Tag Archives: Outsourcing

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.

Medvedev Talks to Brigade Commanders

Medvedev Speaks at Brigade Commanders' Assembly

According to Kremlin.ru, President Dmitriy Medvedev traveled to the Gorokhovets training ground near Nizhniy Novgorod today to observe battalion-level ground and air maneuvers.  It’s a modern twist on an old tradition of presidential speeches before end-of-training-year assemblies in Moscow. 

Medvedev inspected a new field camp, different weapons and equipment, and watched a Tunguska demonstration.

Afterward he met brigade commanders observing the exercise, and addressed them about the process of reforming the armed forces.

Medvedev said for two years Russia has been actively modernizing its armed forces to make them more compact, effective, and better equipped, and completing ‘org-shtat’ measures [i.e. TO&E changes] to achieve a ‘new profile.’  Flanked by Defense Minister Serdyukov and General Staff Chief Makarov, he promised the assembled commanders a defense budget worth 2.8 percent of Russia’s GDP every year until 2020, but he said getting this level of spending will not be easy, and it requires adjustments and cuts elsewhere.

He particularly emphasized establishing the new system of higher pay to replace earlier ad hoc measures like premium pay.  He seemed to say extra money will be squeezed out for this, but people will be watching how it’s spent.  Kremlin.ru posted some of Medvedev’s opening remarks:

“This is creating the conditions to equip the troops with new equipment in accordance with the current edition of the State Program of Armaments and, what is a no less important task and really no less complex, to resolve all social issues which exist for servicemen.  This issues are also well-known.”

 “First and foremost is the indexation of pay which we are already now conducting, and implementation of the housing construction program.  From 2012, the planned reform of the military pay system not according to those fragmentary pieces which exist at present, not according to those selective approaches which exist, but a full reform of pay.”

“In the final accounting, we should get so that base salary, monetary salary of servicemen will be increased practically three times. And in the process to preserve and to extend to all the Armed Forces that which we talked about in the past, that which we did according to groundwork laid in bounds of order 400 and some other Defense Ministry documents.”

“All planned measures, reform measures should be calculated and materially supported in the most rigorous way.  An adjustment in the military budget is being conducted and oversight of the use of resources is being organized for this.  I promise the attention of all Defense Ministry leaders on this:  all these processes need to be completed in coordination with other government structures in order that we should have absolute precision here.”

“A high level of financial support for the Armed Forces allows, I hope, for freeing servicemen from noncore housekeeping functions – that, in fact, was done long ago in the armies of other countries.  The troops need first and foremost to put their attention on operational training, combat exercises, to concentrate exclusively on these issues.  Security duties (firstly, perhaps not even security, but cleaning), everyday support, food preparation should be transferred to civilian organizations.”

Medvedev told the commanders their brigades should be self-sufficient, modern, balanced, and capable of fulfilling missions given them, and he invited their feedback because, as he said, the success of the military’s transformation depends on it.

“It would also be useful for me to know your opinion on the quality of the reform, on the organizational changes, what, in your view, has proven itself useful, and where there are problems.”

Despite soliciting their honest opinions, one doubts the Supreme CINC will hear many complaints from this audience.  They are, after all, winners in the reform process since they managed to continue serving in command positions.

Army Outsourcing

Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov conducted another extramural collegium Wednesday, this time in Khabarovsk.  Serdyukov and company congratulated themselves for completing the ‘large-scale work’ of forming the Eastern Military District (VVO or ВВО), and the other three new districts, ahead of schedule.  This reshuffling was done in less than a year, so it probably really doesn’t count as ‘large-scale work.’

General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov reported the VVO has operated since 1 October.  For his part, Serdyukov noted:

“The Eastern Military District is the largest in combat composition, area, and length of ground and maritime borders.”

The VVO sports the Pacific Fleet, an air and air defense army, and four combined arms armies, leading the Defense Minister to conclude:

“Unifying all forces and means under a single commander allowed for a substantial increase in the combat possibilities and potential of the district.”

Possibly, yes, but it remains to be realized and proven . . . since the very same forces have just been aggregated in a new way.  Is this new whole more than the sum of its parts, or not?

Attendees discussed unified logistics as well as unified combat forces.  Reports said along with unified commands a unified system of material-technical support (MTO) is being established in the military districts.  As previously reported, it is supposed to unite arms supply and logistics in one function and organization.

At any rate, the collegium had new or semi-new business as well . . .

Serdyukov, Makarov, and other attendees also discussed Defense Ministry outsourcing.

Before the meeting, Makarov told wire services the issue of delimiting spheres of activity between the military department and outside organizations that will provide support functions for servicemen and military towns, including heating, electricity, and food service, would be discussed.  According to Rossiyskaya gazeta, Makarov said:

“We need to clearly determine the bounds within which structures should work to support the everyday life of military bodies.”

