Tag Archives: Vladimir Chirkin

Defense News

Some Russian defense news from June 8, 2012 . . .

Kremlin.ru and other sites noted several designers of the prefab or modular Voronezh BMEW radar have received a 2011 State Prize for Science and Technology.  The new system can be deployed 3-4 times faster, costs four times less to operate, and requires six times fewer personnel to service than the previous generation of radars, according to press reports.  TsAMTO carried the story as well as a review of the state of Voronezh deployments.

Izvestiya reported details on a consolidation of Russia’s munitions producers.  It’s been predicted for many months.  The country’s 56 producers will be reorganized into 5 holdings, with Bazalt, Pribor, and Mashinostroitel leading three of them.  A Bazalt rep basically admits the sector’s a mess, and it’ll take several years to organize the industry.

But Bloomberg and other media reported U.S. defense firms are actually looking to Rosoboroneksport for the purchase of munitions from Russian producers.

Topwar.ru carried an Interfaks story saying Delta IV-class SSBN Novomoskovsk is nearing the end of a modernization to extend its service life to 2021.  The sub went to sea for some trials last week.  It is, by the way, the newest of the class.  Zvezdochka is also working on Verkhoturye, and both SSBNs will reportedly return to service by the end of 2012.  See this earlier-posted related item.

RIAN reported an OSK source claims the Navy will buy up to ten support ships per year starting in 2013 to rebuild Russia’s naval auxiliary fleet.

General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov addressed the possibility of Finland joining NATO while in Helsinki.  He said this threatens Russia’s security.  But there were Western news service reports saying he said Finland’s military cooperation with NATO by itself is a threat to Moscow.  Voice of Russia covered the negative reactions of Finnish politicians as well as Russian commentators pointing out that the general’s view on another possible broadening of NATO is understandable.  VPK.name highlighted the story.

NVO interviewed new Ground Troops CINC, General-Colonel Vladimir Chirkin on his plans for army acquisition.  Chirkin said UAVs, reconnaissance systems like Strelets, Rys armored vehicles, S-300V4, Buk-M3, Tor-M2, and Verba SAMs, Iskander-M, Tornado-G (S), Msta-S, and Khrizantema-S missile and artillery systems, comms equipment, T-72B1(2), and BTR-82A will be procured out to 2015.  RIAN carried the abridged version.

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Galkin Promoted

A thing rare in recent times was announced today . . . the promotion of a general officer.  In this case, Southern MD Commander, General-Lieutenant Aleksandr Galkin picked up his third star. 

President Medvedev’s decree on General-Colonel Galkin was dated June 11, according to RIA Novosti.

Large, well-publicized general officer promotion ceremonies used to be the norm, but no longer. 

Recall one of Defense Minister Serdyukov’s objectives was turning the “bloated egg” of the officer corps into a pyramid.  As part of this, he planned to trim 1,100 generals to 900. 

Of course, Serdyukov had to walk back part of his decision on cutting officers this year, but generally it’s clear that lots of O-6s now occupy billets once held by one-stars.  Army commanders routinely two-stars in the past now wear only one.  And MD commanders who typically wore three, have been wearing only two . . . at least until now. 

Galkin joins Western MD Commander, General-Colonel Arkadiy Bakhin at the three-star rank. 

Galkin’s promotion shows the team has to be rewarded for doing the heavy lifting of establishing the “new profile.”  Three-star rank also extends his statutory retirement to 60. 

Central MD Commander, General-Lieutenant Vladimir Chirkin and Eastern MD Commander, Vice-Admiral Konstantin Sidenko are both older than Galkin.  They are likely serving on extensions right now, and might be better candidates for retirement than promotion.  But another star can’t be ruled out.  In Chirkin’s case, the recent arsenal explosions in his AOR won’t help him.

Aleksandr Viktorovich Galkin is especially strongly linked to General Staff Chief, Army General Nikolay Makarov through his service in the former Siberian MD in the 2000s.  Bakhin and Chirkin are also “Siberians” with ties to Makarov.

Some details on Galkin:  He was born March 22, 1958 in Ordzhonikidze (now Vladikavkaz), North-Ossetian ASSR.  He graduated the Ordzhonikidze Higher Combined Arms Command School in 1979, and served in motorized rifle command posts up to chief of staff and deputy commander of a battalion in the GSFG.  He was a battalion commander in the Far East MD.  In 1990, he completed the Frunze Military Academy, and served as a motorized rifle regiment commander in the Transcaucasus, and chief of staff and deputy commander of a motorized rifle division in the Far East MD.  On completing the General Staff Academy in 2003, he served as deputy commander of the 41st Combined Arms Army (Novosibirsk), and chief of staff and first deputy commander of the 36th Combined Arms Army (Borzya).  In 2006-2007, he commanded the 41st.  In 2008, Galkin became deputy commander, then chief of staff and first deputy commander of the Siberian MD.  In early 2010, he became commander of the North Caucasus MD, and the renamed Southern MD early this year.

