Tag Archives: Central MD

Blaming Yudashkin

Aleksandr Kanshin has reemerged . . . late of the Public Chamber, he’s now Deputy Chairman of the Defense Ministry’s Public Council, and he blames new army uniforms designed by fashion mogul Valentin Yudashkin for the recent outbreak of illnesses among conscripts in the Central Military District.

Vesti.ru and Newsru.com picked up what Kanshin told Interfaks:

“Judging by documents I’ve been made familiar with, one of the causes of illnesses among the young reinforcements in the troops, particularly in the Central Military District (TsVO), is manufacturing defects in the new winter field uniform supplied to conscripts at the assembly points of the military commissariats.  In other words, the new type uniform ‘from Yudashkin’ doesn’t defend soldiers against freezing in low temperatures.”

“At times, TsVO servicemen have to wear warm things under the new winter uniform.”

Kanshin also said he’s talked with TsVO Commander, General-Lieutenant Vladimir Chirkin who recognizes the new uniform needs improvement, but he also indicates 80 percent of his personnel are dressed in the old field uniform which is much warmer.

Vesti.ru reported the majority of the district’s servicemen are negative about the Yudashkin uniform because the air temperature is -20° (-4° F) and the wind blows through it outside.

Newsru.com pointed back to several scandals over the Yudashkin uniform, including last December when it said 250 soldiers became seriously ill in their unit in Yurga.  It was proposed at the time that they became sick because the new uniform didn’t protect them against the cold.

These new digital cammies were developed between May 2007 and 2010.  Besides fashion designer Yudashkin, specialists from the Central Scientific-Research Institute of the Garment Industry and the Defense Ministry’s Central Clothing Directorate participated in creating them.

Gzt.ru claims Yudashkin isn’t to blame.  The winter uniform was changed and sewn in defense industry factories with cheap materials.  Perhaps these are Kanshin’s “manufacturing defects.”  Sounds like corruption though, if someone substituted inferior materials.

Doctors told journalists that Yudashkin’s boots don’t keep out the cold either.

According to Gzt.ru, the military prosecutor is checking the situation in the TsVO.  Meanwhile, the military officially denies the uniforms are to blame, and maintains the emergency situation is just a seasonal outbreak of illness.

Sick in Siberia

Is Yudashkin Warm Enough? (photo: Viktor Vasenin)

Or maybe “Central MD Public Relations Nightmare.”

Mass illnesses among conscripts are a familiar, though less common, occurrence nowadays.  This time it’s the Central MD’s 74th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade (v/ch 21005) in Yurga, Kemerovo Oblast.

What we have are assorted versions of what’s happened in Yurga.  There’s backpedaling and softpedaling.  The prosecutor’s only too happy to probe the army’s mistakes.  There have been cuts in military medicine and reorganizations under Serdyukov that are to blame.  His fondness for the expensive new uniforms by fashion designer Yudashkin are an easy target too.  Yes, Russian draftees are unhealthy when they arrive, but why are they drafted then?  And there’s always gross neglect by commanders who see conscripts as sub-human.  And General Staff Chief Makarov just chalks it all up to the ‘slovenliness’ of the command.

With all that said . . .

The MD command, district medical service representatives, and military prosecutors blame ‘oversights’ in the work of the brigade’s command for an outbreak of acute upper respiratory infections (colds) that have afflicted 126 conscripts since mid-October, according to ITAR-TASS.

They blame the command  for poorly “organizing the daily activity of sub-units in conditions of severe frost going as low as minus 40 degrees (-40 F).”  They also cite the lack of timely preventative measures. 

This is, of course, Russian official euphemistic language that’s used rather than describing more graphically exactly what’s happening.

One hundred men are currently in isolation, but none are in serious or critical condition according to the army.  The MD reinforced the formation’s medical staff, and provided special immunity-boosting medications.  It also emphasized that all conscripts are fully supplied with essential winter clothing and footwear.

A second ITAR-TASS account emphasizing the prosecutor’s investigation of the situation reported:

“The causes of the growth in illness among the brigade’s servicemen are weak support of the medical company and branch hospital with medicines and other prophylactic means [not more than 15 percent of requirements], but also the overloading of the medical ward.”