Speaking like an old-hand, Makarov said the outsourcing system will take care of noncore tasks like feeding the troops and providing utilities to military towns.  The Defense Ministry’s board of directors discussed transferring responsibilities and corresponding property to these contractors.  Are they going to operate or own these assets?

RG reminded readers 340,000 troops are supposed to be fed by civilian firms by year’s end.  They include students in cadet corps, Suvorov schools, military VUZy, and patients in Defense Ministry hospitals.  The paper said outsourced food service would be coming soon to permanent readiness units.  And laundry services, part of military transportation, and equipment supply, including aviation, POL, and support for all deployed Navy ships, will be outsourced.

Finally, Army General Makarov said the collegium discussed in detail the issue of replacing or scrapping worn out equipment.  According to RIA Novosti, Makarov indicated there’ll be a major inventory and weeding out of what’s usable and what isn’t:

“In the course of 2011, everything that’s inoperable, particularly, in the aviation and ship inventory, we will manage to restore and put back on the line.  That which has outlived its time according to its parameters should be withdrawn from service.  This is quite a solid sum which could be redirected to acquiring new types of equipment and armaments.”

Not sure how much they make on this scrap sale.  Not so long ago the Defense Ministry said it was cutting repairs (as well as RDT&E) to focus more money on buying new systems.

Deputy Defense Minister Shevtsova

Tatyana Shevtsova at the FNS

Last Friday, Tatyana Shevtsova became the newest deputy defense minister – the ninth overall, seventh civilian, second female.  By all accounts, Shevtsova will oversee and audit Defense Ministry spending and other activities.  Kommersant calls her an ‘oversight and monitoring specialist.’  The Defense Ministry’s spokesman has said as much, according to Vedomosti (read it in Moscow Times as well).  Shevtsova’s another member of Defense Minister Serdyukov’s former team at the Federal Tax Service (FNS or ФНС).  Kommersant describes her as a ‘trusted individual’ who will help Serdyukov supervise all but the Defense Ministry’s purely military functions.  In particular, several commentators believe Shevtsova will track outsourced service and support activities paid for in the state defense order (GOZ).

The 41-year-old Shevtsova was born in Kozelsk, Kaluga Oblast, and graduated from the Leningrad Financial-Economic Institute in 1991.  She’s a candidate of economic sciences (Ph.D.). 

She started in the tax service in 1991 as an inspector in the central rayon of St. Petersburg, eventually heading the tax service’s St. Petersburg directorate.  Kommersant reminds that Serdyukov was a deputy director in the St. Petersburg directorate during Shevtsova’s time there in the early 2000s. 

Shevtsova went to Moscow to head the tax service’s large taxpayer department in early 2004.  In mid-2004, Serdyukov became Director of the FNS, and Shevtsova became one of his deputies. 

Shevtsova stayed at the tax service under Mikhail Mokretsov after Serdyukov left for the Defense Ministry in early 2007.  She was in charge of the oversight directorate and all nine inter-regional inspectorates for large taxpayers.

When Mokretsov and others members of Serdyukov’s FNS team departed for the Defense Ministry in mid-2010, Shevtsova did likewise, becoming an advisor.  According to one official who spoke to Kommersant, she spent the last few months ‘studying the situation’ in the Defense Ministry.

A former Defense Ministry official told Vedomosti Shevtsova is “a talented economist as well as an exacting official, whose subordinates at the Federal Tax Service were very afraid of her.”  She reportedly will turn ten Defense Ministry oversight bodies into a system.

Kommersant said Shevtsova will direct oversight organs for administrative, organizational, and financial activities as well as military housing.  The paper’s source says this could translate into oversight over everything except military command and control and operations.  The ninth deputy minister will reportedly gain some responsibilities once discharged by the chiefs of the ministry’s apparatus, Rear Services, and Housing and Construction Service.

Radio Svoboda was kind enough to interview Aleksandr Golts who concluded:

“It’s more or less obvious Anatoliy Eduardovich Serdyukov rapidly gathers his team in those areas important to him.  As we know, at present a so-called second civilian branch of the Defense Ministry is being formed.  Operational troop command and control, combat training remain with the Genshtab.  At the same time, a very strong area which will withdraw from the ministry a great number of functions connected with service and support of all Defense Ministry units and formations is being formed.  This is very complex work in the realm of the state defense order and the like.  Evidently, Ms. Shevtsova will work in this area.”

 Asked about her first steps, Golts commented:

 “If there will be first steps, we haven’t found out anything about them.  The Defense Ministry very precisely hides the most important directions of its activity from any public scrutiny.  Everything happens very quietly.”