Blaming Yudashkin

Aleksandr Kanshin has reemerged . . . late of the Public Chamber, he’s now Deputy Chairman of the Defense Ministry’s Public Council, and he blames new army uniforms designed by fashion mogul Valentin Yudashkin for the recent outbreak of illnesses among conscripts in the Central Military District.

Vesti.ru and Newsru.com picked up what Kanshin told Interfaks:

“Judging by documents I’ve been made familiar with, one of the causes of illnesses among the young reinforcements in the troops, particularly in the Central Military District (TsVO), is manufacturing defects in the new winter field uniform supplied to conscripts at the assembly points of the military commissariats.  In other words, the new type uniform ‘from Yudashkin’ doesn’t defend soldiers against freezing in low temperatures.”

“At times, TsVO servicemen have to wear warm things under the new winter uniform.”

Kanshin also said he’s talked with TsVO Commander, General-Lieutenant Vladimir Chirkin who recognizes the new uniform needs improvement, but he also indicates 80 percent of his personnel are dressed in the old field uniform which is much warmer.

Vesti.ru reported the majority of the district’s servicemen are negative about the Yudashkin uniform because the air temperature is -20° (-4° F) and the wind blows through it outside.

Newsru.com pointed back to several scandals over the Yudashkin uniform, including last December when it said 250 soldiers became seriously ill in their unit in Yurga.  It was proposed at the time that they became sick because the new uniform didn’t protect them against the cold.

These new digital cammies were developed between May 2007 and 2010.  Besides fashion designer Yudashkin, specialists from the Central Scientific-Research Institute of the Garment Industry and the Defense Ministry’s Central Clothing Directorate participated in creating them.

Gzt.ru claims Yudashkin isn’t to blame.  The winter uniform was changed and sewn in defense industry factories with cheap materials.  Perhaps these are Kanshin’s “manufacturing defects.”  Sounds like corruption though, if someone substituted inferior materials.

Doctors told journalists that Yudashkin’s boots don’t keep out the cold either.

According to Gzt.ru, the military prosecutor is checking the situation in the TsVO.  Meanwhile, the military officially denies the uniforms are to blame, and maintains the emergency situation is just a seasonal outbreak of illness.

Two New Armies for the Central Military District

This week General-Lieutenant Vladimir Chirkin spoke to Krasnaya zvezda about several things.  Recall that Chirkin is acting commander of the troops of the ‘Combined Strategic Command of the Red Banner Central Military District.’  He has been commander of the SibVO until now of course.

His interview brought two things immediately into focus.  First, it appears that OSKs will actually be unified or combined strategic commands rather than ‘operational-strategic commands.’  Either way the acronym is OSK.  But combined strategic command connotes a couple significant things.  They may really unify all armed services and branches on their territory for warfighting.  Second, they are beyond the ‘operational-strategic’ level of warfare; they are intended to be strategic.

In this interview, Chirkin was asked and talked at length about the scale and scope of Vostok-2010 in Siberia, as well as the performance of his troops in the exercise.

Asked about the formation of the four new OSKs, Chirkin provided a short dissertation on why the Armed Forces command and control system is being overhauled:

“Recently the Russian Federation adopted a new National Security Strategy and Military Doctrine.  The Defense Ministry and General Staff put amendments in these documents.  Possible threats of wars and conflicts, basic forms and capabilities for fulfilling strategic missions were determined.  The National Security Concept of the Russian Federation proposes that the state could encounter real and potential threats.  I won’t reveal all the subtleties, but I will say one thing — the new system of command and control is being created accounting for the realities of the current time and changing international situation, so the state can independently confront possible threats to its security and the security of its allies, and achieve strategic goals.”

“Such a decision was predicated on the realities of our times and repeatedly  thought over by both the General Staff of the Armed Forces and the country’s leadership.  Reforming the system at all levels is the basis of military reform.  In a word, this decision strengthens the preceding results and gives the process a new turn.”

Chirkin says the formation of his new OSK is not interfering with planned combat training at the brigade level and below.

