Tag Archives: LenVO

Idea of OSKs Waxes Again

In Russian defense policymaking, ideas never die; they wax and wane, and wax again.  Andrey Nikolskiy in Thursday’s Vedomosti reported a source in the Defense Ministry’s central apparatus claims the idea of establishing four regional Operational-Strategic Commands (OSKs) in place of Russia’s current military districts and fleets is waxing again.  This is hardly a new story.

The West reportedly would combine the Moscow Military District (MD) and Leningrad MD, and the Baltic Fleet, under a headquarters located in St. Petersburg.  The East would combine the Far East MD with part of the Siberian MD, and the Pacific Fleet, with its headquarters in Khabarovsk.  The North would combine the remainder of the Siberian MD with part of the Volga-Ural MD, and the Northern Fleet, with Yekaterinburg as the headquarters.  Finally, the South would put the North Caucasus MD with the remainder of the Volga-Ural MD, and the Black Sea Fleet and Caspian Flotilla, with Rostov-on-Don as the headquarters.

Vedomosti  is circumspect on the four OSKs.  It maintains that no decision has been taken yet, and the possibility of creating them is being studied.  Interfaks was quick to claim they’ll be established before the end of the year.  Putting the West headquarters in Piter would track with the apparently continuing effort to relocate the Navy Main Staff to the country’s ‘northern capital.’

So, a little about what would happen if this idea were implemented . . . clear losers are the LenVO, SibVO, and PUrVO, which all disappear.  The VMF won’t like the idea and the VVS is perhaps more ambivalent since its air forces and air defense armies (AVVSPVOs) pretty much exist within the current MD structure anyway.  The East would have 14 active maneuver brigades instead of the DVO’s 10.  The West would have 9 instead of 6.  And the North might be created with 6 brigades.  Of course, the OSKs would also have greater territory to cover than the MDs.

In retrospect, new Ground Troops CINC General-Colonel Aleksandr Postnikov foreshadowed renewed talk of OSKs replacing MDs when he arrived in March mentioning the possibility of an MVO-LenVO merger.

Former Genshtab Chief Yuriy Baluyevskiy’s one-year experiment with an Eastern Regional Command at Ulan Ude headed by General-Lieutenant Nikolay Tkachev was euthanized by his successor, Nikolay Makarov, in October 2008.  Theoretically, it might have been one regional command alongside analogous western and southern structures.  Baluyevskiy’s initiative probably dated back to 2005 discussions about a new command structure in the RF Security Council.  But it’s not clear what kind of regional commands were considered.  Were they to overlay the MDs and fleets like the High Commands of Forces of late Soviet days or replace them in a more radical restructuring?

This winter, then Ground Troops CINC, Army General Boldyrev said that each MD would become an OSK, and the MD-OSK commander would have operational control over all military units on its territory–Navy, Air Forces, MVD Internal Troops (VV), etc.  Boldyrev said:

“The operational-strategic command is a military district.  Such is its function and standing.  The legal status of the OSK has been drafted, its approval is planned in the very near future, this will possibly happen before the end of this year.  The district commander has been declared the commander of the operational-strategic command.”

Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye has been predicting the MD’s replacement for some time, writing in September last year: 

“. . . the leadership of the country and of the Armed Forces are returning to the idea that was proposed several years ago by former RF Armed Forces General Staff Chief, Army General Yuriy Baluyevskiy, who attempted to create Operational-Strategic Commands in theaters of operations, but not on the basis of individual districts, but rather by unifying several districts and fleets under the command of the OSK.” 

The MD is still more part of the administrative, training, and mobilization system for the paradigmatic ‘large-scale war’ of Soviet planning.  The OSK would have to become a combatant command for fighting regional or local wars here and now.  Consolidating three MDs and possibly downgrading fleet commands somewhat might save a few hundred senior officer positions.

As Vedomosti describes it, if the four OSKs actually stand up, they will include armed forces units, not other militarized forces like the VV or FSB Border Guards.  This isn’t surprising since these OSKs would be permanent, not just wartime, command structures. 

The control of strategic nuclear forces is always an issue in debating structures like the OSK.  Would OSK commanders really control and operate the RVSN, SSBNs, and long-range bombers on their territory?  If not, how would the OSK’s general purpose forces support strategic operations?  

Abolishing 6 MDs and especially 4 fleets and their long histories would be a politically daunting task, sure to raise lots of opposition in the ranks and among the publicly vocal ex-military.

Finally, it might be argued that the military has experienced near ‘permanent revolution’ over the last 18 months, and doesn’t need another major organizational innovation while the situation settles out from previous changes.

