models, including a Porsche, BMWs, Mercedes, and a Toyota Land Cruiser, as well as more run-of-the-mill Fiats, Fords, and Volkswagens.  They’ll be used in Moscow, and all four MDs.  The luxury models are for chauffeuring foreign visitors.

The sole bidder – FGUP “St. Petersburg Engineering-Technical Center of the RF Defense Ministry” – took the contract at the unchanged initial price of 10,265,000,000 rubles.

The Defense Ministry had said earlier it was looking to save money by not buying, servicing, insuring, or operating this vehicle fleet.  It said the cost of the luxury vehicles was only a small part of the contract, and claimed they would be leased by the hour, for example 250 rubles per hour for the Toyota Land Cruiser and 400 rubles for an armored car.

Vedomosti published the first story on this tender on 10 December.  It said the Defense Ministry was looking to save 3 billion rubles.  It also predicted that the ministry’s own motor pool would win the tender because private firms are just appearing in this area, and don’t have an established network covering the entire country. 

Serdyukov’s effort to bring more efficient business practices to the Defense Ministry is again short-circuited by a lack of bidders.  This has happened before, most prominently in the case of Defense Ministry property sales.  Firms either don’t compete for contracts because they aren’t capable of performing them, or perhaps they only bid on ones they know in advance they’ll win.  Either way, it complicates successful outsourcing.

Refusenik Accountants

This morning Argumenty.ru reports that Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov can’t find a new deputy minister for finance-economic work to replace Vera Chistova who left to head the Moscow city finance department on 8 November.  

A Defense Ministry source tells Argumenty.ru, “about 10 offers have been made, but all candidates declined.”

A highly-placed source in the Defense Ministry’s financial directorate says the absence of a deputy minister to answer for financial issues is already creating a number of problems in the ministry’s work:

“A number of contracts for construction of housing for dismissed officers have been broken, draft orders for next year for financial incentives for serving officers have been frozen.  And there’s simply no one to sign the certification of budget execution for this year for the country’s highest leadership.  I simply can’t recall such disorder in my 30 years of service.”

The source says Defense Minister Serdyukov’s report to the President on the fulfillment of orders to provide apartments to servicemen has also been postponed for an undetermined period.

Leaving to work for the new Moscow mayor seemed like a good opportunity for Chistova.  Or did she figure this was an opportune time to escape some blame for problems in the military’s budget? 

Chistova’s predecessor Lyubov Kudelina served for a long time, but left in early 2009 because, according to Viktor Litovkin’s source, she objected to the Defense Ministry pressing some officers to resign short of receiving their severance benefits, and because Serdyukov refused to ask for extra money to pay for military reform.

It seems odd that someone as well-connected in government finance as Serdyukov can’t find a deputy for this.  It would seem he has cronies already brought into the Defense Ministry that he could just order to take the post.  Maybe the refusenik accountants know it’s a bad place to be right now.

We should also recall that Serdyukov was brought to the Defense Ministry in early 2007 reportedly for the express purpose of bringing financial order to the armed forces.

Makarov’s Year-Ender

On Tuesday, General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov provided his year-end wrap-up on the ‘new profile’ of the Armed Forces in the form of a press-conference featuring a videolink with the four new MD / OSK commanders.

It was pretty much a self-congratulatory celebration of how Makarov and company have turned everything in the Russian military around for the better.  As Moskovskiy komsomolets put it, “Nikolay Makarov told the media how bad it was in the army in the past, and how good it will be in the future.”

Rossiyskaya gazeta paraphrased Makarov’s remarks, giving only a couple direct quotes.  First up was President Medvedev’s call for unified aerospace defense (VKO) before the end of 2011.

RG says Makarov said VKO will be fully operational in 2020 when new reconnaissance and weapons systems have been deployed.  He said its purpose is to defend the state [interestingly the state, not the country] from ballistic and cruise missiles.  It needs to be an umbrella against any kind of threat, including low-altitude ones.

