Tag Archives: Manpower

Shurygin Critiques Military Reform (Part 2)

Continuing on with Reform or Lie, Shurygin describes today’s efforts against officers perceived as disloyal to the Defense Ministry leadership as comparable to Stalin’s repression of the officer corps.  Alluding to the FSB’s monitoring of the army, he says the constant search for leaks includes the use of wiretaps and the compilation of names of officers’ “undesirable” acquaintances and contacts.

In the SibVO, the officer corps has been cut in half.  4,000 dismissed outright, and 2,500 were placed outside the TO&E, i.e. left without a duty post.  According to Shurygin, they’ll get their base pay, but only for six months.  So there are 37,000 officers deprived of a way to make a living.  But he says some have been offered vacant sergeant positions.

Young officers coming out of VVUZy have also been surprised.  Military linguists from the Military University in 2009 were either put out of the service immediately or offered posts in the rear services.  Forty thousand of 142,000 warrant officers found a place in the ‘new profile’ and the rest were dismissed.

Shurygin suggests the High Command has been bought off by the Defense Minister.  He says “loyal” military district commanders are getting 300-400,000 rubles per month, deputy chiefs of the General Staff 500,000, and Makarov himself more than 800,000 rubles every month.

He believes Serdyukov and Makarov’s underlings have to deceive them about the real state of affairs, and report what they want to hear.  There are currently no structures to check up on the reformers, according to Shurygin.  Lapses and failures are presented like victories and successes.

He turns to the contract army.  There are so few contractees now, less than 79,000, that they barely cover the minimal need for them.  One-fourth are women.  The remainder barely cover a fourth of the manning needed for ‘new profile’ brigades.  So all services and branches are 75 percent manned by conscript soldiers.  Of the 300,000 men called up every six months, fully 100,000 are needed simply to cover the deficit in professional contractees.

The professional sergeants program was delayed because the majority of possible candidates couldn’t pass secondary school-style entrance exams.  When finally launched in one location–Ryazan, the sergeants’ training center has less than one-third the trainees intended.

Shurygin describes the closure of the 47th Independent Reconnaissance Aviation Regiment in Shatalovo.  According to him, they flew aircraft to their new base in Voronezh, and transported their engines back to Shatalovo, so that other aircraft could fly into Voronezh. 

Shurygin says Serdyukov has already signed off on a decision to scrap 1,000 aircraft requiring capital repairs.  This will shrink Russia’s aircraft inventory by one-third.  The tank inventory will be cut by a factor of four if only operational tanks are left in the force.  Shurygin asks what will happen in the next five years when another 1,000 aircraft use up their service lives.  Russia will have an air force about the size of Israel’s, according to him.  Only 70 future fixed-wing and helicopter pilots entered training in Krasnodar this year.

Shurygin criticizes Makarov for his less than savvy comments, for instance, about deploying the S-400 to the Far East against North Korean missiles or moving Bulava production to another factory.  He says the degradation of the army has continued for two years under Serdyukov, but he and Makarov don’t have to answer for anything.  They were forced to acknowledge that the infamous Order 400 on premium pay was a mistake that divided officers, and now they’ll be giving it to entire units.

In the future, officers from platoon to division will be earning 75,000-220,000 rubles per month and bonuses and supplements will disappear in favor of a higher pay scale.  But Shurygin complains that Serdyukov intends to ‘reform’ military pensions to decouple them from the new pay scale.

Lastly, Shurygin describes the Black Sea Fleet as on the verge of an explosion.  Officers have been put out.  They can’t keep their service apartments and they can’t get apartments in Russia.  They can’t work in Ukraine and live like bums.  And the situation gets worse every month.

The last part of Shurygin’s hasn’t been published.

Combat Readiness Doesn’t Equal Combat Capability

Vitaliy Shlykov (photo: RIA Novosti)

In an article entitled Secrets of Serdyukov’s Blitzkreig, Shlykov assesses that Defense Minister Serdyukov has done rapidly what none of his predecessors was able to do.  Shlykov’s positive assessment has something to do with the fact that Serdyukov’s success has validated a lot of things the author advocated.  Nevertheless, Shlykov offers a nice rundown of why Serdyukov’s reforms were needed, and also some cautionary notes for the future.

According to Shlykov, someone not following the changes in the armed forces closely over the last year won’t be able to believe what’s happened.  Serdyukov’s 11-minute speech on 14 October 2008 started a completely unexpected ‘revolution from above’ to put the entire force structure into permanent readiness and turn the officer corps from a ‘bloated egg’ into a pyramid.  Shlykov describes how previous cuts in the armed forces left too many officers in place commanding mobilization units with equipment and no soldiers.  Junior officers escaped pitiful conditions in the army by various means.

But slashing the empty, ‘big war’ force structure in favor of a smaller, permanent readiness army was Serdyukov’s most radical move.  Along the way, Shlykov makes note of Ground Troops CINC Boldyrev’s comment that, in 2008, only six army divisions were considered combat ready.

Shlykov’s math on Russian officers and warrants provides an interesting picture of sharply increasing importance of sergeants and soldiers in the force over the next three years.  In 2008, there were 623,500 sergeants and soldiers in a 1,118,800-man army (56 percent).  In 2012, they are supposed to be 850,000 (including 180,000 contractees) of a million-man army (85 percent).  I think this is why some observers are wondering if the much-reduced officers corps will be able to control its subordinates.

Shlykov notes the drastic cut in the military educational establishment–65 to 10 institutions–and the fact that new cadets in 2009 numbered only 3,000, instead of the 18-19,000 of recent years.

Summarizing a bit, he says no element of the military was untouched by cuts and reorganizations.  Actually, there were some major ones–the RVSN and VDV.

The ‘new profile’ brought sharp criticism in the media, and a “muffled discontent” in the military.  Despite this, according to Shlykov, Serdyukov’s basic goals were achieved a year after he began.

Shlykov says military districts will assume a bigger role in the command and control system, taking responsibility for things like engineer brigades and former GRAU arsenals on their territory.  Taking control of things like the Navy’s arsenal in Ulyanovsk could be a major headache.  He mentions the professional sergeant corps training at Ryazan, but not its very slow and difficult start.

The secret of Serdyukov’s success?  His personal qualities, especially his exceptional management capabilities, played the greatest role, Shlykov says.  But being purely civilian–something Shlykov has advocated–also played a part in his success.

Shlykov says Serdyukov has also succeeded because, unlike his predecessors, he broke the taboo on borrowing what works from foreign experience in “military organizational development,” that is basically force structure and force development policy.  Serdyukov saw that the generals basically didn’t have the answers after nearly 20 years of supposed reforms.  Serdyukov saw that there are certain priniciples of military organization that are axiomatic and don’t need to be tested or examined, and can be introduced without further discussion.  Some were suggested by Shlykov’s SVOP but rudely rejected by the Genshtab.

Shlykov says he and his colleagues don’t claim authorship of Serdyukov’s reforms.  He’s inclined to think that generals themselves proposed the majority of them.  All the innovations are dictated by common sense, which many generals have.  What they didn’t have were ministers who were ready to listen.  From the beginning, Serdyukov said he didn’t intend to launch a grandiose reform, but the avalanche began and other changes inevitably followed the first ones.

Finally, Shlykov says we can’t confuse combat readiness with combat capability.  The army now has only 10 percent new equipment which is up to world standard.  Even President Medvedev has warned about this:  “Our next task is more complex–the technical reequipping of the army and navy.”  And common sense can’t get you around this.