Tag Archives: Ilya Kramnik

Not Enough Men or Transports

Il-76 Transport Landing (photo: Kommersant / Anatoliy Zhdanov)

Il-76 Transport Landing (photo: Kommersant / Anatoliy Zhdanov)

Another large-scale Russian military “surprise inspection” has concluded, and military commentator Ilya Kramnik has placed it, and other exercises, into perspective for Lenta.ru.

Interpreted as a prologue to war in Europe by some, the Kremlin-directed “surprise inspections” are the logical continuation of a process in recent years.  It is the process of developing strategic mobility through deployment exercises, according to Kramnik.

The latest six-day “surprise inspection” focused on deploying and redeploying forces in Russia’s Arctic regions, but President Vladimir Putin expanded it into a nation-wide exercise.

Kramnik focuses his analysis first on the Kaliningrad exclave.  Russia has practiced its defense of this region since the mid-2000s on an expanding scale. But the first large-scale drill in Kaliningrad, Kramnik says, was Zapad-2009.

Kaliningrad is where the pattern of special attention to troop mobility developed. In “surprise inspections,” military units from almost every armed service and branch were delivered by ground, rail, sea, or air transport to unfamiliar ranges in that region to conduct training missions.

The pattern has repeated in each of Russia’s “strategic directions.” Although Kramnik doesn’t describe it as such, it is, in effect, the establishment of expeditionary forces within the Russian military intended for internal transfer and use on any of Russia’s borders (or beyond them).  

If mobility questions play a key role in Kaliningrad, Kramnik continues, they are dominant when it comes to the Arctic.  All Arctic deployments depend on Navy and Air Forces transport capabilities.  Then he writes:

“It relies first and foremost on reestablishment of infrastructure which supports, if necessary, the redeployment [переброска] of troops by sea and by air and not requiring large numbers of personnel for daily service and security.  13 airfields, radar stations, repaired ports and other facilities allow forces to return quickly ‘in a threatening period.’  And to control the surrounding sea and air space a rather sufficiently compact grouping based here on a permanent basis.”

Kramnik concludes that Russia is confronting its weakness — armed forces not large enough to garrison its immense territory.  This increased attention to strategic maneuver is a means to compensate for an insufficient number of troops.  He takes a comment from Viktor Murakhovskiy:

“Today we don’t have a single self-sufficient grouping on any of our [strategic] directions.  This is the main reason for the great attention the Armed Forces leadership allocates to the potential for redeploying forces.”

Mobility, guaranteed by a developed railroad network, and in distant and isolated TVDs by the world’s second largest inventory of military-transport aviation, should support the potential for Russia, if necessary, to “swing the pendulum” — effectively maneuvering forces between different TVDs, Kramnik writes.  The capacity provided by the civilian airlines and fleet can also add to this.

But besides men, Russia also lacks enough transport aircraft.  

Kramnik writes that while attention has gone to constructing and reconstructing airfields and finding personnel to service them, the VTA’s order-of-battle is in critical condition, especially in terms of light and medium transports.  The average age of the An-26 inventory is nearly 35 years; the An-12 more than 45 years.

Events of the last year in Ukraine ended what were already difficult talks with Kyiv about building the An-70 and restarting production of the An-124.  Meanwhile, much of the Antonov Design Bureau’s competence has degraded, according to CAST Deputy Director Konstantin Makiyenko.

So today, Kramnik says, Russia has at its disposal only one serial VTA aircraft — the modernized Il-76, developed 40 years ago with serious limits on the weight and dimensions of military equipment it can deliver.  It will be supplemented by the Il-112 (light) and Il-214 (medium) transports, and by a “future aviation system transport aviation” or PAK TA.

The very same reported PAK TA that generated hysterical press here, then here, and here by promising to land an entire armored division of new Russian T-14 / Armata tanks overnight, anywhere in the world.  From an aircraft industry at pains to duplicate large but old designs like Antonov’s?  Obviously, a sudden outbreak of irrational Soviet-style giantism.

In the end, Kramnik concludes that VTA needs a high priority or Russia will have trouble moving combat capable groupings to the Arctic and Far East.  New aerial tankers are needed as well.

Inflation, GOZ, and GPV

RIA Novosti military commentator Ilya Kramnik has some thoughts on this issue.  Inflation has disrupted Russian rearmament efforts for years, and this year it’s likely to remain in the 9 percent range, or higher.  But, besides inflation, Kramnik notes, the way arms prices are formed and tenders are conducted also create higher prices and complicate the process of obtaining new weapons and equipment.