Makarov said different military structures have been occupied with the security of the skies.  Space Troops do orbital reconnaissance and ground-based missile early warning.  The air forces and air defense armies (АВВСиПВО or АВВСПВО) and radar troops monitor air space for approaching hostile aircraft.  The Special Designation Command (КСпН) covers the Moscow air defense zone [didn’t this long ago change its name to the OSK VKO?].  Air defense troops (ЗРВ) and fighter aviation cover other important facilities.  The system was set-up on a service (видовой) basis and that’s why it was uncoordinated.  It needs to be made integrated and put under the command of the General Staff [of course – this sounds like Olga Bozhyeva in MK].  In the Defense Ministry, they understand unification won’t be quick and will require a lot of resources, but there’s simply no other way.

Izvestiya proffered a quotation on this one:

“If we look at how this system was built earlier, then it’s possible to see that it acted separately by services and branches of troops, and also by regions.  So, Space Troops answered for space reconnaissance, the work of missile attack warning stations.  The Ground Troops for the activity of radar units.  Now we are uniting all these separate organizations in a unitary whole.  We need to establish the foundation of this system in 2011.  To finish its formation completely by 2020.”

According to RG, Makarov said a modern army would be useless without a new command and control system for the Armed Forces.  Russia’s move to a unified information environment will cost 300 billion rubles, and will be phased, with the initial phase being the replacement of all analog equipment with digital systems by 2012.  Command and control systems will be developed and produced in Russia, but other weapons will be bought abroad.  This is when he broke the news about Mistral winning the amphibious command ship tender.

RG concludes Makarov called for a fully professional Armed Forces, but the words it quoted aren’t particularly convincing:

“Now we can’t do them like this.  But year by year we’ll increase the selection of contract servicemen with commensurate pay.”

However, Moskovskiy komsomolets quoted the General Staff Chief this way:

“We are aiming for a contract army.  Now we can’t make it so instantly, but year by year the number of contract servicemen, with commensurate pay, will increase.”

Olga Bozhyeva viewed this as a total reversal of Makarov’s earlier rejection of contractees and insistence on conscripts as the backbone of the army.

Makarov also talked about efforts to create ‘human’ service and living conditions.  He referred, as always, to outsourcing and civilianizing mess hall and other housekeeping duties.  He repeated that, starting in 2012, officer pay will increase by several times.  According to Krasnaya zvezda, Makarov said 50 percent of officers now receive higher pay through premiums and incentives.  Officers and their families will be moved from remote garrison towns to oblast centers where their children can get a better education and wives can find work.  About the large cut in military towns, he said:

“We had about 22 thousand of them, approximately 5,500 remain, but in all, we’re taking the number of military towns to 180.”

Of course, he didn’t mention who will take care of large numbers of retirees left behind in that archipelago of abandoned military towns.

KZ gave its own recap of Makarov’s press-conference, and it’s interesting to hear his rehash of why the army needed a ‘new profile.’  His remarks blow up any lingering myth about the 2000s, at least the Putin years, as the time of the Russian military’s rejuvenation.  He said:

“Before 2009, 87 percent of the Armed Forces consisted of formations and military units with abbreviated personnel and cadres, practically not having personnel.  They almost didn’t conduct operational and combat training.  The army didn’t just degrade.  During this time, we grew an entire generation of officers and generals who ceased to understand the very essence of military service, they didn’t have experience in training and educating personnel.”

KZ paraphrases more of Makarov.  The personnel training system caused complaints.  VVUZy were teaching the Great Patriotic War.  Low pay and poor prospects for housing made the officer’s profession a low-prestige one.  In units, personnel weren’t occupied with combat training, but serving themselves, and military discipline fell as a result.  On the whole, the Armed Forces stopped fulfilling the missions for which they are intended, and could scarcely react to threats and challenges beyond the state’s borders and inside the country.

Makarov addressed how the MDs were changed to meet future threats and challenges:

“Planning and troop employment happened with significant difficulties, since each of six military districts had a series of missions where one often contradicted another.  Moreover, four air forces and air defense armies were established, as a result, the zones of responsibility of the military districts and these armies didn’t coincide at all.  This led to confusion in employing air defense forces.  At the same time, experience showed that military actions in recent decades are conducted, as a rule, by unified force groupings and forces under a unitary command.  Each of our districts and each of our four fleets existed independently. Each had its own zone of responsibility, not matching the others.  In order to organize any kind of joint actions, it was necessary to establish temporary commands, temporary structures, which, as a rule, were poorly prepared, didn’t have corresponding experience.  All this led to unsatisfactory results.”

