Tag Archives: Order 400

The Sociological Center

Is the Russian Army's Combat Capability Increasing?

A nice find on Mil.ru . . . the Defense Ministry website has the Internet poll above on its front page.  If you click on Voting Results, you go to the results of all surveys conducted by the Defense Ministry’s Sociological Center.

To this particular question, 78 percent of respondents said its combat capability is decreasing.

Stepping back a bit, clicking on Sociological Center goes to a narrative explaining a little about it.  Its purpose is monitoring social processes in the military to work out scientifically-founded proposals on the morale-psychological support of military organizational development, training, and employment of the Armed Forces.  It also provides information support to commanders, staffs, and personnel officers.  The Center is charged with collecting data about the socio-economic circumstances of servicemen and their families.

The military opinion surveying effort has been around for a while.  During the first big push for contract service beginning in 2003, Defense Ministry pollsters actively asked contractees, or prospective ones, what attracted or discouraged them from signing up.

We’re not told how or when these survey questions were asked.  They’re likely Internet polls rather than more scientific random sampling. 

But one still admires the brutal honesty of publishing these results.  They don’t accord with what Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov wants to see or hear three years after launching military reform.  They indicate how far the Russians have to go to turn around the perception, if not the reality, of life in the Armed Forces.  At the same time, getting feedback is a critical step in correcting their problems.

Your author has regrouped the survey results on various questions thematically.  In the interests of brevity, only the answer with the highest percentage is shown.

Let’s start with other combat capability-related questions:

  • How do you evaluate the Russian Army’s current combat capability?  72 percent said low.
  • Is three months sufficient to train a military specialist?  82 percent said no.
  • What effect is the humanization of service having on combat readiness?  71 percent said it is causing it to decline.
  • Are you satisfied by the media’s presentation of Armed Forces exercises?  75 percent said no.
  • How do you evaluate the present level of combat training?  74 percent said poor.
  • Can the Armed Forces reliably guarantee Russia’s security?  81 percent said no.
  • Is there now a military threat to Russia from other countries?  79 percent said yes.

Some very general questions:

  • Do you approve of the Russian Army’s activity?  62 percent said no.
  • How do you feel when you talk about the Armed Forces?  52 percent said negative.
  • Is it necessary for the media to discuss negative events in the Armed Forces?  75 percent said yes.
  • How does the media portray the activities of the Armed Forces?  64 percent said not objectively.
  • Do you agree that “A powerful army is a powerful Russia?”  80 percent said yes.

On conscription:

  • Should draft evaders be punished?  68 percent said yes.
  • How do you feel about draft evasion?  59 percent said negative.
  • Does military service promote striving for a healthy way of life?  56 percent said yes.
  • Would you want a close relative to serve in the army?  68 percent said no.

On law and order in the ranks:

  • Who should control the military police?  52 percent said the Defense Ministry.
  • Do officers have enough powers to keep order?  84 percent said no.
  • How do you assess measures to counter corruption in the army?  66 percent said they have little effect.
  • Is “dedovshchina” an acute problem?  62 percent said yes.

On personnel, pay, and benefits:

  • Should Order No. 400 premium pay continue or be discontinued?  80 percent said discontinue it.
  • How do you feel about rotating officers’ duty stations?  51 percent are negative.
  • How has Order No. 400 affected corruption in the army?  88 percent said it’s caused it to grow.
  • Is there a “cadre famine” in the Armed Forces?  83 percent said yes.
  • How do you evaluate the consequences of Order No. 400?  89 percent are negative.
  • Where should priests be located?  42 percent said in battalions.
  • Will priests help in forming healthy moral relations in the military collective?  55 percent said no.
  • How do you evaluate the effect of the military mortgage system?  74 percent said low.
  • Will higher pay in 2012 raise the social status of servicemen?  58 percent said no.
  • Will requalifying military arsenal workers increase safety?  65 percent said no.
  • Do military families live better or worse than people in your region?  77 percent said worse.
  • Are social guarantees for servicemen sufficient?  86 percent said no.
  • Has the prestige of the Armed Forces increased in the course of military reform?  59 percent said it remains at the previous level.

The responses on the army’s capabilities weren’t new.  One is surprised, however, at how negative respondents were on premium pay, how little they expect from higher officer pay, and the lack of any improved perception of the prestige of military service.

