Tag Archives: New Profile

Ivashov on the Army and Putin

Leonid Ivashov

Leonid Ivashov recently talked to Narodnyy politolog on a variety of army topics including reforms, the possibility of a big war, rearmament, president-elect Vladimir Putin, and his military program.  Segodnia.ru also printed the interview.

Once Russia’s top military diplomat, now avowed geopolitician, the former three-star thinks Putin fears externally-driven regime change and is improving the army to forestall such an eventuality.  Ivashov sees a U.S.-led West depriving Russia of allies before focusing on Russia itself.

Asked about army reforms, Ivashov says they have succeeded in cutting forces, but not in rearming them or improving their social conditions.  Reforms have degraded and weakened the army.  Military men mock the New Profile reforms saying, “There’s a profile, but not armed forces.”  Ivashov calls reforms craziness, and says it’s like servicemen have lived in a house under continuous repair for 25 years.

Following up his comment on mobilization reserves cut to the bare minimum, NP asked the retired general-colonel if a big war is possible today.

Ivashov says yes.  Citing how “they” are beating up Russia’s strategic allies (Syria and Iran), he says “What is this if not war?”

Ivashov foresees a large conflict between the U.S. and China and possible spinoff regional and local wars.  He cites a Chinese specialist who calls for a Russian-Chinese alliance to deter a big war and curb the appetite of the West and international oligarchs.

Is Russia ready for such an eventuality?  Ivashov answers:

“I think Putin understands perfectly how military weakness and the absence of strategic allies can be the end for Russia.  Clearly, the Libyan situation ‘helped’ him understand this, just like what is happening now in Syria, and what they are preparing for Iran.  If you can’t defend the country, you are subjecting yourself to a great risk personally.”

“Now Putin is making a sharp turn to the side of strengthening defense capability.  One can only welcome this.  Because today they don’t simply beat the weak, they destroy them.”

Ivashov calls Putin’s military program ambitious, if not systematic.  The regime’s been in a “light panic” since Libya.

He intimates that more than 20 percent of the state armaments program will be stolen since the amount of theft cited by the military prosecutor covers only cases under investigation, not all corruption.

Ivashov suggests lobbying has replaced forecasts of future military actions as the driver of arms procurement.

The case of Mistral, which one wonders where it will be built and how it will be used, Ivashov says well-connected lobbyist structures ensure what gets produced is exactly what their enterprises make.  He was somewhat encouraged that Putin, at Sarov, entertained turning to specialists and experts to examine the army’s requirements.

On GPV 2020, Ivashov concludes it’ll be a serious step forward if only half of what’s planned gets produced, but it can’t be equipment designed in the 1970s and 1980s.  He sees OPK production capacity problems too.  He questions whether Votkinsk can produce 400 solid-fueled ballistic missiles by 2020.

Returning to the big war, he questions a focus on defensive operations for Russian conventional forces, saying offensive capabilities are needed to deter potential enemies.  He claims reduced force structure and mobilization capability have become a joke in the General Staff:

“The main problem for the Chinese in a conflict with us is not defeating our brigade, but finding it.”

Ivashov’s just a little up in arms over the armor situation.  He all but accuses the General Staff Chief of being a paid (or bribed) lobbyist for foreign tank and armored vehicle makers.  He suggests that Army General Makarov should be placed in cuffs if he says the Leopard-2 is better than the T-90 [what about Postnikov then?], and the Main Military Prosecutor should investigate him.

So what is to be done first and foremost to strengthen the country’s defense capability today?

Ivashov replies get rid of Serdyukov and Makarov who have done great damage, and strengthen cadres in the OPK and military by replacing “managers” with those who can apply military science (as Ivashov was taught) to the problem of developing new weapons.

The always provocative Ivashov doesn’t venture whether he thinks  the current emphasis on defense capability will continue or have the intended results.  He seems sincerely to believe in a possible Western intervention in Russia’s internal affairs.  But it’d be more interesting to hear him talk about whether the army would fight for Putin’s regime in something less than that maximal contingency.  Ivashov, unlike some critics of Russia’s defense policy, shies away from blaming the once-and-future Supreme CINC for at least some of the current military state of affairs.

