Tag Archives: Aleksandr Konovalov

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.”

New Officers’ Honor Code and Ethics Needed

Over the weekend, a Defense Ministry source told Interfaks-AVN that, until 1 February, officers in units, brigades, and ships are discussing a new honor code.  Deputy Defense Minister Nikolay Pankov is leading this broad discussion on the “moral profile of the contemporary Russian officer.”

A new set of corporate ethics for officers will be adopted during the Defense Ministry’s 3rd All-Army Assembly of Officers this November in Moscow.  The Assembly will address raising the educational level and professionalism of officers, the “social-legal” defense of servicemen, and raising the status of officers in society.

Today Aleksandr Konovalov told Gzt.ru that military men need to choose their work as service to the people not just a profession, and officers need to have higher standards than average citizens.  He describes his idealized vision of an officer who has a high sense of justice and duty, values the lives of his subordinates, and won’t use the army for anyone’s private interests, including those in power.

Vitaliy Shlykov also gave Gzt.ru his view on military professionalism.  He says there are now way too few instructors who can impart the qualities officers need–competence, traditions and ethics, and corporateness.  The basic provisions of the new code need to be laid out first though, according to Shlykov.

Konovalov wants to start from scratch.  “New profile officers” have to be formed outside the existing army traditions, which have appeared spontaneously and not always honorably.

How does this square with the reality that officers commit most crimes in the Russian Armed Forces?  Not well.

In the midst of an optimistic army crime report on 26 November, Krasnaya zvezda admitted:

“One of the main problems is the growth of legal violations among officers, including stealing budget money allocated for defense needs, and other corruption crimes by military officials.  The scale of ‘officer’ crime has reached the highest level in the last decade.  Today every fourth registered crime among the troops is committed by this category of servicemen, a third of them are of the corruption type.  The losses caused to military units and organizations by these crimes have increased by one-third and exceed the half-billion level.  The structure of this type of crime has substantially transformed.  Today the theft of military property and financial means is almost half of all the legal violations of officers.  The quantity of cases of bribetaking, of forgery of duty positions, of appropriations, and expenditures has grown substantially.”

According to KZ, senior officers are more often the perpetrators.  In the last year, they committed more than half of all illegal acts.  In 2008, 20 generals and admirals were held criminally responsible, 1,611 officers, including 160 unit commanders, were found guilty.  Out of the 874 people held criminally responsible in 2009, 162 were commanders of units, 127 were colonels and captains 1st rank and 14 were general officers.  More than 270 people were convicted, including 3 generals.  In 2009, over 5,500 law violations were uncovered in this sphere over the course of prosecutor inspections.  The losses amount to 2 billion rubles.

The smaller officer corps–now 150,000 according to the Defense Ministry–and the possibility of dramatically higher pay for all officers by 2012 might reduce officer crime and make those officers who are still part of the ‘new profile’ more honorable and ethical.