Tag Archives: OSK VKO

Team VKO Taking Shape

Team VKO is taking shape according to Kommersant.  Last fall, President Medvedev, of course, ordered the establishment of a unified VKO.  Since then, it’s become clear that Space Troops (KV) Commander, General-Lieutenant Oleg Ostapenko would head it.

And KV will be the base for the new service [vid or вид].  According to the Genshtab plan, VKO will unite all PVO and PRO systems.  And it will control the current KV, Moscow-based OSK VKO, and PVO units from the Air Forces.

The paper’s Defense Ministry source says VKO’s top officers have been identified, and paperwork was sent for Medvedev’s signature last month.  So expect a decree soon.

General-Lieutenant Valeriy Ivanov will be in charge of PVO and PRO for VKO.  He’s a 50-year-old career SAM officer, who commanded PVO divisions or corps in the Far East, Volga, and Moscow MDs.  From 2007-10, he commanded the Far East’s 11th AVVSPVO.  He became commander of the OSK VKO about this time last year.

General-Major Oleg Maydanovich is a 47-year-old KV missile engineer who will head VKO’s space monitoring.  He has long service at Plesetsk and Baykonur, and has been chief of both.  He’s now chief of Russia’s space systems testing and control center.

Colonel Andrey Ilin will be chief of the VKO’s command and control post at Krasnoznamensk.  He served many years at the space tracking post in Shchelkovo.  He’s been chief of staff at Plesetsk since last year.

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Who Will Own VKO (Part II)

Returning to former General-Major Tazekhulakhov’s article in NVO . . . to make VKO an integral organism under unitary leadership and command and control, with personal responsibility for solving the tasks laid on the system, Tazekhulakhov believes it best, in the current Armed Forces structure, to concentrate troops (forces) and VKO system resources in one service or troop branch.

The ex-Deputy Chief of VPVO then reviews five possibilities:

  1. Give VVS PVO (including air defense aviation) to KV, and turn KV into a new branch called VVKO.
  2. Disband KV, give RKO to the VVS and space launch, monitoring, and other supporting structures to RVSN.
  3. Using KV as the base, create a new branch VVKO by including those VVS forces and resources currently in OSK VKO (the old KSpN, Moscow AVVSPVO, Moscow Air Defense District, etc.).
  4. Without transferring or resubordinating any of VVS or KV, establish a Strategic Command of VKO (SK VKO), and designate a commander to whom every MD / OSK, and every PVO, RKO, and REB resource would be subordinate for VKO missions in peace and wartime.
  5. Divide VKO along the existing MD / OSK lines with each of the four commanders responsible for the mission with common command and control exercised by the RF Armed Forces Central Command Post (ЦКП ВС РФ).

Tazekhulakhov says none of these possibilities is ideal.  Currently, VKO elements belong to different services, troop branches, Armed Forces structures, and even civilian departments.  PVO and RKO forces and resources aren’t evenly distributed throughout the RF.  And some are operationally subordinate to regional MD / OSK commanders and others (RKO and REB) to the center.  Triple subordination — administrative, operational, and support — violates one-man command for the VKO system.

Tazekhulakhov says the first three variants ask service or branches to perform missions outside their traditional competence.  Variant four would require agreement on the authorities of the VVS CINC, MD / OSK commanders, and the SK VKO commander.  Variant five makes it hard to find one commander responsible for VKO.

Of all variants, Tazekhulakhov finds variant two best.  It keeps the current integrity of VVS, and cuts one branch and reduces command and control organs.

But he’s found another problem not yet addressed — how to treat operational-tactical PVO and PRO of the MDs and fleets.  For it to operate on the same territory and with the same missions as strategic VKO, reconnaissance and warning information exchange and command and control and REB coordination has to be worked out.  And MD / OSK commanders won’t want to subordinate their forces, plans, and responsibilities to a VKO commander.