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Latest on Sulim and Premium Pay Extortion

The Tambov military garrison prosecutor has told Kommersant charges have been lodged against Sergey Sidorenko, deputy commander of a unit at the elite Lipetsk pilot training center.  Sidorenko and others allegedly extorted 3 million rubles of premium pay from other officers at Lipetsk since the beginning of 2010.

According to Senior Lieutentant Igor Sulim, who wrote about the situation at Lipetsk in his blog in May, the training center’s chief of staff, Colonel Eduard Kovalskiy and his deputy Sergey Tereshin organized the scheme, and Sidorenko carried it out.  Sulim maintains the entire leadership of the unit [center?] and local law enforcement knew about the extortion racket.

After Sulim went public, investigators substantiated his accusations, and the Defense Ministry reportedly began to check premium pay distribution in other military units.

Last week, Main Military Prosecutor Sergey Fridinskiy acknowledged that extortion in the distribution of supplementary pay in army units is ubiquitous, “beginning in company sub-units and ending with higher staffs.”  He continued:

“Criminal cases on the facts of extortion are being investigated in practically every district and fleet.”  

He also criticized the Air Forces for pressuring the victims:

“Instead of conducting rapid checks and adopting severe measures toward bribe-takers, VVS Glavkomat officials, essentially, began pressuring the personnel for bringing situation out of the shadows.”

For his part, Sulim says:

“The center’s leadership headed by General Aleksandr Kharchevskiy is trying to dissociate itself from this story.  Kharchevskiy, for example, announces he didn’t know anything about extortion from pilots.  At the same time, he tries to sully me, publicly calling me first deranged, then a homosexual.  Meanwhile, they’ve hardly let me fly since May 14, and this means soon essentially I’ll have to learn to fly again.”

During the Defense Ministry’s check for similar problems elsewhere, the only other situation to receive press attention was a case involving some Black Sea Fleet aviation units.  See Komsomolskaya pravda and Novyy region.

Soviet Fathers and Russian Sons

The story of Igor Sulim and the premium pay scandal is like the 19th century one about Russian society’s generation gap.  With liberals and nihilists reversed.

In Sulim’s story, the fathers are old senior and mid-grade officers who span Soviet and Russian worlds.  They have no problem taking whatever’s not nailed down.  The sons are post-Soviet junior officers, reared on the Internet, familiar with Western-style justice and rule-of-law, and ready to demand an end to corruption (that costs them money).

Perhaps your author reads too much into this.  Or just maybe there’s some truth in this description.  Let’s review some new details first.

The investigation into Senior Lieutenant Sulim’s accusations is a very slow roll.  Rolling the victims.  Here’s an update on the action (or inaction?).

Sulim posted his first video on May 31.  Gorod48.ru wrote about it.

Sulim explained why he felt he had to complain to Defense Minister Serdyukov and go public about corruption in his unit despite the military’s “corporate ethic” against it.  He said he exhausted other avenues and had no other resource at his disposal.  He didn’t intend to be a one-man campaign against corruption but he’s getting support, and hearing similar stories, from others.  And he thanks his fellow officers supporting him despite the difficulties and pressure they face.

He concludes speaking out is his civic duty.  Russians should unite around one idea and struggle together so Russia doesn’t lose its greatness and remains a great power.  And so the next generation doesn’t hate the current one for being silent and patient, believing nothing will ever change.  It’s not revolution or spilled blood he wants, but the path of civilized development.

On June 2, Moskovskiye novosti wrote that Sulim predicted a disciplinary reprimand and deprivation of his premium pay would come his way for going over his superior officers (and, in fact, both came pretty quickly).  The “army Navalnyy” and other officers are being pressured in every way by the authorities, and the entire Lipetsk center’s been deprived of premium pay to turn other officers against Sulim.  He was removed from flight status.  Public Chamber member Anatoliy Kucherena reported over half of 150 personnel he met said they were aware of the corrupt pay scheme at the base.

