Tag Archives: Collegium

Today We Are Stronger

shoygu-and-putin-at-the-mod-collegium-photo-kremlin-ru

Shoygu and Putin at MOD Collegium (photo: Kremlin.ru)

The year-end MOD Collegium fell on December 22.  International news agencies headlined what sounded like bellicose braggadocio from President Vladimir Putin.  “We are stronger now than any potential aggressor,” he said according to AP.

But his remarks were more nuanced than it’s possible to tell from that wire service quote.

His full speech to the assembled Russian brass is available here.

Putin featured Syria prominently, and indicated that Russia will take advantage of the greater demand for its weapons and equipment because of the war.

He listed force development priorities including “precision weapons, modern communications, reconnaissance, command and control, and electronic warfare systems” and strategic non-nuclear forces.

He noted that the SAP will be completed “by 2021,” effectively giving the military and industry all of 2020 (not just until the end of 2019) to reach its 70 percent modernization goal.  But he also mentioned “five years” to complete rearmament which sounds like 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and all of 2021.  The dates on the arms program are increasingly elastic as necessary.

Not surprisingly, Putin described a higher level of threat on Russia’s borders this year.

A complete translation of Putin’s speech follows.

“Respected comrades!”

“Today at the annual Ministry of Defense Collegium we will discuss results of work during the latest period, and determine near- and long-term tasks for the development of Russia’s Armed Forces and strengthening the country’s defense capability.”

“In 2016, the course of modernizing the army and fleet continued, rhythmically, and their reequipping went according to schedule.”

“The condition of the nuclear triad, which plays the key role in preserving strategic parity, was supported at the necessary level.  I note that the share of modern armaments in the nuclear forces is almost 60 percent.”

“The level of combat training of troops rose substantially.  The results of strategic command-staff exercise Kavkaz-2016 convincingly demonstrated this.  Its successful conduct increased the security of Russia’s southern borders, including from terrorist threats, and helped work out the organization of territorial defense in the Southern and North-Caucasus Federal Districts, including questions of supporting troops, for example their financing in wartime, that require coordination from many state organs and elements, including branches of Russia’s Central Bank.”

“I note also that four surprise combat readiness evaluations of troops took place in the course of the year.  They confirmed that units and sub-units could effectively deploy at great distances and in short periods of time to establish groupings in strategic directions. The Defense Ministry needs to analyze the results of the evaluations in detail and consider them in combat training plans for the future, and also in the organization of other measures of a similar type.”

“The potential of the Russian Armed Forces passed a stress test also in combat with international terrorists in the Syrian Republic.  The Syrian Army received tangible support, thanks to which it conducted several successful operations against militants.”

“I also note the great assistance which our Armed Forces renders to peaceful Syrian citizens.  Almost 800 tons of foodstuffs and medicine alone have already been transferred. I want to thank the leadership and personnel of the Armed Forces participating in the operation once more for their professionalism and courage.”

“Respected comrades!”

“In the coming year, the Ministry of Defense needs to concentrate on resolving the following key tasks.”

“First, to support the balanced development of all services and branches of troops, and to continue the assimilation of precision weapons, modern communications, reconnaissance, command and control, and electronic warfare systems.”

“It is necessary to strengthen the combat potential of strategic nuclear forces, primarily missile systems capable of assuredly overcoming existing and future missile defense systems.”

“Strategic non-nuclear forces also need to be brought to a qualitatively new level, allowing them to neutralize any military threats to Russia.”

“Second.  It is important to maintain the tempo achieved in rearming the army and navy.  To control the realization of measures in the State Armaments Program and fulfillment of the state defense order effectively.”

“By 2021 we need to achieve the established indicators of troop equipping with modern weapons and equipment at not less than 70 percent.”

“We need to make note that five years is not such a long period of time for such a large-scale rearmament program.  Any delay in fulfilling its tasks can cause a break in the production chain, which is then highly difficult to reestablish. Therefore sanctions for breaking contracts should be severe to the maximum extent. Meanwhile, it is important to effectively expose causes of violations and expeditiously eliminate them.”

