General Staff Chief Makarov’s Press Conference

Sound bites from General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov’s press conference today dribbled out one at a time, as usual.

Makarov told reporters President Medvedev signed a decree establishing four operational-strategic commands (OSK) to replace the existing military districts on 6 July, but the text hasn’t been published.  Makarov also said arrangements putting the OSKs in place would be complete on 1 December.

Makarov talked more about the new “unified system of material-technical support (MTO)” also apparently covered in Medvedev’s decree.

Rear Services Chief, Deputy Defense Minister, General-Colonel Dmitriy Bulgakov, as expected, will head the unified MTO system, and new First Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin will supervise the new state armaments program, 2011-2020, as well as coordination with military industries. 

Makarov stressed uniting transportation and supply functions under Bulgakov:

“We had a disconnect when all transport for supplies of material means to the troops was at the disposal of the Deputy Defense Minister for Rear Services, but he didn’t have anything he needed to move with this transport.  The other Deputy Defense Minister, on the other hand, had armaments, but no means for transporting them to the troops.”

“This is very important because now the management of transportation and armaments is concentrated in the hands of one man.  The correctness of the decision was confirmed by the recently completed ‘Vostok-2010’ operational-strategic exercise in the Far East.”

 “Now one official serving as a Deputy Defense Minister heads a unified system of material-technical support which has united rear services and armaments.  He alone personally answer for both the transport of supplies of material-technical means, and for these means themselves.  Now one man answers for the state of affairs with armaments and for their supply to the troops, who will also now be responsible for that.”

The way Makarov puts it, Popovkin be on the hook for product quality:

“He will work with defense-industrial complex enterprises to control their production of armaments and military equipment for the Armed Forces.”

Popovkin’s old job of Chief of Armaments, Deputy Defense Minister will disappear most likely.

Makarov told reporters Russia plans to move to netcentric command and control by 2015, once it equips its troops with new C3 systems united in one information space.  Such systems are now scarce, but he says, they are working hard so to install digital equipment everywhere.  Makarov calls this the main renovation that he’s giving all structures and troops starting in the fall of this year.  He says Russia’s new command posts unite reconnaissance, target designation, and troops and weapons to execute combat missions in real time.

It’s interesting that RIA Novosti took time to explain that the netcentric concept is an American creation more than 10 years old, and one not loved by those used to strictly centralized command and control.

Makarov told the press the army will begin forming light brigades, which it currently doesn’t have, this year.  They’ll have light combat vehicles of some type.  While not providing details, Makarov emphasized that light brigades will be built around a standard vehicle, so that, as in Vostok-2010, a brigade can fly in and its personnel can marry up with their normal vehicles in their place of deployment. 

Answering a question, Makarov said Russia will buy more Il-78 tankers in GPV 2011-2020, but he didn’t specify a number.

Makarov announced an intention to equip all Russian combat aircraft with new targeting-navigation systems over the next three years.  He said the new equipment will increase the accuracy of air strikes and allow the Air Forces to “abandon the previous practice of area bombing.”  He said the new system was tried on a Su-24M2 during Vostok-2010.  Installation of the targeting equipment on the Su-24M2 began in 2007.  Makarov said the VVS has nearly 300 Su-24 of all variants, and naval aviation about 60.

Stoletiye.ru had an interesting observation on Makarov and efforts to streamline command and control in the Russian Army.  It said the move to 4 OSKs and other steps are intended to reduce duplication of officer responsibilities and make 2-3 officers responsible for the fulfillment of combat missions.  It quoted Makarov, “We’ve eliminated the system of spreading responsibility throughout the Defense Ministry.”

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