On June 3, Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye addressed the basic flaw in Serdyukov’s Order 400 and premium pay:

“Here is the misfortune — the essentially socialist army was not ready for these market relations.  Indoctrinated on the principle that everyone in the line is equal before the commander and in battle, before life and death, everyone to an equal degree responsible for his country and its security, officers became accustomed to distinguishing one from another only by stars on the shoulderboards and by position, where the difference in pay between lieutenant and colonel, a general even, was minimal:  a couple — four thousand rubles.  And here suddenly it became colossal — several times.  And, of course, when not everyone started receiving such premiums for the very same service-work, but just those chosen by still incomprehensible principles, a Bolshevist idea immediately arose — take it and divide it up.”

“But it was impossible not to understand to what the revolutionary introduction of market relations and big money for different categories of  servicemen could lead.  But has pay become a schism in combat units?  There’s no unambiguous answer.”

“What’s the result?  To what is the Senior Lieutenant Sulim phenomenon leading?  Most likely just to changes in the various fates of various officers and various military units.  But over some kind of time everything will remain as before.  If Orders No. 400, 400A and 155 aren’t be suspended and changed.  If from 1 January next year, the difference in pay and premiums for the very same service-work aren’t so monstrously striking.  It’s not worth destroying the monolithic army line with the almighty ruble.  This could bring serious consequences in a real battle.”

Sulim gave Ogonek an interview.  Sulim said his father was not happy about him going public, but Sulim stressed it was his own personal decision.  General-Major Sulim’s being pressed to keep his son’s mouth shut.

Ogonek asked Sulim if he isn’t afraid of sharing MVD Major Dymovskiy’s fate:

“His colleagues, as I understand it, didn’t support Dymovskiy.  There are more and more of us now.  If I had been alone, perhaps, I would have repeated his fate.  But my colleagues are supporting me so, everyone is ready to go only forward.”

By mid-June, Sulim’s antagonists — Colonels Kovalskiy and Sidorenko — were both relieved of duty, but his supporters — Majors Kubarev and Smirnov — had been hauled before an Air Forces attestation commission in Moscow, called cowards for not refusing to pay kickbacks, and all but told they would be transferred from their elite Lipetsk duty, according to Komsomolskaya pravda.  The paper points out Kubarev is a Su-34 pilot qualified for aerial refueling, and Smirnov was regiment’s top pilot last year.

In Moskovskiy komsomolets, Olga Bozhyeva wrote that Sulim’s reprimand was for violating the law’s prohibition on “discussing and criticizing the orders of a commander.”  The authorities apparently didn’t go after him for revealing some of the stupid things said and written by Deputy VVS CINC General-Major Viktor Bondarev.  Instead, they focused on his criticism of the Defense Ministry’s anticorruption orders posted on his blog.  For its part, MK posted new audio clips indicating that the even the local FSB is in on getting kickbacks at Lipetsk, and this didn’t happen just in the 3rd Squadron, but all over the center.  Bozhyeva asks, if this happens in an elite formation like Lipetsk, what happens in less prestigious units?

Senior Lieutenant Igor Sulim

There is lots on Sulim’s blog.  Most recently, he wrote about meeting with VVS Deputy CINC, General-Lieutenant Sadofyev, who asked him why he had to “create a scandal.”  Of course, Sulim’s made the point many times that he tried to go through the chain, through channels, and to do it without blood, and quietly.  But Sadofyev and the older generation really don’t get it. 

The new Russian generation of sons might make even congenitally pessimistic observers of Russia a little hopeful.  The authorities could be playing an ultimately futile game of whack a mole with an entire generation of  Dymovskiys and Matveyevs and Sulims.

Loss of Fear or Loss of Faith?

Senior Lieutenant Sulim

Olga Bozhyeva has a great interview with the protagonists of the Lipetsk premium pay extortion scandal.  Essentially, Major Smirnov and Senior Lieutenant Sulim detail a farcical investigation, and what looks like a wider-ranging criminal conspiracy.  The entire Air Forces, not just the Lipetsk center, are in serious damage-control mode.

Bozhyeva introduces the piece as showing that even elite units suffer from corruption, and points out the center’s chief, General-Major Aleksandr Kharchevskiy, gave Vladimir Putin a test flight, and led combat aircraft that overflew Red Square on Victory Day 2010.  The two young aviators told her they had to talk immediately because time is against them.

