Tag Archives: ОСК

Popovkin for Kolmakov

A long-swirling rumor that First Deputy Defense Minister, General-Colonel Aleksandr Kolmakov would be forced into retirement became a fact this week.  Talk of this dated to March.  Defense Minister Serdyukov didn’t want both of his first deputies [Kolmakov and General Staff Chief Makarov] occupied with combat training and readiness, reportedly wanting to end this unnecessary division and competition.  More recently, Aleksandr Golts said Kolmakov’s and Makarov’s activities with operational troops intersected, even though nothing was ever heard about tensions between the two generals. 

Argumenty nedeli indicates Kolmakov more than once firmly, but tactfully, expressed his disagreement with Serdyukov’s reforms, specifically the elimination of warrant officers and the posting of excess officers in sergeant’s duties.

It’s not precisely clear who will benefit from Kolmakov’s departure.  The press largely assumes it’s the Genshtab and the main commands of the armed services and branches, but it’s no longer as easy as that.  Golts linked the Kolmakov change with the move to 4 military districts or operational-strategic commands (OSK or ОСК).  He argues that putting all ground, air, and naval forces under 4 operational commands would weaken all central supervisory organs, including the Genshtab and main commands.  As for Kolmakov’s Main Combat Training Directorate, it might move somewhere else, morph into something else, or simply disband.

Deputy Defense Minister and Armaments Chief Vladimir Popovkin takes his old portfolio and responsibilities to his new post as First Deputy Defense Minister.  So as much of the Russian media has noted, rearmament is an entirely new priority and job description for the First Deputy.  One wonders if Popovkin will even have a successor in his old position. 

All observers seem to agree, however, that the swap of Popovkin for Kolmakov and rearmament for troop training focuses the Defense Ministry on providing the troops what they need and the Genshtab and uniformed commanders on training them.  Read Kommersant and Rossiyskaya gazeta for more on this.

Popovkin himself told Rossiyskaya gazeta

“We decided to divide the Defense Ministry’s administrative and operational functions.  A civilian  channel is being created which will support the troops.  A second channel will conduct combat training, all troop activities connected with the operation and use of armaments and military equipment.  It’s been decided to withdraw purchases of armaments and everything else from the duties of the Chief of Rear Services and the Chief of Armaments and to appoint a responsible person who will order and purchase all this.”

This would all seem to connect in the person of Nadezhda Sinikova, whom Medvedev and Serdyukov recently appointed to head and invigorate Rosoboronpostavka.  Military men will continue to make their own orders and requests, but Sinikova’s organization will deal directly with suppliers.

Here’s what President Dmitriy Medvedev said to Popovkin on 22 June:

“Naturally I wish you success and hope that the sector you will coordinate, – this is, first of all, the armaments sector and military equipment and the resolution of a series of issues connected with the civilian component  in the Defense Ministry, – will develop successfully, and we will be able to realize this state armaments program which we are now coordinating.”

“This is a large-scale program, complex, intense, however, at this time, it is directed at establishing on the current foundation a modern, effective armaments system for our army, to reequip, and fully supply it in the framework of those priorities on which we agreed and which must create the basis for the development of our Armed Forces in the future to 2020 and even to 2030.”

“This is a large, complex task.  I hope we have forever gone away from the situation of patching holes in the Armed Forces, which was characteristic in the 1990s and the beginning of this century, and we have set out on a different basis of work.”

“But here methodical, scrupulous work is needed especially with military equipment suppliers because they are sometimes pampered and don’t provide quality, and very unpleasant price increases appear for us.  Therefore we have to hold everything taut, but at the same time acquire everything our Armed Forces need to be combat capable and well trained.”

Gazeta.ru asked to Deputy Chairman of the Duma Defense Committee Igor Barinov to explain what Medvedev was saying about the Defense Ministry’s suppliers:

“Prices on VPK products are growing out of proportion with the growth of inflation and taxes.  For example, the ‘Topol-M’ increased 2.5 times in 3 years, and a sniper rifle cost less than 30 thousand rubles at the beginning of the 2000s, but now the Defense Ministry buys them for 400 thousand.”

“Enterprises don’t want to reduce defects, they place incomprehensible prices on their own products—some places because of corruption, some places because of a lack of restraint.  It’s impossible to allocate money if a process of systematizing price formation doesn’t occur.”

