Tag Archives: General Staff

Defense Ministry Reversal on Spetsnaz

The latest painful walk back started this week on the issue of returning just-moved Spetsnaz brigades from the Ground Troops to the General Staff’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), at least presumably. 

This is not a done deal, and it’s certainly not entirely clear Spetsnaz will go back to the GRU.  The special operations men might go back to the General Staff in some form separate and distinct from the GRU, and answering directly to the Genshtab.

Spetsnaz weren’t gone long enough for anyone to decide that giving them to the Ground Troops and MD / OSK commanders wasn’t a good idea in a military sense.  No, this sudden shift is most likely the product of bureaucratic and political infighting.  And it seems like a blow to those close to the Defense Minister, and, to some extent, to Anatoliy Serdyukov himself.

In all this, one recalls past rumors about carving up the GRU.  The FSB and SVR wanted its agent operations.  And the FSB and Ground Troops wanted its Spetsnaz as part of a large, unified special operations force.  Kvachkov and Popovskikh called for Spetsnaz to be its own separate service branch.

At any rate, the story’s details . . .

On Tuesday, Moskovskiy komsomolets reported that the Defense Ministry intends to return Spetsnaz brigades to Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) control just several months after giving them to the Ground Troops.  The idea of giving them to the army was recognized as a failure, according to the paper.

Spetsnaz officers at the time said it was a crazy idea that wouldn’t bring any positive results.  Just exactly whose concept it was is unknown to the public, but, according to MK, former Ground Troops Glavkom Army General Vladimir Boldyrev lobbied for the change to shore up his position after the five-day war with Georgia, and then-GRU Chief Valentin Korabelnikov wasn’t able to defend his Spetsnaz, and had to give them up.

MK implies the GRU focused on preserving its strategic intelligence operations [i.e. agent networks], and even leaders of its Spetsnaz directorate changed over to agent operations.  The “Senezh” Spetsnaz training center was taken from the GRU and subordinated to the General Staff.  According to MK, the Genshtab appointed former FSB Group A General Medoyev to head “Senezh.”  He was replaced within weeks by General Aleksandr Miroshnichenko, also a Group A or “Alpha” veteran. 

Your present author notes Medoyev’s replacement by Miroshnichenko was published in the presidential decree on military personnel from 26 October.  Medoyev was relieved and dismissed from the service by a decree from 1 October.  Both men were listed only as “assistant to the Defense Minister.”

A Genshtab source tells MK:

“The plan to transfer army Spetsnaz to the ground pounders was recognized as a failure.  For a year, no one managed them [the Spetsnaz], they left everything hanging.  Now on General Staff Chief Makarov’s desk there’s a document on their resubordination [to whom?].  It’s true it still isn’t signed.”

The same GRU Spetsnaz leaders who gave their brigades to the ground pounders are seeking a place in the new Spetsnaz leadership.  One can only imagine what the structure will become with these men participating in it.  A GRU source tells MK:

“Take, for example, General Russkov, whose service term expired long ago, he’s 57, but still in the ranks.  And, probably, not because he’s an outstanding military man.  How many promising young guys did they dismiss, but such “dinosaurs” are still serving.  And he’s the very one who provided the rationale for the intelligence directorate not needing Spetsnaz.  After all our brigades were resubordinated, he became an agent operator.  And his deputies and assistants, Colonels Mertvishchev, Shpilchin, and Sobol, who didn’t do anything to keep Spetsnaz in the GRU structure, are actively vying for the leadership of the new Genshtab structure which is being established.”

Argumenty nedeli’s less-nuanced version of the story followed MK’sArgumenty claims sending Spetsnaz back to the GRU will correct one of the biggest mistakes made by the Defense Ministry’s team of “effective managers.”  Its Genshtab source says the GRU might form a Special Operations Directorate [of course, the Genshtab might form its own instead].  The decision on moving Spetsnaz was made “at the very top,” and it weakens the position of Ground Troops Glavkom General-Colonel Aleksandr Postnikov.  Argumenty finishes its somewhat rambling version of the story by saying ex-FSB men – specifically “Senezh” Chief Miroshnichenko – will control the army Spetsnaz.