Smirnov described his experience with the extortion scheme.  He said those refusing to pay got reprimands that could be used to force them out, and, with many officers being cut already, this threat was especially serious.  Or, he says, higher-ups would simply take away their “400” pay, and give it to someone willing to pay tribute.  Smirnov says the extortionists also collected as much as 240,000 rubles a year from conscripts.  He also recalled seeing Sulim’s draft complaint about corruption, and agreeing to support the younger officer.  Their ex-squadron commander, Major Yevgeniy Kubarev, joined them.

The VVS sent Deputy CINC, General-Major Viktor Bondarev to investigate, but, as Smirnov says, everyone who wanted to see him had to talk to the center’s Chief of Staff, Colonel Eduard Kovalskiy (the scheme’s ostensible organizer), Kharchevskiy, the new squadron commander (a Kovalskiy crony), zampolit (and bag man) Colonel Sergey Sidorenko, and FSB man Major Zatsepin first.  Afterwards, Kovalskiy already knew all details of what they told the VVS investigator.  Kovalskiy apparently talked to the father of one officer in an attempt to pressure him against supporting Sulim and Smirnov.  The squadron CO reportedly told one officer, if he talked openly, he’d be the first dismissed.

Sulim confirmed that his father is a VVS one-star general.  Bondarenko asked Sulim, don’t you think they’ll dismiss your father after this?  Then Sulim sums it up:

“So it’s hardly possible to talk about any real observance of legality.  Now you understand why we came to you [Bozhyeva].”

Sulim and Smirnov don’t accuse Kharchevskiy, but Smirnov says he’s afraid the extortion scheme goes higher, up to the VVS Glavkomat, because, if this involved just one colonel and one air group, it would’ve been cleared up quickly.

Smirnov says he and Kubarev have sent their families away from Lipetsk, as a precaution.

At the end, Bozhyeva asks Sulim and Smirnov what results they want from the interview.

Smirnov says:

“Our goal is for a fair, independent commission, a fair prosecutor to come.”

Sulim adds:

“Not from Tambov, but from Moscow.  That is, those people to whom I, in essence, wrote on the Internet.  Otherwise, they’ll choke all of us here with these kinds of investigations.  We’re standing before such a precedent now!”

Smirnov then says, “All the Armed Forces are watching us.”

Then with the wisdom of someone twice his age, Sulim concludes:

“If they manage to strangle us now, then those men that rob officers will lose their fear completely, and those they rob, — they will finally lose their faith in their commanders.  The consequences will be terrible.”

Premium Corruption

Senior Lieutenant Igor Sulim

Senior Lieutenant Igor Igoryevich Sulim joins the ranks of new media whistleblowers (most recently, MVD Majors Matveyev and Dymovskiy).

This 24-year-old senior flight-instructor of the Air Forces’ elite 4th Combat Employment and Retraining Center in Lipetsk has gone public complaining of corruption, specifically his commander’s systematic extortion of premium pay from his subordinates. 

Sulim made the charges in an open letter to Defense Minister Serdyukov, Investigative Committee Chairman Bastrykin, and VVS CINC General-Colonel Zelin, which he also placed on the Internet.

Recall that premium pay – aka Order No. 400 or 400-A – is the stopgap measure Serdyukov instituted early in his tenure to raise military pay [for the best performers] until a new, higher pay system could be introduced starting next year.  Premium pay’s allowed the officers to double, triple, or even quadruple their pay, but it’s also been plagued by problems and scandals from the very beginning.

According to Sulim, every month when officers receive their premium pay, they have to give their commander, Colonel Sidorenko, a specific sum.  In Sulim’s case, 13,600 rubles every month.

Life.ru printed excerpts from Sulim’s letter:

“In January of last year, Colonel Kovalskiy got unofficial information on the amounts servicemen needed to hand over after getting their premiums to each sub-unit commander.  Commanders couldn’t refuse this because all were threatened with dismissal during requalification [pereattestatsiya].”

Sulim says every month officers were picked to collect the money which went to Colonel Sidorenko.

“Every month from 140 to 185 thousand rubles were collected from sub-units.  I know that just from the four squadrons of unit 62632-A nearly 7 million rubles were collected in a year.”

