Tag Archives: Eastern MD

Situation Normal, Pretty Much

Shoygu addresses the Collegium

At the MOD Collegium on March 20, Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu pretty much acted like there’s not reason for concern.

With pandemic set to sweep across Russia (everywhere else too), Mr. Shoygu outlined the MOD plan to manage coronavirus. Most of his publicized remarks still focused on the country’s military security and the “increased presence” of U.S. forces, ships, and planes on Russia’s borders.

Shoygu claimed no COVID-19 cases in the Russian Army. The MOD has stopped sending “military delegations” abroad and it won’t host foreign officers. He mentioned vague plans to keep Russian troops close to their garrisons.

Russia’s spring draft won’t be postponed. It will begin as normal on April 1 and end July 15. Conscripts will be tested for coronavirus before they go to their units, and “isolated” during their first two weeks there.

How about testing young men before they answer the summons at the military commissariat? The draft is good news for men being demobbed. Not so good for their replacements.

Recall the Russian Army is a place where barracks and units have been decimated by illness in the recent past. Sixty percent of disease there is respiratory (as is COVID-19). The MOD’s medical establishment is often corrupt and probably just average on its best day.

So much for health security . . . . The Collegium turned to the 2020 plan of activity for the Southern and Eastern Military Districts. After describing U.S. efforts to dominate Russia’s “south-west strategic direction” and the Black Sea, Shoygu said the Southern MD got 1,200 new and modernized weapons and equipment in 2019, and will get nearly three times that many in 2020.

The Defense Minister said the Southern MD will stand up a motorized rifle division and two “missile troops and artillery” brigades. Perhaps the Russians will upgrade one of the Stavropol-based 49th CAA brigades to division status. 

“Missile troops and artillery” is the formal name for the artillery branch of the Ground Troops. It seems likely one artillery brigade will be established at the district level and another for the 8th CAA. 

After detailing U.S. striving to control the Asia-Pacific region as well as Russia’s Sakhalin and Primorye “operational directions,” Shoygu indicated the Eastern MD got 1,300 major items of equipment in 2019, and will get 1,350 including 502 new ones (so 848 modernized) this year.

He said the Eastern MD will get motorized rifle and tank regiments (probably just one of each) in Primorye. They will likely round out the 5th CAA’s 127th MRD, created recently out of the 59th MRB.

127th MRD at Sergeyevka

127th MRD at Sergeyevka

Shoygu also said the Eastern MD will participate in nine international training events in 2020. The MOD also remains adamant that the 75th Victory Day celebration will go on no matter what. Not sure how that squares with health security. Sounds like mixed messaging by the MOD.

Non-TO&E Reconnaissance Troops

LPR-4 laser rangefinder made by the Kazan Optical-Mechanical Plant

LPR-4 laser rangefinder made by the Kazan Optical-Mechanical Plant

Russian news agency TASS noted yesterday that the Eastern MD’s 35th Combined Arms Army will train several hundred soldiers to serve as scouts in addition to their usual duties.

This ADDU training will occur during the balance of July in 35th CAA motorized rifle sub-units (battalion and below). Between 800 and 1,000 troops will learn to serve literally as “non-TO&E reconnaissance men-observers.” In English and U.S. Army parlance, perhaps scouts is close.

In a 10-day course, trainees will learn the “rules” of conducting reconnaissance, how to choose terrain, and to establish an observation post. Experienced “reconnaissance men” will teach them to detect minute changes in the situation, hide listening devices, and recognize “telltale signs” of targets day or night. Separate lessons will be dedicated to aerial recon, observation on the move, and camouflage, concealment, and deception (CC&D) measures.

The new scouts will learn to employ night vision and other optical equipment including LPR-5 laser rangefinders.

The scout-trainees will broaden their military qualifications, and they could conduct reconnaissance in cases when TO&E “recon men” aren’t attached to their forces.

The Eastern MD spokesman said the scout training is the result of the growing role of reconnaissance in recent military conflicts.

In some respects, the Eastern MD is the Russian “poor man’s district.” It doesn’t sit opposite Moscow’s major concerns — NATO, militant Islam, and Central Asia. It faces China (the threat “which must not be named”). 

At times, it seems the Eastern MD gets fewer real resources. The Kremlin has already fielded full-fledged independent reconnaissance brigades — the 96th in the Western MD’s 1st Tank Army, the 100th in the Southern MD’s 58th CAA, and the 127th in the BSF (Crimea). The Eastern MD doesn’t merit one apparently, and will have to get along with ADDU scouts at least for now.

Back in the day, Soviet divisions had a dedicated reconnaissance battalion, while armies had Spetsnaz battalions or companies.

It’s likely the requirement for more recon is another lesson the Russian military is taking from its intervention in Syria.

JO Shortage

Russia’s Eastern Military District (MD) is apparently experiencing a junior officer shortage.

