Tag Archives: Glavkomat

Ulyanovsk Redux

Artist’s Rendering of Ulyanovsk Under Construction (photo: Soviet Military Power, 1984)

A Glavkomat source has told Izvestiya the Navy plans to send a draft plan for a  60,000-ton displacement nuclear-powered aircraft carrier back to the designers for revision.

The Krylov TsNII and Nevskiy PKB have been on the task for 2 and 1/2 years, and have not received official word back from the Navy, according to the paper.

The source said:

“They essentially proposed the old Soviet ‘Ulyanovsk’ aircraft carrier to us, which wasn’t built due to the USSR’s collapse.  At the end of the 1980s, it was a modern carrier, a worthy answer to the American ‘Nimitz,’ but today it’s literally last century.”

This is the same complaint made by at least some generals and defense officials and commentators – the OPK is proposing (or providing) Soviet- or 1990s-era weapons systems to the military.  By the same token, that may be about all it can do in its current condition.  The Russians don’t seem to have an answer for breaking this vicious circle.

The Russian carrier design is half the size of the future Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), envisions steam rather than electromagnetic catapults, and lacks AWACS aircraft.  But the designers claim the Navy gave them little to go on.

Izvestiya recalled former Navy CINC Vladimir Vysotskiy saying last year he hopes for one carrier strike group each for the Northern and Pacific Fleets by 2027.

Some Cracks in Air Forces’ Stonewall (Part II)

Returning to the latest on Igor Sulim . . . in a late July Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye article, Oleg Vladykin summarized the GVP’s various recent press releases about rising crime in the Armed Forces.  He provided insight into how senior officers view Sulim and premium pay extortion at Lipetsk.

A colonel, a deputy formation commander speaking anonymously told Vladykin:

“Almost the entire service of many senior officers came to twenty years in which they constantly humiliated, deprived the army whenever possible, and generally kept it in a miserable state.  But at the same time they used it regularly.  Senior officers carried all this gloom on their shoulders.  And here now, as if in gratitude, they promise to raise their pay three times!  Colonels will receive the same as junior managers in some public company, whose peaceful labor the army successfully defended in spite of everything.  Many have only a year or two left to serve, then dismissal in connection with reaching the age limit.  And what then?  And then also an increased, but still laughable pension.  It will be two times less than a lieutenant’s pay.  Therefore, senior comrades confidently tell younger officers:  ‘Boys, you still have everything ahead of you.  Somehow, you’ll manage to make a more or less decent living.  We here won’t…’  You know the majority understand this.  And those like Senior Lieutenant Sulim from the Lipetsk Center are the exceptions.  I’m not judging them, no, but I’m sure that after 1 January the prosecutors won’t easily locate those who’ll agree to talk about their contributions to their senior colleagues.”

Vladykin says he can’t agree with this argument, but it’s impossible not to note some logic in it.  He concludes:

“The psychology of men in shoulderboards has changed very powerfully in the course of recent Armed Forces transformations.”

In his Moskovskiy komsomolets blog Friday, Sulim highlighted an article posted on Lipetsk’s Gorod48.ru.  The article reviewed the shady, semi-criminal past of Hero of the Russian Federation, General-Major Aleksandr Kharchevskiy.

Then Sulim asks (rhetorically) how Kharchevskiy can be silent, and how could he not know about the criminal activities of his deputy, of his cousin, or of his subordinates who extorted money from their subordinates.  He sums it up:

“It’s shameful and disgusting that in the space of twenty years they’ve turned an elite flying unit into an elite business for stuffing pockets, hiding all this under a mask of love for the Motherland and swearing on officer’s honor.”

Perhaps there’s some kind of behind-the-scenes three-way struggle between the Defense Ministry, Air Forces, and military prosecutors over premium pay extortion.  Or maybe it’s a negotiation to agree on how, and how far, to pursue the Lipetsk case and ones like it.

But the Defense Ministry seems paralyzed.  The unit checks ordered by Serdyukov rather improbably failed to turn up similar crimes in services or branches besides the Air Forces.  As the colonel quoted above says, the Defense Ministry may believe the scandal will die down after the new, higher military pay system goes into effect.