“I note that essential measures to resolve problematic issues in the fulfillment of the state defense order have been taken at all levels.  On the whole, we need to keep the situation with the realization of the State Armaments Program and with the state of affairs in the defense-industrial complex under constant control.  You know we discuss these issues twice a year at regular meetings in Sochi.  This has already become a tradition which has been highly useful in practical work.  This year two cycles of such meetings occurred.  They allowed us to determine joint steps in the sphere of rearmament, and to support constant working contact between the leadership of the Ministry of Defense and industry.”

“Third.  We must closely follow any changes in the balance of forces and military-political situation in the world, especially along Russia’s borders, and simultaneously introduce corrections into plans for neutralizing potential threats to our country.”

“I ask you also to synchronize these plans with updated future planning documents.  Just a few weeks ago the new Information Security Doctrine of Russia was approved, and a little earlier the Scientific-Technical Development Strategy.  The milestones given in them concern all organs of authority, including also militarized departments.”

“Fourth.  The introduction of the newest training means and programs should be among the priorities of operational and combat training.”

“And last.  The effectiveness of employing Russian weapons in Syria opens new possibilities for the development of military-technical cooperation.  We need to use them to the maximum extent.  We know what kind of interest foreign partners are showing in modern Russian armaments.”

“Respected collegium participants!”

“One of the most important directions of military organizational development is increasing social support of servicemen.  You know how much has been done in this relation in recent times.  For example, since January 2012 the line for housing in the Defense Ministry system has been reduced 2.8-fold.  In 2016, 27 thousand servicemen were provided service housing,  and almost 20 thousand permanent housing.  Within the mortgage-savings system, 14 thousand servicemen obtained apartments.”

“It is necessary also to remember:  concern about personnel, and strengthening the social guarantees of soldiers and officers is important, the most important investment in the indoctrination of the young generation of defenders of the Motherland, and guarantee of the prestige of military service and the authority of people in uniform.”

“Respected comrades!”

“On the leadership of the Ministry of Defense, and on commanders at all levels, lies the special responsibility for the qualitative modernization of the Armed Forces.  I believe that in the future you will do everything necessary to achieve high results in combat training.”

“I want to thank the leadership and personnel of the Armed Forces for the precise fulfillment of established tasks, and for their conscientious service.”

“Allow me to wish you further successes.”

After Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu’s lengthy remarks, Putin concluded the session.

“Respected Sergey Kuzhugetovich, respected comrades!”

“In recent years, much has been done to increase the country’s defense capability. But, it stands to reason, much is still not enough.  The minister just spoke about this when he formulated tasks for 2017 and coming years.”

“We need to do much along the lines of strengthening the nuclear triad, perfecting the BMEWS system, in the Aerospace Troops [sic], still more at sea, and in the Ground Troops. We need to perfect reconnaissance and communications systems.  We still have much to do.”

“However today, given a very large number of factors, including not only military ones, but also our history, geography, and the internal condition of Russian society, it is possible with certainty to say:  today we are stronger than any potential aggressor.  Any.”

“At the same time, I would like to turn your attention to the fact that, if we were to allow ourselves for one minute to relax, to allow even one substantive failure in the modernization of the army and navy, or in troop training, the situation could change very quickly given the speed of events transpiring in the world.  We may not even notice.  Therefore, a very great deal depends on the continuation of our work, which began and has been conducted in the course of recent years.”

“I count greatly on you working in a coordinated manner, and being responsible for work assigned to you.  And, working in such a way, we, certainly, will fulfill all tasks which stand before us in the most important sphere of strengthening Russia’s defense capability.”

“I want to thank you again for your service in the past year and wish you success in the coming one.”

“All the best to you.”

“Thank you.”

So Putin wasn’t exactly bragging that Moscow is the biggest bully in the world, but rather claiming that, given Russia’s history and geography as well as its recent military modernization, the Kremlin can now be sure of repulsing any attack on its territory.  Assertions about evil U.S. and NATO intentions notwithstanding, what aggressor has designs on Russia today?  