The district headquarters in Khabarovsk announced this week that 227 of its contractees are set to receive lieutenant’s shoulderboards in the near future.

Eastern MD Contractees in Basic Training

Eastern MD Contractees in Basic Training

The Russian MOD site indicated that these contractees already have a higher education, and 39 have a military specialization.  Apparently, they will start serving immediately as junior officers.  The other 188 have been enrolled in military training establishments (VUZy) for an unspecified period.

Another 85 will soon be sent off for similar training.  The MD is already selecting well-prepared contract servicemen who have a higher education.

The district also intends to send representatives from its personnel directorate and military commissariats to western and central Russia to recruit individuals to serve as officers in the Eastern MD.

The MOD site reminded readers that, in May, MD commander General-Colonel Sergey Surovikin said the district needed to find officers “who were forced to resign during the optimization of the structure and size of the Russian Army” as well as contract servicemen with higher education who want to be officers.

The “optimization” of course was that of former defense minister Anatoliy Serdyukov.  His effort to cut bloat in the officer ranks began in earnest in 2009. While focused mainly on senior officers, Serdyukov’s knife also slashed lieutenants and captains at the base of the TO&E pyramid.  At the time, commentators reported complaints from units saying they had trouble keeping order and fulfilling routine requirements due to a lack of platoon and company commanders.

In some sense, the news about a JO shortage is surprising given that each spring the MOD gushes about young lieutenants graduating from VUZy and taking up their responsibilities in the nation’s far-flung armed forces.  It also brags about stiff competition to enter those VUZy every year. 

In another, it isn’t surprising.  Serving in the military in Russia’s harsh and underpopulated Far East is no more popular than living there for other reasons.  It’s a hardship post with little attraction for 22-year-old.

Lastly, each contractee taken to become an officer means another enlisted soldier has to be signed up for the Eastern MD.  And that’s a more difficult sell.  One is left wondering if the recruitment of contract servicemen for the Far East isn’t going so well either.

Sufficient numbers of young Russian men are just getting harder to find.  It’s hard to get them to go where the military thinks they’re needed.  Meanwhile, Moscow is trying to expand its force structure. And the very bottom of Russia’s demographic hole won’t be reached until 2018. 

Another Readiness Ex

Putin and Shoygu (photo: mil.ru)

Putin and Shoygu (photo: mil.ru)

President and Glavk Vladimir Putin ordered Defense Minister Shoygu to conduct another readiness exercise yesterday.  This time in the Eastern MD, to include the Pacific Fleet.

Putin hinted he might show up in the Far East to watch.

The Supreme CINC directed that particular attention should be paid to transferring large masses of troops to assembly points, to transportation support, and to logistical and medical support.

Putin ordered Shoygu to:

“Also conduct all necessary measures relative to rescue at sea and the rescue of transportation means, including the submarine fleet.”

Apparently, the Glavk’s bitter (but important) memory of August 12, 2000 is jogged at this time of year.

He said he regards this year’s readiness checks as highly effective and extremely useful in eliminating problems.

Today Mil.ru indicated the exercise has started, and expanded a bit.  It includes not only the Eastern MD and Pacific Fleet, but the Central MD, LRA, and VTA.

The “formations and units of the Central MD’s Novosibirsk large formation” (i.e. the 41st CAA) will play a notional enemy role.

The ex aims to evaluate sub-units’ readiness to fulfill designated missions, the skill level of personnel, technical readiness, and proper outfitting with weapons and equipment.

As in others, the readiness ex will feature marches (convoys) to unfamiliar ranges far from permanent bases for two-sided tactical play with combat firings.

It will test the operational mobility of a formation (brigade) to a distance of more than 3,000 km.  Troops will move by rail, ship, and VTA.  More than 80,000 personnel, 1,000 tank and armored vehicles, 130 aircraft, and 70 ships will participate.  The drill concludes on 20 July.

Mil.ru also covered a high command videocon devoted to the ex.  Shoygu said up to 160,000 troops might be involved in one way or another.

Their Man in Pyongyang

Admiral Sidenko

Eastern MD Commander, Admiral Konstantin Sidenko suddenly became the Kremlin’s man in Pyongyang yesterday.  His visit to North Korea was kept tightly wrapped until his departure.

Sidenko will visit the DPRK from August 22-26, while North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is in Russia’s Far East to meet President Medvedev.

Moscow’s once close military relationship with the DPRK declined to practically zero over the past 20 years, hence the surprise of yesterday’s news.  Meanwhile, Russia cultivated military-to-military ties with the rest of northeast Asia — China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea — leaving its old ally in the cold.  Until yesterday.

The Defense Ministry’s press release says Admiral Sidenko will meet command representatives from the Korean People’s Army, and consult on questions of renewing and further developing military and naval cooperation, possibly conducting Russian-Korean humanitarian exercises, and mutual ship visits between the RF and DPRK navies.