Lastly, Tazekhulakhov steps back to look at a bigger picture.  Why develop VKO?  With whom and how is Russia preparing to fight?  He concludes, from all appearances, U.S. missile defense won’t seriously impede Russian strategic nuclear forces, and, to some extent, Moscow has wasted time worrying about it:

“Russians need to stop getting harnessed, it’s time to get moving, and not simply waddle, but race full speed.  The result of our procrastination is obvious:  Russia is still trying through negotiations to find a compromise between its and NATO’s positions on missile defense, under cover of the protracted negotiating process, the American missile defense system in Europe is already approaching very close to Russia’s borders.  Evidently, it doesn’t do to waste time, hope and focus on NATO.  It’s essential to take serious military-political decisions and do what’s needed and useful for Russia, without looking at others.  No one, first and foremost the U.S., will give us anything, especially in the armaments area.  We have to rely only on ourselves.  Russia, undoubtedly, has no other way.”

Valeriy Ivanov on VKO, S-500, S-400

General-Lieutenant Valeriy Ivanov

The Space Troops have seemed pretty confident about getting control of VKO up to this point, but now a senior Air Forces officer has taken his turn to suggest the VVS may have a leg up.

On Friday, Commander of the Operational-Strategic Command of Aerospace Defense (OSK VKO), General-Lieutenant Valeriy Ivanov described for journalists how his command provides air defense for 140 key facilities in Russia’s capital and central industrial regions. 

At a conference in Mozhaysk to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the defeat of the first Nazi air attack on Moscow, Ivanov said 800 OSK VKO personnel secure Moscow’s airspace on a daily basis, and he claimed his command covers two-thirds of Russian Federation territory, according to RIA Novosti

The OSK VKO Commander also said he expects to receive the S-500, new radars, and fighter aircraft by 2015.  Several news outlets repeated an early 2011 Interfaks report saying that ten S-500 battalions will be acquired under GPV-2020. 

Regarding President Medvedev’s late 2010 order to set up a unified VKO command by December 1, 2011, Ivanov told ITAR-TASS that VKO has already been established and is being improved:

“The VKO system is now being integrated, developed, and modernized.  We are now taking, uniting Space Troops and our OSK VKO.” 

But, according to ITAR-TASS, Ivanov had to admit there’s no clarity yet on the new form of VKO, and “our state’s political leadership will make the final decision on this.”

Krasnaya zvezda also provided a somewhat less categorical-sounding Ivanov quote:

“The Aerospace Defense system which we’re creating is now being integrated and developed.  Currently, the process of amalgamating Space Troops and the Operational-Strategic Command is going on.”

Komsomolskaya pravda relayed this Interfaks quote about the fate of aviation:

“Aviation carrying out air defense missions will be immediately subordinated to the VKO commander.  The one who directs the battle will also command [aviation].”

RIA Novosti also reported General-Lieutenant Ivanov saying the second S-400 regiment (at Dmitrov) will be on duty by July 31.  He said a third regiment will appear at Zvenigorod by the end of this year.

A Second Regimental Set of S-400s

Russian news outlets reported yesterday that two new S-400 SAM battalions (a “regimental set”) will soon go on duty in the 210th Air Defense Missile Regiment at Dmitrov north of Moscow. They will join the first two battalions fielded at Elektrostal east of Moscow in 2007 and 2008.

In early 2010, Air Forces CINC, General-Colonel Aleksandr Zelin talked about getting up to 5-6 battalions last year, but this didn’t happen. Zelin has also said 18 S-400 battalions will be in service by 2015.

The factory handover of the two new battalions began Wednesday at Kapustin Yar. The acceptance process included various test firings yesterday with OSK VKO Commander, General-Lieutenant Valeriy Ivanov and Air Defense Missile Troops Commander, General-Major Sergey Popov in attendance.