Kramnik attributes delay in adopting the GPV to the problem of reaching agreement on constantly rising prices for arms and military equipment.  These price increases, he notes, actually outstrip the official inflation rate and devalue the much-touted growth in the military’s budget.

A just-signed law (402-FZ) modifies the budget code and the law on the State Defense Order (GOZ), allowing this year’s GOZ to be financed without an adopted State Program of Armaments (GPV).  The law is also supposed to limit price increases on the OPK’s products.

According to Kramnik, in 2007, the Russian government ordered a 25 percent limit on profits from arms production, based on prices registered with the Federal Tariff Service.  This didn’t work too well.  The T-90 tank’s price tag increased from 42 to more than 70 million rubles, and the cost of the Steregushchiy (proyekt 20380) corvette rose from 1.8 to 5 billion rubles during its construction.

However, increased costs aren’t always attributable to more complex and expensive systems, or to inflation, or to small production runs.  Prices for military equipment are formed through “informal means” or personal ties between those who order and those who produce it.  Kramnik doesn’t utter the word corruption, but that’s what these informal ties lead to. 

At any rate, this is why the Defense Ministry’s been divided into military and civilian parts — to break the link between uniformed buyers and factory directors.  But who’s to say civilians can’t take the military’s place in a corrupt relationship?  To his credit, Kramnik concludes:

“We’ll see soon enough how much this series of measures will slow the growth of prices for military equipment in Russia.”

Kramnik also notes serious problems with GOZ tenders and the government procurement law.  Competitive tenders have to be conducted even when there’s only one supplier, leading to time wasted, and to the rise of middle-man firms that pass orders to sub-contractors who actually do the work.  To fix this, changes in the state purchase law (94-FZ) are needed, but haven’t come in many years.

And the problem of funding multi-year work still hasn’t been solved, and long-term, science-intensive project and RDT&E prices have to be renegotiated annually.

Kramnik sums up:

“All these ‘holes’ lead to budget money too often accumulating in vain in treasury accounts, or else too actively being ‘turned’ and ‘sawed off’ — the ineffective expenditure of state defense order resources in recent times has reached many tens of billions of rubles.  The coming year will become a real test for the reformed Defense Ministry — the degree of effectiveness of military budget expenditure will demonstrate how much Anatoliy Serdyukov and his team have managed to fulfill the tasks set before them.”

Mistral — For and Against

Last Friday, Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye’s Viktor Litovkin covered a round table discussing Russia’s likely purchase of the Mistral helicopter carrier.  He was also one of the main speakers.  CAST sponsored the meeting, and Konstantin Makiyenko set the table with a general talk about amphibious assault ships and the world market for them.

Igor Korotchenko spoke in favor of purchasing the French ship, but not very convincingly.

According to Litovkin, Korotchenko made the following argument.  The Mistral purchase is part of a political-economic agreement between Moscow and Paris.  And so France will obviously win the Defense Ministry’s coming international tender.  This French ship will be extremely useful to the Russian Navy, and strengthen its combat capability.  Then Korotchenko seemed to imply that Mistral is less important as a naval platform than as a symbol of Franco-Russian military-technical cooperation, and France’s independence of the United States.

This view is a bit Cold War, and not particularly reflective of Moscow’s current effort to buy military capabilities abroad, and use them to improve the armed forces and defense industrial production at home.

Litovkin said the Mistral purchase raises a series of questions.  First, why does Russia need it?  The expeditionary missions for which it’s intended aren’t tasks for the Russian Navy under the new military doctrine, according to him.  If, as First Deputy Defense Minister Popovkin has said, Mistral is based in the Northern and Pacific Fleets, it’s senseless because Russia’s not very likely to land its troops on Norwegian, Japanese, or Chinese shores.  Second, Mistral needs to be part of a multipurpose naval grouping by virtue of its weak self-defense.  And Litovkin says Russia isn’t exactly laying down lots of other ships to escort and protect it.  Third, it’s not clear that a new base to support Mistral will be built.  Soviet-built proyekt 1123 and 1143 helicopter carriers (Moskva, Leningrad, Kiev, and Minsk) bobbed at anchor, lacked support, and were ultimately sold for scrap.

Aleksey Bezborodov starts from the state of the state of Russian shipbuilding.  Even if Russia tries to build the third and fourth Mistral units, shipyards won’t be able to manage it because they’ve lost many technical capabilities.  He maintains Russia doesn’t have an enterprise that can make engines for Mistral.