In any event, the replacement of MDs with OSKs still remains a rumor at this point.

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State of the ‘New Profile’ in One District

General-Lieutenant Bogdanovskiy

Leningrad Military District (LenVO) Commander, General-Lieutenant Nikolay Bogdanovskiy held a news conference today and, along with talking about the upcoming Victory Day parade on St. Petersburg’s Palace Square, he talked about his district’s ‘new profile.’

Firstly, following General Staff Chief Makarov, Bogdanovskiy said contractees will be reduced and conscripts increased.

Specifically, he stated:

“. . . the number of contractees will be signficantly reduced, many of those who showed themselves incapable of serving will need to be dismissed.”

The LenVO needs 25,000 draftees from this spring’s consription campaign beginning on 1 April. But he said this won’t create problems because, last fall, 100,000 young men came through the LenVO’s voyenkomaty and 25,000 were deemed fit to serve.

The LenVO Commander said, in the process of ongoing personnel cuts, 1,600 officers and 1,200 warrants have been ‘placed at the disposition’ of their commanding officers, but only 346 and 284 respectively have been discharged from the service.

These are surprisingly small numbers.

So, in the LenVO at least, only 22 percent of the officers destined for dismissal could actually be dismissed with the benefits and apartments owed them.  The other 78 percent remain in limbo, without duty posts and living on their rank pay [perhaps one-fourth of their former total monthly pay].  And 24 percent of warrants could be sent home with benefits and housing while the other 76 percent wait for these things.

Bogdanovskiy has also asked St. Petersburg’s governor to resolve a situation with owners of garages located on land the Defense Ministry claims near the village of Yukki, where the LenVO now wants to build apartments for servicemen.  But that one will be hard; the Defense Ministry’s old nemesis Rosimushchestvo says the property doesn’t belong to the military.  The builder and construction equipment have already been out to the site with the intention of knocking down the garages.  Boganovskiy says the plan is to put 50 apartment houses on this territory.

The LenVO Commander also acknowledged problems with military housing built in the district:

“I’ve more than once tried to sort out the quality problem in the housing in Pushkin.”

He indicated the problems started small, but failure to fix them in a timely manner means ten times the amount of money must be spent to repair them now.  But he promised to do so by the end of spring.

On the force structure front, he says the LenVO’s reforms were largely completed in 2009.  Ten brigades and other units were formed or reformed in the process [the district has 3 combined arms brigades–the 25th, 138th, and 200th].

Regarding problems with the command and violence in the 138th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade at Kamenka, Bogdanovskiy said:

“. . . we haven’t managed to complete fully tasks connected with discipline–in particular, in the 138th Kamenka Brigade the commander, chief of staff, and assistants for armaments and socialization work were dismissed because of events there.  Now the situation is normalizing, we are trying not to repeat past mistakes.”

Interesting insights into what the Serdyukov’s reforms have meant for one, albeit small and not particularly significant, district.  But, if such a large percentage of officers are being left ‘at the disposal’ of their commanders, can one believe Serdyukov’s assertion that 65,000 officers were put out of the armed forces last year?  Does this include a small number of dismissed and a much larger number of those left ‘at the disposal’ of commanders?  On an issue closely tied to officer cuts, can one believe that the Defense Ministry really obtained 45,000 apartments last year if so many soon-to-be-ex-officers are ‘at the disposal’ awaiting them?

It would seem that, if Serdyukov has failed, or been unable, to move as speedily on officer reductions as he wanted, the door might be left open for someone to reverse this policy, especially if a large number of potentially angry officers remains for a long time in the limbo of being neither in, nor out of, the army.

Kamenka Officers Go Down for Hazing Incident

The 138th Motorized Rifle Brigade (MRB) at Kamenka (V/Ch 02511) in the LenVO has always had a pretty bad rep for hazing cases.  A Defense Ministry source told Fontanka.ru that 8 Kamenka officers have been removed from duty over the latest incident.  They include platoon, company, battalion, and brigade commanders, the battalion and brigade chiefs of staff, and deputy brigade commanders for armaments and socialization work.  They have reportedly been dismissed from the service as well, although the Defense Ministry has not confirmed this.  In early October, a conscript and contract serviceman were beaten by three drunken sergeants in the unit.  They turned to the Soldiers’ Mothers of Petersburg for assistance.  Initial press reports said 16 soldiers in all were beaten by the sergeants.  See Forum.msk for more.  This was probably just the last straw after a long line of incidents in this troubled brigade.