Interfaks-AVN recently summarized the impending force structure changes in Russia’s Ground Troops.
According to Interfaks-AVN, the resurrected 90th Tank Division in the Central MD (Chelyabinsk Oblast) will be ready for the start of the new training year on 1 December.
News of the division surfaced in January. It’s not exactly “new” given that the 7th Tank Brigade at Chebarkul will be its base.
The division is in the heart of the Urals, an important military-industrial region. It has a large training range as well. Kazakhstan’s not far off to the south.
Officially, the division is the 90th Guards Tank Vitebsk-Novgorod Twice Red Banner Division. It traces back to the Red Army’s 90th Guards Rifle Division formed in 1943.
TASS already reported the division is more than 70 percent manned and equipped. To form up fully, the 90th needs at least another regiment’s worth of T-72 tanks, perhaps a motorized rifle regiment, artillery and air defense units, an array of supporting units, as well as equipment drawn from Central MD storage bases.
Interfaks-AVN reminds readers Ground Troops CINC General-Colonel Oleg Salyukov announced in January that Moscow intends to put up three “new” divisions in the west (in addition to the tank division in the Central MD).
Voronezh (Boguchar) and Smolensk (Yelnya) are possible locations for “new” western divisions.
The redeployment of the 20th CAA from Nizhegorod (Mulino) to Voronezh (Boguchar) began in 2015. The 9th IMRB has transferred to Boguchar, and may be struggling to adjust to its new base. It has, however, the advantage of being an extant maneuver brigade, albeit with some artillery, missile, and support units still located east of Moscow.
The 1st Independent Tank Brigade is also supposed to be based in Boguchar. It’s the remnant of the former 10th Tank Division, which was downgraded to a regiment and then a storage base by the late 2000s. It’s a stretch to call it an existing formation.
Another motorized rifle brigade might make its home in Yelnya.
As Interfaks-AVN notes, two of these three brigades might become divisions.
Interfaks-AVN didn’t address the Kommersant report from June describing the transfer of two IMRBs to Russia’s western border. Citing local media coverage, the paper described how the 23rd and 28th IMRBs departed their Central MD garrisons for Bryansk (Klintsy) and Belgorod (Valuyki) Oblasts respectively. They are also candidates to become divisions.
The 1st Tank Army in Moscow (Bakovka) Oblast was resurrected to be an army-level headquarters for existing formations that pretty much amount to an army. They include the 2nd MRD, 4th TD, 27th IMRB, and 6th Tank Brigade. There’s conjecture the latter could grow into a tank division to establish the 1st TA’s credentials as an army.
The Southern MD definitely gets one of the three “new” divisions — the 150th Motorized Rifle Idritsa-Berlin Order of Kutuzov II Degree Division. The MOD website frequently covers progress on the infrastructure of this formation.
Moreover, as Interfaks-AVN noted, the Chief of the General Staff just announced the 150th will be part of a new combined arms army. But there aren’t good existing candidates to fill out a new army short of denuding the 49th CAA.
The foregoing leaves us a general sense of what’s happening on Russia’s western frontiers, but not specifics.
Nevertheless, let’s draw preliminary conclusions.
First and foremost, the changes in ground force structure — transferring existing formations or raising entirely new ones — are massive undertakings at a time of budget stringency and while the rearmament program mostly continues.
Potential divisions — the 9th, 23rd, and 28th IMRBs — are manned and equipped, but probably lack adequate facilities. Also, it’s unclear exactly which units (air defense, artillery, EW, recon, logistics, etc.) they left behind in Mulino, Samara, and Yekaterinburg.
Less likely candidates for division — the 1st TB and Yelnya — lack facilities, troops, and armaments. Reconditioning equipment from long-term storage isn’t a trivial task.
Fleshing out the structure described above is a big enough job, but the Russian “pivot to the west” also entails finishing the 150th MRD and the CAA to which it will belong, and possibly adding another TD to the 1st TA.
Returning to where this began, the Russian Army still has to fill out its 90th TD in the Central MD at the same time.
The General Staff, Ground Troops’ Main Command, and Western MD should have more than a few sleepless nights thinking about how to make all this work. But it’s job security.