Tag Archives: MD

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.

Makarov’s Year-Ender

On Tuesday, General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov provided his year-end wrap-up on the ‘new profile’ of the Armed Forces in the form of a press-conference featuring a videolink with the four new MD / OSK commanders.

It was pretty much a self-congratulatory celebration of how Makarov and company have turned everything in the Russian military around for the better.  As Moskovskiy komsomolets put it, “Nikolay Makarov told the media how bad it was in the army in the past, and how good it will be in the future.”

Rossiyskaya gazeta paraphrased Makarov’s remarks, giving only a couple direct quotes.  First up was President Medvedev’s call for unified aerospace defense (VKO) before the end of 2011.

RG says Makarov said VKO will be fully operational in 2020 when new reconnaissance and weapons systems have been deployed.  He said its purpose is to defend the state [interestingly the state, not the country] from ballistic and cruise missiles.  It needs to be an umbrella against any kind of threat, including low-altitude ones.

Makarov said different military structures have been occupied with the security of the skies.  Space Troops do orbital reconnaissance and ground-based missile early warning.  The air forces and air defense armies (АВВСиПВО or АВВСПВО) and radar troops monitor air space for approaching hostile aircraft.  The Special Designation Command (КСпН) covers the Moscow air defense zone [didn’t this long ago change its name to the OSK VKO?].  Air defense troops (ЗРВ) and fighter aviation cover other important facilities.  The system was set-up on a service (видовой) basis and that’s why it was uncoordinated.  It needs to be made integrated and put under the command of the General Staff [of course – this sounds like Olga Bozhyeva in MK].  In the Defense Ministry, they understand unification won’t be quick and will require a lot of resources, but there’s simply no other way.

Izvestiya proffered a quotation on this one:

“If we look at how this system was built earlier, then it’s possible to see that it acted separately by services and branches of troops, and also by regions.  So, Space Troops answered for space reconnaissance, the work of missile attack warning stations.  The Ground Troops for the activity of radar units.  Now we are uniting all these separate organizations in a unitary whole.  We need to establish the foundation of this system in 2011.  To finish its formation completely by 2020.”

According to RG, Makarov said a modern army would be useless without a new command and control system for the Armed Forces.  Russia’s move to a unified information environment will cost 300 billion rubles, and will be phased, with the initial phase being the replacement of all analog equipment with digital systems by 2012.  Command and control systems will be developed and produced in Russia, but other weapons will be bought abroad.  This is when he broke the news about Mistral winning the amphibious command ship tender.

RG concludes Makarov called for a fully professional Armed Forces, but the words it quoted aren’t particularly convincing:

“Now we can’t do them like this.  But year by year we’ll increase the selection of contract servicemen with commensurate pay.”

However, Moskovskiy komsomolets quoted the General Staff Chief this way:

“We are aiming for a contract army.  Now we can’t make it so instantly, but year by year the number of contract servicemen, with commensurate pay, will increase.”

Olga Bozhyeva viewed this as a total reversal of Makarov’s earlier rejection of contractees and insistence on conscripts as the backbone of the army.

Makarov also talked about efforts to create ‘human’ service and living conditions.  He referred, as always, to outsourcing and civilianizing mess hall and other housekeeping duties.  He repeated that, starting in 2012, officer pay will increase by several times.  According to Krasnaya zvezda, Makarov said 50 percent of officers now receive higher pay through premiums and incentives.  Officers and their families will be moved from remote garrison towns to oblast centers where their children can get a better education and wives can find work.  About the large cut in military towns, he said:

“We had about 22 thousand of them, approximately 5,500 remain, but in all, we’re taking the number of military towns to 180.”

Of course, he didn’t mention who will take care of large numbers of retirees left behind in that archipelago of abandoned military towns.

KZ gave its own recap of Makarov’s press-conference, and it’s interesting to hear his rehash of why the army needed a ‘new profile.’  His remarks blow up any lingering myth about the 2000s, at least the Putin years, as the time of the Russian military’s rejuvenation.  He said:

“Before 2009, 87 percent of the Armed Forces consisted of formations and military units with abbreviated personnel and cadres, practically not having personnel.  They almost didn’t conduct operational and combat training.  The army didn’t just degrade.  During this time, we grew an entire generation of officers and generals who ceased to understand the very essence of military service, they didn’t have experience in training and educating personnel.”