“I tried to go to the Tambov Garrison Military Prosecutor.  But evidently Colonel Kovalskiy has good connections there because the commander [Sidorenko] became aware immediately about all those who want to get out from under the yoke of extortion.  And all our efforts led to the start of an investigation into the facts of slander against the unit commander.”

And Sulim’s command took him off flight status in retaliation.

Now a host of investigators — from the VVS, the SK, prosecutors — have flocked to check out Sulim and his allegations.

Where are we on this one?

It may take a while to play out.  If experience is a guide, young whistleblower Sulim may become target rather than hero of the story.  The Russian military [political, or bureaucratic] system doesn’t care much for those “sweep dirt out of the izba.”

Uncontained by the Defense Ministry, this latest scandal could undercut the much-heralded launch of the new pay system next year.  The draft law due for Duma consideration provides for continuing premium pay.

Extortion and theft damaged efforts to use combat pay as a motivator for service during the second Chechen war.  There have always been problems with commanders and finance officers handling pay in cash.

Commanders have used control of cash as a mechanism of control over their subordinates, as a zona-type obshchak for meeting unit needs or meting out a rough social justice, or, at worst, as a source of personal enrichment.  For some time, the military’s talked about electronic funds transfer to avoid pay-related criminal activity.

And Igor Igoryevich Sulim is apparently not just any young pilot.  His father is General-Major Igor Vadimovich Sulim, just relieved of duty in early March as Chief of the VVS’ Directorate of Frontal and Army Aviation.  It’s entirely possible that this personnel action has some connection to his son and his revelations, or vice versa.

Finally, the national angle to the Sulim story.  And what will it, like many other corruption stories, say about Russia’s national struggle against corruption (if there really is one)?

For additional info on Sulim, see Lipetsknews.ru or his complete letter here

There are many infamous cases of premium pay machinations . . . for summary articles see Svpressa.ru or Baranets in Komsomolskaya pravda.

Medvedev Talks to Brigade Commanders

Medvedev Speaks at Brigade Commanders' Assembly

According to Kremlin.ru, President Dmitriy Medvedev traveled to the Gorokhovets training ground near Nizhniy Novgorod today to observe battalion-level ground and air maneuvers.  It’s a modern twist on an old tradition of presidential speeches before end-of-training-year assemblies in Moscow. 

Medvedev inspected a new field camp, different weapons and equipment, and watched a Tunguska demonstration.

Afterward he met brigade commanders observing the exercise, and addressed them about the process of reforming the armed forces.

Medvedev said for two years Russia has been actively modernizing its armed forces to make them more compact, effective, and better equipped, and completing ‘org-shtat’ measures [i.e. TO&E changes] to achieve a ‘new profile.’  Flanked by Defense Minister Serdyukov and General Staff Chief Makarov, he promised the assembled commanders a defense budget worth 2.8 percent of Russia’s GDP every year until 2020, but he said getting this level of spending will not be easy, and it requires adjustments and cuts elsewhere.

He particularly emphasized establishing the new system of higher pay to replace earlier ad hoc measures like premium pay.  He seemed to say extra money will be squeezed out for this, but people will be watching how it’s spent.  Kremlin.ru posted some of Medvedev’s opening remarks:

“This is creating the conditions to equip the troops with new equipment in accordance with the current edition of the State Program of Armaments and, what is a no less important task and really no less complex, to resolve all social issues which exist for servicemen.  This issues are also well-known.”

 “First and foremost is the indexation of pay which we are already now conducting, and implementation of the housing construction program.  From 2012, the planned reform of the military pay system not according to those fragmentary pieces which exist at present, not according to those selective approaches which exist, but a full reform of pay.”

“In the final accounting, we should get so that base salary, monetary salary of servicemen will be increased practically three times. And in the process to preserve and to extend to all the Armed Forces that which we talked about in the past, that which we did according to groundwork laid in bounds of order 400 and some other Defense Ministry documents.”

“All planned measures, reform measures should be calculated and materially supported in the most rigorous way.  An adjustment in the military budget is being conducted and oversight of the use of resources is being organized for this.  I promise the attention of all Defense Ministry leaders on this:  all these processes need to be completed in coordination with other government structures in order that we should have absolute precision here.”