Meeting on Gogolevskiy Boulevard

Protesters and Placards (photo: KPRF.ru)

Thursday about 50 military men gathered near Gogol’s statue in the park across from the Defense Ministry to protest the closure of the Air Forces Academy named for Professor N. Ye. Zhukovskiy and Yu. A. Gagarin. 

These largely middle-aged protesters held placards saying “Air Forces CINC Zelin is the Gravedigger of Air Forces Academies!” or “Prime Minister:  Get Rid of Defense Minister Serdyukov!” or “General Bychkov is a Traitor to VVA Gagarin and VVIA Zhukovskiy!”
 
Recall the Zhukovskiy and Gagarin academies — the former for engineers, the latter for pilots and staff officers — were melded in 2008 in the latest and most painful drawdown of an enormous leftover Soviet-era military educational establishment. 
 
The functions of these mid-career academies are being transferred to the new, consolidated Air Forces Military Training-Scientific Center (VUNTs VVS) in Voronezh.
 
The KPRF organized the protest, and it said about 100 attended.  KPRF.ru and Nakanune.ru recapped the event.
 

KPRF Duma member Vyacheslav Tetekin told Novyy region destroying these academies damages VVS combat readiness since the majority of their 1,600 (perhaps not much lower than the total number of flyable VVS aircraft) instructors and professors won’t go to Voronezh to train future senior officers.

Tetekin argued there are already protests against aircraft noise in Voronezh, and he’ll ask fellow KPRF member and Duma Defense Committee chairman Vladimir Komoyedov to address the prime minister and president on the fate of Zhukovskiy and Gagarin.

Apparently now retired, General-Lieutenant Ivan Naydenov — a former deputy chief of the academy — claimed Defense Minister Serdyukov just wants the institution’s valuable real estate.  Naydenov said only 29 younger instructors have gone to Voronezh.  He put the total staff at only 700, in contrast to Tetekin’s 1,600.

Naydenov has recorded and posted this appeal to save VVA im. Gagarin.

No one will mistake this little event on Gogolevskiy for what took place on Bolotnaya or Sakharov Square.  Nor will anyone confuse the characters in this drama with demonstrators against Duma election fraud.  Or a scarcely-noticed gathering of older military men with the resonance of the first large-scale political protest in years. 

Nevertheless, older Russian officers have taken to picketing about their grievances more frequently of late.  The personal toll in their situation is lamentable.  But cuts and consolidations Serdyukov has made in Russian military education were very deep and difficult simply because they were so long overdue.

Without a doubt, some of those choosing dismissal over moving will add to the queue for military apartments in Moscow and its suburbs.

Barabanov’s Top 20

Defense commentator Mikhail Barabanov published his annotated list of the top 20 military stories of 2011 in yesterday’s Voyenno-promyshlennyy kuryer.

Some we’ll just note, but Barabanov’s provided interesting details for others.

1.  The continuation of military reform.  The start of the next phase of reforming the Air Forces and Navy.

Barabanov says Air Forces’ reform included the formation of VVKO and the enlargement of Russian air bases.  The reform of the Navy started December 1 and it will soon be restructured into a “new profile.”

2.  Establishment of VVKO.

He comments, “The given construct essentially looks fundamentally like a return to Soviet Voyska PVO Strany (National Air Defense Troops) in the form of a separate service [well, branch] of the Armed Forces.”

3.  The new pay system effective this year.

4.  GPV 2011-2020.

5.  The increase in the Gosoboronzakaz.

Barabanov puts GOZ-2011 at 460 billion rubles, 570 if RDT&E is added.  This was 20 percent more than GOZ-2010, and allowed for the series production of weapons and equipment.

6.  The war between industry and the Defense Ministry.

7.  Development of the PAK FA.

8.  Large helicopter procurement.

Apparently a post-Soviet record.  About 100 new helos, including Mi-28N, Ka-52, Mi-26, and Mi-24 (Mi-35M), were expected to reach the troops.

9.  Bulava began to fly.

10.  OSK “megacontracts” for submarines.

About 280 billion rubles for modernized proyekt 885 and 955.