Additionally, according to the press release, the sides will discuss the future of cooperation between their Ground Troops, the possibility of conducting joint exercises and training for naval SAR, and also the issue of providing assistance to civilians during natural disasters.

The Russian media has written little thus far on what it means to have a military delegation visit the North Korean capital.  However, AP asked Aleksandr Golts for comments, and this is how the wire service summarized them:

“Military expert Alexander Golts said North Korea’s goal in inviting the Russian military could be to assuage fears of instability as Russia is considering building a natural gas pipeline through North Korea.  The pipeline is expected to be one of the main topics of Kim and Medvedev’s talks.”

“Golts said it was highly unlikely Russia would renew arms sales to North Korea, which would not be in its interests as a participant in the six-party talks.  He also noted the low level of the Russian delegation, which is led by the commander of Russia’s eastern military district.”

One might suppose it’s equally possible the North Koreans wanted the Russian military to visit Pyongyang as part of its quid pro quo for considering a gas pipeline over its territory to South Korea.

Arms sales seem unlikely, but probably because Moscow’s no longer in the game of providing free military aid. 

Admiral Sidenko is a lower level visitor, but it’s traditional for Moscow to send proximate regional commanders on such visits.  MD commanders can be precursors to General Staff Chiefs and Defense Ministers, and higher-profile military relations generally.

It’s almost impossible to know when the DPRK is involved, but this first interaction in nearly ten years automatically means something’s afoot.  The participants themselves probably don’t know where a bit of diplomatic, economic, and military activity will lead.

Galkin Promoted

A thing rare in recent times was announced today . . . the promotion of a general officer.  In this case, Southern MD Commander, General-Lieutenant Aleksandr Galkin picked up his third star. 

President Medvedev’s decree on General-Colonel Galkin was dated June 11, according to RIA Novosti.

Large, well-publicized general officer promotion ceremonies used to be the norm, but no longer. 

Recall one of Defense Minister Serdyukov’s objectives was turning the “bloated egg” of the officer corps into a pyramid.  As part of this, he planned to trim 1,100 generals to 900. 

Of course, Serdyukov had to walk back part of his decision on cutting officers this year, but generally it’s clear that lots of O-6s now occupy billets once held by one-stars.  Army commanders routinely two-stars in the past now wear only one.  And MD commanders who typically wore three, have been wearing only two . . . at least until now. 

Galkin joins Western MD Commander, General-Colonel Arkadiy Bakhin at the three-star rank. 

Galkin’s promotion shows the team has to be rewarded for doing the heavy lifting of establishing the “new profile.”  Three-star rank also extends his statutory retirement to 60. 

Central MD Commander, General-Lieutenant Vladimir Chirkin and Eastern MD Commander, Vice-Admiral Konstantin Sidenko are both older than Galkin.  They are likely serving on extensions right now, and might be better candidates for retirement than promotion.  But another star can’t be ruled out.  In Chirkin’s case, the recent arsenal explosions in his AOR won’t help him.

Aleksandr Viktorovich Galkin is especially strongly linked to General Staff Chief, Army General Nikolay Makarov through his service in the former Siberian MD in the 2000s.  Bakhin and Chirkin are also “Siberians” with ties to Makarov.

Some details on Galkin:  He was born March 22, 1958 in Ordzhonikidze (now Vladikavkaz), North-Ossetian ASSR.  He graduated the Ordzhonikidze Higher Combined Arms Command School in 1979, and served in motorized rifle command posts up to chief of staff and deputy commander of a battalion in the GSFG.  He was a battalion commander in the Far East MD.  In 1990, he completed the Frunze Military Academy, and served as a motorized rifle regiment commander in the Transcaucasus, and chief of staff and deputy commander of a motorized rifle division in the Far East MD.  On completing the General Staff Academy in 2003, he served as deputy commander of the 41st Combined Arms Army (Novosibirsk), and chief of staff and first deputy commander of the 36th Combined Arms Army (Borzya).  In 2006-2007, he commanded the 41st.  In 2008, Galkin became deputy commander, then chief of staff and first deputy commander of the Siberian MD.  In early 2010, he became commander of the North Caucasus MD, and the renamed Southern MD early this year.

“New Profile” in Transbaykal

Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye’s Viktor Litovkin wrote recently about his Defenders’ Day press pool visit to the 212th District Training Center (OUTs or ОУЦ) in Peschanka, and to the 29th Combined Arms Army in Chita.  Formerly part of the Siberian MD, they’re now in the Eastern MD or OSK East.  Litovkin set out to see how the military’s “new profile” has been implemented in the four years since he last traveled to Transbaykal.

Litovkin said the army’s future “junior specialists,” i.e. better trained conscript sergeants, aren’t just using simulators, and there’s lots of live action on OUTs ranges and training grounds.