Makiyenko and Ilya Kramnik took issues with these ‘pessimists.’  The former noted that GPV 2011-2012 may include 15 frigates, 20 corvettes, etc.  The latter argued for acquiring Mistral because the Navy’s missions and requirements and Russia’s doctrine could change over the ships’ lives.  He sees it as a good platform for showing the flag and defending Russian interests abroad, and a hedge against future problems.

Litovkin says the discussion only went two hours, and it’s a shame General Staff and Navy representatives weren’t there to share their opinions.

Kramnik on Vostok-2010 and Military Reform

This is complete finally.

Ilya Kramnik’s RIA Novosti piece about the exercise has been quoted by others, but it hasn’t gotten attention as a whole on its own.

So what does Kramnik think?  He cites Makiyenko to the effect that Vostok-2010 showed that reform has been positive for the army, but there are, of course, problems.  Troops aren’t uniformly well-trained, and the failure of contract service has really hurt.  But Kramnik gives Defense Minister Serdyukov a lot of credit, on the order of being a 21st century Milyutin.  But back to the problems again.  Things like contract service, tension over officer cuts and premium pay, military education cuts, and the failure to deliver new weapons have to be fixed.  But Kramnik believes Serdyukov is the kind of guy who’ll go back and fix what he didn’t get right or get done.  Then Kramnik shifts to the type of conflict the military reform is preparing the Russian Army to fight.  Obviously [?] not a nuclear one, but rather, again turning to Makiyenko, a Central Asian local war scenario that might threaten the RF’s internal stability.  The conclusion is that, if reform stays on track and occurs quickly, the army will be able to meet this challenge.  Some, however, might well argue that even a properly and rapidly reformed Russian Army might not be enough to contain and damp down the kind of conflagration Makiyenko describes.  Finally, Kramnik concludes that even the U.S. front isn’t secure; an American regime in 2012 or 2016 might take to renewed active support of new ‘color revolutions’ in Moscow’s back (or front) yard.

Here’s a verbatim text:

“The official results of the just ended ‘Vostok-2010’ exercise are still being reckoned, and this will be done by the Defense Ministry.  Meanwhile, it’s already possible to make some conclusions.” 

“‘Vostok-2010’ was the largest of all in the post-Soviet period of Russian history.  More than 20 thousand men, 75 aircraft, 40 combat and auxiliary ships took part on the ground, in the air, and at sea in maneuvers conducted from Altay Kray to Vladivostok.”

“The aim of the exercise was to check the three-level command structure — operational-strategic command – operational command – brigade, and other new elements in the Armed Forces command and control and support system, and to uncover deficiencies needing correction.  An expert of the Russian Center for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies Konstantin Makiyenko expressed his opinion on the recent maneuvers:  ‘The recent maneuvers fully refuted the propagated myth about how the army is being destroyed as a result of the actions of the current Defense Ministry leadership.  It’s obvious the army is alive and developing.  Units participating in the exercise demonstrated their combat capability, despite the fact that they are not in the ranks of the best military districts, and scarcely armed with the most modern equipment.'”

“‘It’s especially worth focusing on the good morale of the officer personnel — it’s not possible to speak of general enthusiasm, of course, but I didn’t see dim eyes among the officers.  As a group, they are interested in the success of the current reform and hope for its success.'”

“While agreeing with this point of view, one has to note that the situation with soldiers looks a little different, both RIA Novosti’s reviewer [Kramnik] and Konstantin Makiyenko have also noted this.  Very much depends on the branch of troops and the basic training of the soldiers themselves.  Contract-servicemen in a ‘Tochka-U’ operational-tactical missile launch battery look and are trained much better than conscript-soldiers in motorized rifle units.  In the words of motorized rifle officers up to the battalion commander level, the reduction in the number of contractees has negatively affected platoon and company training.  Ideally, the service term of a specialist-soldier (mechanic-driver, weapons system operator, etc.) needs to be three years, that is achievable only on the contract manning principle for these positions.”

“Speaking about the attainability of the announced goals of the reform, one can say the following:   the will of the military leadership which certainly exists, is the main component of success, a firm understanding of the goal is also obvious, and the possession of authority — it’s not possible to doubt this.  As a result, the current Defense Ministry leadership needs only time to realize its ideas.  Overall, the military reform being conducted is the most significant event of Russian history in the last ten years — since the suppression of the separatist rebellion in the North Caucasus.  The Serdyukov-Makarov reform in the military sphere is the most radical and deepest since the time of Mikhail Frunze’s reforms in the 1920s, if not since Dmitriy Milyutin in the 1860s and 1870s.”