In Vremya novostey, Pavel Felgengauer describes Popovkin as one of the drivers of the current military reforms:

“Popovkin was the first to begin publicly saying that the problems of the Russian VPK are connected with a large lag behind the West.  And he was first to acknowledge that Russian space system use large amounts of Western components.  Before him no one publicly talked about this.  And in 2008 Popovkin was first to announce that Russia will buy foreign military equipment, and not just components.”

An informed, anonymous source also told Vremya novostey that Popovkin is an “old acquaintance” of Medvedev and Putin.  And he will be the Defense Ministry’s real number two man, pushing Army General Makarov lower in the de facto hierarchy [of course, this overlooks the very good likelihood that Serdyukov maintains his own hierarchy based on his own team of trusties and it probably doesn’t include any ex-generals like Popovkin].

Popovkin’s official bio can be found here.

OSK Commanders Will Directly Control Navy and Air Forces

Army General Makarov

Russian General Staff Chief, Army General Nikolay Makarov briefed the Federation Council’s Defense and Security Committee today, and, according to Interfaks, he has made the decision to replace Russia’s six military districts with four that will function as operational-strategic commands (OSK).  He said:

“We will propose on the base of six military districts to establish four military districts, to the commander of which all forces and means deployed on their territory, including Navy, Air Forces and Air Defense, will be subordinate.  And subordinate not operationally, but directly.”

“Ground-, sea- and air-based nuclear deterrence forces will remain under the General Staff.”

“Our proposal on establishing four operational-strategic commands is now with the country’s president and I think that this issue will be favorably resolved soon.”

Infox.ru cited Makarov on the creation of three additional combined arms armies for several strategic axes: 

“We conducted a careful analysis of current threats and challenges and came to the conclusion that it’s necessary to create additional combined arms armies on several strategic axes.  There will be three in all.”

Makarov added that one army would be based in Chita, and six additional motorized rifle brigades will be formed to flesh out the newly created armies.

And Makarov wasn’t done . . .

According again to Interfaks, Makarov told these members of Russia’s upper house of parliament that ten combined air (8) and naval air (2) bases will be established in Russia.  Until recently, the military had been talking about new “first- and second-rank air bases” that were basically Air Forces’ equivalents of Ground Troops’ brigades.  This approach may have been abandoned in favor of a smaller number of larger air bases.  The choice of the word ‘combined’ [объединённые] makes these things sound like they’re now equivalent to armies.

Makarov explained that Russia has 245 airfields:

“The approximate cost of using one airfield is 1 billion rubles per year.  This amount is prohibitive, therefore we took a decision on enlarging air bases.”

After this change, Russia will only have 27 airfields, according to the General Staff Chief, and the combined air and naval air bases will be spread out over Russia in cities like Voronezh, Chelyabinsk, Domna (near Chita), and Komsomolsk-na-Amure.

Makarov said the goal was not only excellent conditions for fulfilling flight missions, but also for the everyday lives of servicemen and their families:

“We’re doing everything so that our pilots and their families can live in human conditions.”

Makarov told the assembled lawmakers that Russia will complete contract to buy Mistral from the French:

“Concerning Mistral, the contractual obligations are practically ready.  I think we’ll buy this ship.”

“We need such a ship.  In the Far East, it’s simply essential.”

He went to say, it’s needed around the Kurils which “generally have nothing to defend them.”  And he elaborated:

“Earlier there was an army there.  There’s no one there to cover them, we need mobile means so at the necessary time we can deliver a landing force quickly.”

He repeated his past comments to the effect that Mistral is 4-5 times bigger than Russia’s largest amphibious ship, the Ivan Rogov class.

Tomorrow it’s Serdyukov’s turn to speak to the Federation Council, so prepare for some more news.

Step Closer to Four OSKs Instead of 6 MDs

ITAR-TASS reports today that the reform of the operational-strategic level of command and control has entered its final phase.  According to the Genshtab’s plan, on 1 December 2010 military districts (MDs) will shrink from 6 to 4.  A Genshtab source told ITAR-TASS that 4 MDs and operational-strategic commands (OSK or ОСК) will be formed–Western, Southern, Central, and Eastern, with their commanders having operational control over all (or most) of the troops (forces) of the armed forces and other militarized structures located on their territory.  