The prosecutor’s inquiries include the chief of the Central MD’s medical service, the commander of the 41st Army, and the chief of the military hospital.  The prosecutor’s already informed the Main Military-Medical Directorate about the unsatisfactory supply of medicines in the Yurga branch of the 321st Military Hospital.  At the prosecutor’s prompting, an extra isolation ward of 130 beds has been deployed, antiviral drugs supplied, soldiers put in valenki and sheepskin coats, and outside activity cut to a minimum.

According to Gazeta.ru, the South-Siberian Legal Defense Center says there are 160 to 250 men who have been ill, including several in critical condition.  It says conscripts have been wearing new and inadequate Yudashkin uniforms  while standing outside the brigade’s tiny mess hall three times a day in -20 (-4 F).  One old lady reported her grandson was sleeping in an unheated area.

Moskovskiy komsomolets reports the military denies the outbreak of illness is related to the new uniform, and says the men still have their winter boots and valenki.  One specialist who helped develop the new uniforms told the paper few soldiers have the new Yudashkin uniform, and the Defense Ministry is trying to come up with a cheaper version of it.

Svpressa.ru talked at length to the legal defense center’s Yelena Lapina.  She says mothers started complaining after a long oath-taking ceremony conducted outside at the end of November.  It was between -15 and -20 (5 and -4 F).  Parents said their sons were wearing new uniforms not suited to Siberian conditions.

Svpressa.ru also interviewed the mother of Stanislav Karpenko who remains in very serious condition in Kemerovo’s main civilian hospital with kidney failure.  She said no one from command even contacted her after her son was transported from his unit:

“No one called or came.  And generally, you know, this reeks of a concentration camp, not the army.”

Rossiyskaya gazeta reports the men weren’t given proper winter gear, and didn’t have warm places to sleep.  Many ended up sick, the formation’s branch hospital overflowed, and didn’t even have enough medicine.  Karpenko, who had double pneumonia and kidney failure, was treated only with aspirin and paracetamol.

And an army spokesman named Yuriy Sivokhin (described variously as representing the Central MD or the 41st Army) had this to say about the problems:

“The weak health of today’s youth that has come is not suited.  From homemade pirozhki and into the barracks is acclimatization, a clear matter.  Conscripts are sick every winter.  And the statistics on ORZ [URI] are practically on the same level.  But here, of course, father-commanders have to look out not to leave the boys out in the cold for a long time.  Of course, in the new uniform, they’re in leather boots and not what they came to the unit wearing, and no one’s taken their foot wrappings, just issued them later.  Yes and they’ve fallen under a reorganization again:  the Siberian MD is eliminated, hospitals consolidated, medics finalizing new contracts . . . It’s possible at such a time there wasn’t enough of something.  But now the unit’s supplied with medicines, everything is under control.  And, by my data, there are now 60 men in the hospital, not 250.”

Does this guy need lessons or what?  So the boys are weaklings, should they really have been drafted?  If the sickness stats are the same as last year, why is this in the news?  Does he expect anyone to believe him?  He does mention some chaotic reorganization as a possible factor.  No one claimed 250 were in the hospital right now.

Newsru.com got Sivokhin again:

“The lad, whose old lady who raised a stink, had a cold.  But he’s not in the hospital, but in the [formation’s] medical unit.  And not with pneumonia, but a URI.  And why Yudashkin here, when now we have such puny soldiers arriving?”

He needs to be driving a tank, not talking to the media.

The army said 54 guys with a pneumonia diagnosis didn’t amount to an outbreak in the formation.  It did admit one needed intensive care for kidney failure in Kemerovo.  The Central MD said all the men of the formation were fully outfitted in suitable new winter gear, and the new winter uniform uses better fabrics with a higher level of thermal protection than the old one.

These varying accounts clearly don’t add up, but it’s hard to tell who’s lying and about what.

Winners and Losers in Organizing New MDs and Armies

Today a Ground Troops spokesman told ITAR-TASS three current Leningrad Military District (MD) brigades will form a 6th Combined Arms Army (CAA) in the new Western MD.  The 200th, 138th, and 25th Motorized Rifle Brigades will comprise the new army, and its headquarters will probably be Agalatovo, just north of St. Petersburg.  The spokesman also said a surface-to-air missile brigade and independent engineering brigade will be added to the Western MD.

These comments came in conjunction with a visit by Ground Troops CINC, General-Colonel Aleksandr Postnikov to the region to check on the formation of the new MD.  The spokesman said Postnikov may be working on peacetime coordination between the district’s Ground Troops, the Northern and Baltic Fleets, and Air Forces units.  He said, in wartime, “everything’s clear – [the district’s] commander directly commands everything deployed within the district’s boundaries.  But there’s still no experience of coordination in peacetime and we need to get it.”

