Tag Archives: Aerospace Defense

Walking Back Serdyukov’s Personnel Policies (Part I)

And so it’s begun. 

The first of Defense Minister Serdyukov’s major reform planks – cutting the officer corps from 355,000 to 150,000, or no more than 15 percent of the million-man army – has been reversed.

The Armed Forces’ officer manning level was apparently one topic in yesterday’s meeting between President Medvedev and his “power” ministers about plans to raise pay for servicemen in 2012.

Serdyukov told the media about the decision to increase officers in the Armed Forces by 70,000:

“A decision’s been taken to increase officer personnel by 70 thousand.  This is connected with the fact that we’re deploying additional military units, establishing military-space defense, that is, an entire service (of troops), and the increase is happening in connection with this.”

First, this raised some interesting questions about VKO.  Is it really going to become a service (vid or вид).  After all, the Space Troops are only a service branch (род войск) right now.  That’s quite a promotion.  And are we really supposed to believe the expansion of VKO or the Space Troops will require 70,000 additional officers? 

Of course not, it’s a convenient excuse to walk back a large part of the 50 percent cut in army officers Serdyukov announced when he launched his reforms in October 2008.

Most media outlets were pretty confused on what this means for officer numbers.  They assumed the Russian Army’s at 150,000 officers right now, just add 70,000 for a total of 220,000.  But it’s not so simple.

When Serdyukov started cutting officers, there were 305,000 occupied officer billets.  Krasnaya zvezda said the Armed Forces had 181,000 officers at the end of last year.  So a grand total of 124,000 officers were either discharged, placed outside the “org-shtat” at their commander’s “disposition,” or forced to accept an NCO billet between late 2008 and the end of 2010.  Returning 70,000 to the ranks might leave us wondering only about what happened to the other 54,000.  And 181,000 plus 70,000 takes the officer corps basically back to 250,000, or fully one-quarter of the million-man army.

The army officer corps has endured considerable sturm und drang in a little over two years all for the sake of shedding just 55,000 officers.

More on this tomorrow.

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.

Early Bidding on VKO

2011 should be interesting on the Aerospace Defense (VKO or ВКО) front. 

The President’s poslaniye has been turned into orders, including Medvedev’s directive to unify missile defense (PRO), air defense (PVO), missile attack warning (PRN), and space monitoring systems under the command and control of a single strategic command before next December.

This issue will likely take more than a year to come to any kind of resolution.  Moreover, it’s likely to be a bruising bureaucratic battle royale over control and organization that does nothing to improve Russia’s military capabilities, certainly in the near-term and possibly longer. 

Both Deynekin and Svpressa.ru below make the point that there are real live officers who’ll get jerked around (again) by major moves in aerospace-related branches.  Konovalov wonders whether the Kremlin won’t spend too much effort against the wrong threat.

According to RIA Novosti, a Defense Ministry source says the issue of establishing this command by taking PVO from the Air Forces (VVS) and giving it to the Space Troops (KV) is being worked.  And he doesn’t rule out that “significant organizational and structural changes” could occur in the KV.  But, of course, the final decision on this strategic command lies with the Supreme CINC.

RIA Novosti interviewed former VVS CINC, Army General Petr Deynekin, who said:

“. . . the new structure [VKO] shouldn’t be subordinate to some new command.  It should go under the Air Forces, since they are the most modern service of the armed forces.”

He also warned the Defense Ministry against a reorganization which creates more tension in the officer corps.

Olga Bozhyeva in Moskovskiy komsomolets reviews the past history of transformations involving PVO and Missile-Space Defense (RKO), and concludes the VVS and KV will both end up subordinate to a new command under the General Staff.

Interviewed for Novyy region, Leonid Ivashov sees nothing new in Medvedev’s order on a unitary VKO command.  But it will be an uphill task.  He says Russia currently has practically no missile defense system.  The PVO system’s been reduced to point defense, and it doesn’t cover much of Russia’s territory.  More than anything, he sees it as a defense-industrial issue – can the OPK provide the military with new air and space defense systems?

Svpressa.ru concludes there’s no doubt aerospace attack is Russia’s biggest threat, but over the last two decades armed forces reformers have just played their favorite game of putting services and branches together and taking them apart again, and:

“No one considers the money and material resources expended, or even the fates of thousands of officers who’ve fallen under the chariot wheel of organizational-personnel measures.”

Svpressa.ru describes how RKO and the Military-Space Forces (VKS) went to the RVSN under Defense Minister Sergeyev in 1997, then PVO went to the VVS, and they had to create the KV as a home for elements the RVSN no longer wanted in 2001.  The article concludes that this kept VKO divided in half.  Now VVS and KV generals are already hotly debating how Medvedev’s new order on VKO will be implemented.

Svpressa.ru asked Aleksandr Konovalov what he thinks.  Konovalov says VKO is being created against the U.S., when Russia faces more immediate threats from countries without any space capabilities.

In terms of how a unitary strategic command of VKO might be established, Konovalov concludes:

“It’s still impossible to judge this.  I think Serdyukov doesn’t know the answer to this question yet.  Another thing worries me more.  Here we’ve created four operational-strategic [sic] commands – ‘East,’ ‘Center,’ ‘South,’ and ‘West’ – in the Armed Forces in the event of war.  And in peacetime on these borders four military districts remain.  I can’t understand how they will interact.  And it’s all right if I don’t understand.  It’s worse if the Defense Ministry itself is also ignorant.  Judging by everything, it’s impossible to rule this out.  And there are much more real enemies than the U.S. against these newly-minted operational-strategic [sic] commands and districts.  That’s something to think about.  But VKO . . .  If there’s extra money, VKO could also be created.  It could be useful some time.”