The cracks in the Air Forces’ stonewall on the Sulim case are only tiny fissures.  Those immediately involved in extorting money and pressuring officers at Lipetsk are finally in trouble with the law, but no one above that immediate level.  As an institution, the VVS appears unworried for now.

The prosecutors apparently can’t even name the officers they “hold accountable” in the VVS Glavkomat.  This isn’t to belittle Sergey Fridinskiy, his organization, and their efforts.  He and his prosecutors sometimes seem to be the only people looking honestly at the state of the Russian military.  There are clearly only so many battles they can fight. 

And preoccupied as they are with their own positions, skirmishes, and the fast-approaching election season, Russia’s political and government leaders aren’t likely to devote more time or attention to untangling what’s happened at Lipetsk.

Navy Main Staff Moving 1 June

Navy Main Staff in Moscow

A Defense Ministry representative told RIA Novosti Friday that the main complex of the Navy’s Main Command has to be emptied before 1 June in connection with its move to St. Petersburg.  This means the Navy Main Staff building on Bolshoy Kozlovskiy.  The representative said 200 admirals and other officers have to head for the northern capital by the end of the month.
 
The source couldn’t say who will occupy the Main Staff’s old digs.  But other Navy Glavkomat buildings in Moscow aren’t being emptied yet.  These include the Navy Armaments Staff on Bolshoy Zlatoustinskiy, the Naval Aviation Staff in Skakovaya Alley, and the Rear Services Staff on Spartakovskaya Square.
 
RIA Novosti notes the back-and-forth, on-again / off-again nature of talk about moving the Navy’s headquarters to Piter.  Admiralty’s had a sign for several years saying it’s the home of the Navy Main Staff and Navy CINC.

The wire service failed to mention that Defense Minister Serdyukov has been solid all along, saying the transfer would happen eventually and gradually, even if his deputies or senior uniformed officers sometimes wavered on the issue.

A Thoroughly Modern CINC

You have to like Air Forces CINC, General-Colonel Aleksandr Zelin. 

He’s open and candid about what Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov’s ‘new profile’ reforms mean for him and his service.  He’s talked earlier, more often, and longer about it than his Ground Troops or Navy counterparts.  He’s matter of fact and accepting of the entire process. 

Serdyukov’s changes turned General-Colonel into a trainer and force provider, and he nonchalantly admits as much. 

At 57, Zelin understands he can be replaced at any time, or allowed to serve three more years or even longer. 

If he were a tad younger, he would have been the right kind of general to command one of the new military districts / unified strategic commands (OSK / ОСК), say the Western or Central.  An air or air defense officer would have been just the right choice for a potential future war on those axes.  Instead, the Kremlin has three Ground Troops generals and one admiral (a step in the right direction).  It’s hard to argue against Ground Troops leadership in Russia’s restive south.  But Air Forces (VVS or ВВС) would have been a really good choice in the Western or Central Military Districts . . . a missed opportunity for now.

But back to Zelin.  On Tuesday, he addressed a foreign military attaché audience (and the Russian media) about the future of the VVS.

According to Gzt.ru, Zelin said the VVS will be reduced by a third and spread among the four new  OSKs.  And its Main Command (Glavkomat) will be responsible only for combat training.  The OSKs are in charge of employing the VVS in their theaters.

The VVS now consist of the Glavkomat, 7 operational commands, 7 first-rank air bases, 8 second-rank air bases, and 13 aerospace defense (VKO) brigades.  Before the ‘new profile,’ the Air Forces consisted of 72 regiments, 14 air bases, and 12 independent squadrons and detachments, with a third more aircraft than the VVS now have.

Four of today’s 7 operational commands are subordinate to the new OSKs.  Army Aviation also falls under them.

According to Zelin, in the future, the VVS Main Command (Glavkomat or Главкомат) could become a “branch department” of the General Staff responsible for the combat training of the Air Forces and Air Defense, while the OSKs employ the trained forces.

Zelin says VVS personnel will number 170,000 with 40,000 officers, nearly 30,000 sergeants, and the balance conscripts or civilian specialists.  He says today’s personnel training system doesn’t satisfy him, and so he’ll probably change the system of flight schools.  Only four remain today.  Voronezh will be the main training center.  Flight training will also be conducted in Krasnodar and Lipetsk.  Yaroslavl will remain home to air defense officer training.