The Genshtab representative says the Western MD/OSK, based in Piter, will include the Moscow and Leningrad MDs, with Baltic and Northern Fleets, VVS, VDV, and other militarized structures operationally subordinate to it.  The Southern MD/OSK in Rostov-na-Donu will have the North Caucasus MD, with the Black Sea Fleet and Caspian Flotilla operationally subordinate.  The Central MD/OSK in Yekaterinburg will have the Volga-Ural MD and the western part of the Siberian MD.  The Eastern MD/OSK in Khabarovsk will have the eastern part of the Siberian MD and the Far East MD, with the Pacific Fleet operationally subordinate to it.

The question of subordinating units and formations of the RVSN, naval strategic nuclear forces, LRA, and the Space Troops hasn’t been decided.  According to the source:

“This issue is now under long-term study, Genshtab Chief Army General Nikolay Makarov is personally occupied with it.”

The Genshtab source said the new MD/OSKs will be tested out during the Vostok-2010 operational-strategic exercise at the end of June.

ITAR-TASS said this major command change will not involve officer cuts, but there will be a redistribution of the officer corps to new service locations.

So there’s more smoke from a fire somewhere, presumably.  If this pans out, it will be the culmination of a command and control change long talked about, and even tried out piecemeal at times.  After many waves of reform since late 2008, one has to wonder whether this is the time for more disruption.  Maybe it is since things are already disrupted.  Which generals will be the winners or losers?

It will be hard to judge the value of this effort just from the name changes or the movement of a major combined formation from one order-of-battle column to another.  A lot will depend on what the exact terms of ‘operational subordination’ are when it comes to the fleets and other major militarized formations outside the Defense Ministry’s administrative control.  The four MD/OSK commanders will certainly have more responsibility, and they must be hoping and working to get the real authority they need to go along with it.

More on OSKs, and ASU TZ

On Monday, Olga Bozhyeva reminded readers the proposed OSKs were former Genshtab Chief Baluyevskiy’s idea, and she called them part of a command reorganization along an American model.  She contends Baluyevskiy lost his job for pushing the change from military districts (MDs) to operational-strategic commands (OSKs).  And now the OSK will apparently win out, even though Baluyevskiy’s long gone. 

Bozhyeva says Baluyevskiy and the shift to OSKs were defeated in the past by MD commanders [and their powerful patrons] who stood to lose out in the process.  She claims Baluyevskiy’s opposition to the  Navy Main Staff transfer from Moscow to St. Petersburg was a pretext for his dismissal when the OSK was the real issue.  And his OSK experiment in the Far East was quietly dismantled after his departure. 

Actually, it’s more likely Baluyevskiy went down for opposing–rightly or wrongly–the whole range of ideas pushed by Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov.  By contrast, Baluyevskiy’s replacement has been a veritable extension of Serdyukov on policy issues.

With Baluyevskiy gone, according to Bozhyeva, the MD commanders bent the OSK idea to their way of thinking, proposing to make every MD an OSK, without cutting or consolidating MDs, and duplicating efforts in the process.  She says this reflected the MDs as ‘sacred cows’ upon which no one would encroach, and this tracked with new Genshtab Chief Makarov’s background as an MD commander.  Recall that Baluyevskiy was a career Genshtabist.

Bozhyeva continues, saying this year Makarov has begun to think about how to command the ‘new profile’ army.  And wars of the future will hardly accommodate a command structure like the MD.  But Bozhyeva reports a rumor that the name Military District could be retained to appease opponents of merging MDs in favor of modern OSKs.  She concludes, if the OSKs are realized, it’ll be possible to talk of a really ‘new profile’ army.

Dmitriy Litovkin also had his say on the OSK story last Friday.  He describes the possible move to OSKs in terms of more responsive command and control, reducing the transmission of orders from 16 to 3 steps.  But, he cautions, the OSKs are still just a proposal at this point.

Litovkin says the military hasn’t tried to hide the fact that the OSK is borrowed from the U.S. concept.  The main thing achieved in such an approach, he continues, is responsiveness in issuing and receiving combat orders.  The Defense Ministry says this new OSK structure will be tightly tied to the new automated battlefield command and control system ASU TZ (АСУ ТЗ).

Litovkin mentions how Prime Minister Putin saw ASU TZ at Voronezh, and how the system is supposed to centralize command and control down to the ‘electronic soldier’ on the battlefield.  This fall brigade exercises are supposed to employ ASU TZ with the aim of controlling several hundred ‘objects’ in battle simultaneously.  This summer the OSK model will be tried as part of the Vostok-2010 exercise in the Far East.

Litovkin’s source says:

“Developing ASU TZ without trying it in the new armed forces structure is impossible.  We need to understand in practice not just how this works, but also, possibly, that we are developing something unnecessary or, conversely, we aren’t making anything.”