Simulators at Peschanka (photo: V. Litovkin)

The majority of trainees were in training for a minimum of 8 hours a day, not including individual training and PT time.

OUTs Chief, General-Major Sergey Sudakov is new himself, but says much has changed at the center.  He says they’ve gotten new simulators, training buildings and barracks have been renovated, and the mess hall’s been outsourced so conscript-trainees no longer have to pull KP.

Four years ago, the Siberian MD listed 5,970 personnel without housing, but now only 120.  Those without apartments have been taken off the local books, and all their data’s been sent to the Defense Ministry’s Housing Support Department in Moscow. 

Now, however, there are rasporyazhentsy (распоряженцы), those officers, warrants, or sergeants at their commanders’ disposition, in all, more than 200 waiting for permanent apartments outside Transbaykal.  But only 2-3 per month are getting a “letter of happiness” from Moscow saying they’ve been allocated housing, and, in many cases, it’s not in the location they wanted.

The rasporyazhentsy were once commanders and chiefs but now they muster every morning to get orders from their former subordinates.  They don’t get anything serious to do.  They pull assistant duty officer for a unit once a week, or carry out a major’s orders for less than half their old pay.

Medic Senior Sergeant Zhanna Litvinenko is a rasporyazhenitsa who’s waited two years for an apartment in Rostov-na-Donu or Krasnodar Kray.  While waiting to return to “mainland” Russia, she lives on “bare pay,” without supplements, of 16,900 rubles, of which 3,200 pays for her dorm room.

Litovkin visited the officers’ dormitory to see what’s changed since 2007.  He describes familiar noisy corridors with common toilets, showers, and kitchens for officers and their families.  The building’s been renovated, old wooden window frames and the boiler have been replaced, kitchens updated, and showers divided so men and women don’t have to use them on alternating days.

One Captain Rinat Abubekirov and his wife say the load on officers has grown sharply now that there are fewer of them.  The tank training regiment had 140 officers previously, now 98, in a company, there were 7, now 5, and the number of additional duties is unchanged.  A company commander is now a captain, rather than a major as in the past.  Abubekirov has been an O-3 for five years, and no one can tell him when he might make O-4.

Litvinenko and the Abubekirovs in the Officers' Dorm (photo: V. Litovkin)

Training their conscript charges has changed.  Instead of six months, they now have three to do it.  The trainees’ education level varies greatly now — from higher education to some who didn’t finish high school.  Many conscripts arrived in poor health, and the severe Transbaykal winter doesn’t help either.  Minus forty isn’t rare, and -30° (-22° F) is the norm.  They are just not physically or psychologically prepared.  Nevertheless, OUTs Commander Sudakov says fewer are sick this winter than last.

Then, Litovkin turns to the Chita-based 29th Combined Arms Army commanded by General-Major Aleksandr Romanchuk, where the NVO editor says he sees “solid changes.”  All its units are fully manned and permanently combat ready.  In what’s become a fairly common refrain, Romanchuk believes his army’s combat potential exceeds that of its predecessor [the Siberian MD]. He said he and his deputy spent a month at the General Staff Academy learning the new automated command and control system.  He said his best subordinates can earn 100,000 rubles per month in bonuses.

Litovkin says there are questions about the introduction of new equipment in Romanchuk’s command.  It would be good if its tanks and combat vehicles could be replaced quicker.  There are no UAVs or PGMs.  The army relies on T-72B1, BMP-2, Strela-10 and towed air defense guns, and self-propelled Akatsiya and Msta-B artillery.

Litovkin concludes that, while no one believes Mongolia or China will threaten Russia’s borders today or tomorrow, this army needs to train in a real way, with equipment from the 21st century, not the last one.

But this, he continues, is not even the greatest problem.  He was told at every level that it’s simply not possible to make yesterday’s schoolboy into a good specialist in a year.  The commander of the 29th CAA’s 200th Artillery Brigade, Colonel Dmitriy Kozlovskiy, told Litovkin this spring he’ll lose 70 percent of his personnel.  New gun commanders, gunners, radiomen, and reconnaissance, topographic, and meteorological specialists will arrive and in less than a month they’ll need to work like crews, platoons, and batteries, like a unified combat mechanism.  They will learn and leave the army, and the process will begin again.

Sounds like a Russian O-6’s plea for professional enlisted and NCOs . . . .

Litovkin finishes with a story from Romanchuk.  He tells of a tank gunner conscript who hit his target [a 1 — an excellent in Russian training terms] on his 39th day of service.  He said he just did everything as he was taught, and as he did on the simulators.  In times past, according to Romanchuk, tank gunners got to fire live rounds only after serving six months, and this guy scored a 1 on his 39th day.  But Litovkin asked how his buddies did.  Romanchuk answered 2s and 3s.

More Appointments, Dismissals, Etc.