11.  Ending serial procurement of many ground systems and equipment.

The Defense Ministry said it didn’t need the T-90, BMP-3, or BMD-4 (!?).  Development of an entire spectrum of new armored vehicle platforms began for procurement after 2015.

12.  Domestic space sector failures.

They evidenced the decline of the OPK’s production capability in the space sector.

13.  “Tsentr-2011″ exercises.

They checked the “new profile,” and the greatly enlarged military districts.

14.  Importing arms.

Mistral, Rheinmetall’s training ground in Mulino, foreign sniper rifles, and Israeli UAVs.

15.  Continued growth in Russian arms sales.

$11 billion as opposed to 2010’s $10 billion.  This despite the revolutions in the Arab world.  Rosoboroneksport’s order portfolio is $36 billion.

16.  Arab revolutions.

17.  NATO intervention in Libya.

18.  Military actions in Afghanistan, American troops leave Iraq.

19.  Deadend in missile defense negotiations.

20.  Start of reduced U.S. military spending.

Makarov Reports to Public Chamber

Makarov Briefs the Public Chamber

According to Mil.ru, General Staff Chief, Army General Nikolay Makarov reported to the Public Chamber today as part of its hearings on “The New Profile of the Russian Army:  Results, Problems, Prospects.”  Here’s a sampling of what he discussed.

According to ITAR-TASS, Makarov said there are 186,400 contract servicemen today, and there will be 425,000 in 2016.  Recruiters will work throughout Russia starting next year.  Prospective contractees will train for three months before signing contracts.  Minimum pay will be 23,000 rubles.  Makarov said 2012 will be a test year, and from 2013, 50,000 contractees will be signed up each year.

RIA Novosti printed Makarov’s stark assessment of Russia’s conscript manpower.  The General Staff Chief said, of all men liable to conscription, only 11.7 percent can be called up, and 60 percent of them are excluded for health reasons.  So, he concludes:

“Therefore we are practically faced with the fact that there is almost no one to callup into the Armed Forces.”

He said Russia’s current mobilization reserve consists of 700,000 ex-conscripts. 

Makarov suggested increasing the prestige of military service through a veteran’s preference system.  Former soldiers and officers would enjoy a priority in hiring for government service, according to RIA Novosti.

ITAR-TASS quoted Makarov on cuts in military command and control organs.  He indicated they’ve been cut by a factor of four — from 51,000 to 13,435 personnel, and this process continues.  One-third of C2 organs were disbanded, and the rest reduced in size several times. 

He indicated that, when the Defense Ministry’s central apparatus numbered 51,000, it occupied more than 20 buildings in Moscow.  The apparat is now in a single building.  Other buildings were sold off.  But Makarov assured his audience the effectiveness of C2 hasn’t declined because of the reductions.

Regarding the new pay system for officers, RIA Novosti wrote that Makarov said higher pay basically implements the old Order No. 400 on premium pay, but officers will still have the chance to receive extra “stimulus” pay under the new system.

ITAR-TASS printed Makarov’s figures on efforts to get rid of old ammunition.  According to the General Staff Chief, at the start of the year, Russia had 119.5 million tons of old munitions to destroy, but now only 7 million.  Less than one percent could be dismantled; the vast majority had to be blown up.  Makarov indicated the number of ammunition storage sites will drop from 161 at present to about 30.

Makarov defended his past criticism of domestic weapons and equipment by giving more examples where foreign systems are superior to Russian ones (i.e. tanks, MLRS, satellites), according to ITAR-TASS.  The general argued for increasing the range and service life of systems as well as providing better protection for soldiers operating them.

RIA Novosti reported Makarov intends to continue pushing for lower prices on arms and equipment the military’s buying.  He intimated there will be a “specialized department” for negotiating with producers.  He claimed shipbuilding contracts with OSK were concluded on the Defense Ministry’s terms.  He added that the military has given Almaz-Antey two years to build two new factories to produce the S-500, according to RIA Novosti.

ITAR-TASS relayed Makarov’s remarks on Russia’s airfields.  Makarov indicated Russia has cut from 357 military airfields down to 26 that he describes as meeting world standards.  Russia has eight air bases. 