GUBP Retirees Against Reform

 A belated post-script to the Colonel Krasov, Seltsy, SDR flare-up against Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov and his reforms . . . .

On the first of this month, Life.ru reported that officers of the now-disbanded Main Directorate of Combat Training and Troop Service (ГУБП or GUBP for short) established a public organization to oppose military reform.

The organizing assembly occurred right after the directorate furled its standard (marking the unit’s dissolution) on 26 November.  Life.ru says 60 men attended.  This new, as yet unnamed organization is apparently seeking official registration.  It expects support from the LDPR faction in the Duma, and from large veterans organizations that have come out against reform.

Its executive secretary, Andrey Serdyuk, said:

“Ill-conceived reform has left the Russian Army without a central combat training methodology – that is, now no one knows what and how we teach soldiers and officers on the battlefield.  Nevertheless, we intend to conduct meetings and demonstrations like our colleagues from the Union of Airborne Troops.  We plan to achieve our goals in three ways – media appearances, organizing public monitoring over the course of reform, and cooperation with public veterans’ organizations.”

Retirees will be the backbone of this organization.  It won’t accept serving military men out of concern for their welfare.

A former chief of the main directorate, General-Colonel Aleksandr Skorodumov will head the group.  He retired in late 2004 after complaining publicly about personnel decisions and reorganizations that look minor compared with Serdyukov’s tenure.  He created a mini-scandal by saying the army had collapsed at that time.

Viktor Ozerov – Chairman of Federation Council’s Defense Committee and an uncritical functionary – admitted:

“There was and undoubtedly will be resistance to reform.  Remember when the General Staff apparatus was cut, how many dissatisfied people there were:  people occupied specific duties, had pay, and then they’re deprived of all this.  But in any instance, there are people standing behind every such decision and their legal rights should be guaranteed upon dismissal.”

Ozerov also said responsibility for combat training will go to the individual services and branches, and inter-service training will be supervised by the military districts / unified strategic commands (OSKs).

Serdyukov himself told the Defense Ministry’s official Public Council on Friday that combat training will be the purview of services, armies, and brigades, and operational training will be under the Genshtab, MDs, and brigades (but apparently not armies?).

The GUBP’s fate was decided in June and sealed in September.  See Moskovskiy komsomolets, Argumenty.ru, and Gazeta.ru for more.  They claim former Moscow MD Commander, General-Colonel Valeriy Gerasimov – newly retooled as a deputy chief of the General Staff – will oversee inter-service training for the Genshtab.  And, by 1 February, a new Directorate of Troop Service and Military Service Security will stand up.  This will actually be a new / old directorate.  It existed several years ago and supervised safety issues, and grappled with crime and dedovshchina among the troops. 

MK presented two opposing opinions on GUBP’s fate. 

Leonid Ivashov said:

“The most experienced officers and generals serve in the GUBP, they develop and monitor combat training.  The Genshtab has several other functions – strategic ones.  No one there will take evaluation trips to far-off garrisons.  Especially since the Genstab’s combat training directorate will be a very truncated version.  Its elimination means our troops won’t be prepared for combat actions.

A Genshtab source gave this view:

“This is simply the latest course of reform which we have going on.  The information about the GUBP’s elimination appeared long ago.  The directorate has a highly inflated number of personnel, and its work has been evaluated as, to put it mildly, ineffective.  No new methods, no training ground equipment, no simulators in recent decades.

A Thoroughly Modern CINC

You have to like Air Forces CINC, General-Colonel Aleksandr Zelin. 

He’s open and candid about what Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov’s ‘new profile’ reforms mean for him and his service.  He’s talked earlier, more often, and longer about it than his Ground Troops or Navy counterparts.  He’s matter of fact and accepting of the entire process. 

Serdyukov’s changes turned General-Colonel into a trainer and force provider, and he nonchalantly admits as much. 

At 57, Zelin understands he can be replaced at any time, or allowed to serve three more years or even longer. 

