Tag Archives: ОСК

Zelin Out?

An Interfaks source in the Defense Ministry says Air Forces CINC, General-Colonel Aleksandr Zelin might be retiring on age grounds.  The rumor goes that Zelin’s Deputy for Aviation, General-Lieutenant Igor Sadofyev will relieve him, while Zelin moves into a defense industry job.  RIA Novosti reports the same story, citing several media outlets.  The Air Forces spokesman, meanwhile, says the VVS cannot comment because it doesn’t have any information to this effect.

RIA Novosti talked to defense commentator Igor Korotchenko, who expressed caution about the Zelin rumor, but said the move to four MDs / OSKs has diminished the service CINC’s influence:

“The role and place of the main commands of the services of the Armed Forces has been reduced accordingly.  Practically all aviation, except strategic, will be subordinate to the OSK commander.”

He says the story of Zelin’s possible departure may have surfaced because of the downgrading of the service CINCs.

It’s interesting that age was cited since Zelin’s only 57, and can serve until age 60 under the law.  He’s headed the VVS since May 2007. 

The three-star general was the subject of dismissal rumors in 2009 when the General Staff Chief and Defense Minister were allegedly unhappy with his insufficient command of air-space (aerospace) defense (VKO) issues.  See Newsru.com and Grani.ru for that story.

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.

Western MD Opens for Business

According to ITAR-TASS, General-Colonel Valeriy Gerasimov told journalists yesterday that the new Western Military District (MD) was fully formed and functional on 1 September.  Gerasimov said:

“The Western Military District started functioning on 1 September.  Command and control organs of the former Leningrad and Moscow Military Districts, Northern and Baltic Fleets, and also the 1st Air Forces and Air Defense Command went into the composition of the staff located in St. Petersburg.”

Gerasimov said the majority of Moscow MD staff officers:

“. . . were appointed to positions in the staff of the Western Military District and other organs of military command and control.  Part of the officers, having served out their prescribed terms, were dismissed, but those who have a half-year to a year remaining to serve are at the disposition [of their commanding officers].”

Gerasimov himself went from Commander, Moscow MD to become a deputy chief of the General Staff.

The Defense Ministry now wants the other three new MDs / OSKs to be functional by 1 October.

Winners and Losers in Organizing New MDs and Armies

Today a Ground Troops spokesman told ITAR-TASS three current Leningrad Military District (MD) brigades will form a 6th Combined Arms Army (CAA) in the new Western MD.  The 200th, 138th, and 25th Motorized Rifle Brigades will comprise the new army, and its headquarters will probably be Agalatovo, just north of St. Petersburg.  The spokesman also said a surface-to-air missile brigade and independent engineering brigade will be added to the Western MD.

These comments came in conjunction with a visit by Ground Troops CINC, General-Colonel Aleksandr Postnikov to the region to check on the formation of the new MD.  The spokesman said Postnikov may be working on peacetime coordination between the district’s Ground Troops, the Northern and Baltic Fleets, and Air Forces units.  He said, in wartime, “everything’s clear – [the district’s] commander directly commands everything deployed within the district’s boundaries.  But there’s still no experience of coordination in peacetime and we need to get it.”

Nezavisimaya gazeta’s Vladimir Mukhin also wrote today that the third new CAA will be based in Maykop, Southern MD.  Mukhin says that staffs, commands, formations, and military units in the Far East, Siberian, and Moscow MDs are being liquidated in the shift to four new MDs / OSKs, and, as a result, several thousand officers will be placed outside the TO&E beginning 1 September.  He thinks many of them won’t find vacant posts, and will be discharged from the army.

Serdyukov’s Defense Ministry will also be putting some soon-to-be-vacant properties up for sale, e.g. Moscow MD headquarters (Polina Osipenko Street, Moscow), Far East MD headquarters (Seryshev Street, Khabarovsk).  The initial asking prices for these buildings and land will be several billion U.S. dollars.  As long planned, proceeds from these sales, along with the sale of the Navy Main Staff, military educational institutions, and other military establishments in Moscow, are supposed to fund construction of housing for servicemen as well as military garrison infrastructure in new army deployment locations.