He said pilot flight hours are at 90 per year.  He said it’s planned to increase them to 130 next year, and then to 220 at some point.

ITAR-TASS and RIA Novosti carried the General Staff Chief’s comments about threats on Russia’s borders: 

“Under certain conditions, local and regional conflicts can grow into mass ones with the employment of nuclear weapons.”

“The conflict which could occur in connection with the withdrawal of American troops [from Afghanistan] could lead to a local, regional and even large-scale one.  And we have to be ready for it.”

What Kind of Army?

Not again . . . but yes, Wednesday Trud asked what kind of army does Russia need in the future? 

It’s almost 20 years since the army ceased to be Soviet, and the paper asked five relatively independent experts the same question that’s been asked since 1991 –what is to be done about Russia’s Armed Forces?

Yes, it’s repetitive . . . it’s rare we hear something new, the problem is not ideas and initiatives, it’s implementing them.

At the same time, these commentaries are short and pithy.  They cover a lot of ground, and might be handy.

Korotchenko supports the Defense Ministry’s swerve back toward contractees, since there aren’t enough conscripts.  And he doubts conscripts are up to the task of handling modern weapons.  But he points to the need to end dedovshchina and other barracks violence to attract professional enlisted. 

Sharavin believes the big mobilization army is still needed, and conscription will continue alongside contract service for some time.  He wants more benefits for conscripts who’ve served, and he wants the sons of the bureaucratic elite to serve. 

Belozerov agrees recruiting 425,000 professional soldiers won’t be easy or fast.

Litovkin is harsher; he says there’s no reform, just back and forth on contract service.  He lampoons the current small-scale effort to train professional NCOs.  He ridicules thoughts of a serious mobilization reserve because of the lack of reserve training.

Makiyenko thinks a contract army is cost prohibitive, and the army numbers only about 800,000.  He likes the fighting spirit of soldiers from the Caucasus, opposes segregating them, but hopes Muslim clergymen in the ranks can restrain them. 

Igor Korotchenko:

“Of the million servicemen, ideally we should have 220 thousand officers, 425 thousand contractees and 355 thousand conscripts.   It’s true, not now, but in 10 years.  On the one hand, this is due to the physical impossibility of calling up more — there is simply no one to put under arms according to demographic indicators.  In the last call-up, the army took in 70 thousand fewer conscripts than in the preceding campaigns.  On the other hand, it’s simply scary to entrust those weapons systems, which should be purchased in the coming decade according to the state armaments program (and this is 20 trillion rubles by 2020), to people who were just driven out of the  sticks and into the army for a year.  Whether the Armed Forces want it or not, they are doomed to a certain intellectualization.  However, this is impossible if existing nonregulation relations between servicemen are preserved.  It seems that the Armed Forces leadership has started to understand this.  A program for the humanization of  service which also aims to remove the problem of dodging service (about 200 thousand men) has appeared.  Now in the Ryazan VDV School the first graduating class of professional sergeants is finishing the three-year course of study.  The eradication of nonregulation relations is connected directly with them.”

Aleksandr Sharavin:

“What kind of army to have is determined primarily by the country’s geographic situation.  If there is a potential threat to its territory from neighboring countries, we need a conscript army, through which a large mass of young men pass and allows for having a great mobilization reserve as a result.  If there is no threat, we can limit ourselves to professionals.  Russia has such threats — look closely at the map!”

“Is the transition to a professional army possible in Russia?  I suggest it’s possible, but not necessary. According to the Supreme CINC, we will transition to a new profile of the Armed Forces in 10-15 years.  For this or an even more extended period, conscription will remain.  Possibly in a much easier form — they will serve, not a year, or will call-up not 200 and some thousand, as now, but only 170 thousand men.  In the future, it would do to reduce even this number.  Moreover, reducing it will allow a certain selection and thereby improve the quality of the young men conscripted into the army.”