Not a big vote of confidence for the new system.

Litovkin concludes by saying the possibility of unit and even garrison relocations might be a limitation on the OSK scheme.  Forces would need to be better balanced among the four strategic directions.  For example, the Western OSK would have too many motorized rifle units and the Eastern too few.

Idea of OSKs Waxes Again

In Russian defense policymaking, ideas never die; they wax and wane, and wax again.  Andrey Nikolskiy in Thursday’s Vedomosti reported a source in the Defense Ministry’s central apparatus claims the idea of establishing four regional Operational-Strategic Commands (OSKs) in place of Russia’s current military districts and fleets is waxing again.  This is hardly a new story.

The West reportedly would combine the Moscow Military District (MD) and Leningrad MD, and the Baltic Fleet, under a headquarters located in St. Petersburg.  The East would combine the Far East MD with part of the Siberian MD, and the Pacific Fleet, with its headquarters in Khabarovsk.  The North would combine the remainder of the Siberian MD with part of the Volga-Ural MD, and the Northern Fleet, with Yekaterinburg as the headquarters.  Finally, the South would put the North Caucasus MD with the remainder of the Volga-Ural MD, and the Black Sea Fleet and Caspian Flotilla, with Rostov-on-Don as the headquarters.

Vedomosti  is circumspect on the four OSKs.  It maintains that no decision has been taken yet, and the possibility of creating them is being studied.  Interfaks was quick to claim they’ll be established before the end of the year.  Putting the West headquarters in Piter would track with the apparently continuing effort to relocate the Navy Main Staff to the country’s ‘northern capital.’

So, a little about what would happen if this idea were implemented . . . clear losers are the LenVO, SibVO, and PUrVO, which all disappear.  The VMF won’t like the idea and the VVS is perhaps more ambivalent since its air forces and air defense armies (AVVSPVOs) pretty much exist within the current MD structure anyway.  The East would have 14 active maneuver brigades instead of the DVO’s 10.  The West would have 9 instead of 6.  And the North might be created with 6 brigades.  Of course, the OSKs would also have greater territory to cover than the MDs.

In retrospect, new Ground Troops CINC General-Colonel Aleksandr Postnikov foreshadowed renewed talk of OSKs replacing MDs when he arrived in March mentioning the possibility of an MVO-LenVO merger.

Former Genshtab Chief Yuriy Baluyevskiy’s one-year experiment with an Eastern Regional Command at Ulan Ude headed by General-Lieutenant Nikolay Tkachev was euthanized by his successor, Nikolay Makarov, in October 2008.  Theoretically, it might have been one regional command alongside analogous western and southern structures.  Baluyevskiy’s initiative probably dated back to 2005 discussions about a new command structure in the RF Security Council.  But it’s not clear what kind of regional commands were considered.  Were they to overlay the MDs and fleets like the High Commands of Forces of late Soviet days or replace them in a more radical restructuring?

This winter, then Ground Troops CINC, Army General Boldyrev said that each MD would become an OSK, and the MD-OSK commander would have operational control over all military units on its territory–Navy, Air Forces, MVD Internal Troops (VV), etc.  Boldyrev said:

“The operational-strategic command is a military district.  Such is its function and standing.  The legal status of the OSK has been drafted, its approval is planned in the very near future, this will possibly happen before the end of this year.  The district commander has been declared the commander of the operational-strategic command.”

Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye has been predicting the MD’s replacement for some time, writing in September last year: 

“. . . the leadership of the country and of the Armed Forces are returning to the idea that was proposed several years ago by former RF Armed Forces General Staff Chief, Army General Yuriy Baluyevskiy, who attempted to create Operational-Strategic Commands in theaters of operations, but not on the basis of individual districts, but rather by unifying several districts and fleets under the command of the OSK.” 

The MD is still more part of the administrative, training, and mobilization system for the paradigmatic ‘large-scale war’ of Soviet planning.  The OSK would have to become a combatant command for fighting regional or local wars here and now.  Consolidating three MDs and possibly downgrading fleet commands somewhat might save a few hundred senior officer positions.

As Vedomosti describes it, if the four OSKs actually stand up, they will include armed forces units, not other militarized forces like the VV or FSB Border Guards.  This isn’t surprising since these OSKs would be permanent, not just wartime, command structures. 

