Tag Archives: Arkadiy Bakhin

Gerasimov New NGSh

Putin with Shoygu and Gerasimov

Today President Putin retired Chief of the General Staff Nikolay Makarov.  An old hand, currently Commander of the Central MD, General-Colonel Valeriy Gerasimov replaces him.  Putin also dropped First Deputy Defense Minister Aleksandr Sukhorukov (who’d had responsibility for armaments).  Western MD Commander Arkadiy Bakhin replaces Sukhorukov.  Aerospace Defense Troops Commander, General-Colonel Oleg Ostapenko also becomes a deputy defense minister.  Here’s the ukaz on the appointments, and on the dismissals.

Meeting with Gerasimov and Shoygu, Putin told the new NGSh he’s concerned by constantly changing Defense Ministry requirements on industry, and looks to him, and to the new defense minister, to “build a good, stable working partnership with our leading defense industrial enterprises.”

Serdyukov didn’t have one.  Perhaps all is not sweetness and light with the defense order in 2012.

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The Military’s Most Authoritative

Russkiy reporter published its 2011 list of the 100 “most authoritative” Russian people — ten each in society, business, bureaucracy, academe, education, medicine, law, military, culture, and sports.

Avtoritetnyy, of course, isn’t just a cognate; it can mean influential, competent, trusted, reputable, respected, expert, etc.

You can read about last year’s picks in the military field here.  This year’s military list includes:

  • Deputy Defense Minister Anatoliy Antonov, for knowing how to talk to foreigners.
  • Western MD Commander, General-Colonel Arkadiy Bakhin, for housing officers.
  • Sukhoy test pilot Sergey Bogdan, for testing the fifth generation fighter.
  • General Staff Chief, Army General Nikolay Makarov, for disbanding the “Arbat Military District.”
  • State Secretary, Deputy Defense Minister Nikolay Pankov, for reforming military education.
  • President, General Director of RSK MiG, Chairman of the Board of Sukhoy, Mikhail Pogosyan, for developing the latest Russian weaponry.
  • Head of the Veteran-Military Chiefs Club, Marshal of the Soviet Union Sergey Sokolov, for 100 years in the ranks.
  • General Director, “Tactical Missile Armaments” Corporation, Boris Obnosov, for fast, accurate missiles.
  • Air Forces Senior Lieutenant Igor Sulim, for courage.
  • President, Academy of Military Sciences, Army General Makhmut Gareyev, for asserting the results of the Second World War.

It’s an interesting and eclectic list.  Clearly, many would dispute the names.  Some would say Pankov wrecked the military education system; others would say he implemented unavoidable reductions and consolidations.  Picking Makarov for breaking up the “Arbat Military District,” and sending more officers out to serve with the troops is also controversial, but he’s done something essential and long overdue.

Sokolov’s honored for his longevity. 

Obnosov’s interviewed in the lead article.  He talks about attracting and retaining young scientists and engineers in the defense sector, and about the OPK’s attempt to reach an understanding with the Defense Ministry on price formation.

Sulim’s a surprise, and a rather bold choice.

Only Makarov, Pogosyan, and Gareyev repeat from last year’s list.

RR picked Deputy Defense Minister, Army General Dmitriy Bulgakov as its goat of the year for the spate of deadly army arsenal explosions. 

The big “loser” Bulgakov’s in the same boat as some of the “winners.” 

He found himself in charge of a long-neglected and untenable situation, and he’s tried to fix it.  But many people will object and argue about his methods, the results, and consequences.

Galkin Promoted

A thing rare in recent times was announced today . . . the promotion of a general officer.  In this case, Southern MD Commander, General-Lieutenant Aleksandr Galkin picked up his third star. 

President Medvedev’s decree on General-Colonel Galkin was dated June 11, according to RIA Novosti.

Large, well-publicized general officer promotion ceremonies used to be the norm, but no longer. 

Recall one of Defense Minister Serdyukov’s objectives was turning the “bloated egg” of the officer corps into a pyramid.  As part of this, he planned to trim 1,100 generals to 900. 

Of course, Serdyukov had to walk back part of his decision on cutting officers this year, but generally it’s clear that lots of O-6s now occupy billets once held by one-stars.  Army commanders routinely two-stars in the past now wear only one.  And MD commanders who typically wore three, have been wearing only two . . . at least until now. 

Galkin joins Western MD Commander, General-Colonel Arkadiy Bakhin at the three-star rank. 

Galkin’s promotion shows the team has to be rewarded for doing the heavy lifting of establishing the “new profile.”  Three-star rank also extends his statutory retirement to 60. 

