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:
- A two-pipe Defense Ministry — military and civilian, with the latter handling money, personnel, and support.
- Hired cleaners, maintenance people, and security guards for the barracks.
- Military pay via bank cards to make it more difficult for older soldiers to extort money from new conscripts.
- Contractees will get 30-35 thousand rubles per month.
- Conscription will stay at one year (there are 156,000 men with deferments and 130,000 evaders).
- Specialty training time for soldiers needs to be cut from 6 to 2-3 months.
- Tsentr-2011 will occur, but other exercises will focus on the company-level and lower.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Genshtab will keep its hands on strategic submarines, bombers, and the RVSN.
- The VDV will not be cut, and will continue to report through the Genshtab. They are likely to be reinforced with new brigades.
- 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%.