According to the CINC, the VVS airfield network won’t change.  Base airfields will be first priority for reconstruction and modernization.  Zelin says civilian airfields could be used for operational purposes in the future.

He noted the VVS plans to go to a fully automated command and control system in the future, and, of course, develop its VKO forces.

Lenta.ua quoted Zelin’s remarks to Interfaks.  Zelin said the VVS will renew 30 percent of its inventory by 2015, and 100 percent new in some areas and 80 percent new overall by 2020.  He doesn’t say where the VVS are today in this regard, but recall Defense Minister Serdyukov has said only 10 percent of equipment in the Armed Forces is modern.

Zelin said the VVS will get new aircraft, air defense, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare systems, but modernization of some existing systems is still part of the plan.  Although the State Armaments Program 2011-2020 and its 19 or 20 trillion rubles have to be finalized, Zelin repeated that 10 T-50 (PAK FA) will be acquired in 2013-2015, and 60 more from 2016.  He mentioned Military-Transport Aviation (VTA or ВТА) is a priority – including the An-124 Ruslan, Il-112, Il-476, Il-76M, and An-70 – but he doesn’t venture any numbers or dates for new production.  Zelin does give a target of 400 new and modernized helicopters in the inventory by 2015.

Who knows what was or wasn’t covered in these media contacts, but it seems odd there’s still no mention of more S-400 deliveries.  Zelin was still talking about getting 5-6 more battalions in 2010 earlier this year.  But no sign of them.  It’ll be a big deal when or if they appear.  Also, no mention of S-500 development.

Makarov Talks to Duma Defense Committee

Nikolay Makarov (photo: Rossiyskaya gazeta)

Last Thursday, General Staff Chief, Army General Nikolay Makarov spoke to a closed session of the Duma’s Defense Committee about the situation in the armed forces.  A few committee members were kind enough to inform the press about some of the discussion.

Rossiyskaya gazeta said it’s no secret the Defense Ministry wants more money in its 2011 budget.  And the generals’ arguments are well-known — the army needs to reequip, relocate, and raise officer pay.  Additional financial means are needed for this.  Makarov didn’t avoid this issue, and he had a lot of supporters.  Deputy committee chairman Yuriy Savenko had this to say on the issue of budget and rearmament:

“Today there isn’t just not enough money for this.  We have to recognize that our military industry has sagged a lot over the last two decades.”

Makarov apparently commented on Bulava, seeing the recent successful launch as opening the way for its quickest acceptance into the Navy arsenal.  But he said first it has to complete three [not two] more tests.  The next won’t come earlier than November, and the first from Yuriy Dolgorukiy possibly before year’s end.

The General Staff Chief talked about the country’s new military-administrative divisions, claiming the reduction to 4 MDs isn’t causing major troop relocations, but rather allowing the army to stand-up additional combined arms, reconnaissance, and airborne brigades on its strategic axes.

He apparently mentioned the introduction of information management systems into the troops is a priority.

Nezavisimaya gazeta’s Viktor Litovkin reports Makarov said Russia will hold just one operational-strategic exercise, Tsentr-2011, next year, and, after it, the focus will be on tactical platoon and company exercises.  Litovkin says the issue isn’t money, but the time it takes to train units from platoon to brigade in what they need to demonstrate in a big exercise.  And training time is too short with one-year soldiers.  He reports the army’s decided to put all officers from new lieutenants to generals through tactical retraining and improvement courses.

KPRF Deputy, Vladimir Komoyedov – former Black Sea Fleet commander — commented a little on what he heard.  He said Makarov mainly touted what’s been achieved the last two years.  Komoyedov said he heard about conventional forces, but not much about strategic ones, and when he asked specifically about naval strategic forces, Makarov’s answer didn’t satisfy him.  Komoyedov spoke to Tverskaya, 13, but he quickly spun off into his own commentary, rather than Makarov’s.

Perhaps the most press went to Makarov’s announcement that the Defense Ministry will go forward with military police units in the armed forces after all.  They’ll reportedly number about 20,000 personnel.  MP sub-units will be present from brigade to military district, and they could be manned by servicemen dismissed in the course of Serdyukov’s reforms.