Yesterday’s decree on military appointments, dismissals, etc., is extremely long.  It’s part of the process of redistributing staff personnel from 6 into 4 MDs.  The Southern and Eastern MD staffs, in particular, get fleshed out by it.  The outline of the new MD staff structure becomes visible with these changes.  And the breadth and depth of the rotation and change in personnel pretty much assures it’ll take a while for the commands of the new MDs to operate smoothly.

There are other individual notable points in this list.  There’s now a Main Combat Training Directorate (GUBP or ГУБП) inside the Ground Troops, instead of a directorate.  Maybe this is part of replacing the Defense Ministry-level GUBP.  The MDs have their own troop training directorates . . . it’s interesting that the 3rd Air-Space (i.e. Aerospace) Defense Brigade is subordinate to the Baltic Fleet rather than the Western MD . . . a 49th Army has popped up in the Southern MD . . . Ryadovoy.ru says it’s headquartered in the former RVSN communications institute in Stavropol . . . Air Defense Chiefs renamed Chiefs of Air Defense Troops and Aviation.

Here’s what the 9 January decree does.

Appoint:

  • Captain 1st Rank Ildar Ferdinandovich Akhmerov, Deputy Commander, Primorskiy Mixed Forces Flotilla, Pacific Fleet.
  • General-Major Vladimir Vladimirovich Derkach, Chief of Staff, First Deputy Commander, Space Troops, relieved of duty as Deputy Commander, Space Troops.
  • Colonel Sergey Borisovich Ryzhkov, Commander, 39th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade, Eastern MD.
  • General-Lieutenant Nikolay Vasilyevich Bogdanovskiy, Deputy CINC, Ground Troops, Chief, Main Combat Training Directorate, Ground Troops, relieved of duty as Commander, Leningrad MD.
  • Colonel Yuriy Aleksandrovich Popov, Commander, 3rd Air-Space Defense Brigade, Baltic Fleet.
  • General-Major Viktor Borisovich Astapov, Chief of Staff, First Deputy Commander, 49th Army, relieved of duty as Deputy Commander, 41st Army.
  • General-Major Sergey Sergeyevich Bashkin, Chief, Air Defense Troops and Aviation, Southern MD, relieved of duty as Chief, Air Defense Troops, North Caucasus MD.
  • Captain 1st Rank Oleg Georgiyevich Gurinov, Chief, Naval Directorate, Southern MD.
  • Colonel Igor Vladimirovich Dashko, Chief of Reconnaissance, Deputy Chief of Staff for Reconnaissance, Southern MD, relieved of duty as Chief of Reconnaissance, Deputy Chief of Staff for Reconnaissance, North Caucasus MD.
  • Colonel Igor Mikhaylovich Yemelyanov, Chief, Radiological, Chemical and Biological Defense (РХБЗ) Troops, Southern MD, relieved of duty as Chief, Radiological, Chemical and Biological Defense Troops, North Caucasus MD.
  • Colonel Igor Gennadyevich Kovalenko, Deputy Chief of Staff, Southern MD.
  • General-Major Andrey Anatolyevich Kozlov, Chief, Railroad Troops Directorate, Southern MD, relieved of duty as Commander, 7th Territorial Command, Railroad Troops.
  • General-Major Andrey Nikolayevich Kolesov, Chief, Organization-Mobilization Directorate, Deputy Chief of Staff for Organization-Mobilization Work, Southern MD, relieved of duty as Chief, Organization-Mobilization Directorate, Deputy Chief of Staff for Organization-Mobilization Work, North Caucasus MD.
  • General-Major Sergey Vasilyevich Kuralenko, Commander, 49th Army, relieved of duty as Chief of Staff, First Deputy Commander, 5th Army.
  • Colonel Aleksey Pavlovich Lemyakin, Chief, Material-Technical Support Planning and Coordination Directorate, Southern MD, relieved of duty as Chief of Rear Services, Deputy Commander for Rear Services,  2nd Army.
  • Colonel Oleg Gennadyevich Maltsev, Chief, Automotive Service, Southern MD, relieved of duty as Chief, Automotive Service, North Caucasus MD.
  • Colonel Mikhail Yevgenyevich Mizintsev, Chief, Operational Directorate, Deputy Chief of Staff, Southern MD, relieved of duty as Chief, Operational Directorate, Deputy Chief of Staff, North Caucasus MD.
  • Colonel Sergey Mikhaylovich Panevchik, Chief, Personnel Directorate, Southern MD, relieved of duty as Chief, Personnel Directorate, North Caucasus MD.
  • General-Major Fraiz Fazlyakhmetovich Salyyev, Chief, Technical Support Directorate, Southern MD, relieved of duty as Chief of Staff, Armament, First Deputy Chief of Armaments, North Caucasus MD.
  • General-Major Vladimir Vladimirovich Samoylov, Deputy Commander, 49th Army.
  • General-Major Oleg Yuryevich Torgashev, Chief, Troop Training Directorate, Southern MD, relieved of duty as  Chief, Combat Training Directorate, Moscow MD.
  • Colonel Oleg Viktorovich Chernyavskiy, Chief, Armor Service, Southern MD, relieved of duty as Chief, Armaments, Deputy Commander for Armaments, 5th Army.
  • General-Major Aleksandr Nikolayevich Shvetsov, Deputy Commander for Material-Technical Support, Southern MD, relieved of duty as Chief, Rear Services, Deputy Commander for Rear Services, Leningrad MD.
  • Colonel Stepan Stepanovich Yaroshchuk, Chief, Missile Troops and Artillery, Southern MD.
  • Colonel Sergey Anatolyevich Bakaneyev, Chief, Missile Troops and Artillery, Eastern MD, relieved of duty as Commander, 39th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade, Far East MD.
  • Rear-Admiral Yuriy Yuryevich Berdnikov, Chief, Naval Directorate, Eastern MD, relieved of duty as Deputy Commander, Troops and Forces in the North-East.
  • Rear-Admiral Vladimir Nikolayevich Vdovenko, Deputy Commander, Troops and Forces in the North-East.
  • Colonel Andrey Aleksandrovich Volkov, Chief, Radiological, Chemical and Biological Defense Troops, Eastern MD, relieved of duty as Chief, Radiological, Chemical and Biological Defense Troops, Siberian MD.
  • Colonel Vladimir Andreyevich Voropayev, Deputy Chief, Main Communications Directorate, RF Armed Forces, relieved of duty as Chief of Communications, Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications, Volga-Ural MD.
