Category Archives: Military Leadership

Promotions for Defenders’ Day

In early February, the MOD’s Main Personnel Directorate (GUK) Chief held a special conclave.

A featured guest was Chief of the State Service and Personnel Directorate of the RF President’s Administration, Anton Fedorov.  He and his subordinates maintain President Vladimir Putin’s nomenklatura of general and flag officer appointments in the RF Armed Forces.

Anton Fedorov

The GUK forwards names to fill general and admiral positions.  It recommends candidates for promotion to the “highest officer” (O-7 and above) ranks.  But Mr. Fedorov’s group ultimately vets people and frames decisions on lists that Putin issues.

Professional competence is verified by the GUK.  In the Kremlin, however, they are more concerned about reliability and loyalty to Putin.  No doubt the FSB provides input from its channels in the military, through its headquarters, to Fedorov in the PA.

At the recent GUK assemblage, Fedorov declared there are 730 general and admiral duty posts in the armed forces.  Thirty-eight are vacant, but 15 are in the process of being filled.

So let’s call it a general or admiral for every 1,370 Russian troops (a million authorized).  The U.S. number is 1 per 1,467 (886 for 1,300,000 active personnel).

Moscow reportedly had 1,100 in the “highest officer” ranks early in former defense minister Anatoliy Serdyukov’s ill-fated tenure.  If memory serves, the number was reduced to 1,300-1,400 from 1,700-1,800 in the early 2000s while the Russian military was still authorized at significantly more than a million men.

Thus endeth the digression….

Below find a close look at the promotion list Putin signed out on the eve of Defenders’ Day 2017.  The updated list of 395 Russian generals and admirals is here.

The media made much of the promotion of officers connected to operations in Syria.

Chief of the General Staff’s Main Operations Directorate Sergey Rudskoy got his third star. Rudskoy is frequently the MOD’s spokesman on the situation in Syria.  His deputy, Stanislav Gadzhimagomedov, who has been the Russian military representative in talks with the Syrian opposition, got his second star.

Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Aleksandr Zhuravlev became a general-colonel.  He served first as chief of staff for the Russian group of forces in Syria, then as commander in the second half of 2016.

Sergey Kobylash, commander of Russia’s LRA which has bombed Syrian territory, became a general-lieutenant.

Many promotees, however, are connected to the conflict in eastern Ukraine and Crimea, or serve in the Southern MD and Black Sea Fleet.

One-star rank went to commanders or chiefs of the following:

  • 1st Composite Air Division
  • 30th Surface Ship Division
  • Crimean Naval Base
  • Black Sea Higher Naval School
  • 12th Reserve Command
  • 31st Air Defense Division

41st Combined Arms Army Commander Aleksey Zavizon, who reportedly led Russian troops in eastern Ukraine, became a two-star.

The head of the Russian contingent of ceasefire monitors in Donbas — Andrey Kozlov — became a general-major.

The General Staff’s representative in Normandy format negotiations Yaroslav Moskalik got his first star.

Other Promotions

NTsUO Chief Mikhail Mizintsev got his third star; one of his deputies got his first.

Shoygu got a star for his “special assignments” assistant who previously served with him in MChS.

Airborne Troops got a couple one-star promotions for Vladimir Shamanov’s old military assistant and the VDV’s personnel chief.

The chief and deputy chief of the Military Academy of Aerospace Defense were both promoted, to general-lieutenant and general-major respectively.  The academy just celebrated its 60th anniversary.

Other promotions to one-star rank included the commanders or chiefs of the following:

  • Ground Troops Main Staff
  • Navy Main Staff
  • 4th Combat Employment and Retraining Center, Aerospace Forces
  • 62nd Missile Division, RVSN
  • 90th Tank Division, Central MD

First Glance at Defenders’ Day List

Yesterday President Vladimir Putin signed out a promotion list with the names of 33 MOD general and flag officers.

Three officers, including Mikhail Mizintsev and Sergey Rudskoy, became three-star general-colonels.  Mizintsev heads the NTsUO.  Rudskoy is Chief of the General Staff’s Main Operations Directorate who briefs frequently on Russian operations in Syria.

Aleksey Zavizon became a two-star general-lieutenant; he commanded Russian troops and militia near Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, according to various reports.

New LRA Commander Sergey Kobylash also made two-star.

Denis Lyamin became a one-star general-major.  He now commands the Central MD’s resurrected 90th Tank Division.

Plenty of other names to look at.

Promotion List

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed out his Constitution Day promotion list on December 12.  View the ukaz here.

The MOD promotees have been appended to this list of more than 360 Russian general and flag officers.

In this round of advancement, there was a three-star promotion, four two-star, and 20 one-star promotions.

The most prominent promotees were Andrey Demin, in charge of Russia’s ballistic missile defenses, Sergey Sevryukov, 49th Combined Arms Army, and Aleksandr Chayko, 1st Tank Army.  Each received his second star.

