On a new configuration of the RF Armed Forces

On a new configuration of the RF Armed Forces – Russian Federation

Col. Gen. A.S. Rukshin

The drastic shifts in the military-political situation in the world as well as in Russia’s geostrategic position brought about changes in both the range and vector of threats to national security. In this context, there is a pressing need to review the approaches toward ensuring the security of the Russian Federation and forging a new-look configuration of the military, responsive to present-day challenges.

Theoretically, the configuration of the Armed Forces is understood as an aggregate of certain quantitative and qualitative indicators characterizing: the structure of the Armed Forces, branches and arms of service, troops outside the existing branches and arms of service, and rear services; their composition; the numerical strength of military servicemen as a whole and by the category, including enlisted personnel and contract servicemen; the extent of technical equipment; the composition and status of command and control, manpower acquisition, personnel training, mobilization (personnel and materiel mobilization), and combat systems as well as military infrastructure and the logistic and service support system.

It is important to note that configuration of the Armed Forces is contingent on a number of external and internal circumstances. Thus, in the military-political and operational-strategic sphere, it comes through above all in the lineup of military-political forces in the world; the existence of military threats to the state’s national interests; the substance of the sides’ military-doctrinal guidelines; the character of armed conflicts; the composition and status of actual and virtual groups of forces of a possible adversary on continental and maritime theaters of operation; the orientation of operational training and force development; development of military infrastructure, arms and military equipment, and so forth. The impact of social and financial-economic factors is predicated on the state’s ability to meet military needs for various types of resources both in peacetime and in wartime. There are also other factors in force development, including prioritization of development of particular branches and arms of service.

Thus, the composition, structure, numerical strength of the Armed Forces, their technical equipment, and operational and combat training are predicated on objective circumstances and conditions, the place and role of the state in the world community, and the system of international relations. Changes occurring here (say, in the geopolitical or military-political situation) lead to a certain imbalance between the parameters of the Armed Forces and the tasks that are entrusted to them. Thus military reform becomes an objective necessity.

All of the aforementioned fully applies to the situation in Russia and its Armed Forces. The main factors in RF military reform are as follows.

First, in the past 10 to 15 years, the balance of military -political forces in the international arena has changed drastically. The world is seeing major geostrategic shifts and the evolution of a new global and regional security system. This is accompanied by, on one hand, a deepening of international integration and formation of a global economic and information area, and on the other, by a stronger competition between the world’s economic and military-political powerhouses (the United States, the advanced countries of Europe and the Asia-Pacific region).

Amid a generally declining probability of a large-scale war against the Russian Federation, there is a growing danger of the aggravation of existing or outbreak of new armed conflicts on the local level with the possible involvement of Russia and its allies. Meanwhile, threats to the state’s national security in the defense sphere are becoming increasingly complex, when, in addition to purely military threats, there are military-technical, military-economic, information and other non-conventional external challenges. The military-political situation in some parts of the world is seriously affected by the growing scale of international terrorism, arms and drug trafficking, separatism, and national and religious extremism. This also holds true for the Russian Federation.

Second, changes in the forms and methods of warfare. The emergence of new types of weapons, wide use of precision guided weapons of mass destruction and modern information technology in command and control systems (especially those operating in real time) as well as the need to ensure close interaction and teamwork of forces (troops) on the interagency and inter-branch level required not only a review of the forms and methods of their employment, but also corresponding restructuring in the organizational, military-technical, and other spheres.

Third, serious problems in the condition of the stocks of arms and military equipment, caused by the negative trends of the last several years (a substantial amount of arms and military equipment is unserviseable with the share of modern combat systems being less than 30 percent). The main reason for this is the insufficient financial and economic support for the Armed Forces. Ever since 1992 not more than 60 percent to 65 percent of their minimum financial needs have been met on the legislative level while under 80 percent to 85 percent of the appropriations approved were actually provided. As a result, the distribution of national defense spending was deformed and biased strongly in favor of maintenance of the Armed Forces (up to 70 percent) at the expense of their development. This impeded modernization of arms and military equipment and the replacement of obsolete models.

Furthermore, there was a pressing need to reform the military, enabling it to effectively ensure Russia’s security, especially in light of a worsening demographic situation in the country with the resultant shrinkage of the draft base, and the declining prestige of military service, affecting the manning levels in the military.

What is our vision of a new configuration of the Armed Forces?

First, they should have a three-branch structure, allowing for an integrated employment of troops (forces) by the spheres of warfare–land, air (space), and the sea. Combat operations should have an inter-branch character.

