Tag Archives: ЮВО

Surprise Inspection

Army General Valeriy Gerasimov

Army General Valeriy Gerasimov

Complete coverage of General Staff Chief Valeriy Gerasimov’s remarks on the surprise inspection and readiness exercise can be found on Radio Voice of Russia or Mil.ru.

According to the newly-minted army general (four stars), the General Staff planned the inspection on the Defense Minister’s order.  It evaluated command and control organs, formations, and units of the Central and Southern MDs, VDV, VTA, and the 12th GUMO.  It was the largest of its kind in 20 years. 

The inspection began at 0400 on 18 February when operational and unit duty officers received packets with General Staff orders to go to higher states of combat readiness and carry out combat training missions.  This, Gerasimov said, required moving and transporting forces to exercise areas and “unfamiliar terrain” far from their permanent deployment locations.  The inspection included 7,000 soldiers, several hundred pieces of equipment, and 48 aircraft.

The General Staff Chief emphasized that the inspection was a complete surprise to command and control organs and troops to allow for objectively the combat readiness of formations and uncovering problems.

He praised the readiness and performance of sub-units of the VDV’s 98th Air-Assault Division (Ivanovo) and the 4th Air Forces and Air Defense Command (Southern MD / Rostov).  What was likely a battalion tactical group of the 98th loaded in twenty Il-76 transports and flew to Shagol outside Chelyabinsk, marched 100 km under difficult conditions (-20° C / -4° F, broken terrain, deep snow cover) to Chebarkul, and conducted its combat training.  For its part, the 4th VVS and PVO Command’s aircraft conducted bombing exercises with good or excellent results.

There were, however, “a number of systematic deficiencies in the state of combat readiness and lever of personnel training.” 

In practically all evaluated elements, duty officers showed weak skill in transmitting orders via automated combat command and control systems.  They weren’t certain how to receive the order to go to higher readiness.  In the VDV and the 201st Military Base, it took too long to send signals to subordinate troops.

In the Central MD’s 28th Motorized Rifle Brigade, training center graduates, drivers, and mechanic-drivers showed a low level of training.  Tank and BMP crews usually got only satisfactory in firing exercises.  Young officers just graduated from military schools exhibited poor knowledge of weapons and equipment.

Equipment generally performed reliably, given the weather conditions and its age.  Some of it required repair in the field, and, according to Gerasimov, this demonstrated the expedience of the Defense Minister’s decision to reestablish maintenance units.  But they need more training, spare parts, and improved organization.  Factory repair is more problematic:

“Sufficiently efficient work by repair factories and industrial enterprises is a serious problem for the troops.  Equipment coming from capital or medium repair, even under a service guarantee, often breaks down in the first months of its use in line units.  An analysis of deficiencies discovered is currently being conducted.”

Interesting, where does the fault lie?  The factory or troops and young officers who don’t know how to use or repair it?

Gerasimov admitted and lamented that nearly two-thirds of aircraft (in units being drilled?) is out of repair.  He called effective resolution of this problem the most important joint task of command and control organs and industry.

Gerasimov called the BMD-2 both obsolete and worn-out at 20 to 25 years old, or even more.  At 14.2 metric tons, he said the BMD-4M’s weight is at the limit for air transport, and an Il-76 can only carry three.  The General Staff Chief cited repair problems with Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters, Su-25, self-propelled Msta artillery, and R-168-5un radio.  He indicated the still experimental Volk armored vehicle doesn’t meet 12 of its TTZs and won’t undergo repeat state testing.

Gerasimov said the Defense Minister has decided inspections like this will now take place on a regular basis.

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Making Soldiers in the Southern MD

Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye’s Oleg Vladykin participated in a press-tour of the Southern MD (OSK South), and last Friday he published his take on what he saw.