“In my view, a serving citizen [conscript] can’t receive the current 500 rubles [per month].  Hard military work should be well-paid, otherwise it is objectively devalued.  The rate — not lower than the country’s minimum wage!  We also need to think about other stimuli:  free higher education for those who’ve served, some kind of favorable mortgage credit, and, most importantly, we should only accept those young men who’ve fulfilled their duty to the Homeland into state service.  No references to health conditions can be taken into account.  If there’s strength to be a bureaucrat — get well and find the strength to serve in yourself!  If we need to amend the Constitution for this, we’ll amend it.  Our neighbors in Kazakhstan went this way and got a double benefit:  improved quality of the army contingent and bureaucrats who are not so divorced from the people, as in Russia.”

Vasiliy Belozerov:

“If the political decision is made, it’s possible even now, undoubtedly, to establish a fully volunteer army in Russia.  But do we need this?  I suggest it will be correct and justified if the share of professional sergeants and contractees in the army will be raised gradually.  Since it’s unclear from where a quantity of 425 thousand professionals can be gotten all at once.  They won’t fall from the sky.  We have to remind ourselves that the contingent of both current conscripts and potential professionals is one and the same:  young men 18-28.  This means we have to  create such conditions that it’s not the lumpen who go into the army, but normal men.  And worthy people need worthy conditions.  And there’s one more figure:  based on world experience it’s possible to say that in a professional army in the year for various reasons (health, age, contract termination, etc.) 5 percent of personnel are dismissed.  This means that in a 425,000-man professional corps in a year we have to recruit an additional 20 thousand men.  They also need to be gotten from somewhere.”

Viktor Litovkin:

“As is well-known, the army should know only two states:  either fighting, or preparing for war.  For us, it is either reforming or preparing to reform.  Meanwhile, there’s still no clear presentation of ​​what kind of army we want and what government resources we are prepared to give for this army.”

“In Russia, there is no coherent policy on establishing new Armed Forces.  The fact is the Chief of the Genshtab says we made a monstrous mistake and the Federal Targeted Program for Forming Professional Units failed, therefore we’ll get rid of contractees.  A half year goes by, the very same Genshtab Chief comes to the podium with the words that the country, it turns out, again needs 425 thousand professionals.  Make the basic calculations:  for this number of soldiers we need to have 65 thousand professional junior commanders [NCOs].  And now in Ryazan we have 250 men studying to be sergeants, they’ll graduate next year.  Meanwhile, there’s no data that they’ve selected the next course.  Has anyone thought about this?  And one more thing.  When we say that we need the call-up to create a trained reserve, this is self-deception.  The reserves are so unprepared!  Suppose we trained a soldiers for a year to drive a tank.  What next?  Once or twice a week after work this mechanic-driver has to work on the trainer at the voyenkomat, and every six months — drive a real tank on the range.  Otherwise, in case of war, we get not a trained reserve, but several million 40-year-old guys with beer guts who’ve forgotten which end the machine gun fires from.”

Konstantin Makiyenko:

“In my opinion, the transition to a professional army in Russia is desirable, but absolutely impossible.  A contract army is actually substantially more expensive than a conscript one.  Another thing, our announced one-million-man [army], in my view, likely doesn’t number 800 thousand men.  We have to talk about yet another problem — the coexistence of conscripts from the Caucasus and other regions in the army. Everyone remembers the wild incident, when these guys laid out the word ‘Kavkaz’ using conscripts of other nationalities.  But, on the other hand, conscripts from Dagestan, Chechnya or Kabardino-Balkaria, as a rule, stand-out for the best physical preparation and desire to learn about weapons.  Once the idea was floated to have Caucasians serve in some units, and Russians in others.  At the last session of the Defense Ministry’s Public Council, it was announced that this won’t be.  It was decided to refrain from creating monoethnic military formations of the ‘wild division’ type from the Tsarist Army.  Contradictions between conscripts called up from the Caucasus and other regions of the country will be removed by introducing the institution of military clergy of the Islamic persuasion.”

“New Profile” in Transbaykal

Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye’s Viktor Litovkin wrote recently about his Defenders’ Day press pool visit to the 212th District Training Center (OUTs or ОУЦ) in Peschanka, and to the 29th Combined Arms Army in Chita.  Formerly part of the Siberian MD, they’re now in the Eastern MD or OSK East.  Litovkin set out to see how the military’s “new profile” has been implemented in the four years since he last traveled to Transbaykal.