Central MD Commander, General-Lieutenant Vladimir Chirkin and Eastern MD Commander, Vice-Admiral Konstantin Sidenko are both older than Galkin.  They are likely serving on extensions right now, and might be better candidates for retirement than promotion.  But another star can’t be ruled out.  In Chirkin’s case, the recent arsenal explosions in his AOR won’t help him.

Aleksandr Viktorovich Galkin is especially strongly linked to General Staff Chief, Army General Nikolay Makarov through his service in the former Siberian MD in the 2000s.  Bakhin and Chirkin are also “Siberians” with ties to Makarov.

Some details on Galkin:  He was born March 22, 1958 in Ordzhonikidze (now Vladikavkaz), North-Ossetian ASSR.  He graduated the Ordzhonikidze Higher Combined Arms Command School in 1979, and served in motorized rifle command posts up to chief of staff and deputy commander of a battalion in the GSFG.  He was a battalion commander in the Far East MD.  In 1990, he completed the Frunze Military Academy, and served as a motorized rifle regiment commander in the Transcaucasus, and chief of staff and deputy commander of a motorized rifle division in the Far East MD.  On completing the General Staff Academy in 2003, he served as deputy commander of the 41st Combined Arms Army (Novosibirsk), and chief of staff and first deputy commander of the 36th Combined Arms Army (Borzya).  In 2006-2007, he commanded the 41st.  In 2008, Galkin became deputy commander, then chief of staff and first deputy commander of the Siberian MD.  In early 2010, he became commander of the North Caucasus MD, and the renamed Southern MD early this year.

Makarov’s Year-Ender

On Tuesday, General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov provided his year-end wrap-up on the ‘new profile’ of the Armed Forces in the form of a press-conference featuring a videolink with the four new MD / OSK commanders.

It was pretty much a self-congratulatory celebration of how Makarov and company have turned everything in the Russian military around for the better.  As Moskovskiy komsomolets put it, “Nikolay Makarov told the media how bad it was in the army in the past, and how good it will be in the future.”

Rossiyskaya gazeta paraphrased Makarov’s remarks, giving only a couple direct quotes.  First up was President Medvedev’s call for unified aerospace defense (VKO) before the end of 2011.

RG says Makarov said VKO will be fully operational in 2020 when new reconnaissance and weapons systems have been deployed.  He said its purpose is to defend the state [interestingly the state, not the country] from ballistic and cruise missiles.  It needs to be an umbrella against any kind of threat, including low-altitude ones.

Makarov said different military structures have been occupied with the security of the skies.  Space Troops do orbital reconnaissance and ground-based missile early warning.  The air forces and air defense armies (АВВСиПВО or АВВСПВО) and radar troops monitor air space for approaching hostile aircraft.  The Special Designation Command (КСпН) covers the Moscow air defense zone [didn’t this long ago change its name to the OSK VKO?].  Air defense troops (ЗРВ) and fighter aviation cover other important facilities.  The system was set-up on a service (видовой) basis and that’s why it was uncoordinated.  It needs to be made integrated and put under the command of the General Staff [of course – this sounds like Olga Bozhyeva in MK].  In the Defense Ministry, they understand unification won’t be quick and will require a lot of resources, but there’s simply no other way.

Izvestiya proffered a quotation on this one:

“If we look at how this system was built earlier, then it’s possible to see that it acted separately by services and branches of troops, and also by regions.  So, Space Troops answered for space reconnaissance, the work of missile attack warning stations.  The Ground Troops for the activity of radar units.  Now we are uniting all these separate organizations in a unitary whole.  We need to establish the foundation of this system in 2011.  To finish its formation completely by 2020.”

According to RG, Makarov said a modern army would be useless without a new command and control system for the Armed Forces.  Russia’s move to a unified information environment will cost 300 billion rubles, and will be phased, with the initial phase being the replacement of all analog equipment with digital systems by 2012.  Command and control systems will be developed and produced in Russia, but other weapons will be bought abroad.  This is when he broke the news about Mistral winning the amphibious command ship tender.

RG concludes Makarov called for a fully professional Armed Forces, but the words it quoted aren’t particularly convincing:

“Now we can’t do them like this.  But year by year we’ll increase the selection of contract servicemen with commensurate pay.”

However, Moskovskiy komsomolets quoted the General Staff Chief this way:

“We are aiming for a contract army.  Now we can’t make it so instantly, but year by year the number of contract servicemen, with commensurate pay, will increase.”

Olga Bozhyeva viewed this as a total reversal of Makarov’s earlier rejection of contractees and insistence on conscripts as the backbone of the army.