Putin’s contention is a little abstract, lacking as it does any particular scenario or temporal context.  But it isn’t really as sinister as it sounded in Western media.

More to the point than Putin, however, is Maxim Trudolyubov’s conclusion from his recent op-ed:

“. . . Russia — with its renationalized economy and aging population — is now incapable of competing on equal economic and political terms with other major powers may have led the Kremlin to believe that it can compete only by other means — namely by displaying no hesitation at using force or covert influence to claim Russian greatness again.”

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MOD Collegium on 2015

Friday Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed a year-ending expanded meeting of the MOD Collegium.  Below are highlights from his speech, and from Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu’s.  Putin also met separately with Russia’s Military District (MD) commanders, but no transcript was made available.

Putin Addresses the Expanded Meeting (photo: Kremlin.ru)

Putin Addresses the Expanded Meeting (photo: Kremlin.ru)

According to Kremlin.ru, Putin told the Collegium that Russia’s intervention in Syria was prompted not by “incomprehensible abstract geopolitical interests,” nor by the “desire to train [military forces] and test new weapons systems,” although he called the latter “important.”  Rather Putin insisted Russian operations in Syria aim to stop the immediate threat ISIL terrorists pose to the Russian Federation.

Putin told his audience Russian assistance has enabled Damascus to take the offensive in several regions.  As far as other claims of success, the Supreme CINC said only:

“. . . the systematic employment of the forces of the VKS [Aerospace Forces] and Navy, and the use of the newest highly-accurate weapons systems has enabled us to deliver serious damage to the infrastructure of the terrorists, and therefore qualitatively change the situation in Syria.”

He vowed to protect Russian troops saying, “Any targets threatening the Russian grouping or our ground infrastructure will be destroyed immediately.”

Putin then turned to Russian Armed Forces developments and training.  He urged the military not to consider this year’s wartime preparation training by civilian authorities in 14 Russian Federation subjects to be a “secondary” mission.  He mentioned five (not surprising) points of emphasis about this year and next:

  • The updated five-year defense plan (2016-2020);
  • Rearmament and the effective use of the budget;
  • Strategic nuclear forces and aerospace defense;
  • Increasing the intensity of operational and tactical training;
  • Greater cooperation with allies, the CSTO in particular.

Again, he paused to note the need to eliminate shortcomings in territorial defense training in Russia’s regions.

Before turning the mic over to Shoygu, the president stated that the MOD has provided permanent or service housing to 146,000 servicemen over the last four years.

Defense Minister Shoygu outlined first the threat to Russia from an expanding NATO, then from ISIL.  He made the following significant points about 2015:

  • Russia’s armed forces are manned at 92 percent of their authorized level, including 352,000 contractees (i.e. more than the number of conscripts).
  • Six RS-24 Yars (SS-27 Mod 2) regiments were put into service.
  • The share of modern armaments in the RVSN is 51 percent.
  • Two Tu-160, three Tu-95MS, and five Tu-22M3 bombers were modernized.
  • SSBNs carry 56 percent modern weapons.
  • Overall, Russian strategic forces are 55 percent modern.
  • Eight new brigades of various types were formed in the Ground Troops.
  • The Ground Troops acquired 1,772 tanks and armored vehicles, 148 missile and artillery systems, 2,292 vehicles, and two brigade sets of Iskander-M.
  • Ground Troops’ arms and equipment are 35 percent modern.
  • The VKS acquired 243 aircraft of various types, 90 SAM and 208 radar systems.
  • The VKS are 52 percent modern.
  • The VKS operate 1,720 UAV systems against only 180 in 2011.
  • The Navy received two submarines and eight surface ships.
  • The Navy’s modern equipment constitutes 39 percent of its inventory.
  • The VDV’s modern arms are 41 percent of its total.
  • Overall, the armed forces now have 47 percent modern weapons and other equipment, surpassing the goal of 30 percent by 2015.
  • The in-service rate of equipment is 89 percent.
  • There were nine candidates for every seat in MOD VVUZy this year.