  • Colonel Aleksandr Vladimirovich Glushchenko, Chief, Automotive Service, Eastern MD, relieved of duty as Chief, Automotive Service, Far East MD.
  • General-Major Vladimir Vladimirovich Gorodnichiy, Deputy Commander for Material-Technical Support, Eastern MD, relieved of duty as Chief, Armaments, Deputy Commander for Armaments, Siberian MD.
  • General-Major Aleksandr Vladimirovich Dvornikov, Deputy Commander, Eastern MD, relieved of duty as Commander, 5th Army.
  • Colonel Sergey Anatolyevich Dolotin, Deputy Commander for Personnel Work, Chief, Personnel Work Directorate, Eastern MD, relieved of duty as Deputy Commander for Socialization Work, Far East MD.
  • Colonel Sergey Romanovich Yeger, Chief, Railroad Troops Directorate, Eastern MD.
  • General-Major Sergey Aleksandrovich Zhmurin, Chief, Air Defense Troops and Aviation, Eastern MD, relieved of duty as Deputy Chief for Training and Scientific Work, Military Academy of Troop Air Defense, RF Armed Forces.
  • General-Major Andrey Nikolayevich Serdyukov, Commander, 5th Army, relieved of duty as Deputy Commander, 5th Army.
  • General-Major Konstantin Georgiyevich Kastornov, Deputy Commander, 5th Army, relieved of duty as Commander, 70th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade.
  • Captain 1st Rank Valeriya Pavlovich Kostin, Chief, Personnel Directorate, Eastern MD, relieved of duty as Chief, Personnel Directorate, Pacific Fleet.
  • Colonel Aleksey Vladimirovich Ostrovskiy, Commander, 70th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade.
  • General-Major Aleksandr Vasilyevich Peryazev, Chief, Troop Training Directorate, Eastern MD, relieved of duty as Chief, Combat Training Directorate, Far East MD.
  • Colonel Pavel Vladimirovich Petrunin, Chief of Reconnaissance, Deputy Chief of Staff for Reconnaissance, Eastern MD.
  • Colonel Yevgeniy Valentinovich Poplavskiy, Chief of Staff, First Deputy Commander, 29th Army, relieved of duty as Chief, Operational Directorate, Deputy Chief of Staff, Volga-Ural MD.
  • General-Major Aleksandr Vladimirovich Romanchuk, Commander, 29th Army, relieved of duty as Chief of Staff, First Deputy Commander, 41st Army.
  • Colonel Vladimir Petrovich Ryzhkovich, Chief, Technical Support Directorate, Eastern MD, relieved of duty as Chief, Armaments, Deputy Commander for Armaments, 36th Army.
  • Colonel Konstantin Yevgenyevich Smeshko, Chief, Engineering Troops, Eastern MD, relieved of duty as Chief, Engineering Troops, Far East MD.
  • Colonel Valeriy Mikhaylovich Timoshenko, Chief, Armor Service, Eastern MD, relieved of duty as Chief, Armor Service, Far East MD.
  • Colonel Vladimir Viktorovich Trishunkin, Chief, Material-Technical Support Planning and Coordination Directorate, Eastern MD, relieved of duty as Chief of Staff, First Deputy Chief of Rear Services, Far East MD.
  • General-Major Sergey Valeryevich Chebotarev, Deputy Commander, 29th Army, relieved of duty as Commander, 7th Military Base, North Caucasus MD.
  • Colonel Aleksey Yuryevich Avdeyev, Deputy Commander, 41st Army, relieved of duty as Chief, Organization-Mobilization Directorate, Deputy Chief of Staff for Organization-Mobilization Work, Siberian MD.
  • General-Major Vladimir Ivanovich Ashitok, Chief, Troop Training Directorate, Central MD, relieved of duty as Chief, Combat Training Directorate, Volga-Ural MD.
  • Colonel Oleg Anatolyevich Bragin, Chief, Railroad Troops Directorate, Central MD, relieved of duty as Commander, 5th Territorial Command, Railroad Troops.
  • Colonel Andrey Zaurovich Gagloyev, Chief, Engineering Troops, Central MD.
  • Colonel Aleksandr Albertovich Glushchenko, Chief, Missile Troops and Artillery, Central MD.
  • Colonel Oleg Vitalyevich Demyanenko, Chief of Communications, Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications, Central MD.
  • General-Major Sergey Yuryevich Istrakov, Deputy Commander, Central MD, relieved of duty as Deputy Commander, Siberian MD.
  • Colonel Oleg Valeryevich Karpov, Chief, Rear Support Directorate, Central MD.
  • Colonel Aleksandr Nikolayevich Logachev, Chief, Armor Service, Central MD, relieved of duty as Chief, Armor Service, Volga-Ural MD.
  • General-Major Aleksandr Ivanovich Nesterov, Chief, Personnel Directorate, Central MD, relieved of duty as Chief, Personnel Directorate, Volga-Ural MD.
  • Colonel Oleg Olegovich Polguyev, Chief of Reconnaissance, Deputy Chief of Staff for Reconnaissance, Central MD.
  • General-Major Yuriy Aleksandrovich Svintsov, Deputy Commander for Material-Technical Support, Central MD, relieved of duty as Chief of Rear Services, Deputy Commander for Rear Services, Volga-Ural MD.
  • Colonel Mikhail Vyacheslavovich Smyslov, Deputy Commander for Personnel Work, Chief, Personnel Work Directorate, Central MD, relieved of duty as Deputy Commander for Socialization Work, Siberian MD.
  • Colonel Igor Petrovich Sokorenko, Chief, Operational Directorate, Deputy Chief of Staff, Central MD.
  • Colonel Yevgeniy Nikolayevich Tuchkov, Chief, Air Defense Troops and Aviation, Central MD, relieved of duty as Chief, Air Defense Troops, Volga-Ural MD.
  • General-Major Sergey Viktorovich Khokh, Chief, Technical Support Directorate, Central MD, relieved of duty as Chief, Armaments, Deputy Commander for Armaments, 2nd Army.
  • General-Major Eduard Anatolyevich Cherkasov, Chief, Radiological, Chemical and Biological Defense Troops, Central MD, relieved of duty as Deputy Chief of Armaments, Ground Troops.
  • General-Major Sergey Anatolyevich Chuvakin, Deputy Chief of Staff, Central MD, relieved of duty as Deputy Chief of Staff, Volga-Ural MD.
  • Colonel Leonid Vladimirovich Chumakov, Chief, Material-Technical Support Planning and Coordination Directorate, Central MD, relieved of duty as Chief of Staff of Rear Services, First Deputy Chief of Rear Services, Volga-Ural MD.