He says there shouldn’t be any concern about excess officers in his command:

“Officers who meet all requirements and wish to continue serving will be appointed to positions.  Firstly, the Combined Strategic Commands in Yekaterinburg and Khabarovsk [i.e. Eastern Military District] will require supplements of several hundred officers ready to serve in their directorates, departments, and services.  You understand the territories and quantity of troops are increasing.  And this means professional-administrators will be needed, and there are not just a few of these among SibVO officers.”

“Secondly, in Chita a combined arms army will be formed.  Officers and civilian personnel will also be required there.  Besides, in Transbaykal, several more formations and units will be formed, which must make up a large formation [i.e. объединение, an army].  And this, you understand, is hundreds more officer positions.  The main thing is an officer should be a qualified specialist, a master of his trade and have the desire to continue serving.”

Recall in early June, General Staff Chief Makarov told the Federation Council three new armies comprising six brigades would be formed, and so it looks like Makarov’s old home, the erstwhile SibVO, and its massive territory in its new Combined Strategic Command of the Central Military District incarnation, will receive two of the new armies.  Look for generals with a strong SibVO pedigree to command them.  No indication of where Makarov’s third new army will appear.  The Eastern Military District might be a good bet.

As a postscript, Chirkin noted that the SibVO has gotten 4,500 apartments to distribute to dismissed or retired officers.

Interim OSK Commanders Named

Late Thursday Interfaks learned that Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov signed an order naming acting commanders of Russia’s four new military districts, or operational-strategic commands (OSKs).

Volga-Ural MD Commander, General-Colonel Arkadiy Bakhin will be the interim commander of the new Western MD.  Siberian MD Commander, General-Lieutenant Vladimir Chirkin will temporarily head the new Central MD.  Pacific Fleet Commander, Admiral Konstantin Sidenko will command the new Far East MD for now.  And North Caucasus MD Commander, General-Lieutenant Aleksandr Galkin will head the the new Southern MD. 

General-Colonel Bakhin

General-Lieutenant Chirkin

Admiral Sidenko

General-Lieutenant Galkin

Serdyukov wants the new command and control scheme operating from the start of the new training year on 1 December.

Kommersant noted general surprise that a naval officer was picked to head the Far East MD.  Ground Troops generals have always commanded the army-dominated MDs.  But a Navy Main Staff source said Sidenko is not new to commanding army units; he once commanded the combined Navy-Ground Troops force on Kamchatka.

Kommersant also said extramural Defense Ministry collegiums will evaluate the effectiveness of these reorganizations before the end of the year.

Makarov’s Guys Take Key Posts

Bakhin, Chirkin, and Galkin prospered under General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov when he was Siberian MD Commander from 2002-2007.  Each of them served as an army commander, deputy MD commander, and chief of staff, first deputy MD commander under Makarov in Siberia (or immediately after his departure for Moscow).  Chirkin served as Bakhin’s chief of staff, first deputy commander of the Volga-Ural MD, before becoming Siberian MD Commander this year.

Sidenko is a submariner, and most of his career has been in the Pacific Fleet.  His experience as ‘Commander of Troops and Forces in the North-East’ is, interestingly enough, a little similar to Makarov’s late 1990s time as ‘Commander of Ground and Coastal Troops, Deputy Commander of the Baltic Fleet for Ground and Coastal Troops.’

Testing Army Reforms in Vostok-2010

Readers seem eager for anything they can get on Vostok-2010.  Here’s something. 

Russia’s largest maneuvers of the year, Vostok-2010, began June 29, and continue until July 8.  This broad-scale operational-strategic exercise (OSU or ОСУ) encompasses the Siberian and Far East MDs, as well as the Pacific Fleet—in other words, what will reportedly become the new Far East MD or operational-strategic command (OSK or ОСК) before the end of 2010.  

General Staff Chief, Army General Nikolay Makarov talked to RIA Novosti and ITAR-TASS at length about Vostok-2010 recently.  He said the Far East was chosen for its broad expanses, limited infrastructure, and difficult weather and climate.  Eleven combined arms, 3 air forces, and 4 naval training ranges will be used.  Makarov noted up to 20,000 soldiers, 2,500 weapons systems and pieces of equipment, 70 aircraft, and 30 ships will take part in the exercise. 

Makarov said Vostok-2010 will be a logical continuation of last year’s large training events.  Beyond Defense Ministry forces, operational groups and sub-units from the MVD, FSB, FSO, MChS, and FSIN will participate.