Shoygu’s annual report contained many other details summarizing the MOD’s activities this year.

In 2016, he expects the following:

  • Steps to strengthen groupings in the western, south-western, and Arctic strategic directions.
  • Five RVSN missile regiments will go on duty with modern missiles.
  • Two Tu-160 and seven Tu-95MS bombers will be modernized.
  • Two brigade sets each of Iskander-M and Tornado-S MLRS, and one of Buk-3M SAMs will reach the Ground Troops.
  • Six battalions will receive new tanks and BMPs.
  • VKS and Navy will get more than 200 new or modernized aircraft.
  • Five regiments will receive S-400 SAMs.
  • Three Voronezh-DM and Voronezh-M radars will enter service.
  • The Navy will get two submarines and seven surface ships.
  • The armed forces will conduct strategic CSX Kavkaz-2016.

The reader may wish to look back to this 2014 year-ender to make some year-on-year comparisons.

Turning to Putin’s meeting with his top regional commanders, we don’t know what was discussed, but it’s a good pic and a chance to update the lineup and face recce.

Putin's Meeting with MD Commanders (photo: Kremlin.ru)

Putin’s Meeting with MD Commanders (photo: Kremlin.ru)

From the extreme left around the table with Putin in the center, attendees included Unified Strategic Command North Commander Admiral Vladimir Korolev, Southern MD Commander General-Colonel Aleksandr Galkin, Eastern MD Commander General-Colonel Sergey Surovikin, Defense Minister Shoygu, Putin, General Staff Chief Army General Valeriy Gerasimov, Central MD Commander General-Colonel Vladimir Zarudnitskiy, and new Western MD Commander General-Colonel Andrey Kartapolov.

Defense Ministry Collegium

Serdyukov Flanked by Makarov and Pankov

November’s the time for year-end evaluations in the Russian military, and the Defense Ministry had its collegium yesterday.  Mil.ru printed Defense Minister Serdyukov’s introductory remarks.

First on his mind was complete fulfillment of the State Defense Order next year, and signing all GOZ-2012 contracts next month.  He said all responsibility for ordering will be transferred to a “Federal Procurement Agency.”

Some media sources assumed this means Rosoboronpostavka.  This author thinks it could be something new.  It’s important, so here’s exactly what Mil.ru says he said:

“Next year the functions of the ordering organ are being fully transferred to the Federal Procurement Agency.”

If that means Rosoboronpostavka, why not just say Rosoboronpostavka?  ITAR-TASS actually replaced Serdyukov’s words “Federal Procurement Agency” with Rosoboronpostavka.  At the very least, not everyone’s working from the same sheet of music.  But continuing with Serdyukov’s remarks . . .

Unlike large-scale strategic exercises of recent years, the coming year will stress tactical-level training.  But Southern MD exercises will test the new Armed Forces command and control system.

He noted establishment of VVKO by December 1, and said it will “intercept any targets right up to hypersonic speeds, both in the air and in space.”

Military police will start working in the troops in 2012, according to Serdyukov.  They are still occupied at present with selecting personnel, writing regs, etc.  Serdyukov earlier said they’d be functioning in 2011.

The Defense Minister indicated all service functions in the Armed Forces will be outsourced next year.

Without much fanfare, he said the new system of enlisted contract service will start in 2012.

Serdyukov said stimulus pay for officers will continue alongside their newly-approved higher pay.

First Deputy Defense Minister, Chief of the General Staff Nikolay Makarov delivered the collegium’s main report, but the press wasn’t invited to stay.

Meanwhile, today NG sources “don’t exclude” that Anatoliy Serdyukov could soon leave the Defense Ministry to become Finance Minister.  There’s talk Russia’s NATO Permrep Dmitriy Rogozin could succeed him as Defense Minister [because he toured the 58th Army with Medvedev this week].