Radio Svoboda also asked Viktor Baranets about ‘civilianization’ and the appointment of a reported 50 women to high posts under Serdyukov:

“They are already sarcastically joking  in the army about the ‘feminization’ of the Defense Ministry leadership.  A large number of women who’ve appeared in key Defense Ministry posts, at various times crossed paths with Serdyukov, and with Putin, and with Medvedev.  Of course, they’re Petersburg natives . . . .  There are unofficial reports that [Shevtsova] actively assisted Serdyukov in destroying Khodorkovskiy’s empire.”

Baranets’ sources in the Defense Ministry also say Shevtsova will be responsible for large sums of service and support funding being directed to contractors.  His general and colonel friends joke:

“We only have one vacant post left – deputy defense minister for corruption.  Because all the other jobs are filled.”

 Or anti-corruption one supposes . . . .

Igor Korotchenko told Vedomosti the Defense Ministry’s growing civilian component is designed to supervise the generals’ spending and accounting, especially in the GOZ.  Ruslan Pukhov calls the ‘invasion’ of former tax officials perfectly normal since Western defense ministries are full of civilian auditors who scrutinize massive military budgets.

Humanizing and Outsourcing the Army

Press outlets report that the Siberian MD’s Yurga-based 74th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade is the test bed for Defense Minister Serdyukov’s army ‘humanization’ initiative announced in late April.  And today Chief of Rear Services, Deputy Defense Minister General-Colonel Dmitriy Bulgakov expounded upon the extent of, and near-term plans for, outsourcing of food services in the army. 

The 74th IMRB is trying out a 5-day work week and weekend passes for soldiers.  They are permitted to wear civilian clothes while off-base for the first time.  The brigade has also introduced an after-lunch rest hour into the daily regimen. 

ITAR-TASS quotes brigade commander Colonel Andrey Khoptyar: 

“The intensity of combat training in 2010 has risen significantly, the load on soldiers has increased, therefore extra rest time has been allocated.”

Khoptyar said his soldiers are also getting an additional 30 minutes of sleep at night.

The media describes the 74th IMRB as one of Russia’s best performing and best-outfitted formations.  Some of its soldiers live in ‘hotel-type’ accommodations with four-man rooms and their own bath and shower rooms.

Transferring nonmilitary functions and duties from soldiers and their units to contracted commercial firms was another facet of Serdyukov’s April announcement.  Since December, this brigade’s troops have been spared mess hall duty because a private firm ‘MedStroy’ has taken over responsibility for operating its cafeteria.

IA Regnum described this as a “practical trial of new measures in all-around systematic support of day-to-day troop life by outside civilian organizations on an outsourcing basis.”  As the SibVO spokesman says:

“The main idea of the innovations is to free servicemen, to the maximum extent, from performing noncore tasks, establishing conditions for full-fledged combat training of personnel.”

At present, outsourced food service has already been establishing in the SibVO’s Ulan-Ude, Aleysk, and Yurga brigades, and the district military hospital in Chita.  The process of changing to this system of service has already started in two more permanent readiness brigades, the district training center, rear services units of two SibVO armies, three military schools, and 12 military hospitals this year.

The SibVO spokesman says state contracts worth 1 billion rubles have been concluded which bring 1,000 civilian specialists to provide services to more than 20,000 of the district’s troops.  The contracts include food and laundry services, housing-communal services in military towns, recreation services, and other material-technical support, including POL provision to the tune of more than 71 million rubles.

Beyond experiments in the SibVO, today Armed Forces Rear Services Chief Bulgakov told the press 340,000 soldiers in all permanent readiness units, military-educational institutions, and cadet and Suvorov premilitary schools will be fed through outsourced contracts by this year’s end.  He indicated 180,000 soldiers will be fed in 200 units for an annual cost of 6.5 billion rubles by 1 September.   At present, the logistics head said civilian enterprises are feeding 141,000 soldiers in 99 units, except in inaccessible and distant areas.  According to Bulgakov, commercial firms not only provide quality service, but are more economical than having soldiers perform this work.  Bulgakov added that outsourced food service has:

“. . . eliminated the diversion of personnel from combat training activities, food quality has improved, the variety of food prepared has broadened, culinary culture has been raised; the energy value, chemical composition and full achievement of the norms of food rations are reliably meeting normative requirements.”

Bulgakov spoke to reporters during a special rear services exercise supporting an ‘inter-service force grouping’ in the SibVO.  He pointed out how studying U.S. and NATO experiences influenced the Russian Army’s decision to outsource support functions.  According to ITAR-TASS, he said:

“As a result it was evident that the entire U.S. and NATO contingent in Afghanistan and Iraq at present is outsourcing all material-technical support.”

He added that “civilian specialists from commercial structures in these countries are working both in military units in their places of permanent deployment as well as in ‘hot spots.’”