Makarov also talked about efforts to create ‘human’ service and living conditions.  He referred, as always, to outsourcing and civilianizing mess hall and other housekeeping duties.  He repeated that, starting in 2012, officer pay will increase by several times.  According to Krasnaya zvezda, Makarov said 50 percent of officers now receive higher pay through premiums and incentives.  Officers and their families will be moved from remote garrison towns to oblast centers where their children can get a better education and wives can find work.  About the large cut in military towns, he said:

“We had about 22 thousand of them, approximately 5,500 remain, but in all, we’re taking the number of military towns to 180.”

Of course, he didn’t mention who will take care of large numbers of retirees left behind in that archipelago of abandoned military towns.

KZ gave its own recap of Makarov’s press-conference, and it’s interesting to hear his rehash of why the army needed a ‘new profile.’  His remarks blow up any lingering myth about the 2000s, at least the Putin years, as the time of the Russian military’s rejuvenation.  He said:

“Before 2009, 87 percent of the Armed Forces consisted of formations and military units with abbreviated personnel and cadres, practically not having personnel.  They almost didn’t conduct operational and combat training.  The army didn’t just degrade.  During this time, we grew an entire generation of officers and generals who ceased to understand the very essence of military service, they didn’t have experience in training and educating personnel.”

KZ paraphrases more of Makarov.  The personnel training system caused complaints.  VVUZy were teaching the Great Patriotic War.  Low pay and poor prospects for housing made the officer’s profession a low-prestige one.  In units, personnel weren’t occupied with combat training, but serving themselves, and military discipline fell as a result.  On the whole, the Armed Forces stopped fulfilling the missions for which they are intended, and could scarcely react to threats and challenges beyond the state’s borders and inside the country.

Makarov addressed how the MDs were changed to meet future threats and challenges:

“Planning and troop employment happened with significant difficulties, since each of six military districts had a series of missions where one often contradicted another.  Moreover, four air forces and air defense armies were established, as a result, the zones of responsibility of the military districts and these armies didn’t coincide at all.  This led to confusion in employing air defense forces.  At the same time, experience showed that military actions in recent decades are conducted, as a rule, by unified force groupings and forces under a unitary command.  Each of our districts and each of our four fleets existed independently. Each had its own zone of responsibility, not matching the others.  In order to organize any kind of joint actions, it was necessary to establish temporary commands, temporary structures, which, as a rule, were poorly prepared, didn’t have corresponding experience.  All this led to unsatisfactory results.”

Izvestiya quoted him:

“In the bounds of the ongoing transformations, full-blooded troop groupings have been established on all strategic axes.  Four full-blooded commands have appeared for us which, having in their composition and immediately subordinate to them all forces and means, can react adequately to all challenges and threats to the borders of our districts.  Changes in the Armed Forces command and control structure are a necessary occurrence since the old administrative-territorial division had stopped answering the challenges and threats of the time.”

New MDs (photo: ITAR-TASS)

Then Makarov brought in MD commanders over the video so they could attest to how it’s going.  They remarked on how cutting intermediate, redundant command levels has made their jobs easier.  Western MD Commander, General-Colonel Arkadiy Bakhin said 40 percent of his formations and units have outsourced some support functions. 

KZ says earlier MD commanders answered only for Ground Troops, and when they needed forces from another service or branch, they had to get permission from above.  Southern MD Commander, General-Lieutenant Aleksandr Galkin claims making these requests cost the commander time, but now all forces and means are in one command, the fundamentally new unified strategic command (OSK).  Galkin also says freeing soldiers from support tasks means there are now 20-22 training days per month instead of 15-16.

Medvedev in Solnechnogorsk

President Medvedev (photo: Izvestiya / Yekaterina Shtukina)

Thursday President Dmitriy Medvedev made his most recent foray among the troops, and expressed what sounds something like a defense of his somewhat embattled Defense Minister, and his military reforms.

At Solnechnogorsk’s Center for Retraining and Improving Rifleman Qualifications, the President decorated some officers.  According to Kremlin.ru, he said:

“Our army is changing now.  And despite the fact that all changes are difficult, they are necessary. Because we understand:  if we can’t make our armed forces modern and effective, more combat capable, better armed, if officers receive pay that doesn’t motivate them to work properly, then we won’t have a proper defense.  Therefore, everything now being done is directed at creating modern and effective armed forces.  There are both problems and good decisions here, I am following them personally as Supreme CINC and I intend to continue to do so.”

He also congratulated General-Colonel Arkadiy Bakhin and Admiral Konstantin Sidenko after appointing them to be permanent commanders of the new Western and Eastern MDs respectively.

At the center, Medvedev inspected the school where Russia’s snipers are trained, and inspected the weapons they use.  The school has practically every type of infantry weapon, including NATO ones.