Second, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation should comprise mobile general-purpose forces featuring great firepower, based on standby units, capable of effectively responding to emerging threats and rapidly building up efforts in all strategic sectors. Strategic nuclear forces as an element of political impact should be maintained at a minimum sufficiency level effectively deterring nuclear or large-scale conventional war against Russia or its allies.

Third, a new configuration of the Armed Forces should ensure a high level of manning with professional, well trained personnel and an appropriate provision of arms and military equipment (while the share of modem weapon models should be raised to 60 percent to 70 percent).

At present the work on reforming the military is underway. Basic guidelines on force development (formation of a new configuration of the Armed Forces) were laid down in resolutions by the RF Security Council, whose sessions were held in August and November 2000. They are also reflected in the Plan of the Organizational Development of the Armed Forces for the 2001-2005 Period, the State Arms Procurement Program for the 2001-2010 Period, the Basic Principles of RF State Policy on Force Development until 2010, and other documents, approved by the RF president.

From the vantage point of today there is good reason to say that over the past two years headway has been made toward achieving a number of parameters of a new-look military:

— as of 2001, the Armed Forces were reorganized as a three-branch structure (the Ground Forces, the Air Force, and the Navy). Such a branch of service as the Strategic Missile Forces (RVSN) was reorganized as two arms: the Strategic Rocket Forces and the Space Force. The latter, as a separate arm, was necessitated by the growing role of space in ensuring Russia’s military security, laying the groundwork for the employment of space based assets in the interest of all branches and arms of service;

— the Main Ground Force Command was restored, ensuring centralization of command and control of this branch of service, including its development and a unified personnel, military-technical and military-scientific policy;

— the system of central command and control agencies has been brought in line with the structure, composition, and numerical strength of the Armed Forces; on the strategic level, command and control activity by MoD senior personnel has been integrated into a unified area;

— military-administrative division of RF territory and the number of military districts (the Volga and Ural Military Districts have been merged into the Volga-Ural Military District) have been optimized;

— substantial organizational work has been accomplished in the Air Force, the Navy, various arms of service, logistics and rear service components, and other elements of the Armed Forces; a lot of effort has been deployed to eliminate duplicating and overlapping structures, thus ensuring a considerable economy of financial resources;

— formation of groups of forces (troops) in strategic sectors has been completed and they were further reinforced, above all to neutralize the threat to Russia in the Northern Caucasus and Central Asia;

— effective measures are being implemented to improve the standards of operational and combat training of staffs and troops (forces), including full-scale army (navy) exercises.

In the military-technical policy sphere, work is in progress to build state-of-the-art models of arms and military equipment, up to the finest world standards. Meanwhile, the existing weapons and military equipment are being modernized and a groundwork is being laid for series production of modem arms and military equipment, primarily for standby troops, on alert duty.

In the sphere of military training, the first stage of the Military Training Reform in the Russian Federation until 2010 federal problem has begun. Its implementation will help bring the quantitative and qualitative parameters of the military training system in line with the tasks, structure, and composition of the Armed Forces, other troops and military formations and command and control bodies.

Much work is in hand on upgrading the manpower acquisition and force development system through a stage by stage transition to a predominantly contract based service system. At present, pursuant to directives and executive orders by the RF president and the RF government, an appropriate federal program is being drafted. It is to be finalized by mid-2003, and its implementation is to be begin in early 2004.

As of July 2002, an array of measures began to be implemented in the social sphere, designed to enhance the status and prestige of military service, including the raising of servicemen’s salaries to those of public sector employees while a lot of effort is being deployed to promote housing mortgage schemes and provide official housing for servicemen.

These are only first steps in building a base for a new-look military. Sure, work is underway also in other vital spheres of force development. We realize that this process is far from smooth. The effectiveness of these efforts will to a very large extent be predicated on the state’s economic capability, including its defense industry. As the financial-economic situation in Russia stabilizes, there will be a good chance to upgrade the operational effectiveness of the RF Armed Forces.

Aleksandr Sergeevich RUKHSIN, born April 1, 1949, in the town of Bar, Vinnitsa Oblast; graduated from the Kiev Higher Military Command School (1972), the M.V. Frunze Military Academy (1978), the Military Academy of the General Staff (1990); worked his way up from platoon commander to chief of staff–first deputy army commander; member of the General Staff since 1992 (first deputy department chief, department chief, deputy chief of the Main Operations Directorate, first deputy chief of the Main Operations Directorate); since September 2001, chief of the Main Operations Directorate, deputy chief of the General Staff of the RF Armed Forces.

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