Leningrad Military District (LenVO) Commander, General-Lieutenant Nikolay Bogdanovskiy held a news conference today and, along with talking about the upcoming Victory Day parade on St. Petersburg’s Palace Square, he talked about his district’s ‘new profile.’
Firstly, following General Staff Chief Makarov, Bogdanovskiy said contractees will be reduced and conscripts increased.
Specifically, he stated:
“. . . the number of contractees will be signficantly reduced, many of those who showed themselves incapable of serving will need to be dismissed.”
The LenVO needs 25,000 draftees from this spring’s consription campaign beginning on 1 April. But he said this won’t create problems because, last fall, 100,000 young men came through the LenVO’s voyenkomaty and 25,000 were deemed fit to serve.
The LenVO Commander said, in the process of ongoing personnel cuts, 1,600 officers and 1,200 warrants have been ‘placed at the disposition’ of their commanding officers, but only 346 and 284 respectively have been discharged from the service.
These are surprisingly small numbers.
So, in the LenVO at least, only 22 percent of the officers destined for dismissal could actually be dismissed with the benefits and apartments owed them. The other 78 percent remain in limbo, without duty posts and living on their rank pay [perhaps one-fourth of their former total monthly pay]. And 24 percent of warrants could be sent home with benefits and housing while the other 76 percent wait for these things.
Bogdanovskiy has also asked St. Petersburg’s governor to resolve a situation with owners of garages located on land the Defense Ministry claims near the village of Yukki, where the LenVO now wants to build apartments for servicemen. But that one will be hard; the Defense Ministry’s old nemesis Rosimushchestvo says the property doesn’t belong to the military. The builder and construction equipment have already been out to the site with the intention of knocking down the garages. Boganovskiy says the plan is to put 50 apartment houses on this territory.
The LenVO Commander also acknowledged problems with military housing built in the district:
“I’ve more than once tried to sort out the quality problem in the housing in Pushkin.”
He indicated the problems started small, but failure to fix them in a timely manner means ten times the amount of money must be spent to repair them now. But he promised to do so by the end of spring.
On the force structure front, he says the LenVO’s reforms were largely completed in 2009. Ten brigades and other units were formed or reformed in the process [the district has 3 combined arms brigades--the 25th, 138th, and 200th].
Regarding problems with the command and violence in the 138th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade at Kamenka, Bogdanovskiy said:
“. . . we haven’t managed to complete fully tasks connected with discipline–in particular, in the 138th Kamenka Brigade the commander, chief of staff, and assistants for armaments and socialization work were dismissed because of events there. Now the situation is normalizing, we are trying not to repeat past mistakes.”
Interesting insights into what the Serdyukov’s reforms have meant for one, albeit small and not particularly significant, district. But, if such a large percentage of officers are being left ‘at the disposal’ of their commanders, can one believe Serdyukov’s assertion that 65,000 officers were put out of the armed forces last year? Does this include a small number of dismissed and a much larger number of those left ‘at the disposal’ of commanders? On an issue closely tied to officer cuts, can one believe that the Defense Ministry really obtained 45,000 apartments last year if so many soon-to-be-ex-officers are ‘at the disposal’ awaiting them?
It would seem that, if Serdyukov has failed, or been unable, to move as speedily on officer reductions as he wanted, the door might be left open for someone to reverse this policy, especially if a large number of potentially angry officers remains for a long time in the limbo of being neither in, nor out of, the army.