Promotions also included first stars for:

  • Two Ground Troops brigade commanders.
  • Two RVSN missile division commanders.
  • Demin’s subordinate at the 9th Missile Defense Division.
  • Two Northern Fleet surface formation commanders.

The balance included three staff officers, two logisticians, three military academics, and seven officers for whom a current post couldn’t be found.

general-major-zabit-kheirbekov

General-Major Zabit Kheirbekov

One of the material support officers is General-Major Zabit Kheirbekov, who is chief logistics officer at Khmeimim air base in Syria.  Russia is learning that long-distance expeditionary warfare is all about supply.  It hasn’t experienced this in quite a while.

Shamanov’s Replacement?

Izvestiya reports today that General-Lieutenant Andrey Serdyukov is set to replace General-Colonel Vladimir Shamanov as commander of the Russian Airborne Troops (VDV).

Shamanov, who will turn 60 in February, has commanded the VDV since early 2009.  But he could continue to serve beyond 60 at the president’s discretion under Russian law.

general-lieutenant-andrey-serdyukov

General-Lieutenant Andrey Serdyukov

The 53-year-old General-Lieutenant Serdyukov has been serving as first deputy commander and chief of staff in the Southern MD.  He reportedly played a key part in the seizure of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

A presidential decree on the personnel change has not been issued, but Kremlin press-secretary Dmitriy Peskov did not deny plans to elevate Serdyukov when asked by Izvestiya.

Russian media sources have reported that Shamanov’s retirement post will be a seat in the new State Duma and chairmanship of its Defense Committee.  Readers will recall that Shamanov is a member of the president’s United Russia party and served as governor of Ulyanovsk Oblast.

Russia Day Promotion List

President Vladimir Putin signed out the latest MOD promotion list on June 11, 2016 — the eve of Russia Day.  Find the original on Krasnaya zvezda.  Or check out the running list in English here.

This list had six two-star and 29 one-star promotees.

Promotions came to commanders of three army-level formations, five divisions, and three brigades.

Specifically:

  • 29th Combined Arms Army;
  • 68th Army Corps;
  • 39th Missile Division (RVSN);
  • 35th Motorized Rifle Brigade;
  • 106th Air-Assault Division (VDV);
  • 7th Tank Brigade;
  • 2nd Air Defense Division;
  • 11th Air-Assault Brigade (VDV);
  • 1st Air Defense Division;
  • 102nd Military Base (Armenia);
  • 2nd Combined Arms Army;
  • 51st Air Defense Division.

It looks like, just possibly, a nephew of General Staff Chief, Army General Valeriy Vasilyevich Gerasimov — one Vitaliy Petrovich Gerasimov — made general-major in command of the Aleysk-based 35th MRB in the Central MD.

But it might be a coincidence of surname.  It’s common.

The younger Gerasimov was born on July 9, 1977 — making him a general officer at the tender age of 38 years and 11 months.  He’s a native of Kazan and graduated from the higher tank command school in that fascinating ancient city on the Volga.

Vitaliy Gerasimov

Vitaliy Gerasimov as a colonel

Valeriy Gerasimov

Army General Valeriy Gerasimov

It’s possible to see (perhaps imagine) a family resemblance.

The elder Gerasimov was also born in Kazan, in 1955, and also commissioned out of the tank command school, in 1977.  The question is does Valeriy have a brother named Petr Vasilyevich Gerasimov?

Look for the next promotions in December.

Defender’s Day Promotion List

On 20 February, President Vladimir Putin signed out a decree with nine two-star and 28 one-star promotions.  Find the updated list with more than 300 officers here.  And the decree itself.

Among those who couldn’t be identified, the various military academics, personnel types, and logisticians, the list also included:

  • Two directorate chiefs from the NTsUO;
  • Chief of the Navy’s Shipbuilding Directorate;
  • Commander, 6th Air and Air Defense Army, Western MD;
  • Commander, Kola Composite Forces Flotilla;
  • Commander, 25th Submarine (SSBN) Division, Pacific Fleet;
  • Commander, 7th Military Base, Abkhazia;
  • Commander, 9th Motorized Rifle Brigade (moving to Voronezh); and
  • Commander, 74th Motorized Rifle Brigade.

General-Major Andrey Vladimirovich Boldyrev commands the 74th MRB in Yurga, near Kemerovo.  It’s part of the 41st CAA, Central MD.  Troops from the 74th fought in both Chechen campaigns and reportedly also in the Donbass more recently.

General-Major Andrey Vladimirovich Boldyrev

General-Major Andrey Vladimirovich Boldyrev

Boldyrev made general at the tender age of 38.  It didn’t hurt that his father is retired Army General Vladimir Boldyrev, former Ground Troops CINC.