Lenta.ua quoted Ivanov saying 3-4 S-400 regiments will defend Moscow by 2020, with most going on duty in 2016-2020. He told Interfaks:

“If earlier we accepted it (the S-400 SAM) in separate units of equipment by battalion, by launcher, then today for the first time everything is being received fully – as a regiment.”

One supposes these regiments will only have two S-400 launch battalions then.

Lots has swirled around the inability to get S-400s in the field.

General Director Igor Ashurbeyli was dismissed from Almaz-Antey early this month. There’s been the talk of the government financing two new plants to speed the process of building the S-400.

Last May, Viktor Litovkin was reporting that the VVS would receive six S-400 battalions in 2011. He also said the Defense Ministry would not order more after that.

Ashurbeyli said last April the Defense Ministry was not signing contracts for S-400 production in 2012.

Oil on a Fire?

Nezavisimaya gazeta’s Vladimir Mukhin recently pointed out that Russian soldiers are still busy performing ‘noncore’ tasks [i.e. essential housekeeping chores unrelated to combat training].  And this is happening despite frequent Defense Ministry trumpeting about success in eliminating ‘nonmilitary’ work from the troops’ daily regimen.

Helping out during the recent snow and ice storms is just the most recent example.  Mukhin says the army was pressed into this municipal task in Khabarovsk, Nizhniy Tagil, and Chelyabinsk.  Suburban Moscow air defenders in the OSK VKO fueled mobile power generators and operated field kitchens during the bad weather.  Reservists were called up to cope with heavy snow in Tatarstan.  Military units were also pressed into service against forest fires this summer. 

None of this is particularly surprising.  Many governments would turn to the army in similar circumstances.  But it shows that Russia’s local and regional governments lack the depth of resources to provide the services customarily expected at those levels of administration in most countries.  And, of course, they don’t have part-time soldiers in a national guard structure that can be mobilized by the governor in an emergency.

More interesting, however — to return to Mukhin’s article — a Kremlin source told his paper that an unpublicized order had gone out from the PA to the Defense Ministry on the eve of the New Year’s holidays saying that troops should prepare for “active participation” in resolving any kind of “emergency situations” (ChS) arising in the country.  And the order implied both natural and “social”  [i.e. man-made] emergencies.

Ready to Help the Police (photo: Nezavisimaya gazeta / Aleksandr Shalgin)

An NG source in the Defense Ministry said VDV unit and formations throughout Russia were in “full” combat readiness, and at “hour X” were ready to come to the assistance of police and the MVD’s Internal Troops (VV) in the event of disturbances in the capital or other major cities.

KPRF Duma Deputy and former Black Sea Fleet Commander, Vladimir Komoyedov put it in this context:

“There’s nothing bad about the army coming to help people, to help clean up disasters.  In the days of the USSR, soldiers also harvested crops, cleaned up man-made disasters, and separated ethnic groups who were fighting.  But our leaders have proclaimed the principle that the army is outside politics.  The troops should be occupied with their business — combat training, ensuring military security — and that’s all.  But it isn’t happening like this…  Now once again signs of instability are appearing — and no longer just in Russia’s south, but also in the entire country.  And we no longer have an army at all.”

The VDV spokesman felt compelled to respond right away to this story.  He told RIA Novosti the VDV is not in “full,” but rather “permanent” combat readiness for any missions assigned by its command.  And he noted that VDV sub-units are not specially trained for the mission of securing law and order.

But he didn’t say they couldn’t or wouldn’t give it a try.

RIA Novosti reminded readers of mid-December riots in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Rostov-na-Donu.  About 5,000 took part in an unsanctioned nationalist rally on Manezh Square adjacent to the Kremlin to protest the reported murder of an ethnic Russian by a man from Kabardino-Balkaria. 

The use of the VDV for an internal contingency is unlikely, but certainly conceivable.  It would probably be a last-resort measure.  And its effect on any situation might be unpredictable. 

In the right circumstances, the VDV might handle themselves professionally.  In the wrong circumstances, they might be like oil on a fire.