“As proof, it’s possible to note the fact that the Defense Ministry leadership is constantly searching and ready to correct those steps which, when checked, turn out to be incorrect or unattainable in real political-economic conditions.  So, the current principles of manning the army will undergo a serious correction:  it’s obvious that neither the organization of contract service, nor, even more, the existing format of conscript service corresponds to the demands of the time.”

“Evaluating the correspondence of the Defense Ministry leadership to its missions, it’s possible to say, that at present Russia has the most appropriate military leadership since the collapse of the USSR.  At the same time, it’s obvious that the radicalism of the reform, the compressed time of its implementation, unavoidable resistance in the environment and hard economic conditions didn’t allow for avoiding a large number of mistakes and excesses.  Among the most fundamental failures it’s possible to name the collapse of the army’s transition to the contract manning principle, serious social tension arising in connection with the rapid reduction of officer personnel, the ambiguous situation with the scale of servicemen’s complaints after the introduction of the differential pay system [premium pay or Serdyukov’s Order No. 400?], the hurried and not completely thought out reform of military education and many, many other things.  It’s  particularly worth focusing on the implementation of the state armaments programs which fail one after another, not being executed in a significant part.  As a result, the lag of Russia’s Armed Forces behind the most developed countries in the level of  technical equipping continues to grow such that in conditions of a quantitative lag it could become very dangerous.  All these mistakes have to be corrected, since they impact on rudiments of the army’s combat capability.”

“For what type of wars does Russia’s new army need to prepare?  Obviously, the time of long wars between the great powers has gone into the past — nuclear weapons haven’t left chances for such a development of events.  The most probable type of conflict in which the Russian Army will be involved is a local conflict on Russia’s borders and the territory of the former USSR, in the course of which there could be clashes with the most varied enemy:  from a regular army to many bandit formations and terrorist groups.”

“In Konstantin Makiyenko’s opinion, Central Asia presents the greatest danger in the future of a possible hot conflict with Russia’s direct participation:  ‘The U.S. and NATO, obviously, are less and less controlling the Afghanistan situation, and it’s not excluded that in the foreseeable future they may have to abandon this country.  The return to power in Afghanistan of the ‘Taliban’ movement looks most realistic in the event of such a development of events.  The arrival of Islamic radicals in power would unavoidably be a catalyst for conflicts on the territory of former Soviet republics of the region already riven by contradictions.  Weak authoritarian regimes in Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, not to mention what’s become the ‘failed government’ in Kyrgyzstan, could be easy prey for the Taliban.  As a result, Russia might be forced to consider the likelihood of a large Asian conflagration which it would have to prevent, or if it didn’t succeed — extinguish, at a minimum with the aim of preserving its own internal stability.  One very much wants to believe that the reform will bear fruit before the described situation becomes a reality.'”

“Besides the described scenario it follows to study also the probability of another development of events:  as experience has shown, on the territory of former USSR republics, the rise of openly anti-Russian regimes with external support at their disposal can’t be excluded.  For today, such a situation is a low probability due to the fact that the current administration in the U.S. — the main sponsor of ‘colored revolutions,’ is clearly not inclined to continue the policy of George Bush.  However by 2012, if President Obama loses the election, the situation could change, and this risk is even greater in 2016 when the administration will change in any case.  Meanwhile, you have to note that even the Democrats remaining in power in the U.S. is not a guarantee of a peaceful life:  Obama’s point of view on a coexistence format with Russia is hardly shared by all his fellow party members.  In the worst case, a return to the next variant of Cold War and new spiral of the arms race isn’t excluded.”

“The coming decade isn’t promising Russia an easy life.  The success of military reform is all the more important.”

Can Imports and Money Solve OPK Problems?

Ilya Kramnik (photo: RIA Novosti)

On 22 April, RIA Novosti military commentator Ilya Kramnik provided an essay on the army, the VPK [OPK], and post-Soviet realities.   He gives a convincing negative answer to the question posed above.  Like more money and budget, foreign imports won’t be enough by themselves to fix the Russian OPK’s structural problems which have to be addressed more directly at their roots.   

He has praise for Defense Minister Serdyukov for being willing to admit that the ‘emperor had no clothes’ to some degree.  Serdyukov’s management has recognized that the world has changed and changed the army’s missions accordingly. 