Izvestiya quoted him:

“In the bounds of the ongoing transformations, full-blooded troop groupings have been established on all strategic axes.  Four full-blooded commands have appeared for us which, having in their composition and immediately subordinate to them all forces and means, can react adequately to all challenges and threats to the borders of our districts.  Changes in the Armed Forces command and control structure are a necessary occurrence since the old administrative-territorial division had stopped answering the challenges and threats of the time.”

New MDs (photo: ITAR-TASS)

Then Makarov brought in MD commanders over the video so they could attest to how it’s going.  They remarked on how cutting intermediate, redundant command levels has made their jobs easier.  Western MD Commander, General-Colonel Arkadiy Bakhin said 40 percent of his formations and units have outsourced some support functions. 

KZ says earlier MD commanders answered only for Ground Troops, and when they needed forces from another service or branch, they had to get permission from above.  Southern MD Commander, General-Lieutenant Aleksandr Galkin claims making these requests cost the commander time, but now all forces and means are in one command, the fundamentally new unified strategic command (OSK).  Galkin also says freeing soldiers from support tasks means there are now 20-22 training days per month instead of 15-16.

Scapegoat Biront Wins in Court, for Now

Lieutenant Colonel Biront (photo: http://www.odnoklassniki.ru)

Last Tuesday, the Lyubertsy Garrison Military Court held President Medvedev’s dismissal of Lieutenant Colonel Viktor Biront to be illegal.  Recall Biront was the President’s and the Defense Ministry’s scapegoat when the 2512th Central Aviation-Technical Base of Naval Aviation burned in this summer’s infernos near Moscow.

A criminal case for negligence was also raised against Biront, but, according to Moskovskiy komsomolets, they punished him by dismissing him “in connection with nonfulfillment of contract.”  Biront fought back, and an inquiry revealed that, as of 1 February, the base’s firefighting unit had been disbanded, a 50-meter fire break hadn’t been established, and firefighting supplies were absent.  Biront had informed his leadership, but was ignored.  Biront’s lawyer also argued that his client had an impeccable 26-year service record, and had only been in charge of the Kolomna base for 3 months and 25 days.

The lawyer said Biront was left with 70 sailors to dig a fire safety zone around an 8-kilometer perimeter.  And Biront’s predecessor was fined for trying to dig this zone on his own.  The lawyer says the Defense Ministry plans to appeal the overturning of Biront’s dismissal.

In its coverage, Kommersant said Biront’s lawyer pointed out that every due process was violated in his client’s case: 

“First an investigation is performed regarding the disciplinary violation which served as the basis for dismissal, then the serviceman should be familiarized with its results and guaranteed the right to present his objections.  None of this was done.”

The lawyer continues, “The president gave the order to sort it all out and dismiss the guilty, but they didn’t sort it out and found a scapegoat among the unit’s officers.”

In Kommersant’s version, Biront and 30 sailors fought the fires armed with nothing but axes. 

One officer told the paper a chain reaction following Biront’s victory was likely, as others dismissed make similar appeals based on the lack of due process.

So, one can conclude that Medvedev’s ‘tough guy’ on-the-spot firing in the 4 August special Sovbez session was really nothing more than feelgood PR at best, or stupid at worst.  But, if they want to get Biront, they will, especially for being impudent enough to fight the system, and not being a quiet, cooperative victim. 

Biront is one of those allegedly superfluous officers denigrated by the victors in Serdyukov’s ‘new profile’ reforms for being a ‘housekeeper,’ uninterested or unprepared to conduct combat training.

The news about the Biront case has received very little media attention.

Material-Technical Supply Points for the Navy

Picking up from President Medvedev’s admission that he has some ideas on the issue of naval bases abroad . . .

A source in military circles told ITAR-TASS today Russia is not conducting negotiations on new military bases abroad, but, if necessary, it’s prepared to return to this issue.  The source says: 

“There are also material-technical supply points for our Navy, and there’s talk about the fact that we’re continuing to resolve questions on their status, [but] we aren’t conducting new negotiations on the establishment of new bases.”

The source said, if necessary, Russia would establish new bases:

“But the main thing here is to arrange it so that they [new bases] would operate on a reliable legal basis.” 