Mukhin talked to General-Lieutenant Yuriy Netkachev about Maykop.  Netkachev says Moscow is resurrecting the army headquarters located there until 1993.  He believes Maykop was chosen to reinforce against threats from Georgia as well as threats to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

In the Central MD, Mukhin says the 67th Spetsnaz Brigade will move yet again, from IVVAIU in Irkutsk to Chita or Transbaykal Kray.  The IVVAIU building will be sold.

Mukhin sees Moscow’s demilitarization and moving forces closer to their likely operational theaters as the right policy, but asks if it’s underpinned with resources.  It has serious impact on servicemen and their families, and they’ve been forgotten in this process.

Mukhin quotes servicemen’s union chief Oleg Shvedkov:

“Continuing steps to transition the troops into a new profile supposes not only a significant cut in professional servicemen, but also their relocation to a new place of service.  And this means new everyday life problems are possible:  transfers, absence of housing, work for spouses, education for children, and the like.  The Defense Ministry is trying to resolve these issues on its own, but it would be more correct for the government to work on them through a special federal program.”

Commander for New Army in Chita

General-Major Romanchuk

By the Defense Minister’s order dated 12 August, General-Major Aleksandr Vladimirovich Romanchuk became acting commander of the new combined arms army being formed in Chita.  ITAR-TASS quoted a SibVO spokesman:

“The command and staff of the army, and also a number of army-subordinate formations and military units, will be formed under his leadership.  Formations and military units based in Transbaykal Kray will comprise the army.”

The Chita Combined Arms Army (CAA) will be the easternmost large formation in the new Central Military District (MD), or Combined Strategic Command (OSK) Center.  Who knows what number the new army will receive . . . maybe the former 29th CAA will be resurrected.

Romanchuk was born 15 April 1959 in Lugansk, Ukraine.  He grew up in a military family in Azerbaijan.  Commissioned out of the Baku Higher Combined Arms Command School in 1980, he served as a tank platoon and company commander, then chief of staff and deputy commander of a tank battalion in the Transcaucasus MD.  He graduated from the Military Academy of Armored Troops in 1989 and, for a very short period, commanded an independent tank battalion in the Central Group of Forces (Czechoslovakia). 

Returning home with the rest of Soviet forces, he became deputy commander and commander of a machine gun-artillery regiment in the Transbaykal MD during the 1990s.  He was a colonel in his late 30s by the end of this phase of his career.

When the Transbaykal MD folded into the Siberian MD, Romanchuk became chief of an armaments and equipment storage base, and chief of staff and deputy commander of a Siberian MD tank division.  He served a tour of duty in Chechnya during the late 1990s or early 2000s.

Between 2001 and 2003, he was deputy commander of the Guards Taman Motorized Rifle Division in the Moscow MD.  He became commander of the 4th Guards Kantemir Tank Division in Naro-Fominsk at the end of 2003.  He was promoted to general-major (one star) in mid-2005.

He likely attended the Military Academy of the General Staff between mid-2006 and mid-2008, and then became a deputy commander of the Novosibirsk-based 41st CAA.  In July 2009, he became chief of staff and first deputy commander of that army.

Romanchuk is married with two sons.

Two New Armies for the Central Military District

This week General-Lieutenant Vladimir Chirkin spoke to Krasnaya zvezda about several things.  Recall that Chirkin is acting commander of the troops of the ‘Combined Strategic Command of the Red Banner Central Military District.’  He has been commander of the SibVO until now of course.

His interview brought two things immediately into focus.  First, it appears that OSKs will actually be unified or combined strategic commands rather than ‘operational-strategic commands.’  Either way the acronym is OSK.  But combined strategic command connotes a couple significant things.  They may really unify all armed services and branches on their territory for warfighting.  Second, they are beyond the ‘operational-strategic’ level of warfare; they are intended to be strategic.

In this interview, Chirkin was asked and talked at length about the scale and scope of Vostok-2010 in Siberia, as well as the performance of his troops in the exercise.

