Tag Archives: TO&E

Non-TO&E Reconnaissance Troops

LPR-4 laser rangefinder made by the Kazan Optical-Mechanical Plant

LPR-4 laser rangefinder made by the Kazan Optical-Mechanical Plant

Russian news agency TASS noted yesterday that the Eastern MD’s 35th Combined Arms Army will train several hundred soldiers to serve as scouts in addition to their usual duties.

This ADDU training will occur during the balance of July in 35th CAA motorized rifle sub-units (battalion and below). Between 800 and 1,000 troops will learn to serve literally as “non-TO&E reconnaissance men-observers.” In English and U.S. Army parlance, perhaps scouts is close.

In a 10-day course, trainees will learn the “rules” of conducting reconnaissance, how to choose terrain, and to establish an observation post. Experienced “reconnaissance men” will teach them to detect minute changes in the situation, hide listening devices, and recognize “telltale signs” of targets day or night. Separate lessons will be dedicated to aerial recon, observation on the move, and camouflage, concealment, and deception (CC&D) measures.

The new scouts will learn to employ night vision and other optical equipment including LPR-5 laser rangefinders.

The scout-trainees will broaden their military qualifications, and they could conduct reconnaissance in cases when TO&E “recon men” aren’t attached to their forces.

The Eastern MD spokesman said the scout training is the result of the growing role of reconnaissance in recent military conflicts.

In some respects, the Eastern MD is the Russian “poor man’s district.” It doesn’t sit opposite Moscow’s major concerns — NATO, militant Islam, and Central Asia. It faces China (the threat “which must not be named”). 

At times, it seems the Eastern MD gets fewer real resources. The Kremlin has already fielded full-fledged independent reconnaissance brigades — the 96th in the Western MD’s 1st Tank Army, the 100th in the Southern MD’s 58th CAA, and the 127th in the BSF (Crimea). The Eastern MD doesn’t merit one apparently, and will have to get along with ADDU scouts at least for now.

Back in the day, Soviet divisions had a dedicated reconnaissance battalion, while armies had Spetsnaz battalions or companies.

It’s likely the requirement for more recon is another lesson the Russian military is taking from its intervention in Syria.

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Ten “New” Chemical Defense Regiments

Russian Soldier in Chemical Defense Gear (photo: Mil.ru)

Russian Soldier in Chemical Defense Gear (photo: Mil.ru)

In late June, Mil.ru provided comments by the Deputy Chief of Radiological, Chemical, and Biological Defense (RKhBZ) Troops, General-Major Igor Klimov. He said:

“Development of the troops of RKhB defense is currently directed at supporting conditions for an adequate response to all possible threats — radiological, chemical, and biological.”

The RKhBZ Troops are capable of completing missions for the Armed Forces and the state as a whole, according to him.

General-Major Igor Klimov

General-Major Igor Klimov

But Klimov added:

“One should note that just in 2014 alone ten regiments of RKhBZ were formed in the composition of combined arms armies.”

At the same time, the TO&E structure of the four independent RKhBZ brigades of the military districts was “optimized.”  That means, of course, reduced, cut, slashed, etc.

Klimov added:

“In 2016-2020, the composition and TO&E of formations, military units and organizations of the RKhBZ Troops will improve with the goal of guaranteeing fulfillment of RKhBZ missions for Armed Forces groupings in armed conflicts and local wars, eliminating the effects of emergency situations, and conducting research in the applied sciences (chemistry, biology, biochemistry, genetics, biotechnology).”

Mil.ru also noted that RKhBZ formations, units, and organizations will undergo a transition to new org-shtat structures as they receive new types of weapons and equipment.

The ten “new” regiments look like this:

The shift from brigades is creating regiments that aren’t really “new.”  It’s a reshuffling of existing RKhBZ units to integrate them into Russia’s combined arms armies.  They will be army- rather than MD-level assets.  

The “new regiments” are rather sparse.  Most press indicates they will have about 300-600 personnel and 100-200 pieces of equipment each.  In Soviet times, a combined arms army had several RKhBZ battalions including recon, protection, decon, flamethrower, and smoke.