If he were a tad younger, he would have been the right kind of general to command one of the new military districts / unified strategic commands (OSK / ОСК), say the Western or Central.  An air or air defense officer would have been just the right choice for a potential future war on those axes.  Instead, the Kremlin has three Ground Troops generals and one admiral (a step in the right direction).  It’s hard to argue against Ground Troops leadership in Russia’s restive south.  But Air Forces (VVS or ВВС) would have been a really good choice in the Western or Central Military Districts . . . a missed opportunity for now.

But back to Zelin.  On Tuesday, he addressed a foreign military attaché audience (and the Russian media) about the future of the VVS.

According to Gzt.ru, Zelin said the VVS will be reduced by a third and spread among the four new  OSKs.  And its Main Command (Glavkomat) will be responsible only for combat training.  The OSKs are in charge of employing the VVS in their theaters.

The VVS now consist of the Glavkomat, 7 operational commands, 7 first-rank air bases, 8 second-rank air bases, and 13 aerospace defense (VKO) brigades.  Before the ‘new profile,’ the Air Forces consisted of 72 regiments, 14 air bases, and 12 independent squadrons and detachments, with a third more aircraft than the VVS now have.

Four of today’s 7 operational commands are subordinate to the new OSKs.  Army Aviation also falls under them.

According to Zelin, in the future, the VVS Main Command (Glavkomat or Главкомат) could become a “branch department” of the General Staff responsible for the combat training of the Air Forces and Air Defense, while the OSKs employ the trained forces.

Zelin says VVS personnel will number 170,000 with 40,000 officers, nearly 30,000 sergeants, and the balance conscripts or civilian specialists.  He says today’s personnel training system doesn’t satisfy him, and so he’ll probably change the system of flight schools.  Only four remain today.  Voronezh will be the main training center.  Flight training will also be conducted in Krasnodar and Lipetsk.  Yaroslavl will remain home to air defense officer training.

According to the CINC, the VVS airfield network won’t change.  Base airfields will be first priority for reconstruction and modernization.  Zelin says civilian airfields could be used for operational purposes in the future.

He noted the VVS plans to go to a fully automated command and control system in the future, and, of course, develop its VKO forces.

Lenta.ua quoted Zelin’s remarks to Interfaks.  Zelin said the VVS will renew 30 percent of its inventory by 2015, and 100 percent new in some areas and 80 percent new overall by 2020.  He doesn’t say where the VVS are today in this regard, but recall Defense Minister Serdyukov has said only 10 percent of equipment in the Armed Forces is modern.

Zelin said the VVS will get new aircraft, air defense, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare systems, but modernization of some existing systems is still part of the plan.  Although the State Armaments Program 2011-2020 and its 19 or 20 trillion rubles have to be finalized, Zelin repeated that 10 T-50 (PAK FA) will be acquired in 2013-2015, and 60 more from 2016.  He mentioned Military-Transport Aviation (VTA or ВТА) is a priority – including the An-124 Ruslan, Il-112, Il-476, Il-76M, and An-70 – but he doesn’t venture any numbers or dates for new production.  Zelin does give a target of 400 new and modernized helicopters in the inventory by 2015.

Who knows what was or wasn’t covered in these media contacts, but it seems odd there’s still no mention of more S-400 deliveries.  Zelin was still talking about getting 5-6 more battalions in 2010 earlier this year.  But no sign of them.  It’ll be a big deal when or if they appear.  Also, no mention of S-500 development.

Goodbye GRU Spetsnaz, Hello Army Spetsnaz

Writing in last Friday’s Stoletiye.ru, Rossiyskaya gazeta correspondent Sergey Ptichkin says that, practically on its 60th anniversary, GRU Spetsnaz have landed in a most unexpected place – the Ground Troops.  His piece is full of bitter sarcasm.

Ptichkin concludes:

“The GRU Spetsnaz brigades have transferred into the Ground Troops structure.  Several units have disbanded altogether.  Ranks for duties have been lowered.  Now a senior lieutenant will command a reconnaissance group, and that’s the ceiling.  All warrant officers have been dismissed – there’s no longer such a rank in the army.  And it’s strange that professional sergeants haven’t magically appeared in place of full-grown warrants.  The issue of halting parachute training for reconnaissance men is on the agenda.  Really, why parachutes if they’ve become ‘pure infantrymen?’  They can deliver them to any rebellious village in the mountains or forests on trains or in KamAZes.”