Army General Vladimir Anatolyevich Boldyrev

Army General Vladimir Anatolyevich Boldyrev

The elder Boldyrev also commanded three of Russia’s military districts.  He spent considerable time in the old Siberian (now Central) MD where his son serves and in the former Transbaykal MD.

Spies, Spetsnaz, and Snipers

In Voyenno-promyshlennyy kuryer on 10 February, Aleksey Mikhaylov gives us details on the career of new GRU Chief General-Lieutenant Igor Korobov, and perspective on issues he needs to resolve for GRU Spetsnaz forces.

Mikhaylov writes that Korobov’s appointment continues a tradition from the end of the 1990s:  the first deputy chief for strategic [agent] intelligence becomes the new head of the GRU.  His immediate predecessors — the late Igor Sergun and Aleksandr Shlyakhturov — were both “strat guys.”

As for Korobov, he matriculated at the Stavropol Higher Air Defense Aviation School in 1973 (making him about 61).  Graduating with distinction in 1977, the new lieutenant headed north to serve at Talagi airfield near Arkhangelsk in the 518th Interceptor Regiment — part of the 10th Independent Air Defense Army.

Korobov’s regiment flew large, long-range Tu-128 / Fiddler interceptors with the mission of engaging U.S. B-52 bombers in the Arctic.

Tu-128 Fiddler

Tu-128 / Fiddler

In 1981, according to Mikhaylov, Korobov was accepted into the Military-Diplomatic Academy — the GRU’s training ground.

It’s worth noting that bmpd.livejournal.com ran a lengthy item on 7 February with several photos from Korobov’s days in Stavropol and Talagi.  It adds that he served in the 2nd squadron of his regiment.  

In 1980, a “buyer” arrived from Moscow to talk to the regimental commander and review files of young officers.  He picked two candidates — Viktor Anokhin and Korobov.  Anokhin demurred because he wanted to fly, but Korobov accepted.  The former went on to become a two-star in the Air Forces.  The latter began his career in the GRU.

All this explains how Korobov came to have blue piping on his dress jacket and epaulettes.

But back to Mikhaylov . . . .  The GRU, he writes, is associated primarily with “illegals” and “foreign residencies” which acquire information on the latest developments in the military-industrial complex of the “probable enemy,” the deployment and armament of his forces, and “nuclear secrets.”  It also has directorates specializing in electronic and space reconnaissance, cryptanalysis, etc.

He continues:

“At the same time, the GRU also answers for the deployment and TO&E structure of army reconnaissance sub-units subordinate to the reconnaissance directorate of the Ground Troops.”

“After special designation [Spetsnaz] brigades that transferred to the Main Command of the Ground Troops during the transition to the new profile [under former Defense Minister Serdyukov] returned to the GRU, the Command of Special Operations Forces [SSO] also went into the structure of the directorate [GRU], according to some reports.  So besides strategic, electronic, and space intelligence, the head of the GRU and his subordinates have to work with Spetsnaz units and sub-units, and SSO Centers, and participate in the reorganization of the reconnaissance elements of the Ground Troops, Navy, and VDV.”

Mikhaylov asked Spetsnaz officers about the problems of their branch, and ways to solve them.  The majority, he writes, think the Spetsnaz still suffer from reforms instituted by Serdyukov.  Its commanders know how to lead, but not necessarily how to conduct reconnaissance operations.

Experienced Spetsnaz commanders lost in Serdyukov’s time have been replaced by officers who don’t understand reconnaissance, according to Mikhaylov’s interlocutors.  They call for better cooperation between the GRU and Main Command.

At present, in Ground Troops brigades, force reconnaissance sub-units are being established — companies in reconnaissance battalions of combined arms brigades and Spetsnaz battalions in army reconnaissance brigades.  But it’s not just structure, but also the particulars of employing these new Spetsnaz sub-units that need to be developed, Mikhaylov writes.

Several of his sources say Spetsnaz units and sub-units have become too numerous, at the expense of electronic reconnaissance.

Mikhaylov adds that Spetsnaz operations in the enemy’s rear areas require aviation assets, helicopters in particular.  But it’s unclear who will provide this air support. Other officers, however, contend that modern specialized armored vehicles like the Tigr are sufficient for most operations in which Russian forces are likely to find themselves.  But reconnaissance battalions and brigades need more UAVs, and greater numbers of advanced electronic reconnaissance systems, another Ground Troops officer told Mikhaylov.

Combined arms reconnaissance has one more headache — recently formed sniper companies for which the brigade’s chief of reconnaissance is responsible.  One sniper officer told Mikhaylov that these companies already exist though without guidance, regulations, or combat training plans.

In conclusion, Mikhaylov concedes that new GRU Chief Korobov won’t have to deal with these problems personally, but his subordinates will.

This all becomes even more interesting if you consider that the GRU, SSO, and army reconnaissance Mikhaylov describes have probably deployed on battlefields in Ukraine and Syria without sorting out their unresolved organizational and operational issues first.