KZ paraphrases more of Makarov.  The personnel training system caused complaints.  VVUZy were teaching the Great Patriotic War.  Low pay and poor prospects for housing made the officer’s profession a low-prestige one.  In units, personnel weren’t occupied with combat training, but serving themselves, and military discipline fell as a result.  On the whole, the Armed Forces stopped fulfilling the missions for which they are intended, and could scarcely react to threats and challenges beyond the state’s borders and inside the country.

Makarov addressed how the MDs were changed to meet future threats and challenges:

“Planning and troop employment happened with significant difficulties, since each of six military districts had a series of missions where one often contradicted another.  Moreover, four air forces and air defense armies were established, as a result, the zones of responsibility of the military districts and these armies didn’t coincide at all.  This led to confusion in employing air defense forces.  At the same time, experience showed that military actions in recent decades are conducted, as a rule, by unified force groupings and forces under a unitary command.  Each of our districts and each of our four fleets existed independently. Each had its own zone of responsibility, not matching the others.  In order to organize any kind of joint actions, it was necessary to establish temporary commands, temporary structures, which, as a rule, were poorly prepared, didn’t have corresponding experience.  All this led to unsatisfactory results.”

Izvestiya quoted him:

“In the bounds of the ongoing transformations, full-blooded troop groupings have been established on all strategic axes.  Four full-blooded commands have appeared for us which, having in their composition and immediately subordinate to them all forces and means, can react adequately to all challenges and threats to the borders of our districts.  Changes in the Armed Forces command and control structure are a necessary occurrence since the old administrative-territorial division had stopped answering the challenges and threats of the time.”

New MDs (photo: ITAR-TASS)

Then Makarov brought in MD commanders over the video so they could attest to how it’s going.  They remarked on how cutting intermediate, redundant command levels has made their jobs easier.  Western MD Commander, General-Colonel Arkadiy Bakhin said 40 percent of his formations and units have outsourced some support functions. 

KZ says earlier MD commanders answered only for Ground Troops, and when they needed forces from another service or branch, they had to get permission from above.  Southern MD Commander, General-Lieutenant Aleksandr Galkin claims making these requests cost the commander time, but now all forces and means are in one command, the fundamentally new unified strategic command (OSK).  Galkin also says freeing soldiers from support tasks means there are now 20-22 training days per month instead of 15-16.

Collegium in Southern Military District

Anatoliy Serdyukov conducted another extramural Defense Ministry collegium today, this time in Rostov-na-Donu, and the new Southern Military District (MD).

RIA Novosti quoted a spokeswoman who said:

“Participants in the session are reviewing issues concerning formation of the YuVO.  In particular, they will review questions about optimizing the deployment of formations and military units on the district’s territory, work with personnel, medical and housing support for servicemen, and also preparations for the heating season.”

So, they’re talking about possibly moving some brigades or regiments to better locations, and probably about who will command some of them.

The YuVO began operations in its new composition on 1 October.

According to ITAR-TASS, Serdyukov spoke of the ‘doubling’ of the ‘potential’ of the armed forces in the south with the establishment of the new district, but added this isn’t connected with the army’s counterterrorism missions in the region.

One would like to know how that ‘doubling’ was calculated since the MD’s ground units haven’t changed.

The Southern MD, or Unified Strategic Command (OSK) ‘South’ encompasses not only the former SKVO, but also the Black Sea Fleet and Caspian Flotilla.

Step Closer to Four OSKs Instead of 6 MDs

ITAR-TASS reports today that the reform of the operational-strategic level of command and control has entered its final phase.  According to the Genshtab’s plan, on 1 December 2010 military districts (MDs) will shrink from 6 to 4.  A Genshtab source told ITAR-TASS that 4 MDs and operational-strategic commands (OSK or ОСК) will be formed–Western, Southern, Central, and Eastern, with their commanders having operational control over all (or most) of the troops (forces) of the armed forces and other militarized structures located on their territory.  

The Genshtab representative says the Western MD/OSK, based in Piter, will include the Moscow and Leningrad MDs, with Baltic and Northern Fleets, VVS, VDV, and other militarized structures operationally subordinate to it.  The Southern MD/OSK in Rostov-na-Donu will have the North Caucasus MD, with the Black Sea Fleet and Caspian Flotilla operationally subordinate.  The Central MD/OSK in Yekaterinburg will have the Volga-Ural MD and the western part of the Siberian MD.  The Eastern MD/OSK in Khabarovsk will have the eastern part of the Siberian MD and the Far East MD, with the Pacific Fleet operationally subordinate to it.