According to Ptichkin, professional Spetsnaz believe:

“. . . it’s simply impossible to train an eighteen-year-old boy into a genuine reconnaissance man-saboteur in one year.  In Afghanistan, Spetsnaz soldiers were sent out only after a year of intensive combat training.  That is real service, when a professional military reconnaissance man was born even at the very lowest level, began a year after callup, but now they’re dismissed into the reserves where they forget everything they learned after a few months.”

Ptichkin recalls the GRU Spetsnaz’ anniversary ten years ago.  Even though their relations with the Spetsnaz were tense, the Defense Minister and General Staff Chief came and paid their respects.

But this year:

“Neither the Defense Minister, nor the Chief of the General Staff, not even their current chief – the Ground Troops CINC came.”

“Many veterans and even serving officers consider this day a quiet farewell to the GRU Spetsnaz, born 60 years ago.  It’s possible something more mobile, combat ready, and effective will take its place.”

So he’s thrown Putin and Medvedev’s own description of the kind of army they want back at them.  Of course, the Spetsnaz have always considered themselves the ultimate fighting force.

Ptichkin says the Defense Minister didn’t even issue a traditional order of recognition for the day of Spetsnaz troops.

“There is still the symbol of military reconnaissance – the bat [literally, ‘flying mouse’].  But very soon it’ll be possible to boldly replace this silent night hunter on the emblem with a grey field mouse.  A sweet and inoffensive ground-pounder.”

ITAR-TASS’ coverage of the Spetsnaz anniversary also clearly identified them as subordinate to the Ground Troops, CINC General-Colonel Aleksandr Postnikov, and his Chief of Reconnaissance, Deputy Chief of Staff for Reconnaissance, Colonel Vladimir Mardusin.

The press service said Mardusin indicated that:

“. . . at present, army Spetsnaz are organized in independent brigades of special designation, which exist in every military district, and battalions in several combined arms formations of the Southern Military District.  Within the formation of the new profile of the armed forces, independent brigades of special designation were transferred to the Ground Troops and are in direct subordination to military district commanders / unified strategic commands.”

Izvestiya’s Dmitriy Litovkin predicted the GRU Spetsnaz’ transfer from the General Staff’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) to the Ground Troops last November on the day of military intelligence (6 November).  This was after the 67th, 12th, and 3rd Spetsnaz brigades were disbanded, and even the 16th was in danger of the same.

Igor Korotchenko told Litovkin:

“It’s possible to judge what’s happening in the GRU only through open information.  For example, one of the results of the reform is taking the force component from the GRU and resubordinating Spetsnaz to the military district commanders.  Only space, radioelectronic, and agent reconnaissance, and also the analytic service remain in today’s ‘Aquarium.’”

Just a reminder, this would mean they were taken even before the six old MDs were reformed into 4 MDs / OSKs.  The poor performance of the GRU generally and the Spetsnaz specifically in the 2008 Georgian conflict may have provided impetus for the change.  Litovkin and others have reported that the GRU and Spetsnaz received an ‘unsatisfactory’ for their efforts in that brief war.   Meanwhile, subordinating Spetsnaz to warfighting MD CINCs on different strategic directions would seem to make sense, the angst of the GRU, its officers, and veterans notwithstanding.

We should, however, get back to the original Ptichkin article.  It has a lot of interesting stuff you might want to peruse.  Some is hyperbolic though, so take it with a grain of salt . . .

He describes all details of their formation from 24 October 1950.  The Spetsnaz were subordinate to the General Staff (GRU) because they were first and foremost strategic, and strategic nuclear, warfighting assets designed to disrupt U.S. and NATO capabilities – nuclear weapons, logistics, transport, communications, etc. – in deep rear areas, including even North America.

And, according to Ptichkin, they were supermen capable of singly accomplishing missions not even combined arms sub-units could handle.  And the Spetsnaz were more secret than Soviet nuclear weapons; not even all generals or marshals knew about more than their general outlines.

