More reaction to the results of the inspection . . .
Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye editor Viktor Litovkin expressed surprise at ”the military’s absolute openness” in allowing journalists to attend General Staff Chief Valeriy Gerasimov’s report on the results of the exercise.
Litovkin noted the 98th Air-Assault Division’s 227th Parachute-Assault Regiment participated in the exercise. Su-25 and Su-24 aircraft flew from 4th Air and Air Defense Command bases at Primorsko-Akhtarsk, Morozovsk, and Marinovka.
201st Military Base Commander, Colonel Sergey Ryumshin attributed his problems in communicating to the Russian military in Tajikistan using old local phone lines, which are often out of order. Gerasimov ordered the chief of the Main (?!) Directorate of Communications to sort out the problems.
Litovkin added that part and system malfunctions kept five Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters from the 2nd Air and Air Defense Command’s 565th Aviation Base from joining the exercise. Su-25 ground attack aircraft from the 4th Command’s 6972nd Aviation Base returned home without dropping ordnance.
Two Msta-S artillery systems were out of order in the Central MD’s 28th Motorized Rifle Brigade. Oleg Sidenko [sic] was there to answer for this. He said there are defects in 900 Msta-S systems. Siyenko, you’ll recall, is General Director of Uralvagonzavod, owner of Uraltransmash. The latter has a contract to maintain the Msta-S, but needs to buy new components from sub-contractors. Siyenko indicated he wants his enterprise to take over Oboronservis affiliate Spetsremont, currently responsible for Defense Ministry armored vehicles. He said UVZ can’t constantly make repairs “on the fly.”
Litovkin reported 100 R-168-5un radios in the 58th Army are inoperable. Specialists call these systems from the Yaroslavl Radio Factory unreliable.
However, an earlier NVO article, by Oleg Vladykin, points to the positive; 20 VTA transports were able to operate successfully.
Vedomosti’s Aleksey Nikolskiy summed the inspection up this way:
“In Soviet times such evaluations were conducted so often that every officer fell into them at least once every two years, says retired Colonel Viktor Murakhovskiy. Unsatisfactory results after so many years without normal combat training don’t surprise the expert, in his words, such an inspection is very useful and will give the Genshtab a picture of the true condition of combat readiness. The reason such a large quantity of equipment is out of order is also fully clear — organizational chaos has ruled in the realm of equipment repair in the troops in recent years, the expert says. Therefore Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu’s decision to return repair sub-units which were liquidated in the course of the transition to outsourcing should be implemented as quickly as possible.”
Yes, it’s not surprising, and the honesty is the first step toward improvement. But we should remember the civilian side of the Serdyukov-led Defense Ministry really didn’t, and wasn’t supposed to, worry too much about what the troops could do in strictly military terms. That was properly the responsibility of the General Staff. Shouldn’t it be criticizing itself too? Shouldn’t it have come forward about problems earlier?
And one has to wonder, in the relatively short period of time since Serdyukov announced the outsourcing of most army maintenance, how much outsourcing was actually done? Certainly some, but certainly not all of it. Nevertheless, Serdyukov’s scheme is certainly bearing the brunt of the blame. A proper question might be how capable were those repair sub-units before Serdyukov supposedly swept them all away? Probably not very.
Army General Gerasimov promised surprise inspections and exercises will occur regularly now. It’ll be interesting to see just how routine they become.