Relieve of duty:

  • Colonel Vadim Vladimirovich Karpovich, Deputy Chief, Missile Troops and Artillery, RF Armed Forces.
  • Colonel Sergey Vladimirovich Bibik, Chief, Armor Service, Armaments Directorate, Moscow MD.
  • Colonel Andrey Aleksandrovich Mityushkin, Chief, Rear Services, Deputy Commander for Rear Services, Moscow MD.
  • Colonel Vladimir Levontyevich Zharov, Deputy Commander for Socialization Work, Moscow MD.
  • Colonel Stepan Aleksandrovich Vorontsov, Chief of Rear Services, Deputy Commander for Rear Services, 41st Army.
  • Colonel Viktor Viktorovich Tarayev, Chief, Armaments, Deputy Commander for Armaments, 41st Army.
  • Colonel Zabit Sabirovich Kheirbekov, Chief, Armaments, Deputy Commander for Armaments, 35th Army.

Relieve of duty and dismiss from military service:

  • General-Major Mikhail Gennadyevich Krasnov, Chief, Serpukhov Branch, Military Academy of the RVSN.
  • General-Major Sergey Leonidovich Melnikov, Chief, Economic, Finance and Accounting Directorate, RF Federal Service of Special Construction.
  • General-Lieutenant Aleksey Nikolayevich Nemkov, First Deputy Director, Federal Agency of Special Construction.