Everything changed with Afghanistan and glasnost.  Every power structure wanted its own special forces.  And the GRU Spetsnaz were thrust into the forefront of a war they weren’t created for.  But through the skill of their commanders they adapted and were successful.  Ptichkin claims a single Spetsnaz detachment could pacify an entire province.  And, according to him, if the Spetsnaz had been unleashed fully, the Afghan war would have been won and the country under Soviet control by the mid-1980s.

He says Tajikistan in 1992 proves this isn’t a fantasy.  The 15th Spetsnaz brigade under Colonel Vladimir Kvachkov, one of the accused in the Chubays’ assassination attempt, was given a free hand there and pacified the country. 

Ptichkin says Spetsnaz weren’t so involved in the First Chechen War, and the results were bad of course.  But they were used more extensively in the Second Chechen.  And he claims the Chechen Spetsnaz battalion under Sulim Yamadayev prevented Georgian saboteurs from blowing the Roki tunnel in August 2008.

And so, says Ptichkin, for 30 years, Spetsnaz have fought in places they weren’t intended to be, but have fought beautifully anyway.  Instead of landing in he main enemy’s rear areas, they are sitting on their own territory prepared, in extreme circumstances, to be sent to the next hot spot in the CIS, and not further afield.

As proof of how they’ve been used, it’s interesting to note the holiday press which says 8 Spetsnaz became Heroes of the Soviet Union in 40 years, but 44 have become Heroes of the Russian Federation in less than 20 years.

Disappearing Deputy Defense Minister Portfolios

Or who will answer for what?

On Tuesday, Kommersant and Rossiyskaya gazeta described, even if they can’t explain, Deputy Defense Minister portfolio changes.  The shuffling began in early July, when Grigoriy Naginskiy was ‘freed’ from his responsibilities as Chief of Housing and Construction but remained a Deputy Defense Minister.

According to a decree known, but not published, Medvedev removed General-Colonel Dmitriy Bulgakov from his post as Chief of Rear Services, while retaining him as a Deputy Defense Minister without specific duties.  It’s widely believed, of course, Bulgakov has taken charge of a new Material-Technical Support (MTO) empire that will encompass not only logistics but also arms and equipment supplies.

For his part, Defense Ministry Apparatus Chief Mikhail Mokretsov formally became a Deputy Defense Minister (no longer holding just informal ‘Deputy Minister status’).

Kommersant points out there are still eight Deputy Ministers (six are civilians).  A Defense Ministry source told the paper, however, that Bulgakov might be civilianized.  And his MTO organization will be part of the Defense Ministry’s ‘civilian component’ as opposed to its ‘military component.’  Kommersant says the ‘military component’ (planning and operational troop command and control) will just be the General Staff when the current Defense Ministry reorganization is complete.

Bulgakov has apparently indicated that MTO will have a planning and coordination department, a resource and transportation support department, Main Automotive-Armor Directorate (GABTU), and also repair-refurbishment and metrological directorates.  As announced elsewhere, ten new MTO brigades are to be established in the four new OSKs.  Recall that, in the same presidential decree on Naginskiy, Bulgakov’s rear services chief of staff Sergey Zhirov became Chief of the Planning and Coordination Department (read staff).

One should really look at Mil.ru’s ‘Leadership Structure’ page here.  In it, you’ll see Vera Chistova retains her clear responsibility for finance-economic work.  Bulgakov’s biography notes he became simply Deputy Defense Minister in July.  Naginskiy’s contains no similar notation though it could.  Then comes the oft-forgotten Dmitriy Chushkin who followed Defense Minister Serdyukov from the Federal Tax Service in late 2008.  He has no portfolio spelled out in his title, but his bio reads:

“Responsible for forming and conducting the Defense Ministry’s united military-technical policy in the information and telecommunications technology area which aims to increase the effectiveness of the command and control system, as well as supporting and developing its foundations.”

Mokretsov’s bio has a note that he added Deputy Defense Minister to his title in July.

The ultimate plan behind these moves isn’t clear yet.  But it does seem to go back to late June’s replacement of Kolmakov with Popovkin in one of the Defense Ministry’s two First Deputy slots.  More support functions were and are being consolidated under civilians, while purely military training, planning, and operations may now be more solidly under General Staff Chief, First Deputy Defense Minister Nikolay Makarov.