Medvedev Calls for Unified Aerospace Defense

Yesterday President Dmitriy Medvedev delivered the annual Federal Assembly address.  It was rather brief, uninspiring, and contained relatively little on the military, except his call for work on a unified aerospace (air-space) defense (VKO or ВКО).  This could be a death knell for independent Space Troops.  He also repeated his warning that an agreement on missile defense is needed, or another round of the arms race will ensue.

But let’s look from the beginning . . . Medvedev suggested the army’s modernization might help jumpstart the scientific and technical modernization of the economy.  He said the 20 trillion rubles for the State Program of Armaments will be doubly effective if they give Russia dual-use technologies that can help modernize production processes and develop both fundamental and applied research.  And Medvedev again mentioned creation of a Russian DARPA:

“Therefore we are creating a special structure which will research and develop breakthrough technologies for the defense sector.  There are such structures, you know, in other countries.  We are expecting many of them will find application in everyday life.”

There seems to be a huge disconnect between Medvedev’s almost offhand comments here and what military men expect out of that 20 trillion.  One doubts many in the armed forces see any of this funding going to R&D.  They see it going almost entirely toward procurement of existing weapons and equipment woefully lacking in today’s military inventory.  Perhaps it’s Medvedev’s way of selling (as if he needs to) these expenditures to the average citizen.  

At any rate, Medvedev then gets down to brief comments on the armed forces:

“The development of our state and society is impossible without effective support of national security and defense.  We have taken a course for a deep modernization of the Armed Forces, for conducting systemic, meaningful transformations in them.  The combat component of the Armed Forces, the combat readiness system, command and control, and material-technical support of troops have already been updated.  Our combat exercises have again become regular and, what’s of no small importance, large-scale.  Four military districts have been formed instead of six.  In the framework of the State Program of Armaments to 2020, troops are being outfitted with modern equipment.”

“What tasks still have to be resolved?  First.  In the next year, particular attention needs to be given to strengthening the country’s aerospace defense, to unify existing air and missile defense systems, missile attack warning, and space monitoring.  They should act under the unitary command and control of a strategic command.”

“Second.  Today’s Russia, it goes without saying, also needs a modern army and fleet, compact and mobile troops manned with high-class specialists and the newest weapons.  This requires both serious resources (I just stated the volumes of these resources), and new, sometimes complex, decisions.  At the same time, it is necessary to fulfill all obligations to people who chose army service for themselves, first and foremost to resolve the housing question within the planned time.”

“Third.  The army should free itself from ancillary tasks and noncore functions.  These functions need to be transferred to civilian organizations, to concentrate attention, most of all, on real combat training.  A young man only goes to the army for one year, and the program of training in military affairs is not becoming easier.  It is essential that every young man assimilate the program in full measure.”

Medvedev goes on to describe his discussions about European missile defense with NATO in Lisbon.  He repeats his warning that, if an agreement on missile defense isn’t reached and a full-fledged joint cooperation mechanism isn’t created over the next decade, another round of the arms race will begin:

“And we will be forced to make a decision on the deployment of new strike means.  It is perfectly obvious that this would be a very grave scenario.”

Kornukov’s VKO Concept

In Izvestiya yesterday, Dmitriy Litovkin wrote that today Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov will receive a new, large-scale concept for establishing Russia’s global aerospace defense system for his review. 

According to Litovkin, the concept’s drafters picked 9 August because it’s the 60th anniversary of the USSR Council of Ministers decision to create the Soviet strategic air defense system.  He adds that Izvestiya is the first to study this just now declassified seven-page document.  It called for Soviet designers to develop an air defense system for Moscow codenamed ‘Berkut,’ in an improbably short period of two and a half years.

Litovkin quotes former Air Forces CINC Anatoliy Kornukov:

“Today we’ve developed and given the Defense Ministry an analogous document, setting down goals and tasks in the area of developing the country’s VKO system – this is a draft of a presidential decree on establishing VKO.”

In this case, the ‘we’ is the Extradepartmental Expert Council for Air-Space Defense (VKO) Problems, which Kornukov chairs.

Of course, Kornukov is a well-known critic of the state of Russia’s current aerospace defenses, who also advises air defense system producer Almaz-Antey.  One might, therefore, logically conclude that Kornukov’s concept will accord with Almaz-Antey’s current plans.

Litovkin goes on to relate stories of Laventiy Beria’s and his son’s involvement in those early air defense development efforts, and the prize money offered to the designers and their teams.

He tells about the Soviet / Russian A-35 and A-135 nuclear-armed ABM interceptors made obsolete by the S-400.  The S-400 he describes as a direct successor to the S-300, but with modern electronics:

“The tactical-technical characteristics of the S-400 were confirmed in the course of large-scale exercises ‘Combat Commonwealth-2009’ and ‘West-2009.’  S-400 combat crews successfully destroyed targets analogous to modern and future air attack systems.  The correctness of the Defense Ministry’s decision on creating air-space defense brigades was confirmed at the same time.”

Litovkin quotes Almaz-Antey Chief Igor Ashurbeyli:

“In modern conditions even the S-400, if you go the way of endless modernization, will end up in a technical dead end.  The system is indisputably effective, it will be modernized in the future, but up to a certain reasonable limit.  Its combat potential will be raised, but it won’t go beyond the bounds of ‘conventional’ PVO-PRO systems.  Today we have the mission of covering the country from the greatest number of potential threats.  On the Defense Ministry’s order, we’ve started development of the fundamentally new S-500 system.”

As stated many times, Litovkin notes the S-500 is to complete development by 2015, but its characteristics haven’t been disclosed, beyond it having a new active X-band phased array radar.  Supplemental short- and medium-range SAMs (Morfey and Vityaz) will be developed.  The S-400, S-500, and these systems are supposed to cover ranges from 5 to 400 kilometers, at heights from 5 meters to near space.