“A high level of financial support for the Armed Forces allows, I hope, for freeing servicemen from noncore housekeeping functions – that, in fact, was done long ago in the armies of other countries.  The troops need first and foremost to put their attention on operational training, combat exercises, to concentrate exclusively on these issues.  Security duties (firstly, perhaps not even security, but cleaning), everyday support, food preparation should be transferred to civilian organizations.”

Medvedev told the commanders their brigades should be self-sufficient, modern, balanced, and capable of fulfilling missions given them, and he invited their feedback because, as he said, the success of the military’s transformation depends on it.

“It would also be useful for me to know your opinion on the quality of the reform, on the organizational changes, what, in your view, has proven itself useful, and where there are problems.”

Despite soliciting their honest opinions, one doubts the Supreme CINC will hear many complaints from this audience.  They are, after all, winners in the reform process since they managed to continue serving in command positions.

Kramnik on Vostok-2010 and Military Reform

This is complete finally.

Ilya Kramnik’s RIA Novosti piece about the exercise has been quoted by others, but it hasn’t gotten attention as a whole on its own.

So what does Kramnik think?  He cites Makiyenko to the effect that Vostok-2010 showed that reform has been positive for the army, but there are, of course, problems.  Troops aren’t uniformly well-trained, and the failure of contract service has really hurt.  But Kramnik gives Defense Minister Serdyukov a lot of credit, on the order of being a 21st century Milyutin.  But back to the problems again.  Things like contract service, tension over officer cuts and premium pay, military education cuts, and the failure to deliver new weapons have to be fixed.  But Kramnik believes Serdyukov is the kind of guy who’ll go back and fix what he didn’t get right or get done.  Then Kramnik shifts to the type of conflict the military reform is preparing the Russian Army to fight.  Obviously [?] not a nuclear one, but rather, again turning to Makiyenko, a Central Asian local war scenario that might threaten the RF’s internal stability.  The conclusion is that, if reform stays on track and occurs quickly, the army will be able to meet this challenge.  Some, however, might well argue that even a properly and rapidly reformed Russian Army might not be enough to contain and damp down the kind of conflagration Makiyenko describes.  Finally, Kramnik concludes that even the U.S. front isn’t secure; an American regime in 2012 or 2016 might take to renewed active support of new ‘color revolutions’ in Moscow’s back (or front) yard.

Here’s a verbatim text:

“The official results of the just ended ‘Vostok-2010’ exercise are still being reckoned, and this will be done by the Defense Ministry.  Meanwhile, it’s already possible to make some conclusions.” 

“‘Vostok-2010’ was the largest of all in the post-Soviet period of Russian history.  More than 20 thousand men, 75 aircraft, 40 combat and auxiliary ships took part on the ground, in the air, and at sea in maneuvers conducted from Altay Kray to Vladivostok.”

“The aim of the exercise was to check the three-level command structure — operational-strategic command – operational command – brigade, and other new elements in the Armed Forces command and control and support system, and to uncover deficiencies needing correction.  An expert of the Russian Center for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies Konstantin Makiyenko expressed his opinion on the recent maneuvers:  ‘The recent maneuvers fully refuted the propagated myth about how the army is being destroyed as a result of the actions of the current Defense Ministry leadership.  It’s obvious the army is alive and developing.  Units participating in the exercise demonstrated their combat capability, despite the fact that they are not in the ranks of the best military districts, and scarcely armed with the most modern equipment.'”

“‘It’s especially worth focusing on the good morale of the officer personnel — it’s not possible to speak of general enthusiasm, of course, but I didn’t see dim eyes among the officers.  As a group, they are interested in the success of the current reform and hope for its success.'”

“While agreeing with this point of view, one has to note that the situation with soldiers looks a little different, both RIA Novosti’s reviewer [Kramnik] and Konstantin Makiyenko have also noted this.  Very much depends on the branch of troops and the basic training of the soldiers themselves.  Contract-servicemen in a ‘Tochka-U’ operational-tactical missile launch battery look and are trained much better than conscript-soldiers in motorized rifle units.  In the words of motorized rifle officers up to the battalion commander level, the reduction in the number of contractees has negatively affected platoon and company training.  Ideally, the service term of a specialist-soldier (mechanic-driver, weapons system operator, etc.) needs to be three years, that is achievable only on the contract manning principle for these positions.”

