Tag Archives: BTG

Contractees in BTGs

General Staff Chief, Army General Valeriy Gerasimov held a press conference with Russian news agencies on 14 September.  The just-completed Kavkaz-2016 strategic exercise was the main, but not the only, topic.

gerasimovs-press-conference

Gerasimov’s Press Conference

Interfaks-AVN captured Gerasimov’s comments on one particular subject of interest.

Army General Gerasimov said:

“Contractees are substantially increasing the combat capability of sub-units and military units.  In our districts, including the Southern Military District, battalion tactical groups [BTGs], which are fully manned by contract service soldiers, have been created.  There are now 66 of such BTGs, at the end of 2016 there will be 96, next year 115, and the year after [2018] 125.”

Every BTG, Gerasimov noted for the media, has 700-800 men, and reinforced BTGs have 900.  As a rule, each Russian regiment and brigade has two BTGs, he said.

What is a BTG?

A BTG is a motorized rifle or tank battalion of 2-4 companies with attached ATGM, artillery, reconnaissance, engineer, and rear support platoons making a fairly self-sufficient ground combat unit.

These were some brief but significant comments from Gerasimov. What do they tell us?

BTGs are supposed to be completely manned and fully combat ready. Gerasimov didn’t say that regiments and brigades typically have at least a third maneuver battalion which may not be completely manned or combat ready.

To simplify our math, let’s say Russia’s Ground Troops today comprise 36 maneuver (motorized rifle and tank) brigades.  We’ll leave out the longstanding 2nd Motorized Rifle Division and 4th Tank Division, as well as the future 150th MRD.

Those 36 brigades equate to a nominal 108 (36 x 3) maneuver battalions.  If there are 66 BTGs now, then two-thirds of the 108 are organized in essentially ready-to-fight packages.

Ninety-six would get close to 100 percent BTGs by the end of this year.  But adding another 30 (66 + 30 = 96) in less than four months seems almost ridiculously difficult.

The 115 (96 + 19) and 125 (115 + 10) figures for 2017 and 2018 would be much easier.

Battalions composing current divisions (or new divisions and brigades in the process of forming up) certainly account for some number of BTGs above 108.

It’s unclear how many airborne (VDV) or naval infantry BTGs there might be. Gerasimov seemed to be talking strictly about Ground Troops.  Between them, VDV and naval infantry might have 30+ battalions already organized into BTGs, or candidates to become BTGs.  But we don’t know if or how they factor into Gerasimov’s current or future number of BTGs.

Gerasimov’s comments have value with regard to contract service.  Sixty-six BTGs at 800 men each account for 52,800 professional enlisted.  And 125 would be 100,000. Those numbers represent a fair portion of a Russian Army of 300,000 considering that there might be 60,000 officers, and there will always be conscripts.

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Battalion Travels Lighter in Mobilnost Redux

Krasnaya zvezda covered the opening phases of Vostok-2010 for those willing to plod through or skim the article.  Motorized rifle brigades are taking turns practicing defeating bandit groups, the VVS are providing air support to MVD Internal Troops units, and PVO battalions are conducting night firing exercises with new C2 systems.

RIA Novosti and ITAR-TASS reported that nearly 600 Volga-Ural Military District (PUrVO) troops were flown to the Far East on Tuesday (29 June) to participate in summer’s marquee training event.  Four Military-Transport Aviation (VTA or ВТА) Il-76MD transports delivered a battalion tactical group (BTG) with only light weapons to join in the operational-strategic exercise (OSU or ОСУ). 

According to ITAR-TASS, General Staff Chief, Army General Nikolay Makarov said that in the course of Vostok-2010:

“. . . issues are being broadly worked out about the expedience of redeploying at a great distance trained personnel which have to take military equipment held at mobilization bases and immediately go into combat.”

This certainly sounds like a military establishment not fully embracing an idea, at least right away.

According to Krasnaya zvezda, a BTG from the 28th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade flew 6,000 kilometers from Koltsovo, outside Yekaterinburg, to Vozdvizhenka, north of Ussuriysk, on a 10-hour flight with a refueling stop at Belaya near Irkutsk.  The 28th was built on the base of a regiment of the old 34th MRD.

Krasnaya zvezda said the battalion moved via truck to an armaments and equipment storage base [БХРВТ] at Sibirtsevo for outfitting with heavy equipment.  The 247th BKhRVT was established last year with the remnants of the former 121st MRD.  After removing equipment from storage and some training, they were slated to join tactical combat firing at Sergeyevka.

Acting PUrVO Commander General-Lieutenant Sergey Surovikin saw off the battalion; he commanded the brigade’s forerunner—the 34th MRD in 2004.  The brigade’s commander, Colonel Anatoliy Sinelnikov, was Surovikin’s deputy division commander in 2004 when it first sent a BTG to the Far East.

Krasnaya zvezda asked Surovikin to compare the current redeployment with the earlier one six years ago in Mobilnost-2004:

“Then a sub-unit with all of its TO&E equipment was sent into action.  And it fulfilled its assigned mission.  The current exercise is being conducted according to the General Staff’s decision which specifies checking the expedience of means of redeploying troops on various strategic axes.  In this instance, the exercise is being conducted only with personnel – without transporting combat equipment and heavy weapons to the Far East.  But it allows us to check the possibility of redeploying troops in other strategic directions.  And to conduct such a redeployment in a very short period.  And using for these purposes Military-Transport Aviation aircraft as well as civilian airlines.”

“In this exercise, means of regrouping troops in short time periods are being tried.  By comparison:  if in OSU Mobilnost-2004 we could send a battalion of the 276th Motorized Rifle Regiment of our division by air to the Far East together with its combat equipment and vehicles in 8 days, then this time such a battalion will get there in significantly less time.  And the quantity of aircraft take-offs to transport the very same sub-unit to another theater of military operations was reduced more than ten times.  High strategic mobility is achieved with much lower expenditure of forces and budget resources.”

While not exactly a Russian Reforger, this redeployment exercise looks like working smarter, not harder.  So it represents some payoff from the effort to turn understrength, excess units into mobilization bases.  Of course, one has to believe there’s still some element of the set piece in all this.  The battalion being moved was probably one of the best, and the BKhRVT was probably well-prepared to hand out the necessary weapons and combat vehicles.