The source gave Cam Ranh as an example of a former naval base which could be used in the future as a material-technical supply point: 

“A base is when a military contingent is located on a permanent basis, weapons are stockpiled, combat missions are set forth, but Russia even has a material-technical supply point in the Maldives.”

So they won’t actually be bases?  It seems pretty obvious that, to be useful, they’d have to have a degree of permanence, and maintenance capabilities and personnel, and stockpiles of POL and spare parts.

Short Stories

There aren’t enough hours in the day . . . quick takes on some stories of interest.

Rossiyskaya gazeta . . . Minregion again sternly warns of problems in heating military towns due to Defense Ministry debts . . . the Far East is the most serious case.

Nezavisimaya gazeta . . . Ukrainian Defense Ministry may not be able to cooperate on An-70 transport for financial reasons.

Argumenty nedeli . . . long expose on the death of Russian military medicine, and the consequences, as a result of Serdyukov’s cuts and reforms.

ITAR-TASS . . . the interdepartmental commission met at Sevmash today with Vladimir Popovkin leading a review of Yuriy Dolgorukiy’s readiness to test fire the Bulava.

ITAR-TASS . . . on Tuesday, Chelyabinsk’s governor called on Serdyukov to stop explosions at Chebarkul.  This mini-scandal’s been evolving since they started in early October.  Expired munitions are being destroyed, but locals are complaining of damage from tremors.  Serdyukov was supposed to go to Chelyabinsk, but sent logistics deputy Bulgakov in his place.  Bulgakov supervised an elaborate demonstration to show that the explosions aren’t powerful enough to shake Chelyabinsk.  Residents say they can feel them in the city’s high-rise buildings.  The military doesn’t get much credit for trying to get rid of old bombs like those that nearly leveled one of Ulyanovsk’s rayons last November.  See Novyy region or Moskovskiy komsomolets.

There is growing media attention to the military housing problem — will Medvedev, Putin, and the Defense Ministry keep their promise to solve the permanent housing problem by the end of 2010, or are they just changing the rules and extending their own deadline?  See IA Rosbalt, Svpressa.ru, or Nezavisimaya gazeta.

Army Outsourcing

Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov conducted another extramural collegium Wednesday, this time in Khabarovsk.  Serdyukov and company congratulated themselves for completing the ‘large-scale work’ of forming the Eastern Military District (VVO or ВВО), and the other three new districts, ahead of schedule.  This reshuffling was done in less than a year, so it probably really doesn’t count as ‘large-scale work.’

General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov reported the VVO has operated since 1 October.  For his part, Serdyukov noted:

“The Eastern Military District is the largest in combat composition, area, and length of ground and maritime borders.”

The VVO sports the Pacific Fleet, an air and air defense army, and four combined arms armies, leading the Defense Minister to conclude:

“Unifying all forces and means under a single commander allowed for a substantial increase in the combat possibilities and potential of the district.”

Possibly, yes, but it remains to be realized and proven . . . since the very same forces have just been aggregated in a new way.  Is this new whole more than the sum of its parts, or not?

Attendees discussed unified logistics as well as unified combat forces.  Reports said along with unified commands a unified system of material-technical support (MTO) is being established in the military districts.  As previously reported, it is supposed to unite arms supply and logistics in one function and organization.

At any rate, the collegium had new or semi-new business as well . . .

Serdyukov, Makarov, and other attendees also discussed Defense Ministry outsourcing.

Before the meeting, Makarov told wire services the issue of delimiting spheres of activity between the military department and outside organizations that will provide support functions for servicemen and military towns, including heating, electricity, and food service, would be discussed.  According to Rossiyskaya gazeta, Makarov said:

“We need to clearly determine the bounds within which structures should work to support the everyday life of military bodies.”

Speaking like an old-hand, Makarov said the outsourcing system will take care of noncore tasks like feeding the troops and providing utilities to military towns.  The Defense Ministry’s board of directors discussed transferring responsibilities and corresponding property to these contractors.  Are they going to operate or own these assets?

RG reminded readers 340,000 troops are supposed to be fed by civilian firms by year’s end.  They include students in cadet corps, Suvorov schools, military VUZy, and patients in Defense Ministry hospitals.  The paper said outsourced food service would be coming soon to permanent readiness units.  And laundry services, part of military transportation, and equipment supply, including aviation, POL, and support for all deployed Navy ships, will be outsourced.