TOS-1A

TOS-1A

Perhaps RKhBZ is returning to army-level control because of the growing role of thermobaric rocket launchers like the TOS-1A in Russia’s fire support plans.

“New Profile” Brigades

Representative "New Profile" Brigade

Not long ago someone asked what Russia’s “new profile” brigades look like.  There’s a good bit available on this. 

General Staff Chief Makarov signed off on the TO&E (org-shtat) as far back as three years ago, just a couple months after Defense Minister Serdyukov’s reforms were launched. 

The org chart for a typical motorized rifle brigade shown above is inelegant.  Some elements aren’t represented due to your author’s lack of graphic skills.  Among important missing items are the artillery command recce battery and air defense radar platoon.

The sniper platoon has been part of the new TO&E, but its existence was only emphasized by the media of late.

And this post doesn’t delve into precisely how postulated Russian light, medium, and heavy brigades might differ.

The manpower looks to be under 4,400 officers and men, 327 officers and 4,066 soldiers (including 1,005 sergeants) to be exact.  Russia’s officer corps bloat doesn’t seem to apply to serving out here “in the troops,” as they say.  Officers are only 8 percent of the brigade’s personnel. 

However, this representative brigade is (or was) commanded by a general-major (O-7), and had 5 full colonels, and 29 O-5s.  There are almost as many majors (43) as captains (68), and a fairly low number of senior lieutenants (181).

In terms of equipment, battalions remain battalions — 40 tanks or armored vehicles per.  The SP howitzers are 152mm 2S19 Msta-S or 2S3M Akatsiya and/or 122mm 2S1 Gvozdika.  MRLs are the venerable BM-21 Grad, in a battalion of three batteries with six launchers per.  Antitank artillery is towed and ATGMs are Konkurs (AT-5 / Spandrel) and Shturm-S (AT-6A / Spiral).  Air defense isn’t particularly modern consisting of batteries of 2S6 Tunguska (SA-19 / Grison), Strela-10 (SA-13 / Gopher), and Osa (SA-8B / Gecko). 

Other English-language observers have looked at the same data.  This one shows the organization and manpower distribution for a brigade’s sub-units (battalion-level and lower).  This one does much the same with some guessing at tactical organization and equipment.

P.S.  One forgotten thing here is how logistics and maintenance may, or may not, have changed at the brigade level with Serdyukov’s outsourcing, Oboronservis, and taking soldiers off noncore (i.e. non-combat) duties.  But the supply and repair battalions still appear on the org charts.

Golts on the Sudden Increase in Officers

Yezhednevnyy zhurnal’s Aleksandr Golts says Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov’s explanation that 70,000 more officers are needed because of VKO doesn’t hold water since it will be created on the basis of existing formations and units.

Golts concludes that Russian military reform has reached its next turning point.  He recalls that cutting officers to 150,000 and eliminating a large number of cadre formations and units represented the rejection of the old mass mobilization army concept.

But the reduction of so many officers could not but bring bitter opposition.  Nevertheless, Serdyukov stubbornly implemented the cuts, ignoring cries about the destruction of the country’s glorious officer corps (which Golts says hasn’t existed in a very long time).

Then suddenly the chief of the military department reversed himself.  Suddenly, it appears there are not too many officers, but a shortage.  The Armed Forces agonizingly cut 200,000 officer positions just to reintroduce 70,000!

Golts thinks there are several possible reasons.

The most obvious is the state’s inability to meet its obligations (primarily permanent apartments) to dismissed officers.  In mid-2010, there was information about 70,000 officers outside the shtat (штат or TO&E).  Later in the year, the number given was 40,000.  But says Golts:

“. . . to find out how many officers are really outside the shtat is impossible:  whatever figure Defense Ministry officials want to name, they name.  It’s possible to suppose that, having realized their inability to settle up with future retirees, the military department simply decided to put them back in the shtat.”