Litovkin said the army’s future “junior specialists,” i.e. better trained conscript sergeants, aren’t just using simulators, and there’s lots of live action on OUTs ranges and training grounds.

Simulators at Peschanka (photo: V. Litovkin)

The majority of trainees were in training for a minimum of 8 hours a day, not including individual training and PT time.

OUTs Chief, General-Major Sergey Sudakov is new himself, but says much has changed at the center.  He says they’ve gotten new simulators, training buildings and barracks have been renovated, and the mess hall’s been outsourced so conscript-trainees no longer have to pull KP.

Four years ago, the Siberian MD listed 5,970 personnel without housing, but now only 120.  Those without apartments have been taken off the local books, and all their data’s been sent to the Defense Ministry’s Housing Support Department in Moscow. 

Now, however, there are rasporyazhentsy (распоряженцы), those officers, warrants, or sergeants at their commanders’ disposition, in all, more than 200 waiting for permanent apartments outside Transbaykal.  But only 2-3 per month are getting a “letter of happiness” from Moscow saying they’ve been allocated housing, and, in many cases, it’s not in the location they wanted.

The rasporyazhentsy were once commanders and chiefs but now they muster every morning to get orders from their former subordinates.  They don’t get anything serious to do.  They pull assistant duty officer for a unit once a week, or carry out a major’s orders for less than half their old pay.

Medic Senior Sergeant Zhanna Litvinenko is a rasporyazhenitsa who’s waited two years for an apartment in Rostov-na-Donu or Krasnodar Kray.  While waiting to return to “mainland” Russia, she lives on “bare pay,” without supplements, of 16,900 rubles, of which 3,200 pays for her dorm room.

Litovkin visited the officers’ dormitory to see what’s changed since 2007.  He describes familiar noisy corridors with common toilets, showers, and kitchens for officers and their families.  The building’s been renovated, old wooden window frames and the boiler have been replaced, kitchens updated, and showers divided so men and women don’t have to use them on alternating days.

One Captain Rinat Abubekirov and his wife say the load on officers has grown sharply now that there are fewer of them.  The tank training regiment had 140 officers previously, now 98, in a company, there were 7, now 5, and the number of additional duties is unchanged.  A company commander is now a captain, rather than a major as in the past.  Abubekirov has been an O-3 for five years, and no one can tell him when he might make O-4.

Litvinenko and the Abubekirovs in the Officers' Dorm (photo: V. Litovkin)

Training their conscript charges has changed.  Instead of six months, they now have three to do it.  The trainees’ education level varies greatly now — from higher education to some who didn’t finish high school.  Many conscripts arrived in poor health, and the severe Transbaykal winter doesn’t help either.  Minus forty isn’t rare, and -30° (-22° F) is the norm.  They are just not physically or psychologically prepared.  Nevertheless, OUTs Commander Sudakov says fewer are sick this winter than last.

Then, Litovkin turns to the Chita-based 29th Combined Arms Army commanded by General-Major Aleksandr Romanchuk, where the NVO editor says he sees “solid changes.”  All its units are fully manned and permanently combat ready.  In what’s become a fairly common refrain, Romanchuk believes his army’s combat potential exceeds that of its predecessor [the Siberian MD]. He said he and his deputy spent a month at the General Staff Academy learning the new automated command and control system.  He said his best subordinates can earn 100,000 rubles per month in bonuses.

Litovkin says there are questions about the introduction of new equipment in Romanchuk’s command.  It would be good if its tanks and combat vehicles could be replaced quicker.  There are no UAVs or PGMs.  The army relies on T-72B1, BMP-2, Strela-10 and towed air defense guns, and self-propelled Akatsiya and Msta-B artillery.

Litovkin concludes that, while no one believes Mongolia or China will threaten Russia’s borders today or tomorrow, this army needs to train in a real way, with equipment from the 21st century, not the last one.