Deputy District Commander, General-Lieutenant Igor Turchenyuk set the scene, telling assembled journalists about establishing the YuVO last year:

“A substantial — more than two times — growth in the combat potential of the grouping of troops and forces deployed on YuVO territory is the result of the transformations which have been carried out.”

Turchenyuk said the YuVO conducted more than 200 command-staff and tactical exercises, including jointly with air and naval forces, during the winter training period.  This was reportedly seven times greater than comparable training in the old North Caucasus MD.  

Turchenyuk claims the intensity of everyday combat training has increased noticeably, doubling fuel and ammunition expenditure.  Outsourcing food and laundry services and arms and equipment maintenance made this possible.  By eliminating extraneous duties, a more intense 40-hour week has added more than 300 hours of training time to the year.   

Turchenyuk’s main point:

“As a result, we got the chance to prepare a real professional serviceman-specialist even under the conditions of a one-year training cycle.”

And Vladykin’s:

“Of course, it’s hard to argue with figures.  Therefore, I really wanted to confirm with my own eyes how conscript servicemen are being turned into real professionals.”

Vladykin and the others were taken first to the 34th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade (Mountain), built from scratch on President Putin’s order.  The 34th was established as an elite, model formation as good as any “show” unit elsewhere in the Armed Forces.

But, says Vladykin, not everything turned out as imagined, especially with the formation’s manning. 

The brigade found 5,000 contractees to train as professional mountain infantry, but today, with the cut in contractees, more than half the brigade’s manpower are conscripts.  After seeing some training, Vladykin concludes:

“I won’t say that all soldiers looked like high-class mountain infantry.  But since I know most participants in the exercises have served a little over half a year, I’m ready to acknowledge: they’re not badly trained.”

Next up was the 22nd Independent Brigade of Special Designation (Spetsnaz).  Its professionalism needs to be even higher, but this brigade is currently 60 percent draftee.  Vladykin wonders out loud whether they will be able to carry out the brigade’s missions, and whether it’s possible to grow a real soldier from a conscript.

Lastly, in the 19th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade, practically all soldiers and junior commanders (NCOs) are conscripts.  Here, says Vladykin, they learned the difference between draftees and contractees in battles in two Chechen campaigns and in South Ossetia.

Its officers reserve judgement about the efficacy of outsourcing rear service functions.  Conscript drivers learn vehicle maintenance from contracted civilian mechanics who won’t be with them in combat.

The brigade’s chief of staff describes how a reinforced company tactical group meets the formation’s permanent (one-hour) readiness requirement in the volatile North Caucasus.  Another officer says duty officers have returned to the barracks to keep order at night.  The officers here don’t fully trust their conscript soldiers and sergeants.

Vladykin doesn’t provide a larger bottom line.  It seems to be that the YuVO may be turning draftees into soldiers, but not true professionals.  For all the figures about the district’s higher training tempo, Vladykin doesn’t seem too impressed.

Collegium in Southern Military District

Anatoliy Serdyukov conducted another extramural Defense Ministry collegium today, this time in Rostov-na-Donu, and the new Southern Military District (MD).

RIA Novosti quoted a spokeswoman who said:

“Participants in the session are reviewing issues concerning formation of the YuVO.  In particular, they will review questions about optimizing the deployment of formations and military units on the district’s territory, work with personnel, medical and housing support for servicemen, and also preparations for the heating season.”

So, they’re talking about possibly moving some brigades or regiments to better locations, and probably about who will command some of them.

The YuVO began operations in its new composition on 1 October.

According to ITAR-TASS, Serdyukov spoke of the ‘doubling’ of the ‘potential’ of the armed forces in the south with the establishment of the new district, but added this isn’t connected with the army’s counterterrorism missions in the region.

One would like to know how that ‘doubling’ was calculated since the MD’s ground units haven’t changed.

The Southern MD, or Unified Strategic Command (OSK) ‘South’ encompasses not only the former SKVO, but also the Black Sea Fleet and Caspian Flotilla.