Finally, Komsomolskaya pravda says Makarov has told it about various changes in the army coming in the next five years.  Some are not all together surprising, but there are new twists on others:

  1. A two-pipe Defense Ministry — military and civilian, with the latter handling money, personnel, and support.
  2. Hired cleaners, maintenance people, and security guards for the barracks.
  3. Military pay via bank cards to make it more difficult for older soldiers to extort money from new conscripts.
  4. Contractees will get 30-35 thousand rubles per month.
  5. Conscription will stay at one year (there are 156,000 men with deferments and 130,000 evaders).
  6. Specialty training time for soldiers needs to be cut from 6 to 2-3 months.
  7. Tsentr-2011 will occur, but other exercises will focus on the company-level and lower.
  8. There will be 8 aviation centers [bases?], but 4 would be ideal.  Air defense aviation will have 2 months on duty, and 2 months at home.
  9. Glavkomaty of services and branches will be cut from 1,000 personnel to about 150 or 200.  Generals’ duties will go out to the new MDs.  All the ‘glavki’ will relocate into the Ground Troop headquarters on the Frunzenskaya embankment.
  10. The Genshtab will keep its hands on strategic submarines, bombers, and the RVSN.
  11. The VDV will not be cut, and will continue to report through the Genshtab.  They are likely to be reinforced with new brigades.
  12. The Navy will get 1-2 nuclear-powered submarines each year.  New aircraft carriers are in development.  The fleet gets 23% of the defense budget, the RVSN 25%.

Flip-Flopping on Navy Move to Piter

Late Friday, First Deputy Chief of the Navy Main Staff, Vice-Admiral Burtsev claimed the entire Russian media misinterpreted his remarks about the cancellation of the Navy headquarters move to St. Petersburg. 

That’s quite a feat . . . making everyone misunderstand what you’ve said . . . and this from a guy who’s pretty much an official Navy spokesman.  It sounds more like the flip-flopping on this issue continues . . . ‘bulldogs still fighting under the rug,’ so to speak.  And someone made Burtsev retract his comments by way of claiming no one managed to understand what he was saying.

According to ITAR-TASS, Burtsev now says:

“I believe it’s necessary to make several substantial adjustments in information linked to me disseminated yesterday about the terms of the transfer of the Navy Main Staff to St. Petersburg.  There has not been any suspension of the decision on such a transfer.”

“The mass media incorrectly interpreted my words about work toward the full transfer of the Navy Main Staff not being completed in 2010.”

He says the transfer:

“. . . is happening on schedule, a number of structural sub-units and units of the Main Command are already fully working in St. Petersburg.”

“First of all, these are the auxiliary command and control post, supporting peacetime command and control of forces, and also sub-units of military acceptance [voyenpredy], shipbuilding and radioelectronic warfare, and a number of organs of the naval scientific committee.”

“The full-scale transfer of the Main Command to St. Petersburg requires establishment of a qualitatively new infrastructural foundation, which is being laid down at the present time.  This concerns primarily sub-units responsible for command and control of naval strategic nuclear forces, groupings at sea, but also some other operational sub-units which, incidentally, are located not just in Moscow, but in other territorial components of the RF.”

“I want to note again:  the transfer of the Navy Main Command to St. Petersburg is occurring on schedule, in accordance with decisions taken earlier, in the bounds of the plan for reform of Russia’s Armed Forces.”

No Navy Headquarters Move to Piter

First Deputy Chief of the Navy Main Staff, Vice-Admiral Oleg Burtsev told journalists today the Navy headquarters will not move from Moscow to St. Petersburg.  He says the decision not to move was taken a year ago.  He declined to say whether the Main Staff will remain in its current location in Moscow.  But he added:

“Two variants for the location of the staff are being reviewed, but the decision about which of them to choose has not been made.”

The Main Staff won’t remain on Bolshoy Kozlovskiy Lane, near the Krasnyye Borota Metro, and media sources are saying it will either move into the Genshtab’s building on Znamenka, or into the Frunze Military Academy (Combined Arms Academy) building.

The idea for the move came from Putin ally and Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov in 2007, and received support, not surprisingly, from St. Petersburg politicos.  Affected naval officers actively opposed the move, and their seniors were ambivalent at best.  It looks like Serdyukov’s Defense Ministry slow-rolled until the decision was reversed.  Not that it opposed the idea of freeing up expensive property for sale, but the cost and disruption of moving the Navy headquarters was prohibitive.