There are always rumors like these.  Recently it was said Makarov would be “sacrificed” as an electoral offering to military men who don’t like him.  Sometimes the rumors bear out, sometimes not.  More important are the reasons behind any personnel changes. 

Is Putin or Medvedev likely to find a more effective steward of the military than Serdyukov?  Probably not.  The fiery politician Rogozin would be a dramatic change from the retiring technocrat Serdyukov.  The former would inspire and appeal to the troops more than the latter, but not do a better job.  Of course, we shouldn’t assume capability is the leadership’s most important criterion in picking a Defense Minister.

Army Outsourcing

Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov conducted another extramural collegium Wednesday, this time in Khabarovsk.  Serdyukov and company congratulated themselves for completing the ‘large-scale work’ of forming the Eastern Military District (VVO or ВВО), and the other three new districts, ahead of schedule.  This reshuffling was done in less than a year, so it probably really doesn’t count as ‘large-scale work.’

General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov reported the VVO has operated since 1 October.  For his part, Serdyukov noted:

“The Eastern Military District is the largest in combat composition, area, and length of ground and maritime borders.”

The VVO sports the Pacific Fleet, an air and air defense army, and four combined arms armies, leading the Defense Minister to conclude:

“Unifying all forces and means under a single commander allowed for a substantial increase in the combat possibilities and potential of the district.”

Possibly, yes, but it remains to be realized and proven . . . since the very same forces have just been aggregated in a new way.  Is this new whole more than the sum of its parts, or not?

Attendees discussed unified logistics as well as unified combat forces.  Reports said along with unified commands a unified system of material-technical support (MTO) is being established in the military districts.  As previously reported, it is supposed to unite arms supply and logistics in one function and organization.

At any rate, the collegium had new or semi-new business as well . . .

Serdyukov, Makarov, and other attendees also discussed Defense Ministry outsourcing.

Before the meeting, Makarov told wire services the issue of delimiting spheres of activity between the military department and outside organizations that will provide support functions for servicemen and military towns, including heating, electricity, and food service, would be discussed.  According to Rossiyskaya gazeta, Makarov said:

“We need to clearly determine the bounds within which structures should work to support the everyday life of military bodies.”

Speaking like an old-hand, Makarov said the outsourcing system will take care of noncore tasks like feeding the troops and providing utilities to military towns.  The Defense Ministry’s board of directors discussed transferring responsibilities and corresponding property to these contractors.  Are they going to operate or own these assets?

RG reminded readers 340,000 troops are supposed to be fed by civilian firms by year’s end.  They include students in cadet corps, Suvorov schools, military VUZy, and patients in Defense Ministry hospitals.  The paper said outsourced food service would be coming soon to permanent readiness units.  And laundry services, part of military transportation, and equipment supply, including aviation, POL, and support for all deployed Navy ships, will be outsourced.

Finally, Army General Makarov said the collegium discussed in detail the issue of replacing or scrapping worn out equipment.  According to RIA Novosti, Makarov indicated there’ll be a major inventory and weeding out of what’s usable and what isn’t:

“In the course of 2011, everything that’s inoperable, particularly, in the aviation and ship inventory, we will manage to restore and put back on the line.  That which has outlived its time according to its parameters should be withdrawn from service.  This is quite a solid sum which could be redirected to acquiring new types of equipment and armaments.”

Not sure how much they make on this scrap sale.  Not so long ago the Defense Ministry said it was cutting repairs (as well as RDT&E) to focus more money on buying new systems.

Medvedev Speaks at Defense Ministry Collegium

President Medvedev (photo: kremlin.ru)

In his remarks [text and video], President Dmitriy Medvedev reviewed the results of 2009 and talked about future plans for the armed forces.

He focused first on the international situation, noting that, “. . . today we have no requirement to increase further our strategic deterrence potential,” although it remains a determining factor in Russia’s conduct of independent policies and the preservation of its sovereignty.

He noted Moscow’s new law authorizing the use of force to protect Russian citizens abroad, and he pointed to unresolved conflicts on Russia’s borders [where presumably the new law could be used].