New Air Forces Commander in Far East

Colonel Dronov

On Monday, the Defense Ministry announced Colonel Sergey Vladimirovich Dronov as the new Chief of Air Forces and Air Defense in the Far East.  His predecessor, General-Lieutenant Valeriy Ivanov, has a new post in the Operational-Strategic Command of Air-Space Defense (OSK VKO or ОСК ВКО).

The 48-year-old Dronov was born in rural eastern Ukraine.  In 1983, he graduated from the Yeysk Higher Military Aviation School for Pilots, and began his service as a fighter-bomber pilot in the former Belorussian Military District.  So he’s an aviator, no surprise.

According to the Defense Ministry website, he served in aviation units in the North Caucasus and Siberia, and in command positions from flight commander to division commander.  He graduated from the mid-career Gagarin Air Forces Academy in 1992, and the General Staff Academy in 2007.

Dronov started his Far East service as commander of the Ussuriysk Composite Aviation Division in 2008.  In August 2009, he was assigned as deputy commander of the Air Forces and Air Defense Army (AVVSPVO) in the Far East.

The Defense Ministry reached down to replace an O-8 with an O-6.  This may be part of its continuing effort to reduce its top-heavy rank structure.  Recall Defense Minister Serdyukov’s description of the ‘bloated egg’ in rank distribution.  But Dronov will probably be promoted to general-major soon.

It’ll be interesting to see how other appointments play out.  Dronov just took over the existing Khabarovsk-based 11th AVVSPVO.  That’s an easy one.  But presumably, with the cut to four MDs, two of the current five AVVSPVOs might disappear.  The 6th AVVSPVO in St. Petersburg might meld into the Moscow-based Special Designation Command (КСпН) in the new Western MD.  And the 14th in Novosibirsk could be subsumed by the Yekaterinburg-based 5th  in the Central MD.  Look for more air and air defense command appointments.

Frontal, Army Aviation to OSK Commanders

Air Forces CINC, General-Colonel Aleksandr Zelin had many announcements yesterday on the eve of his service’s holiday, but none more interesting than the not-completely-surprising news that frontal and army aviation will transfer from the Air Forces to be directly subordinate to Russia’s four new ‘operational-strategic commands.’

Zelin said:

“The Air Forces will remain a service of the Armed Forces, its Main Command [Glavkomat or Главкомат] will continue functioning, the transfer of four Air Forces and Air Defense commands [i.e. armies] to the commanders of the new military districts — Western, Southern, Central and Eastern is planned.”

“Frontal and army aviation is transferring to the commanders of these districts and, accordingly, to the unified strategic commands.  As regards the aviation component of the RF strategic nuclear triad — Long-Range Aviation, it, like Military-Transport Aviation and the Operational-Strategic Command of Aerospace Defense [ОСК ВКО] will remain immediately subordinate to the Air Forces CINC.”

So what’s happened?

After years of lobbying, army aviation is leaving the Air Forces, but not exactly returning to the Ground Troops.  It is, however, returning to a Ground Troops-dominated environment in the OSKs.

The OSKs look more and more like U.S.-style unified, combatant commands, and the RF armed services like force providers.  

One supposes that the Air Forces, like the Navy, will have to continue playing a very large role in developing doctrine, tactics, acquisition, training, and operations and maintenance of frontal aviation at least, and probably army aviation as well. 

Zelin had more fragmentary comments on this subject.  The Air Forces CINC will retain:

“. . . immediate authority to direct combat training of all aviation and air defense forces, development of all directive documents, and also material-technical support.”

“This entire system is arranged just to optimize command and control and concentrate the main forces and means in the troops [i.e. OSKs].”

He added that these measures must:

“. . . prevent theft and waste of material and financial means and guarantee their strict centralization.”

One wonders how aspects of this ‘material-technical support’ (MTO) role for the Air Forces CINC will track with General-Colonel Bulgakov’s new MTO empire in the increasingly civilian Defense Ministry.