Finally, Army General Makarov said the collegium discussed in detail the issue of replacing or scrapping worn out equipment.  According to RIA Novosti, Makarov indicated there’ll be a major inventory and weeding out of what’s usable and what isn’t:

“In the course of 2011, everything that’s inoperable, particularly, in the aviation and ship inventory, we will manage to restore and put back on the line.  That which has outlived its time according to its parameters should be withdrawn from service.  This is quite a solid sum which could be redirected to acquiring new types of equipment and armaments.”

Not sure how much they make on this scrap sale.  Not so long ago the Defense Ministry said it was cutting repairs (as well as RDT&E) to focus more money on buying new systems.

A Base By Any Other Name?

Medvedev with Vietnamese Counterpart Nguyen Minh Triet (photo: Kremlin.ru)

Cam Ranh was sure to be a topic for President Dmitriy Medvedev’s Vietnam trip.  But not a major one if Medvedev foreign policy assistant Sergey Prikhodko is to be believed.  Nevertheless, Prikhodko kept alive the idea of renewing some kind of Russian naval presence in Vietnam, whether called a base or a ‘material-technical support point.’  Prikhodko intimates the latter wouldn’t be anything like the former since times have changed so much.  Others will say the name it’s given is less signficant than what it actually turns out to be (if anything).

On Friday RIA Novosti quoted Prikhodko by name, on the eve of the Vietnam trip, saying:

“I don’t think we need to reestablish (in its old form) a base at Cam Ranh.”

And he claimed there was nothing concerning Cam Ranh in the documents  prepared for the visit.

Today ITAR-TASS coyly cited a Presidential Administration source (using Prikhodko’s exact words) who said Moscow is not tabling the issue of fully reestablishing a naval base at Cam Ranh:   

“Russia has material-technical support points for its Navy in many countries, you undoubtedly know them – from the Maldives on an occasional basis to Syria.  Naturally, the Vietnamese are interested in maximum capitalization on what was done by them and us.  But I don’t think we need to raise the issue of reestablishing the base.”

“It’s logical that in the framework of regular Russian Navy exercises, particularly in recent times, given our increased cooperation with European Union and NATO on antipiracy problems, this is an acute issue.  There’s nothing supernatural here.  And the fact is, in order for our ships to resupply with food and replenish in an efficient manner, they need infrastructure capabilities.”

“The idea of the base belongs to the Vietnamese side, it involves using the good groundwork and experience which Vietnam and Russia had earlier in supporting the security of navigation, supplying ships with food, with refueling.  It’s likely we’re talking about the possibilities of material-technical support of Russian ship cruises.”

“This is not the central subject (in the high-level talks), we have no enemies in this region as in past times, but to have the possibility to visit ports on regular and standard conditions wouldn’t be bad.”

“I don’t know the military’s plans in relation to this base and suppose that they don’t have any.  We’re talking about supporting the reliable functioning of our ships, including those fulfilling functions of various types of our cooperation with international organizations.”

Comparing the possibility of Cam Ranh with the existing situation with Syria, he said:

“This [Cam Ranh] is even better than the Syrian variant.  When it comes to Syria, we are always looking around at the reaction of neighbors, Israel, for example.  Here [Cam Ranh] it’s a much softer and more transparent variant.”

“There are complexities connected with ships passing the Strait of Malacca.  Therefore, on the level of public announcements, all countries in the region are interested that we should send military vessels there.”

It all seems like an awful lot of talk for something that ain’t goin’ happen . . .

Two More Perspectives on Serdyukov Flap

Defense Minister Serdyukov (photo: RIA Novosti)

A couple more interesting ones today . . . .

Calls for Serdyukov to resign seen as an effort to stop the ‘revolution from above’ . . . journalist Mikhail Leontyev told United Russia’s website:

“Serdyukov is a very severe man.  He’s conducting a very severe reform.  The very logic and mission of reform is merciless in relation to many people.  Serdyukov himself and others understand this, but this is not a reason not to renovate the army.  Reform is being conducted from аbove and by a man who’s a stranger to the army.  Moreover such a task was set from the beginning so it would be exactly like this.  Because they won’t ever do anything to ‘their own.’  In essence, the system is resisting.  Many would want to stop military reform at the current stage but this is stupidity.  Therefore a rumor beneficial to a large number of people is launched that they’re removing Serdyukov.”

