Wednesday, 4 December 2013
Russian army: One year of new life
A year ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the replacement of the head of the Ministry of Defense. Instead of Anatoly Serdyukov, Sergei Shoigu who used to head the Moscow region was appointed to the position. Shoigu's appointment came amid a scandal with the company "Oboronservis" involving those close to the former defense minister. However, Anatoly Serdyukov was one of the most disliked Russian ministers even before the scandal with "Oboronservis." Numerous critics blamed a failed (mildly put) reform of the armed forces on him. Experts commenting on the resignation of the previous defense minister noted that "Serdyukov has largely completed his task connected with the reform." "Another question is how well he has done it, and what was the price of the reform," noted a political analyst Alexei Zudin. Judging by the number of complaints about Anatoly Serdyukov that continue to this day, few believe that the changes were successful. The presidential choice is quite understandable. Sergei Shoigu virtually created one of the most effective agencies - the Ministry of Emergency Situations, and quite successfully managed it for years. There was every reason to believe that in his new position he would be able to succeed. Igor Korotchenko, chief editor of National Defense: "Over the past year the armed forces were strengthened on a number of fronts. This allowed to significantly change the morale in the army. What are the most notable achievements? First, the practice of unannounced combat readiness tests. Every single region, fleets, all types of the armed services were affected. This allowed evaluating the real state of the Army and its readiness to perform combat tasks at the outbreak of a war and adjusting plans for military construction. Second, the plan of the Ministry of Defense through 2020 was drawn up that provides for complete synchronization on the timing and volume of the activities, equipment of troops with modern military equipment, construction of infrastructure, training of officers, sergeants, and soldiers. It should also be noted that the decisions made today are aimed at a long-term vision of threats that may be relevant for Russia in the coming decades. This is a new structure of troops and re-creation of polar airfields for long-range aircraft. This is organization of naval groups on a permanent basis, for example, in the Mediterranean Sea. Incidentally, the enhancement of the military effort has allowed Russian diplomats to obtain favorable decisions on the situation around Syria. With the active participation of the defense minister Russia is now actively promoting its interests in the Arctic. This, in particular, is the campaign of the Northern Fleet at the New Siberian Islands and the restoration of the military airport in the area. There was a further humanization of military service. For example, at the initiative of the Minister, showers are being built in every unit, every barrack. A new and improved uniform was introduced. Buffets are also being introduced. The positive picture of the army's movement forward is compiled of such large and small details. Today, the problem of combat training has been fully solved, large-scale exercises are held, and living and service conditions of personnel are improving. Scientific units have been created as a new element of the opportunity to make a career in the military. The competition to enter these units is 12 people for one spot. The most important thing is the change of the society's attitude towards the army. Today it is seen as a prestigious social institution, as an opportunity for further career development where draft military service is a mandatory step. Serving in the army is prestigious again, and this is largely due to the changes Sergei Shoigu as the defense minister has implemented." Andrei Krasov, a member of the State Duma Defense Committee: "The staff structure began to change. (Under the previous minister) divisions were reorganized into brigades, but the main goal, combat readiness, has not been achieved. Now we have not a reverse transition, but rather, creation, establishment of partially divisional composition. The task at hand was re-equipment of our armed forces. Remember the issues we faced in this area, the state defense orders were constantly disrupted. Now there are no disputes. There are certainly problematic issues, including those between the Ministry of Defense and representatives of the military- industrial complex. The troops started combat training. Although, it should be noted that the first steps to release the troops from, say, the work that they did not have to deal with, were made by Shoigu's predecessors. But large-scale strategic exercises are the steps first made under the new Minister of Defense. Unannounced and planned inspections of troops are the same story, like a redeployment of troops from one theater of operations to another. If we want a strong army, it should be kept on its toes and constantly engaged in combat training."