The second possible cause, according to Golts, is that the Defense Ministry failed to fill the officer posts it cut with well-trained sergeants and civilian personnel because the wages it offered were too low.  On the issue of more sergeants, Golts concludes:

“Sergeant training programs are failing.  Training centers simply can’t put out as many junior commanders as the Armed Forces need – they require not less than 100 thousand.  There’s no where to get them from.  And so they decided again to use officers to perform sergeant functions in combat sub-units, as rear service guys, service personnel.  If so, then this is a serious blow to reform.  Because the officer will cease being the elite of the Armed Forces, again turning into a low-level functionary.”

And Golts provides his third, worst case possibility:

“The generals convinced the president, but most of all, the premier [Putin] that it’s possible to achieve combat readiness by returning to the old mobilization model.  This is an ultimate end to reforms.  If so, then after presidential elections in 2012 the term of conscript service will inevitably be raised.  And everything will be back to normal.”

Golts concludes this concession by Serdyukov – heretofore supported by President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin – will make those who hate him conclude he’s lost support, and they will triple their attacks on reforms.  In the worst case, this will be the first step toward overturning them.

181,000 Officers in the Armed Forces

The 29 December issue of Krasnaya zvezda provides interesting personnel data points . . .

124,000 officers must have been dismissed in the past two years.  At the outset of Serdyukov’s reforms, there were 305,000 occupied officer billets, so subtract 181,000 for 124,000.  Nothing, however, is said about officers put outside the org-shtat who can’t be dismissed for lack of housing.  No word is given on where warrant officers stand; they were slated for “elimination as a class.”

The piece flat out says the state can’t draft enough men to cover the military’s requirements, and there’s little to fix the problem (going below 1 million men apparently isn’t an option).  It also says starkly that contract service was a failure, but it will be gradually resurrected anyway (certainly the right way this time).

More pains are taken to say that mobilization isn’t really dead.  Armies and brigades are freed from worrying about it, but an experiment in raising a reserve brigade will be attempted this year.

As of 1 December 2010, there are 1 million servicemen, including 181,000 officers (18.1 percent).  By 2013, the RF President’s target of 15 percent will be reached.

In 2008, there were nearly 500,000 officers and warrant officers, almost 50 percent of all servicemen in the Armed Forces.  There was an imbalance in the officer ranks.  Sixty percent of officer posts were held by senior officers.  Over the 2008-2010 period, 170,000 officer posts were eliminated.  Meanwhile, the optimal correlation of senior and junior officers was achieved by increasing the latter’s numbers.

But the article notes junior officers ranks were cut too — by stopping the acceptance of cadets into VVUZy and making some officers into sergeants.  Changes in service regulations allowed the Defense Ministry to appoint officers to lower-ranking [i.e. enlisted] duties.  The ex-officers represent a “reserve” for filling officer billets as they become available.

This year, Krasnaya zvezda concedes, the state’s military organization was not able to draft enough young men.  And the number of men reaching draft age is decreasing every year because of the continuing demographic decline.

Regarding contractees, in recent years, the state failed to raise the prestige of contract service, and decided to limit contractees to specific duties with complex equipment or those directly impacting the combat capability of military units.  But, in the future, it’s planned to increase the share of contractees as more attractive service conditions, first and foremost higher pay, are created.  This will allow for putting contractees in all sergeant and training posts, as well as those involving complex armaments and specialized equipment.

KZ says assertions that, in three years, the army will have to draft nearly 80 percent of 18-year-olds are groundless.  It says this fails to account for the fact that the army can take conscripts up to age 27.  But, it concedes, manning problems really exist because of the demographic hole.  In 2010, more than half — about 1.9 million — of the men liable to conscription had student deferments.  So, it concludes, the share of men possible to draft amounted to only 17.4 percent of those in the potential conscript pool.

In 2010, every third man was not fit for service on health grounds, and 66,000 were held back for more medical observation.  More than half had some health limits on their service, and could not be sent for physically demanding service in the VDV, Navy, Internal Troops, etc.

And the Defense Ministry doesn’t have an answer.  The article says it will sequentially increase the number of contractees, make those responsible for the draft be, well, actually responsible for it, and, of course, make military service more attractive.  Less onerous might be a more realistic goal.  And this actually seems like Serdyukov’s intent.