Dismiss from military service:

  • General-Major Igor Alekseyevich Fedotov.
  • General-Major Yuriy Alekseyevich Gusev.
  • General-Major Aleksandr Grigoryevich Bondarenko.
  • General-Major Andrey Stepanovich Konyukhov.

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.

Creating ‘New Profile’ Army Not Easy in Far East

A variety of press reports indicate establishing a ‘new profile’ army in the Far East is a difficult and increasingly protracted process.

On 7 September, ITAR-TASS said General Staff Chief, Army General Nikolay Makarov was in Chita to resolve a number of army problems.  The press service noted Makarov was accompanied by new Eastern Military District (MD) Commander, Vice-Admiral Konstantin Sidenko.

Specifically, Makarov was in eastern Siberia (now part of the Eastern MD) working on ‘military organizational development [строительство]’ – a Russian euphemism for TO&E changes and force restructuring – and development of base military towns and their social infrastructure.  In plain English, the General Staff Chief was in the Transbaykal sticks sorting out which units go into this or that brigade, or get disbanded, and how to provide housing and a modicum of other basic services for their soldiers, officers, and families.

But Makarov and Sidenko may have worse problems further east.

On 8 September, ITAR-TASS published a small, but significant report claiming that Khabarovsk Kray’s military garrisons and towns are not ready for winter.

Preparation for heating season in the majority of military buildings in Khabarovsk Kray is breaking down, according to the Kray’s emergency situations commission.  The poor state of preparation of communal infrastructure (i.e. boilers, coal supplies, steam pipes, etc.) and apartment blocks in Lazo, Bikin, and Vanino Rayons is alarming.

A Kray official said, “. . . supplies of winter fuel haven’t been established, boiler equipment hasn’t been repaired, facilities don’t have personnel.”  In Vanino, workers repairing a major boiler received layoff notices.  Days before the start of heating season, several boilers have been completely dismantled and there are no supplies of coal, according to the news agency.

 The emergency situations commission noted that:

“The Defense Ministry has begun transferring housing-communal servicing functions for its garrisons to private organizations, but this process has bogged down.”

The military’s Housing Management Directorate (KEU) representatives in the Far East didn’t deny the problems, but blamed them on a catastrophic lack of financing.  The military’s indebtedness to Far East communal services providers over the first 7 months of the year is 181.6 million rubles, and Khabarovsk Kray accounts for more than 88 million of this amount.

The first deputy chairman of the Khabarovsk Kray government has asked military prosecutors to intervene and force the army to prepare the region’s military towns and villages adequately and forestall emergency situations this winter.

All this comes on top of reports of similar problems last fall.  

Half of Russia’s 85 new army brigades had to move units and construct new barracks, housing, and other essential infrastructure for them, and this was proving especially difficult in the Far East. 

Almost a year ago, Vladivostok’s largest newspaper Zolotoy rog reported that officers in two newly organized brigades in the Far East were in danger of being stranded in ‘open fields,’ or field conditions, because they lacked materials and funding to prepare their garrisons.  However, the deputy commander of 5th Combined Arms Army assured the media that barracks and other buildings were being repaired for brigades at Barabash and Sibirtsevo.

Zolotoy rog reported that one battalion commander took out a private loan to repair barracks for his men.  Some officers who arrived at Barabash left after seeing the condition of their new garrison, and the brigade also had trouble keeping battalion commanders for the same reason.  The brigades reportedly turned to Primorskiy Kray’s governor for help.

So what are we to make of all this?

First, having Makarov travel out east to straighten up a mess is something of a no-confidence vote in new Eastern MD Commander Sidenko.  It’s a particularly inauspicious start since many eyes are on Sidenko to see how he performs as the first naval officer to lead this major ground-oriented command.

Second, Khabarovsk Kray had some pretty stark criticism for Defense Minister Serdyukov’s policy of privatizing logistics support functions for the army.  What might work in the new Western or Southern MDs may not work well in the remote reaches of the Eastern MD.

Third, this early warning of problems may be an attempt to prevent another ‘Steppe’ garrison crisis in Transbaykal this winter.  And the problems are not confined to active military garrisons.  Lots of remote former garrisons – with real living retirees – are caught in limbo between military and civilian municipal services.  Pereyaslavka’s problems last winter are just one case of this.  Pereyaslavka happens to be the administrative center of Lazo Rayon, cited this year as the scene of potential problems this winter.

So while the Defense Ministry and media focus almost exclusively on the attractive leading edge of the army’s ‘new profile,’ it pays to remember that Russian military reform has a large, messy trailing edge that’s found in places like Lazo, Bikin, Vanino, Barabash, Sibirtsevo, and Pereyaslavka.