Asked about the formation of the four new OSKs, Chirkin provided a short dissertation on why the Armed Forces command and control system is being overhauled:

“Recently the Russian Federation adopted a new National Security Strategy and Military Doctrine.  The Defense Ministry and General Staff put amendments in these documents.  Possible threats of wars and conflicts, basic forms and capabilities for fulfilling strategic missions were determined.  The National Security Concept of the Russian Federation proposes that the state could encounter real and potential threats.  I won’t reveal all the subtleties, but I will say one thing – the new system of command and control is being created accounting for the realities of the current time and changing international situation, so the state can independently confront possible threats to its security and the security of its allies, and achieve strategic goals.”

“Such a decision was predicated on the realities of our times and repeatedly  thought over by both the General Staff of the Armed Forces and the country’s leadership.  Reforming the system at all levels is the basis of military reform.  In a word, this decision strengthens the preceding results and gives the process a new turn.”

Chirkin says the formation of his new OSK is not interfering with planned combat training at the brigade level and below.

He says there shouldn’t be any concern about excess officers in his command:

“Officers who meet all requirements and wish to continue serving will be appointed to positions.  Firstly, the Combined Strategic Commands in Yekaterinburg and Khabarovsk [i.e. Eastern Military District] will require supplements of several hundred officers ready to serve in their directorates, departments, and services.  You understand the territories and quantity of troops are increasing.  And this means professional-administrators will be needed, and there are not just a few of these among SibVO officers.”

“Secondly, in Chita a combined arms army will be formed.  Officers and civilian personnel will also be required there.  Besides, in Transbaykal, several more formations and units will be formed, which must make up a large formation [i.e. объединение, an army].  And this, you understand, is hundreds more officer positions.  The main thing is an officer should be a qualified specialist, a master of his trade and have the desire to continue serving.”

Recall in early June, General Staff Chief Makarov told the Federation Council three new armies comprising six brigades would be formed, and so it looks like Makarov’s old home, the erstwhile SibVO, and its massive territory in its new Combined Strategic Command of the Central Military District incarnation, will receive two of the new armies.  Look for generals with a strong SibVO pedigree to command them.  No indication of where Makarov’s third new army will appear.  The Eastern Military District might be a good bet.

As a postscript, Chirkin noted that the SibVO has gotten 4,500 apartments to distribute to dismissed or retired officers.

Frontal, Army Aviation to OSK Commanders

Air Forces CINC, General-Colonel Aleksandr Zelin had many announcements yesterday on the eve of his service’s holiday, but none more interesting than the not-completely-surprising news that frontal and army aviation will transfer from the Air Forces to be directly subordinate to Russia’s four new ‘operational-strategic commands.’

Zelin said:

“The Air Forces will remain a service of the Armed Forces, its Main Command [Glavkomat or Главкомат] will continue functioning, the transfer of four Air Forces and Air Defense commands [i.e. armies] to the commanders of the new military districts — Western, Southern, Central and Eastern is planned.”

“Frontal and army aviation is transferring to the commanders of these districts and, accordingly, to the unified strategic commands.  As regards the aviation component of the RF strategic nuclear triad – Long-Range Aviation, it, like Military-Transport Aviation and the Operational-Strategic Command of Aerospace Defense [ОСК ВКО] will remain immediately subordinate to the Air Forces CINC.”

So what’s happened?

After years of lobbying, army aviation is leaving the Air Forces, but not exactly returning to the Ground Troops.  It is, however, returning to a Ground Troops-dominated environment in the OSKs.

The OSKs look more and more like U.S.-style unified, combatant commands, and the RF armed services like force providers.  

One supposes that the Air Forces, like the Navy, will have to continue playing a very large role in developing doctrine, tactics, acquisition, training, and operations and maintenance of frontal aviation at least, and probably army aviation as well. 

Zelin had more fragmentary comments on this subject.  The Air Forces CINC will retain:

“. . . immediate authority to direct combat training of all aviation and air defense forces, development of all directive documents, and also material-technical support.”

“This entire system is arranged just to optimize command and control and concentrate the main forces and means in the troops [i.e. OSKs].”

He added that these measures must:

“. . . prevent theft and waste of material and financial means and guarantee their strict centralization.”

One wonders how aspects of this ‘material-technical support’ (MTO) role for the Air Forces CINC will track with General-Colonel Bulgakov’s new MTO empire in the increasingly civilian Defense Ministry.