“Speaking about the attainability of the announced goals of the reform, one can say the following:   the will of the military leadership which certainly exists, is the main component of success, a firm understanding of the goal is also obvious, and the possession of authority — it’s not possible to doubt this.  As a result, the current Defense Ministry leadership needs only time to realize its ideas.  Overall, the military reform being conducted is the most significant event of Russian history in the last ten years — since the suppression of the separatist rebellion in the North Caucasus.  The Serdyukov-Makarov reform in the military sphere is the most radical and deepest since the time of Mikhail Frunze’s reforms in the 1920s, if not since Dmitriy Milyutin in the 1860s and 1870s.”

“As proof, it’s possible to note the fact that the Defense Ministry leadership is constantly searching and ready to correct those steps which, when checked, turn out to be incorrect or unattainable in real political-economic conditions.  So, the current principles of manning the army will undergo a serious correction:  it’s obvious that neither the organization of contract service, nor, even more, the existing format of conscript service corresponds to the demands of the time.”

“Evaluating the correspondence of the Defense Ministry leadership to its missions, it’s possible to say, that at present Russia has the most appropriate military leadership since the collapse of the USSR.  At the same time, it’s obvious that the radicalism of the reform, the compressed time of its implementation, unavoidable resistance in the environment and hard economic conditions didn’t allow for avoiding a large number of mistakes and excesses.  Among the most fundamental failures it’s possible to name the collapse of the army’s transition to the contract manning principle, serious social tension arising in connection with the rapid reduction of officer personnel, the ambiguous situation with the scale of servicemen’s complaints after the introduction of the differential pay system [premium pay or Serdyukov’s Order No. 400?], the hurried and not completely thought out reform of military education and many, many other things.  It’s  particularly worth focusing on the implementation of the state armaments programs which fail one after another, not being executed in a significant part.  As a result, the lag of Russia’s Armed Forces behind the most developed countries in the level of  technical equipping continues to grow such that in conditions of a quantitative lag it could become very dangerous.  All these mistakes have to be corrected, since they impact on rudiments of the army’s combat capability.”

“For what type of wars does Russia’s new army need to prepare?  Obviously, the time of long wars between the great powers has gone into the past — nuclear weapons haven’t left chances for such a development of events.  The most probable type of conflict in which the Russian Army will be involved is a local conflict on Russia’s borders and the territory of the former USSR, in the course of which there could be clashes with the most varied enemy:  from a regular army to many bandit formations and terrorist groups.”

“In Konstantin Makiyenko’s opinion, Central Asia presents the greatest danger in the future of a possible hot conflict with Russia’s direct participation:  ‘The U.S. and NATO, obviously, are less and less controlling the Afghanistan situation, and it’s not excluded that in the foreseeable future they may have to abandon this country.  The return to power in Afghanistan of the ‘Taliban’ movement looks most realistic in the event of such a development of events.  The arrival of Islamic radicals in power would unavoidably be a catalyst for conflicts on the territory of former Soviet republics of the region already riven by contradictions.  Weak authoritarian regimes in Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, not to mention what’s become the ‘failed government’ in Kyrgyzstan, could be easy prey for the Taliban.  As a result, Russia might be forced to consider the likelihood of a large Asian conflagration which it would have to prevent, or if it didn’t succeed — extinguish, at a minimum with the aim of preserving its own internal stability.  One very much wants to believe that the reform will bear fruit before the described situation becomes a reality.'”

“Besides the described scenario it follows to study also the probability of another development of events:  as experience has shown, on the territory of former USSR republics, the rise of openly anti-Russian regimes with external support at their disposal can’t be excluded.  For today, such a situation is a low probability due to the fact that the current administration in the U.S. — the main sponsor of ‘colored revolutions,’ is clearly not inclined to continue the policy of George Bush.  However by 2012, if President Obama loses the election, the situation could change, and this risk is even greater in 2016 when the administration will change in any case.  Meanwhile, you have to note that even the Democrats remaining in power in the U.S. is not a guarantee of a peaceful life:  Obama’s point of view on a coexistence format with Russia is hardly shared by all his fellow party members.  In the worst case, a return to the next variant of Cold War and new spiral of the arms race isn’t excluded.”

“The coming decade isn’t promising Russia an easy life.  The success of military reform is all the more important.”