On 4 May 2007, the President (Putin) confirmed a “Concept of Establishing a New Armed Forces Training and Human Mobilization Resource Accumulation System.”  The new “human mobilization reserve” will be formed in stages using both Russian and foreign experience, adapted to Russian conditions and military organizational plans.  The Duma Defense Committee is working on new reserve service conditions in a law on the “human mobilization reserve.”

This article says there are plans to conduct an experiment in manning a single wartime formation [i.e. brigade] with reservists this year.

KZ makes a point of saying that mobilization work and training have been preserved, but permanent readiness armies and brigades are exempt from it.

New Year’s Peep Show (Part II)

On with Krasnaya zvezda’s peep into the Defense Ministry’s organizational and force development document . . .

What about strategic nuclear forces in the future:

“Their further development will support a guaranteed counter to forecast changes in the strategic balance of forces, connected in the first place with the deployment of a U.S. global anti-missile system, but also the growing potential of U.S. and NATO highly accurate weapons.”

The three-component structure of the SYaS (land, sea, and air) will be preserved.  And the plan repeats earlier assurances that the SYaS will be 70 percent modern by 2015, and 100 percent by 2020, as a result of the GPV.

Does the composition of the armed forces meet today’s threats?

The document says, despite everything, the threat of aggression against Russia has receded, and there’s no need to maintain a multimillion-man army.  But it sounds like they’re still trying to convince people.  Then there’s this.

Russia can still mobilize.  The document offers reassurance that, in wartime, storage bases can outfit a significant number of new formations and units.  The districts have preserved a mobilization base, and mobilization deployment plans.  This comes after the Defense Ministry has spent a good bit of time and effort denigrating the old system of hollow cadre-level units.  Who is manning storage bases and cadre units after recent downsizing, cuts, and consolidations?

The document re-runs the rationale for four MDs / OSKs.  It calls the MD an inter-service strategic territorial large formation [объединение].  The old MD system didn’t correspond to existing military threats.  To repulse aggression, a large formation of the troops and forces of several districts and fleets is needed.  On strategic axes, there were no organs to unite ground, air, and naval forces.  In a crisis, temporary, uncoordinated inter-service command and control organs were established.  The army lacked commanders capable of planning and conducting operations in TVDs.  Old MDs didn’t correspond to air defense boundaries.  New MD / OSK commanders are personally responsible for security in their regions, and uniting forces under them has shortened their response times and increased their striking power.

What about command and control?  There’s an emerging two-pipe system — the military plans for the use and development of the armed forces on the one hand, and civilians plan for their support on the other.  The new three-level command system works like this — main commands of services, armies, and brigades answer for tactical issues, and the General Staff, OSKs, and armies answer for operational issues.  The army-level command looks like an important hinge in this scheme.  In days past, their staffs were never very large.  The General Staff has lost duplicative functions and become a full-fledged strategic planning organ.

Where is the line drawn between the main commands of the services and the OSKs:

“The main commands of the services concentrate their efforts on the organizational development of the services, the organization of combat training, junior specialist [i.e. conscript] training, planning of peacekeeping activity and support in special aspects.”

“The unified strategic command of the military district is becoming the inter-service command and control organ, dedicated to planning and controlling all armies, brigades and military units in the inter-service troop grouping on the strategic axis, with the exception of those in the composition of strategic nuclear forces.”

Now any MD / OSK commander worth his salt will want to train and exercise the forces he’ll fight with.  He may impinge on the diminished role of the main commands to the extent that he does it.

KZ’s review of the document finishes up talking about combat possibilities and combat potential.  It claims that, far from just cutting, the TO&E of formations and units has been optimized and their combat possibilities increased.  The example given is the new Western MD vs. the old Leningrad MD.  It says the combat potential of the former is 13 times greater than the latter.  Not exactly tough since the latter didn’t have a single combined arms army.  Finally, it says resources reclaimed by cutting units give a “chance for real rearming of the army and fleet, and not endless modernization and repair of obsolete and worn-out armaments and military equipment.”

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.