As is customary, Makarov said the maneuvers:

“. . . are not directed against any real country or military-political bloc.  They have an exclusively defensive orientation for ensuring the security and defense of the state’s interests on the Far East border against a notional enemy.”

And the exercise’s theme is:

“. . . preparation and employment of formations [military units] in a new TO&E structure to fulfill missions in isolated sectors to ensure the Russian Federation’s military security.”

Makarov said the maneuvers will:

  • Check the effectiveness of the newly-created three-level system of troop command and control;
  • Evaluate the readiness of new TO&E formations and military units to  conduct combat actions in isolated sectors in a constantly changing situation, as well as their mobility and combat possibilities;
  • Resolve training and command and control issues at the operational-strategic and operational level while conducting combat actions;       
  • Organize coordination of military command and control organs with the troops and military formations of other federal ministries and departments, and also local organs of executive authority in resolving joint missions; and
  • Investigate the capabilities of a unified system of material-technical support (MTO) which was created during the structural reformation of the army and fleet.

The exercise will include special operations, air defense and ship combat firings, and air and amphibious assaults.  Makarov said the RVSN will join the exercise play, but no ICBM training launches will occur.  Military transports will bring independent sub-units from the Moscow and Volga-Ural MDs to join the exercise, but they will draw their weapons and equipment from Siberian and Far East storage bases.

Makarov noted the participation of an unidentified number of Su-24M and Su-34 aircraft arriving from Central Russia during a direct flight with aerial refueling.   Black Sea Fleet flagship Slava-class CG Moskva and Northern Fleet Kirov-class CGN Petr Velikiy also completed long-range cruises to participate.

Makarov said new operational and operational-strategic level command and control posts will be used in the exercise, as will ‘fifth generation’ radio communications gear and future soldier systems under development at Sozvezdiye.  Iskander operational-tactical missiles and Russian-made UAVs will also be employed.

Siberian MD Commander, General-Lieutenant Vladimir Chirkin told Krasnaya zvezda the exercise will focus on defensive operations, but also special operations to localize and destroy irregular armed formations in several RF regions.  He said there will be more than a little new given that new combat regulations will be used.  He added:

“We’re moving away from linear tactics, from large-scale front operations.  As the experience of local wars and armed conflicts in recent years shows, there’s no need to utilize a massive quantity of forces and means to conduct front and army operations.”

In Nezavisimaya gazeta, Vladimir Mukhin focused on the logistics of Vostok-2010.  He noted Rear Services Chief, General-Colonel Dmitriy Bulgakov’s expectation that President Medvedev will soon issue a decree combining the jobs of Chief of Armaments and Chief of Rear Services.  And leaving First Deputy Defense Minister Popovkin’s old job vacant could be a hint of this.  After Vostok-2010, Mukhin expects a new deputy defense minister for material-technical support (MTO), presumably Bulgakov, to be appointed.

A lot of the activity before Vostok-2010 has apparently involved trying out new combat service and support arrangements.  A special logistics exercise tested the new MTO system.  And this year, according to Mukhin’s information, ten MTO brigades will be formed, one for each combined arms army.  The Railroad Troops will reportedly be downgraded to a directorate and each MD (OSK) will absorb the Railroad Troops units on their territory.

Krasnaya zvezda described these exercises.  Rear Services troops used 4,000 men, 30 units of different sizes, and 1,000 pieces of equipment in a pipeline-building exercise, training to repair damaged bridges over the Aga River, and refueling a brigade before its Onon River crossing.

General-Colonel Bulgakov talked about the new MTO regiments and the exercises.  He said they are permanent combat readiness units which have all necessary troops support structures and sub-units.  This was the first test of the new TO&E structure for logistics.  Based on the results, Bulgakov thinks this year the army can move from material support regiments (PMO) to material support brigades.  In every district (OSK), there will be a minimum of two, according to him.  Unlike regiments, material support brigades (BMOs?) will have repair and maintenance battalions.  Brigades were chosen to conform as much as possible to the prevailing three link ‘district-army-brigade’ command scheme.

Trud’s Mikhail Lukanin put Vostok-2010’s most difficult missions this way:

  • Moving troops great distances, including Siberian river crossings;
  • Supplying fuel, ammunition, and food to the area of combat actions;
  • Conducting an amphibious assault under enemy fire.

Prominent commentators view Vostok-2010 as a test of the success of Defense Minister Serdyukov’s army reforms.  Trud talked to independent defense analyst Aleksandr Khramchikhin who said:

“Military reform has gone on already for more than a year and a half, but there’s still no answer to the main question:  what have we gotten from it?  That is, after radical cuts in the officer ranks, the reorganization of military command and control organs, turning former divisions into combined arms brigades, are the Armed Forces capable of conducting modern combat actions.”