Izvestiya and Kommersant reported that officers there still venerate the Kalashnikov’s reliability and simplicity, but lament its ergonomics and low single shot density.  A new Kalashnikov will begin testing next year, and Izvestiya imagines the officers told the President what requirements for the new weapon will be, since today’s Russian Army can afford to buy the best.  Kommersant and RIA Novosti both noted that Kalashnikov lags behind Western manufacturers, so this all sounded a little like a rerun of recent domestic production vs. foreign procurement debates.

Medvedev visited the nearby military town of Timonovo, and viewed newly built apartment blocks for Space Troops officers.  Officers already in their apartments told Medvedev they are happy with the quality of the construction.  The President also met several dozen residents, families, and military retirees.  Some of the latter who served at Baykonur but received permanent apartments in Moscow Oblast complained of losing their higher pension ‘coefficient’ when they returned to Russia, and Medvedev promised to look into this.

He talked with representatives of the management company contracted to maintain these buildings for the Defense Ministry.  They said residents complain mostly about poor drinking water, and Governor Boris Gromov said this was because of old pipes that he promised to replace.  Medvedev gave Timonovo a positive evaluation, calling it: 

“A good town, normal level of support.”

This was Medvedev’s first trip to see the troops in a while, and he seems like he generally doesn’t go too often or too far to observe them.  He watched the naval portion of Vostok-2010 in July, and visited Alabino in May.

Collegium on MDs and Antiterrorism

Last Thursday, Defense Minister Serdyukov conducted an extramural ‘board of directors’ meeting in St. Petersburg.  The agenda had two publicized items — forming the new Western Military District (MD) and antiterrorism.

Deputy Defense Minister, General-Colonel Dmitriy Bulgakov (effectively chief of material-technical support) and acting commander of the new Western MD (ZVO or ЗВО), General-Colonel Arkadiy Bakhin reported on the new district.  Genshtab GOU Chief, General-Lieutenant Andrey Tretyak reported “On the Condition of Antiterrorist Work in the RF Armed Forces and Measures to Neutralize Terrorist Threats.”

In its coverage, ITAR-TASS noted that recommendations from forming the ZVO will be applied to the new Southern, Central, and Eastern MDs. 

After the collegium, General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov told journalists that work on the ZVO was being closely analyzed, and all issues had been resolved in the main.  But its command doesn’t fully recognize the importance of its tasks, and its combat training demands higher quality work.  Makarov called this a consequence of the fact that, for 15 to 20 years, almost 85 percent of officers in command and control organs didn’t command troops. 

Of course, Makarov considers himself a ‘troop general’ and that 85 percent figure makes it easy for him to oversee cutting the officer corps by 50 percent.

Makarov said the terrorist attack near Buynaksk was being closely analyzed, and noted that commanders didn’t take measures necessary to protect their people.  But the tasks essential to countering terrorist threats have been identified.

Krasnaya zvezda reported that Serdyukov met human rights organization representatives during a break in the collegium.  More on this later.

Interim OSK Commanders Named

Late Thursday Interfaks learned that Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov signed an order naming acting commanders of Russia’s four new military districts, or operational-strategic commands (OSKs).

Volga-Ural MD Commander, General-Colonel Arkadiy Bakhin will be the interim commander of the new Western MD.  Siberian MD Commander, General-Lieutenant Vladimir Chirkin will temporarily head the new Central MD.  Pacific Fleet Commander, Admiral Konstantin Sidenko will command the new Far East MD for now.  And North Caucasus MD Commander, General-Lieutenant Aleksandr Galkin will head the the new Southern MD. 

General-Colonel Bakhin

General-Lieutenant Chirkin

Admiral Sidenko

General-Lieutenant Galkin

Serdyukov wants the new command and control scheme operating from the start of the new training year on 1 December.

Kommersant noted general surprise that a naval officer was picked to head the Far East MD.  Ground Troops generals have always commanded the army-dominated MDs.  But a Navy Main Staff source said Sidenko is not new to commanding army units; he once commanded the combined Navy-Ground Troops force on Kamchatka.

Kommersant also said extramural Defense Ministry collegiums will evaluate the effectiveness of these reorganizations before the end of the year.

Makarov’s Guys Take Key Posts

Bakhin, Chirkin, and Galkin prospered under General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov when he was Siberian MD Commander from 2002-2007.  Each of them served as an army commander, deputy MD commander, and chief of staff, first deputy MD commander under Makarov in Siberia (or immediately after his departure for Moscow).  Chirkin served as Bakhin’s chief of staff, first deputy commander of the Volga-Ural MD, before becoming Siberian MD Commander this year.

Sidenko is a submariner, and most of his career has been in the Pacific Fleet.  His experience as ‘Commander of Troops and Forces in the North-East’ is, interestingly enough, a little similar to Makarov’s late 1990s time as ‘Commander of Ground and Coastal Troops, Deputy Commander of the Baltic Fleet for Ground and Coastal Troops.’