Serdyukov almost a victim of his own success when it comes to making military officers focus exclusively on military affairs . . . Aleksandr Golts writes in today’s Yezhednevnyy zhurnal:

“The entire business, in my view, consists in the fact that a new revolution is ripening in the armed forces today.  They are removing officers, almost to the very top, from the heavy responsibility of distributing finances.  Unit commanders and district commanders alike henceforth don’t need to answer for the work of a boiler or cafeteria, or for guaranteeing electricity to the district’s troops.  Civilian departments — Oboronservis, Rosoboronpostavka and the like — will be occupied with supporting the troops with all essentials — from ammunition to the most complex armaments.  Military reformers set as their goal to put an end forever to commanders as ‘big business managers.’  In the course of decades, the commander was hardly evaluated by senior chiefs according to how he trained his unit for action on the battlefield.  They evaluated him according to whether he succeeded in building the cafeteria or bathhouse ‘efficiently,’ that is without allocating the necessary resources.  All this submerged commanders in tangles of corrupt relationships.  Besides lumber and bricks, the officer could pay his debts with the help of a natural resource which was at his disposal — a free work force.  If in Soviet times this system was somewhat limited by party control, then in the 1990s, when the state didn’t have any money at all to support its gigantic military machine, military units were practically condemned to self-support.  As a result, now officers have come to be brigade commanders and deputy army commanders who know perfectly how to ‘operate,’ but not to command.  This is not their fault, but their misfortune.  And the Defense Ministry is creating a special system for retraining senior and higher officer personnel [to learn or relearn their strictly military business].”

“But far from all military leaders are inspired by the prospect of perfecting troop command and control, and combat training methods day and night, meanwhile having at their disposal only that money that came to their personal bank card from their salary.  Many long ago became accustomed to side profits which now seem like their base pay.  In the minister’s innovations, they see the main threat to their interests.  And, as we’re seeing, they aren’t standing on ceremony.”

No, they aren’t standing on ceremony.  They’re using the opportunity to come after the guy who dared threaten their profitable arrangements.  Who knows how widespread this kind of corruption is, but it certainly exists and those benefiting don’t want it to end.  Similarly, one can only guess to what extent Serdyukov’s been successful instituting his civilian control over Defense Ministry financial flows.  And no one should assume the civilian hands on these flows will be any cleaner.

Military Not Ready for Winter

Regional Development Minister Viktor Basargin apparently doesn’t want to share any of the blame this winter.

At a government meeting today, Basargin said he’s worried about whether military towns are capable of preparing for winter in the necessary fashion.  ITAR-TASS quoted him:

“This year problems with preparation for winter have already arisen in 95 percent of military towns.”

He said there are places like St. Petersburg providing positive examples, but “in a number of regions the military is hiding the true state of affairs from the administration.”

He indicated this could lead to recurrences of last winter’s situation with the frozen ‘Steppe’ garrison in Transbaykal.

Basargin added:

“Minregion and the MVD have taken this situation under firm control, I have reported to the chairman of the government [Putin] about it.  The decision was singular:  all military towns have to perform all procedures mandatory for civilian populated areas.  I ask administrators in all areas to give this special attention.”

So Basargin’s decided in advance he won’t take the heat (or lack of it) and the blame this year.  It’s all shifted squarely, and early, onto the Defense Ministry.  One finds it a little odd that Basargin and Minregion would call Serdyukov out so publicly over this.  Maybe they really see disaster looming.

It’s clear military base infrastructure, especially that which Serdyukov wants to do away with, isn’t getting much attention and there are lots of other demands on the military’s money.  To be fair, a lot of garrisons were in a really bad state and grossly neglected long before Serdyukov arrived.  There are, however, several things he’s done which make the situation worse.  The shift to brigades and renovation of the MD structure have caused shuffling that could leave some officers, families, military pensioners, or troops out in the cold.  Especially in the most severe climate regions.  And cuts in support troops and services, and their privatization, probably isn’t going smoothly in remote (and cold) areas.  This could cause disruptions in winter logistics.

We’ll see how the winter goes.