No service (or branch), except the VDV, generates this kind of media attention for its anniversary.
On 2 August, the VDV will celebrate its 80th birthday, and to mark this nice round number, the holiday will actually be a three-day fiesta running from 31 July.
Also marking the occasion, a new documentary film entitled ‘Landmarks of History, 80 Years of the VDV’ has been released, but, surprisingly, it wasn’t picked up by theaters or television.
According to Rossiyskaya gazeta, the Moscow city government paid for its production.
VDV Commander, General-Lieutenant Vladimir Shamanov stars in the documentary, providing lots of the commentary, noting that the VDV are already ‘new profile’ since they are permanently ready, mobile, and physically fit. Including its generals. Shamanov told press conference he just recently made two jumps.
A VDV press-service representative told Nezavisimaya gazeta:
“Unfortunately, the VDV anniversary film will hardly be shown to a broad central TV audience at present. For some reason, the central television channels have no particular desire to reflect this day comprehensively, but of course they will show people in striped tee shirts swimming in fountains.”
Ah, yes, the fountains . . . General-Lieutenant Shamanov told the press mobile groups of VDV and Moscow OMON troops would work together to keep airborne guys from bathing in the capital’s fountains on the branch’s birthday. Interestingly, he had to admit to ITAR-TASS that he was perplexed by an announcement that the police have permitted dips in fountains for several years, having found that trying to prevent them only led to conflicts. Police also said they would be on-hand to make sure nothing happens to bathers, according to Nakanune.ru.
While sounding reasonable and accommodating, the Moscow OMON Commander also noted that OMON, the GUVD’s 2nd Operational Regiment, and VV troops were ready to “respond to events.” He expects 5,000 VDV revelers. About 1,700 police, including 350 OMON (of whom 109 are former VDV themselves), will be on duty, according to Svpressa.ru. It claimed former and current VDV officers would also help in keeping order. The OMON Commander told Vesti.ru, “In recent years we’ve come to mutual understanding largely thanks to VDV veterans who now serve in the Moscow police.”
Of course, it doesn’t do for the regime to have two elite silovik forces square off in the capital.
Beyond announcing that the VDV is already fully subscribed when it comes to the ‘new profile,’ Shamanov also made his obligatory statement / promise that the VDV preserves its independence and role as the reserve of the VGK to reinforce strategic directions.
He commented to ITAR-TASS on the VDV’s capacity for air drops:
“In realizing the measures in the State Program of Armaments – 2020, the VDV will be capable of landing by parachute an airborne or air assault division. Now the question hinges on the degree of readiness of the existing fleet of Il-76 military-transport aircraft, but also on how these possibilities will be after the realization of the State Program of Armaments, calculated out to 2020. A month ago we agreed on the draft GPV. The modernization of the existing fleet of Il-76 aircraft and an increase in their number is in there. It also provides for the purchase of Russian-Ukrainian An-70 aircraft, refurbishment of existing An-124 aircraft and the construction of 20 new aircraft of this type.”
“. . . we also need to use the American experience in using civil aviation aircraft in the interests of the military. All this would allow us by 2017 to establish the possibility of landing a full airborne or air assault division.”
“. . . it’s possible to solve it even more quickly by a combination, when the first echelon is approximately 30 percent airborne – landing by parachute, the rest by runway. We could accomplish this task in three months after receiving the order.”
Answering a question about helicopters and air mobility for the VDV, Shamanov said:
“With the General Staff, we’ve defined a concept for establishing an army aviation brigade in the VDV in the future.”
And on army aviation’s transfer to the Air Forces in 2002:
“It would be the right decision to return army aviation to the Ground Troops, as it’s done throughout the world.”
Shamanov also told RIA Novosti 120 men from 104th Parachute Regiment of the 76th Airborne Division will stay in Kyrgyzstan until parliamentary elections are held.