Anatoliy Tsyganok believes the army made a hash of Zapad-2009, with only 30 percent  of Russia’s maneuver brigades receiving good evaluations, most only satisfactory, and a handful unsatisfactory.  Presumably, he doesn’t expect to be more impressed by Vostok-2010.

GOMU Chief Smirnov Denies Plans to Increase Draft Term

Reacting to spreading rumors that the Defense Ministry intends to increase the current one-year draft term to 18 months, 2 years, or more, GOMU Chief Vasiliy Smirnov said Monday, “There’s no plan to increase the term of conscripted military service in the Russian Army.”

His denial came hard on the heels of General Staff Chief Makarov’s sudden public declaration that professional contract service has failed, at least for enlisted soldiers if not future sergeants, and the army will redouble its emphasis on drafted manpower.

Commenting in today’s Novaya gazeta, the chairwoman of Mother’s Right Veronika Marchenko says:

“If the Genshtab Chief is acknowledging the fact that the Genshtab is not capable of transferring the army to contract service, even though a corresponding [Federal] goal program was adopted, this is not cause to return to the draft system and increase the number of conscripts.  This is a reason to dismiss all the inept generals.”

That is a quaint sentiment, but it doesn’t work that way.  The generals always muttered that contractees wouldn’t work, and men inclined to evade simply had to be herded in.  They’ll say they were right all along.  The chiefs won’t suffer, only the indians.

More interesting, however, Marchenko thinks the rumors could be a trial balloon to gauge society’s reaction–if there’s no reaction, they might try to increase the service term again.

Another human rights organizer claims every 10th conscript is abused in some dehumanizing fashion.  She compares army service to life in a leper colony:

“It’s possible to live [there] ten years and not contract leprosy, or it’s possible for the irreparable to happen in one day.  The army today is potentially dangerous for the human system.”

Komsomolskaya pravda’s Viktor Baranets writes today that he’s amazed that it’s taken 20 years for generals like Makarov, Postnikov, and Chirkin to acknowledge that contract service is doomed.  He goes on:

“And how here can’t you believe that in the same manner in a year or two the Defense Ministry and Genshtab again will publicly ‘scratch their noodles’ and with a funereal sigh announce to us that the transfer of troops to the brigade system, and the transfer of the Navy Main Staff to Piter, and getting rid of warrant officers, and the reduction of almost 200 thousand officers were also mistakes?  But the strategists who reformed the army for no reason will by that time will be wearing pensioners’ slippers and courageously scribbling out their memoirs.”

This Russian (maybe even universal, bureaucratic) penchant for back-to-forth reform, reforms where process is everything and results are nothing is truly amazing and very evident in the armed forces.  But it’s everywhere even on the very same day.  Witness please Putin’s solemn announcement that he’s slashing the rolls of strategically important enterprises after many years of just as solemnly building up their ranks . . . what was the point?  What did they gain, what was accomplished?  Nothing.  It was a political drill to fend off clients desperate for money and bureaucratic attention, and their strategic status was, by and large, a sop.  End of digression.

What else on the topic of the moment?

Baranets.  He speculates the ‘death notice’ for contract service could be a first step backward on Serdyukov’s reforms.  He says there are now 70,000 contractees and contract-sergeants.  He believes in a year the Genshtab will increase conscription to 700-750 thousand guys annually, and they won’t become specialists in anything with demob always just around the corner.  So, he concludes, the rumors about a return to longer conscript service ain’t a coincidence.

Versiya has interesting coverage of the issue.  So Makarov says contract has failed, all sorts of other innovations in army service similarly haven’t brought the desired results.  Dedovshchina didn’t decrease, collecting the requisite quantity of servicemen will now be more complicated, the quality of soldier training has sharply declined.  And the number of conscripts in the ranks will grow.  Versiya asks:

“Can it be we’ll return to the Soviet model of an army which has been publicly declared ineffective in modern conditions?”

One-year service was supposed to eliminate dedovshchina, but General-Lieutenant Chirkin admits it didn’t.

Versiya’s versions:

  • First Version:  Return to Soviet-style manning.  Probability:  50 percent.
  • Second Version:  No alternative but contractees, this is just a pause.  Probability:  30 percent.
  • Third Version:  Course will be unchanged despite Makarov’s announcement.  Probability:  20 percent.

It sounds like Versiya really puts the odds of largely diverting from contract service at 50:50.