The question of subordinating units and formations of the RVSN, naval strategic nuclear forces, LRA, and the Space Troops hasn’t been decided.  According to the source:

“This issue is now under long-term study, Genshtab Chief Army General Nikolay Makarov is personally occupied with it.”

The Genshtab source said the new MD/OSKs will be tested out during the Vostok-2010 operational-strategic exercise at the end of June.

ITAR-TASS said this major command change will not involve officer cuts, but there will be a redistribution of the officer corps to new service locations.

So there’s more smoke from a fire somewhere, presumably.  If this pans out, it will be the culmination of a command and control change long talked about, and even tried out piecemeal at times.  After many waves of reform since late 2008, one has to wonder whether this is the time for more disruption.  Maybe it is since things are already disrupted.  Which generals will be the winners or losers?

It will be hard to judge the value of this effort just from the name changes or the movement of a major combined formation from one order-of-battle column to another.  A lot will depend on what the exact terms of ‘operational subordination’ are when it comes to the fleets and other major militarized formations outside the Defense Ministry’s administrative control.  The four MD/OSK commanders will certainly have more responsibility, and they must be hoping and working to get the real authority they need to go along with it.

More on OSKs, and ASU TZ

On Monday, Olga Bozhyeva reminded readers the proposed OSKs were former Genshtab Chief Baluyevskiy’s idea, and she called them part of a command reorganization along an American model.  She contends Baluyevskiy lost his job for pushing the change from military districts (MDs) to operational-strategic commands (OSKs).  And now the OSK will apparently win out, even though Baluyevskiy’s long gone. 

Bozhyeva says Baluyevskiy and the shift to OSKs were defeated in the past by MD commanders [and their powerful patrons] who stood to lose out in the process.  She claims Baluyevskiy’s opposition to the  Navy Main Staff transfer from Moscow to St. Petersburg was a pretext for his dismissal when the OSK was the real issue.  And his OSK experiment in the Far East was quietly dismantled after his departure. 

Actually, it’s more likely Baluyevskiy went down for opposing–rightly or wrongly–the whole range of ideas pushed by Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov.  By contrast, Baluyevskiy’s replacement has been a veritable extension of Serdyukov on policy issues.

With Baluyevskiy gone, according to Bozhyeva, the MD commanders bent the OSK idea to their way of thinking, proposing to make every MD an OSK, without cutting or consolidating MDs, and duplicating efforts in the process.  She says this reflected the MDs as ‘sacred cows’ upon which no one would encroach, and this tracked with new Genshtab Chief Makarov’s background as an MD commander.  Recall that Baluyevskiy was a career Genshtabist.

Bozhyeva continues, saying this year Makarov has begun to think about how to command the ‘new profile’ army.  And wars of the future will hardly accommodate a command structure like the MD.  But Bozhyeva reports a rumor that the name Military District could be retained to appease opponents of merging MDs in favor of modern OSKs.  She concludes, if the OSKs are realized, it’ll be possible to talk of a really ‘new profile’ army.

Dmitriy Litovkin also had his say on the OSK story last Friday.  He describes the possible move to OSKs in terms of more responsive command and control, reducing the transmission of orders from 16 to 3 steps.  But, he cautions, the OSKs are still just a proposal at this point.

Litovkin says the military hasn’t tried to hide the fact that the OSK is borrowed from the U.S. concept.  The main thing achieved in such an approach, he continues, is responsiveness in issuing and receiving combat orders.  The Defense Ministry says this new OSK structure will be tightly tied to the new automated battlefield command and control system ASU TZ (АСУ ТЗ).

Litovkin mentions how Prime Minister Putin saw ASU TZ at Voronezh, and how the system is supposed to centralize command and control down to the ‘electronic soldier’ on the battlefield.  This fall brigade exercises are supposed to employ ASU TZ with the aim of controlling several hundred ‘objects’ in battle simultaneously.  This summer the OSK model will be tried as part of the Vostok-2010 exercise in the Far East.

Litovkin’s source says:

“Developing ASU TZ without trying it in the new armed forces structure is impossible.  We need to understand in practice not just how this works, but also, possibly, that we are developing something unnecessary or, conversely, we aren’t making anything.”

Not a big vote of confidence for the new system.

Litovkin concludes by saying the possibility of unit and even garrison relocations might be a limitation on the OSK scheme.  Forces would need to be better balanced among the four strategic directions.  For example, the Western OSK would have too many motorized rifle units and the Eastern too few.

