According to Kremlin.ru, President Dmitriy Medvedev traveled to the Gorokhovets training ground near Nizhniy Novgorod today to observe battalion-level ground and air maneuvers. It’s a modern twist on an old tradition of presidential speeches before end-of-training-year assemblies in Moscow.
Medvedev inspected a new field camp, different weapons and equipment, and watched a Tunguska demonstration.
Afterward he met brigade commanders observing the exercise, and addressed them about the process of reforming the armed forces.
Medvedev said for two years Russia has been actively modernizing its armed forces to make them more compact, effective, and better equipped, and completing ‘org-shtat’ measures [i.e. TO&E changes] to achieve a ‘new profile.’ Flanked by Defense Minister Serdyukov and General Staff Chief Makarov, he promised the assembled commanders a defense budget worth 2.8 percent of Russia’s GDP every year until 2020, but he said getting this level of spending will not be easy, and it requires adjustments and cuts elsewhere.
He particularly emphasized establishing the new system of higher pay to replace earlier ad hoc measures like premium pay. He seemed to say extra money will be squeezed out for this, but people will be watching how it’s spent. Kremlin.ru posted some of Medvedev’s opening remarks:
“This is creating the conditions to equip the troops with new equipment in accordance with the current edition of the State Program of Armaments and, what is a no less important task and really no less complex, to resolve all social issues which exist for servicemen. This issues are also well-known.”
“First and foremost is the indexation of pay which we are already now conducting, and implementation of the housing construction program. From 2012, the planned reform of the military pay system not according to those fragmentary pieces which exist at present, not according to those selective approaches which exist, but a full reform of pay.”
“In the final accounting, we should get so that base salary, monetary salary of servicemen will be increased practically three times. And in the process to preserve and to extend to all the Armed Forces that which we talked about in the past, that which we did according to groundwork laid in bounds of order 400 and some other Defense Ministry documents.”
“All planned measures, reform measures should be calculated and materially supported in the most rigorous way. An adjustment in the military budget is being conducted and oversight of the use of resources is being organized for this. I promise the attention of all Defense Ministry leaders on this: all these processes need to be completed in coordination with other government structures in order that we should have absolute precision here.”
“A high level of financial support for the Armed Forces allows, I hope, for freeing servicemen from noncore housekeeping functions – that, in fact, was done long ago in the armies of other countries. The troops need first and foremost to put their attention on operational training, combat exercises, to concentrate exclusively on these issues. Security duties (firstly, perhaps not even security, but cleaning), everyday support, food preparation should be transferred to civilian organizations.”
Medvedev told the commanders their brigades should be self-sufficient, modern, balanced, and capable of fulfilling missions given them, and he invited their feedback because, as he said, the success of the military’s transformation depends on it.
“It would also be useful for me to know your opinion on the quality of the reform, on the organizational changes, what, in your view, has proven itself useful, and where there are problems.”
Despite soliciting their honest opinions, one doubts the Supreme CINC will hear many complaints from this audience. They are, after all, winners in the reform process since they managed to continue serving in command positions.