Nezavisimaya gazeta’s Vladimir Mukhin also wrote today that the third new CAA will be based in Maykop, Southern MD.  Mukhin says that staffs, commands, formations, and military units in the Far East, Siberian, and Moscow MDs are being liquidated in the shift to four new MDs / OSKs, and, as a result, several thousand officers will be placed outside the TO&E beginning 1 September.  He thinks many of them won’t find vacant posts, and will be discharged from the army.

Serdyukov’s Defense Ministry will also be putting some soon-to-be-vacant properties up for sale, e.g. Moscow MD headquarters (Polina Osipenko Street, Moscow), Far East MD headquarters (Seryshev Street, Khabarovsk).  The initial asking prices for these buildings and land will be several billion U.S. dollars.  As long planned, proceeds from these sales, along with the sale of the Navy Main Staff, military educational institutions, and other military establishments in Moscow, are supposed to fund construction of housing for servicemen as well as military garrison infrastructure in new army deployment locations.

Mukhin talked to General-Lieutenant Yuriy Netkachev about Maykop.  Netkachev says Moscow is resurrecting the army headquarters located there until 1993.  He believes Maykop was chosen to reinforce against threats from Georgia as well as threats to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

In the Central MD, Mukhin says the 67th Spetsnaz Brigade will move yet again, from IVVAIU in Irkutsk to Chita or Transbaykal Kray.  The IVVAIU building will be sold.

Mukhin sees Moscow’s demilitarization and moving forces closer to their likely operational theaters as the right policy, but asks if it’s underpinned with resources.  It has serious impact on servicemen and their families, and they’ve been forgotten in this process.

Mukhin quotes servicemen’s union chief Oleg Shvedkov:

“Continuing steps to transition the troops into a new profile supposes not only a significant cut in professional servicemen, but also their relocation to a new place of service.  And this means new everyday life problems are possible:  transfers, absence of housing, work for spouses, education for children, and the like.  The Defense Ministry is trying to resolve these issues on its own, but it would be more correct for the government to work on them through a special federal program.”

Commander for New Army in Chita

General-Major Romanchuk

By the Defense Minister’s order dated 12 August, General-Major Aleksandr Vladimirovich Romanchuk became acting commander of the new combined arms army being formed in Chita.  ITAR-TASS quoted a SibVO spokesman:

“The command and staff of the army, and also a number of army-subordinate formations and military units, will be formed under his leadership.  Formations and military units based in Transbaykal Kray will comprise the army.”

The Chita Combined Arms Army (CAA) will be the easternmost large formation in the new Central Military District (MD), or Combined Strategic Command (OSK) Center.  Who knows what number the new army will receive . . . maybe the former 29th CAA will be resurrected.

Romanchuk was born 15 April 1959 in Lugansk, Ukraine.  He grew up in a military family in Azerbaijan.  Commissioned out of the Baku Higher Combined Arms Command School in 1980, he served as a tank platoon and company commander, then chief of staff and deputy commander of a tank battalion in the Transcaucasus MD.  He graduated from the Military Academy of Armored Troops in 1989 and, for a very short period, commanded an independent tank battalion in the Central Group of Forces (Czechoslovakia). 

Returning home with the rest of Soviet forces, he became deputy commander and commander of a machine gun-artillery regiment in the Transbaykal MD during the 1990s.  He was a colonel in his late 30s by the end of this phase of his career.

When the Transbaykal MD folded into the Siberian MD, Romanchuk became chief of an armaments and equipment storage base, and chief of staff and deputy commander of a Siberian MD tank division.  He served a tour of duty in Chechnya during the late 1990s or early 2000s.

Between 2001 and 2003, he was deputy commander of the Guards Taman Motorized Rifle Division in the Moscow MD.  He became commander of the 4th Guards Kantemir Tank Division in Naro-Fominsk at the end of 2003.  He was promoted to general-major (one star) in mid-2005.

He likely attended the Military Academy of the General Staff between mid-2006 and mid-2008, and then became a deputy commander of the Novosibirsk-based 41st CAA.  In July 2009, he became chief of staff and first deputy commander of that army.

Romanchuk is married with two sons.

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.’