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.

Will the Genshtab and OSKs Replace the Glavkomaty?

Writing in Vremya novostey yesterday, Nikolay Khorunzhiy claims the recently-concluded, largest post-Soviet exercise – Vostok-2010 – was intended to test the establishment of four operational-strategic commands (OSK or ОСК) in place of Russia’s six military districts, as well as the establishment of structural sub-units of the General Staff in place of the Main Commands (Glavkomaty or Главкоматы) of the Ground Troops, Air Forces, and Navy.

Khorunzhiy continues:

“It’s proposed that the army’s new structure will allow a sharp cut in the steps in passing commands from 16 levels to three, and increase their precision and reliability.  On 6 July, President Dmitriy Medvedev signed a decree establishing OSKs.  Part of the authority of central command and control organs, but also that earlier entrusted to the Glavkomaty, are going to the OSKs.”

The 6 July decree still hasn’t appeared publicly. 

Khorunzhiy notes that then-General Staff Chief Yuriy Baluyevskiy tested the transition to regional commands during Baykal-2006:

“Then he didn’t manage to break the resistance of district commanders who didn’t want to share their authority with OSK commanders.”

Khorunzhiy digresses to the precursors of OSKs, without calling them High Commands of Forces.  Former General Staff Chief Nikolay Ogarkov set out to reform the army’s command and control:

“The instrument of such a reform he considered main commands on strategic directions (theaters of military operations, in modern terminology) which would improve coordination between services and troop branches and would strengthen the unity of command in combat units (permanent readiness units).”

Ogarkov viewed the Soviet North-Western, Western, and South-Western main commands of troops from World War II as prototypes, but these Glavkomaty were only intermediate links between the Headquarters,  Supreme High Command [Stavka VGK] and the fronts, but received no authority, troops, or communications.  Khorunzhiy contrasts this to Vasilevskiy being sent to fight the Japanese in 1945; he had authority and troops.

Then, in 1978, Army General Vasiliy Petrov was sent out to establish the Main Command of Troops of the Far East, and he had authority up to appoint regiment commanders and arrange cooperation with neighboring states.  The situation of troops in the Far East sharply improved.

Ogarkov set off then to establish main commands on strategic directions, and improve command and control and readiness in yearly exercises (West, East, Autumn).  But in 1984, Ogarkov himself was sent off to be CINC of the Western direction in Legnica.  He failed to get enough authority for these commanders from the CPSU or Defense Ministry, and these main commands were eliminated in 1991.

But Khorunzhiy goes on to describe today’s OSK as an ultimate victory for Ogarkov over the ‘parochial interests of the army elite.’  He doesn’t seem to wonder whether it might be too soon to declare victory.

He finishes by looking at the KPRF’s call for a parliamentary investigation and special Duma session on how Serdyukov’s reforms are ‘disarming Russia.’  In particular, Khorunzhiy quotes the KPRF press-service:

“The system of military districts which has existed for centuries has just been eliminated.  In place of them incomprehensible strategic commands have been established according to an American template.  It’s obvious that this endless modernization of military structures is leading unavoidably to the loss of troop controllability.”

What’s it all mean . . . ?

The possible elimination of the Main Commands — the service headquarters — would be a big deal (no one mentioned what might happen to VDV, Space Troops, or RVSN branch commands).   

This would obviously greatly strengthen General Staff Chief Makarov, and really make him lord and master of the uniformed military.  It would strengthen the General Staff (except Serdyukov’s been cutting its personnel, like the rest of the Central Apparatus).

Would it give Makarov too much power?  Maybe, or maybe not if Serdyukov thinks he can fire him and get another general whenever necessary.

The possibility of eliminating service headquarters makes Navy CINC Vysotskiy’s reticence to talk about moving to St. Petersburg in the midst of a command and control reorganization make more sense.  Maybe he was telling us there’s a much bigger issue at work than just OSKs.

Perhaps in the most objective sense, getting rid of the Glavkomaty would reduce personnel and some resistance to new ideas.  But wouldn’t it also throw away yet another place where the regime should seek good alternative ideas, counterarguments, and feedback on its plans?