A recognition of one’s problems, however, is not the same thing as fixing them.  Serdyukov, the army, and the OPK face the same kind of modernization dilemmas that face Russian politicians, business, and society.  But thanks to Serdyukov, the armed forces are operating under a more realistic vision of what they are, or should be, building toward.

Kramnik believes imports are fine, but the OPK needs the capability to build the entire line of military equipment needed, if it has to.  To do that, it will have to remedy its capital problems, including human capital.  He concludes there’s still a way to go to get to a mobile, well-armed, and trained army, appropriate for the real threats facing the country.

Kramnik writes:

“In the past few days Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov and his deputy Vladimir Popovkin again raised questions about the quality of the work of the country’s VPK [military-industrial complex].  These questions are not being mouthed for the first time, and are taking on a particular acuteness against the backdrop of announcements of planned purchases of military products abroad–both separate components and complete systems.”

“It’s difficult to say when the theme of the Russian VPK and armed forces’ dependence on foreign supplies first began to resound.  In a large sense, it was always acute–even the USSR didn’t have full independence from foreign supplies, in its heyday, trainer aircraft from Czechoslovakia, light helicopters (Soviet-designed) from Poland, large assault ships from the very same Poland, various types of boats and ships from the GDR, etc., were bought.”

“After the USSR’s collapse this dependence deepened because of the foreign status of many producers which had been an integral part of the Soviet VPK–from Dnepropetrovsk’s Yuzhmash to the Tashkent Aviation Production Conglomerate.  But the problem of the VPK’s growing dependence on producers in the ‘far abroad’ is the most acute and painful today.” 

“The list of purchases of military equipment abroad being realized by the Russian military and producers is already now quite broad:  different types of infantry weapons, communications systems, unmanned aerial vehicles, thermal sights, digital electronic equipment…” 

“Now being added to this list are multipurpose assault ships, and armor for vehicles and light armored equipment.” 

“Meanwhile from the Defense Ministry resound still louder complaints about the domestic VPK over the quality of the equipment it is producing.  Of the number of the largest scandals of this type the recently resonating complaints about domestically developed unmanned aerial vehicles, armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles must be noted.  Problems are also arising where there are no alternatives to domestic manufacturers, and can’t be in principle–in the development and production of ballistic missiles (“Bulava”).”

“What is happening with the country’s VPK, and what kind of ways out of the situation which has taken shape are there?” 

“The main cause of today’s situation is obvious:  from the beginning of the 1990s through the mid-2000s a large part of VPK enterprises together with the entire country was occupied with everything except strengthening defense capability and modernizing production.  The collapse of the USSR, with the consequent destruction of Soviet industrial infrastructure, disruption of production ties and scientific schools didn’t leave any chance for a better result.” 

“It follows to note that the disruption was systemic, and besides experts in the State Property Committee and other government organs of the 1990s, the authors of this process could, with complete justification, be considered the ‘captains of industry,’ many of whom in this period openly used enterprises entrusted to them for the purpose of ‘making money here and now,’ even through the ruin of production sold off for scrap.”    

“Against this background in the armed forces and those close to the military, but also in industrial circles, groups of ‘patriotic’ experts and analysts, rose like mushrooms after the rain, thoroughly glorifying the country’s army and VPK with chants of one and the same incantation:  ‘it has no analog in the world.’  The incantations rang out with respect to various military and technical wonders, and meanwhile not the slightest attempt was made to comprehend the changing world map, missions of industry and the armed forces.”       

“From the other side the ‘alarmists’ were entrenched and grievously moaned about the death and destruction of the army and military industry, keeping such an inadequate perception of the world as a whole.  Both sides supposed that Russia and its army would in the future conduct a precisely ‘Soviet’ type war against the entire capitalist world, or, at a minimum, against a Chinese invasion.”       

“Very few production associations, which were flagships of the domestic VPK, were able to preserve themselves as single entities in the Bacchanalia of destruction.  There is, first of all, the ‘Sukhoy’ firm, which knew how to turn the crown of Soviet scientific-design thinking–the family of aircraft on the T-10 (Su-27) platform–into the most commercially successful product on the combat aircraft market of the last 20 years.  There is ‘Almaz-Antey,’ whose air defense systems received not less recognition.  There is Nizhnyy Tagil’s UVZ which was saved thanks to the T-90.  There are some shipbuilders and several other companies that managed to ‘get’ the situation and survive.  But such successful ones turned out to be far from all.”        