The control of strategic nuclear forces is always an issue in debating structures like the OSK.  Would OSK commanders really control and operate the RVSN, SSBNs, and long-range bombers on their territory?  If not, how would the OSK’s general purpose forces support strategic operations?  

Abolishing 6 MDs and especially 4 fleets and their long histories would be a politically daunting task, sure to raise lots of opposition in the ranks and among the publicly vocal ex-military.

Finally, it might be argued that the military has experienced near ‘permanent revolution’ over the last 18 months, and doesn’t need another major organizational innovation while the situation settles out from previous changes.

In any event, the replacement of MDs with OSKs still remains a rumor at this point.

Electronic Warfare Chief Interviewed

Colonel Oleg Ivanov

 On Radioelectronic Warfare (REB or РЭБ) Specialists’ Day, Krasnaya zvezda interviewed the Chief of REB Troops, Colonel Oleg Anatolyevich Ivanov, about trends and developments in his branch of service.

Ivanov says the growth of information technology for military command and control has given rise to a new kind of confrontation–achieving C2 supremacy and it can exert a decisive influence on a war.  And REB has ‘priority significance’ in this area.  The basic mission of REB is gaining and holding C2 supremacy in combat actions.

Ivanov notes also REB Troops’ role in information protection.  He says they exert control over the military radio transmission network and radio discipline has been pretty good; the number of violations are down.

Ivanov says formations (brigades), units, and sub-units participated in Kavkaz-2009 and Zapad-2009 to create a complex radioelectronic situation for the networks of the exercise participants.  Combined arms units learned to fulfill their missions in conditions of active radioelectronic jamming.  REB units and sub-units worked out their radioelectronic suppression missions against the probable enemy’s targets as well as the radioelectronic defense of their own troops.  REB Troops received positive evaluations.

Asked about defense industry support to the REB Troops, Ivanov says 120 enterprises are involved, and they are largely divided, as in Soviet times, into two practically independent directions–those that work on REB systems and equipment against troop C2 on the one hand, and against weapons C2 on the other.  Sozvezdiye leads the former, and Rostekhnologiya’s ‘Electronic Technologies’ the latter.  He notes that Vega, OSK, and some independent enterprises are players also.

Not surprisingly, Ivanov says to accelerate the development of new EW systems ‘structural integration’ of these OPK enterprises is needed.  And a lead organization to make scientific-technical decisions is needed too.  Coordination of efforts will optimize the use of time and resources for creating new systems and equipment.

But Ivanov doesn’t say who his favorite to be the industry lead is.

Ivanov says Russian EW means are equal to the best foreign counterparts.  They can neutralize and block the most dangerous armaments (particularly, highly-accurate weapons) in real time.  Automated jamming stations from the 1980s and 1990s are serving well with modernization and are meeting current requirements [does this mean there’s been nothing new in the interval?].  But Ivanov says fundamentally new and unique multifunctional systems are being created along with incremental improvements in older systems.  He can’t say more owing to their secret nature.  He thinks it’s possible, however, to say they represent technological breakthroughs.

Ivanov calls EW comparable in effect to the employment of modern highly-accurate weapons, and, by some indicators, even superior to them.

KZ asks Ivanov about personnel issues, particularly one-year conscripts and young officers.

He responds that the issue of training specialists is very acute.  The rapid introduction of new equipment leads to the need for mass retraining of specialists, not just soldiers and sergeants, but officers too.  Officers might get a two-week retraining course, but a soldier takes several months and then only half a year remains for him to serve.

So all personnel are tested in the Inter-Service Training Center to evaluate their capabilities for assimilating the training program, then divided into training groups.  Next, REB Troops are trying to keep trained specialists as contractees.  Lastly, efforts are made to simplify and automate systems to ease demands on personnel.  But practice shows that making a high-class specialist in a year is very difficult, but an acceptable level of skill is possible if servicemen are focused on combat training as prescribed in their programs [i.e. not busy shoveling snow or building the commander’s dacha].

Turning to officers, Ivanov says Russian EW officers have lots of opportunities in the civilian sector, so manning the officer ranks is an ‘issue of special discussion.’  The problem, he says, isn’t as acute as the late 1990s, owing to a rise in status of officers in recent years.  But he doesn’t sound exactly convinced on this score himself.

Summing up the future for REB Troops, Ivanov concludes they have great possibilities, and coming qualitative changes in the development of EW forces and means must support its growth into a specific fundamental type of combat action which in many ways will determine the course and outcome of a battle.