Medvedev acknowledged some positive tendencies such as work on a new strategic arms control agreement and renewed Russia-NATO contacts.  But he called the West’s reaction to Russia’s draft treaty on European security a barometer of relations with the U.S. and NATO.  He said it could prevent conflicts like Georgia-South Ossetia.  Medvedev asserted that, unfortunately, far from all countries and politicians drew the correct lessons from the August 2008 events.  And, unfortunately, he said the reestablishment of Georgia’s military potential continues with external assistance.

Then Medvedev turned more to the exact points of his speech.

He said the main goal is the qualitative improvement of the armed forces, the creation of a modern army and fleet equipped with the newest weapons.  He said last year the organizational base for this was established, as planned, without expending additonal resources.

In 2009, Moscow got its authorized personnel down to 1 million, and, according to the President, the Defense Ministry largely achieved its task of getting to the military’s future combat composition.  Medvedev said the results of Osen-2009 confrmed this, and more exercises like it are needed and need to have a ‘systematic character.’  Because, “Without this there simply are no armed forces.”

Medvedev called the training of officers the ‘most important task. Motivated, high-class specialists are needed, but the recently degraded military educational system and its material base need improvement. Medvedev said particular attention also needs to go to sergeants.  They need to be capable of replacing front-line officers when needed, according to the Supreme CINC.

On to rearmament . . .

Medvedev called the task of reequipping the troops with new armaments ‘extremely complex and very important.’  He said last year Russia stabilized the condition of its arms and equipment, despite the financial crisis, and fulfilled the GOZ, although not without problems.

He called the contracting mechanism for arms purchases ‘not effective enough,’ and said we are  working on this, but it’s slow.  This year the State Armaments Program, 2011-2020 will be written.  Medvedev gave the government the task of renewing arms and equipment at an average rate of 9-11 percent annually to allow Moscow to reach 70 percent modern armaments by 2020.  Reequipping has to be supported by full and timely financing.  He referred to his Poslaniye list of  priority systems and arms to be acquired.  He said this task will not be adjusted, and old weapons need to be decommissioned [He seems to have gotten it into his head that new means good and old bad which is not necessarily the case with Russian weapons.  What happens if you scrap lots of stuff, but you don’t succeed in producing new stuff?]. 

Medvedev said, as he’s already said more than once, steps are needed to bring order to the use, storage, and upkeep of missiles, ammunition, and explosives.  The events of the last year have shown there are problems here [alluding to Ulyanovsk, Karabash, etc.].

Medvedev noted another issue, providing the armed forces with automated command and control, and information systems, and transferring the military to digital comms by 2012, as put forth in the Poslaniye.  He said Zapad-2009 worked on mobile automated C2, but this was only a beginning to the work, which needs to be intensified, because “the communications situation is problematic.”

The President said forces will increase their combat readiness in their new TO&E structures [aren’t they 95 or 98 percent combat ready already?].  The main effort will be forming and training inter-service troop and force groupings, and supporting nuclear deterrence forces.  Medvedev said he’ll attend the main, key phases the coming Vostok-2010 operational-strategic exercise.

Medvedev obligatorily cited increasing the prestige of military service and improving the social defense of servicemen as a priority task.  

“I’d like to note that all obligations of the state to current and released servicemen will be fulfilled unconditionally, I will not accept any amendments for budget changes, or for other reasons.”

Medvedev said the government has the clear task to guarantee that all servicemen needing permanent housing have it by the end of this year, and service housing by the end of 2012.

“The realization of this task is not going badly, I will also take this under my personal control.”

Finally, Medvedev spoke for a moment to pay issues.  Increasing pay, and instituting a new pay system for active duty troops from the beginning of 2012, and increasing pensions to retired military men [but nothing specific promised].

He said he thinks premium pay or the well-known Order 400 brought respectable results, and it will be important to preserve ways of rewarding servicemen with extra money under the new pay system, and he expects proposals on doing this.

Defense Minister Serdyukov had some comments after Medvedev’s speech, but they’ll have to wait until tomorrow.