Idea of OSKs Waxes Again

In Russian defense policymaking, ideas never die; they wax and wane, and wax again.  Andrey Nikolskiy in Thursday’s Vedomosti reported a source in the Defense Ministry’s central apparatus claims the idea of establishing four regional Operational-Strategic Commands (OSKs) in place of Russia’s current military districts and fleets is waxing again.  This is hardly a new story.

The West reportedly would combine the Moscow Military District (MD) and Leningrad MD, and the Baltic Fleet, under a headquarters located in St. Petersburg.  The East would combine the Far East MD with part of the Siberian MD, and the Pacific Fleet, with its headquarters in Khabarovsk.  The North would combine the remainder of the Siberian MD with part of the Volga-Ural MD, and the Northern Fleet, with Yekaterinburg as the headquarters.  Finally, the South would put the North Caucasus MD with the remainder of the Volga-Ural MD, and the Black Sea Fleet and Caspian Flotilla, with Rostov-on-Don as the headquarters.

Vedomosti  is circumspect on the four OSKs.  It maintains that no decision has been taken yet, and the possibility of creating them is being studied.  Interfaks was quick to claim they’ll be established before the end of the year.  Putting the West headquarters in Piter would track with the apparently continuing effort to relocate the Navy Main Staff to the country’s ‘northern capital.’

So, a little about what would happen if this idea were implemented . . . clear losers are the LenVO, SibVO, and PUrVO, which all disappear.  The VMF won’t like the idea and the VVS is perhaps more ambivalent since its air forces and air defense armies (AVVSPVOs) pretty much exist within the current MD structure anyway.  The East would have 14 active maneuver brigades instead of the DVO’s 10.  The West would have 9 instead of 6.  And the North might be created with 6 brigades.  Of course, the OSKs would also have greater territory to cover than the MDs.

In retrospect, new Ground Troops CINC General-Colonel Aleksandr Postnikov foreshadowed renewed talk of OSKs replacing MDs when he arrived in March mentioning the possibility of an MVO-LenVO merger.

Former Genshtab Chief Yuriy Baluyevskiy’s one-year experiment with an Eastern Regional Command at Ulan Ude headed by General-Lieutenant Nikolay Tkachev was euthanized by his successor, Nikolay Makarov, in October 2008.  Theoretically, it might have been one regional command alongside analogous western and southern structures.  Baluyevskiy’s initiative probably dated back to 2005 discussions about a new command structure in the RF Security Council.  But it’s not clear what kind of regional commands were considered.  Were they to overlay the MDs and fleets like the High Commands of Forces of late Soviet days or replace them in a more radical restructuring?

This winter, then Ground Troops CINC, Army General Boldyrev said that each MD would become an OSK, and the MD-OSK commander would have operational control over all military units on its territory–Navy, Air Forces, MVD Internal Troops (VV), etc.  Boldyrev said:

“The operational-strategic command is a military district.  Such is its function and standing.  The legal status of the OSK has been drafted, its approval is planned in the very near future, this will possibly happen before the end of this year.  The district commander has been declared the commander of the operational-strategic command.”

Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye has been predicting the MD’s replacement for some time, writing in September last year: 

“. . . the leadership of the country and of the Armed Forces are returning to the idea that was proposed several years ago by former RF Armed Forces General Staff Chief, Army General Yuriy Baluyevskiy, who attempted to create Operational-Strategic Commands in theaters of operations, but not on the basis of individual districts, but rather by unifying several districts and fleets under the command of the OSK.” 

The MD is still more part of the administrative, training, and mobilization system for the paradigmatic ‘large-scale war’ of Soviet planning.  The OSK would have to become a combatant command for fighting regional or local wars here and now.  Consolidating three MDs and possibly downgrading fleet commands somewhat might save a few hundred senior officer positions.

As Vedomosti describes it, if the four OSKs actually stand up, they will include armed forces units, not other militarized forces like the VV or FSB Border Guards.  This isn’t surprising since these OSKs would be permanent, not just wartime, command structures. 

The control of strategic nuclear forces is always an issue in debating structures like the OSK.  Would OSK commanders really control and operate the RVSN, SSBNs, and long-range bombers on their territory?  If not, how would the OSK’s general purpose forces support strategic operations?  

Abolishing 6 MDs and especially 4 fleets and their long histories would be a politically daunting task, sure to raise lots of opposition in the ranks and among the publicly vocal ex-military.

Finally, it might be argued that the military has experienced near ‘permanent revolution’ over the last 18 months, and doesn’t need another major organizational innovation while the situation settles out from previous changes.

In any event, the replacement of MDs with OSKs still remains a rumor at this point.