Will the Genshtab and OSKs Replace the Glavkomaty?

Writing in Vremya novostey yesterday, Nikolay Khorunzhiy claims the recently-concluded, largest post-Soviet exercise – Vostok-2010 – was intended to test the establishment of four operational-strategic commands (OSK or ОСК) in place of Russia’s six military districts, as well as the establishment of structural sub-units of the General Staff in place of the Main Commands (Glavkomaty or Главкоматы) of the Ground Troops, Air Forces, and Navy.

Khorunzhiy continues:

“It’s proposed that the army’s new structure will allow a sharp cut in the steps in passing commands from 16 levels to three, and increase their precision and reliability.  On 6 July, President Dmitriy Medvedev signed a decree establishing OSKs.  Part of the authority of central command and control organs, but also that earlier entrusted to the Glavkomaty, are going to the OSKs.”

The 6 July decree still hasn’t appeared publicly. 

Khorunzhiy notes that then-General Staff Chief Yuriy Baluyevskiy tested the transition to regional commands during Baykal-2006:

“Then he didn’t manage to break the resistance of district commanders who didn’t want to share their authority with OSK commanders.”

Khorunzhiy digresses to the precursors of OSKs, without calling them High Commands of Forces.  Former General Staff Chief Nikolay Ogarkov set out to reform the army’s command and control:

“The instrument of such a reform he considered main commands on strategic directions (theaters of military operations, in modern terminology) which would improve coordination between services and troop branches and would strengthen the unity of command in combat units (permanent readiness units).”

Ogarkov viewed the Soviet North-Western, Western, and South-Western main commands of troops from World War II as prototypes, but these Glavkomaty were only intermediate links between the Headquarters,  Supreme High Command [Stavka VGK] and the fronts, but received no authority, troops, or communications.  Khorunzhiy contrasts this to Vasilevskiy being sent to fight the Japanese in 1945; he had authority and troops.

Then, in 1978, Army General Vasiliy Petrov was sent out to establish the Main Command of Troops of the Far East, and he had authority up to appoint regiment commanders and arrange cooperation with neighboring states.  The situation of troops in the Far East sharply improved.

Ogarkov set off then to establish main commands on strategic directions, and improve command and control and readiness in yearly exercises (West, East, Autumn).  But in 1984, Ogarkov himself was sent off to be CINC of the Western direction in Legnica.  He failed to get enough authority for these commanders from the CPSU or Defense Ministry, and these main commands were eliminated in 1991.

But Khorunzhiy goes on to describe today’s OSK as an ultimate victory for Ogarkov over the ‘parochial interests of the army elite.’  He doesn’t seem to wonder whether it might be too soon to declare victory.

He finishes by looking at the KPRF’s call for a parliamentary investigation and special Duma session on how Serdyukov’s reforms are ‘disarming Russia.’  In particular, Khorunzhiy quotes the KPRF press-service:

“The system of military districts which has existed for centuries has just been eliminated.  In place of them incomprehensible strategic commands have been established according to an American template.  It’s obvious that this endless modernization of military structures is leading unavoidably to the loss of troop controllability.”

What’s it all mean . . . ?

The possible elimination of the Main Commands — the service headquarters — would be a big deal (no one mentioned what might happen to VDV, Space Troops, or RVSN branch commands).   

This would obviously greatly strengthen General Staff Chief Makarov, and really make him lord and master of the uniformed military.  It would strengthen the General Staff (except Serdyukov’s been cutting its personnel, like the rest of the Central Apparatus).

Would it give Makarov too much power?  Maybe, or maybe not if Serdyukov thinks he can fire him and get another general whenever necessary.

The possibility of eliminating service headquarters makes Navy CINC Vysotskiy’s reticence to talk about moving to St. Petersburg in the midst of a command and control reorganization make more sense.  Maybe he was telling us there’s a much bigger issue at work than just OSKs.

Perhaps in the most objective sense, getting rid of the Glavkomaty would reduce personnel and some resistance to new ideas.  But wouldn’t it also throw away yet another place where the regime should seek good alternative ideas, counterarguments, and feedback on its plans?

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.