It’s worth looking at one army commander, as an example of who they are and the experience they have.
They’re the men who may lead the Russian Army in the not-so-distant future. Exactly which ones and in which capacities is, of course, almost anyone’s guess.
Sergey Mikhaylovich Sevryukov officially assumed command of the Stavropol-based 49th Combined Arms Army on 9 January.
He landed on a “hot seat” given recent terrorist attacks in Pyatigorsk and Volgograd and the approach of the Sochi Olympics. His first public comments were the rather stiff announcement that, at the Defense Minister’s order, his forces had commenced joint patrols with MVD units, along with a reassurance that his army is “in a state of increased combat readiness throughout all of Stavropol [Kray].”
A provincial city and region often touched by the Chechen wars, Stavropol is only about 150 miles by air from Sochi.
The 49th covers the western reaches of Russia’s North Caucasus — Stavropol, Krasnodar, Adygea, Karachayevo-Cherkessia, and Kabardino-Balkaria.
Sevryukov’s 49th includes the 34th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade (Mountain), the 33rd Independent Reconnaissance Brigade (Mountain), and the 205th IMRB. It is also responsible for Russia’s 7th and 4th Military Bases, established after the Russian-Georgian five-day war of August 2008 in Gudauta and Tskhinvali in the disputed breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia respectively.
The previous commander of the 49th noted last year that the army is about 80 percent re-equipped with new wheeled vehicles, the 205th has gotten modernized T-72s, and the missile brigade at Molkino has deployed the Iskander SRBM.
For completeness, let’s note that the 49th Army fought from Moscow to Berlin between 1941 and 1945, was disbanded, reformed in Krasnodar in 1991, reformed as the 67th Army Corps in 2002, and was disbanded again. The present 49th was resurrected in 2010.
Conservative military commentator Vladislav Shurygin visited Sevryukov in 2008, and provided some insight on him. Sevryukov, at the time, was chief of the Far East MD’s Khabarovsk-based 392nd District Training Center (OUTs or ОУЦ), tasked with turning some of the district’s conscripts into “junior commanders” [i.e. sergeants] or specialists.
Shurygin’s impression: a colonel who wasn’t a “staff” type, army to the core.
He was born in Bugulma, a somewhat remote city in southeastern Tatarstan. But he spent the majority of his teenage years in Kazan’s Suvorov School, finishing in 1982.
He would have been about 17, so we can say General-Major Sevryukov is in his late 40s.
He graduated from the Kazan Higher Tank Command School, probably taking his commission in 1986.
Shurygin says Sevryukov served in East Germany and the Leningrad Military District.
He didn’t mention that Sevryukov served a short tour (April-June 1995) early in the first Chechen war, commanding an independent tank battalion. According to Krasnaya zvezda, he received the order Courage, one of Russia’s highest, for this.
He attended the mid-career Military Academy of Armored Troops starting in 1995, and was posted to the Far East, probably in 1997 or 1998.
Sevryukov commanded the “fortified region” or UR (УР), consisting of various fixed defenses, mine fields, machine gun-artillery battalions, and tank fire point companies, opposite Chinese forces on Bolshoy Ussuriyskiy and Tarabarov Islands, not far from Khabarovsk.
In fact, he was the UR’s last commander, since Moscow and Beijing settled their dispute over these Amur River islands in 2004. He told Shurygin he supervised the dismantlement of Russia’s defensive works in the UR.
A brief Krasnaya zvezda mention seems to indicate Sevryukov was at the Military Academy of the General Staff in 2011, embarking on a candidate (PhD) of military science degree.
After this, Sevryukov probably became deputy commander of the 49th Army as a promotable O-6. He achieved his current one-star rank in June 2013.
That is a part of the story of one army commander, perhaps typical, perhaps not. Not very obvious in any of it are exactly the kind of officer he is and the important professional connections or patrons he has.