“The renewal of defense development and the increase in the State Defense Order in the middle of the 2000s could not be and didn’t become a panacea.”       

“Firstly, a simple increase in monetary investment will not save a disrupted industry:  dead people don’t need money, neither do the seriously ill generally.”       

“Secondly, this money by itself could not resolve the row of problems of even successful enterprises–for example, the problem of a lack of personnel, caused not only by the outflow of workers ‘in the hungry 1990s,’ but also by a sharp decline in the young population, together with the fall in the quality of engineering-technical education, and the practically complete collapse of the system of specialized secondary education.”       

“But the biggest problem became the management of the armed forces and military industry in principle.  The armed forces command right up to recent times didn’t have any kind of clearly expressed views on the future profile of the Russian Army.  All the years of reforms right up to the arrival of Anatoliy Serdyukov in the post of Russia’s Defense Minister preserved in essence the truncated and frayed Soviet Army, whose model was becoming ever less and less adequate for the missions facing the country in the prevailing economic and political conditions.”

“Military industry against this background survived reorganization after reorganization, the overwhelming majority of which led to nightmarish overgrowth in bureaucratic components and an increase in the already huge gap in pay between specialists on the line and in the laboratory and the management.  This state of production efficiency contributed to the growth of military expenditures and the amount of ‘kickbacks’–most of all.  Responsibility for results was conveniently forgotten:  ‘captains of industry’ together with the armed forces leadership now, as a rule, won’t risk even dismissal, much less their freedom.”       

“A similar uncertainty led to uncertainty with the military order.  Plans and ideas floated and sank, development began and stopped, the vision of the army and its complex of armaments as some kind of organic system aimed at resolving such-and-such concrete missions was totally absent.  The sole exception on this score was the strategic nuclear forces, where a clear understanding of missions and ways of conducting them was preserved, and work was conducted–on supporting old RVSN missiles, on testing and adopting new ones, on repair and modernization of the Navy’s strategic missile submarines and Air Forces heavy bombers.” 

“Anatoliy Serdyukov’s reform, being the first systemic reform of the armed forces in the last decade, not directed at supporting a dead Soviet structure, but at arranging a new one, under concretely certain missions of fighting local and regional conflicts while preserving nuclear deterrence potential, did not create new problems.  It simply revealed old ones, aggravating them with the absolute ‘nonconcurrence’  of the new Defense Ministry leadership in the old system of relations of the army and VPK.”       

“This ‘nonconcurrence’ became a thorn in the side of very many, those problems earlier kept quiet behind the reckoning ‘well, you understand,’ suddenly stopped being kept quiet, and floated in all their ugliness before the eyes of an astonished public.”      

“For the public the foregoing was a big shock, since it all these years kept the point of view on the army and VPK as some ‘island of stability,’ preserving, in the face of all problems, the Soviet system of connections and ties, and, in general, Soviet possibilities.  Many understood the fact that this wasn’t so, but an open recognition of the changed situation by the leadership of the armed forces and the country, nonetheless, was unexpected.”       

“However such a recognition was necessary as a recognition of the fact that the world has changed.  The Russian Army is more incapable of realizing the West’s half-century nightmare–a three-day dash to the English Channel (we set aside the question of whether the Soviet Army was capable), however does Russia need this capability for defending its people, its sovereignty, its interests?”      

“It occurs that our country needs something different.  It needs a clearly expressed understanding of threats, developed with the participation of the military, politicians, and the public, which stand before the country and the capability to counter these threats.  It needs a compact, ‘quick reaction,’ innovative, directed military industry with minimal bureaucratic overhead, and an education system regularly supplying engineering and labor personnel who will receive pay greater than the managers of shops selling mobile phones and taxi drivers.  At a minimum.”      

“This industry needs to produce the entire line of types of equipment and hardware essential to the armed forces, even if using some quantity of imported components–in the end, even the USA doesn’t disdain the use of military imports, and it imports foreign military hardware worth $15-16 billion annually.”      

“It needs an army–mobile, trained, armed, conscious of its status, prestige, and many centuries of history.  It needs strategic forces which protect the country against wars with superior enemies, the calculation of which on our planet doesn’t even require three fingers.”      

“All this could become a reality only in the event that it’s made into a goal at the very highest level.  Still the reactions of the country’s leadership, and of the armed forces, at a minimum, demonstrate understanding of the problem.”