But this, he continues, is not even the greatest problem.  He was told at every level that it’s simply not possible to make yesterday’s schoolboy into a good specialist in a year.  The commander of the 29th CAA’s 200th Artillery Brigade, Colonel Dmitriy Kozlovskiy, told Litovkin this spring he’ll lose 70 percent of his personnel.  New gun commanders, gunners, radiomen, and reconnaissance, topographic, and meteorological specialists will arrive and in less than a month they’ll need to work like crews, platoons, and batteries, like a unified combat mechanism.  They will learn and leave the army, and the process will begin again.

Sounds like a Russian O-6’s plea for professional enlisted and NCOs . . . .

Litovkin finishes with a story from Romanchuk.  He tells of a tank gunner conscript who hit his target [a 1 -- an excellent in Russian training terms] on his 39th day of service.  He said he just did everything as he was taught, and as he did on the simulators.  In times past, according to Romanchuk, tank gunners got to fire live rounds only after serving six months, and this guy scored a 1 on his 39th day.  But Litovkin asked how his buddies did.  Romanchuk answered 2s and 3s.

More on the Military Personnel Zigzag

Wednesday’s Argumenty nedeli looked briefly at the reversal of Defense Minister Serdyukov’s cuts in the Russian officer corps, as well as plans to increase officer pay.

AN said Serdyukov said 70 thousand officers were needed to establish Air-Space (Aerospace) Defense (VKO), but noted he didn’t say where he would find so many officers for such a complex and specialized military field.

Those thrown out of the service in the course of implementing the “new profile” can’t be brought back, and training new officers will take 10-12 years following the reform of the military education system and the liquidation of the Mozhayskiy Military-Space Academy.

And, says AN, radically increasing pay won’t be so simple.  The budgets for 2011 and 2012 have been approved, so pay raises will have to wait until 2013 and 2014, after a new Duma and president have been elected.  And increasing the number of contractees [also with higher pay] will be another factor in army financing problems.

A General Staff source told AN:

“The approximate manning of VKO in all duty positions, including conscripts, contractees, and officers, will be 20-22 thousand.  This means the majority of duty positions will transfer there from Space Troops (KV), air defense troops and missile defense.  But after the mass cuts there aren’t enough commanders on the level of company, regiment and even brigade commanders.  And in all services and branches of the Armed Forces at that.  Therefore, it’s incorrect to think that all 70 thousand are going into VKO.”

According to him, the establishment of any new service [if it is a service rather than a branch], especially one as high-tech as VKO, requires “decades of work by all staffs.”

AN also cites Aleksandr Khramchikhin:

“It seems to me that constant casting about on the size of the officer corps just says that military reform issues haven’t been worked out in a strategic plan.”

A short item that says a lot . . . just a couple comments:

  • This piece is saying that VKO officers and specialists will be taken from the ranks of those currently serving in KV, PVO, and PRO.
  • The 70,000 additional officers will plug holes in command positions throughout the Armed Forces.
  • It would be difficult to bring back dismissed officers.  But there are lots of serving officers living in limbo outside the shtat (штат), outside the TO&E at the disposition (распоряжение) of their commanders, who could be called back to their units.
  • Military education’s been hammered, but it looks like Mozhayskiy’s still operating.
  • Delivering the promised new higher pay system in 2012 will be difficult under current and projected budgetary constraints.  So it’s another opportunity for the regime to fail.  But the Kremlin and White House don’t really need to worry about military votes anyway.
  • Kramchikhin’s right on.  Serdyukov’s idea to cut the officer corps in half – from more than 30 to 15 percent of Armed Forces personnel – was right.  But he failed to plan properly for it, and he tried to do it too fast.  Without accounting, or compensating, for the myriad historical, economic, and cultural reasons Russia had so many officers in the first place – reliance on conscripts and the lack of a strong NCO corps being first and foremost.  So another correct step is discredited by hubris, lack of foresight, and poor execution.  Serdyukov didn’t need to measure seven times before cutting, but twice would have been nice.
  • Taking “decades” to put VKO in place would certainly be the old-fashioned speed of Russian military reform.  But if it’s to be done quickly and successfully, it has to be done with more care than Serdyukov’s demonstrated over the last four years.