Originally appeared at Izvestia; Translated by AlexD exclusively for SouthFront
Expeditionary units and combat hackers in the Russian Army
The Armed Forces in 2019 began to be stricter about the dress uniform and actively prepare for assignments abroad. For example, special expeditionary forces are being formed on the basis of Airborne Troops and Marine, which could be deployed to military bases anywhere in the world to perform humanitarian or, if necessary, military-political missions there. There were also separate teams of fighters against cyber attacks and computer viruses in the army. Also in the outgoing year, the Ministry of Defence put things in order in the wearing of medals and in working with secret information and dealt with the problem of the military personnel overwork.
First of all, helicopters
The Airborne Troops began to create airmobile units. The appearance of the paratroopers’ own helicopters was kind of a revolution, which can now be used without long negotiations. Experimental airmobile units have already passed a successful test during the “Centre-2019” exercise. And in the future, the airborne forces will have their own army aviation brigade.
The very purpose of the “winged infantry” has also changed. If earlier paratroopers were preparing to participate in large-scale military conflicts, now they are becoming universal soldiers. Airborne troops receive equipment for all occasions – from ATVs and armoured vehicles to tanks. If necessary, the Blue Berets can be deployed to any region of the world and operate there completely autonomously.
Agree on the shore
Units of the Marine Corps (MP) in 2019 were reformed as expeditionary forces. This decision was influenced by the experience gained in Syria: the “Black Berets” successfully organised the security and defence of the port of Tartous. Marine brigades received tanks and drones, and their numbers were significantly increased.
MP officers are now being trained for service abroad. They receive advanced language training and study Humanities. In the future, the Russian Marine is a diplomat, a peacemaker, a defender of Russian citizens abroad, and a guide of Moscow’s policy in unstable regions.
The army began to form special units to counter cyber attacks. Companies for localisation of cyber threats have already begun to serve, and next year special centres to combat cyber attacks in the districts will be formed. Their task will be to protect against viruses, as well as to prevent unauthorised access to networks and incidents affecting the information infrastructure. The centres will control both open and protected military communications lines.
In the future, the cyber centres will be combined into a global information security system that will protect all of the Ministry of Defence traffic.
Don’t wear more than two
In May, the rules for wearing dress uniforms changed significantly. Only five awards in two rows on the uniform are now allowed. That is, military personnel can attach no more than ten orders, medals and departmental heraldic signs on two bars on the left side of the tunic. It is forbidden to wear civil awards and signs of public organisations on the dress uniform. Previously, the uniforms of some officers were whole “iconostasis”; they were ironically called so in the army. It is this frivolous attitude to awards that did not contribute to the growth of officers’ authority and the prestige of the Armed Forces.
The personal example of the head of the military department, who received dozens of awards during his years in high positions, was displayed to his subordinates. On May 9, Sergei Shoigu went to the parade in uniform, which had only two rows of five most important orders and medals. In addition to the “Gold Star” of the Hero of Russia, the Minister’s ceremonial tunic was decorated with the Order of Aleksandr Nevsky and “for personal courage”, as well as other top awards.
Secrecy of defence
During the year, the tightening of the rules for working with classified information continued. The legislation is supposed to return the concept of “secret in the field of defence”. They will include information about the armament, acquisition and deployment of troops, as well as plans for mobilisation. In part, this is a return to Soviet practice: until the 1990s, the concept of state and military secrets were separate.
Also, the Ministry of Defence has developed amendments to the regulations for military and civilian personnel on access to classified top-secret information. They impose additional restrictions, for example, for most officers of the army and law enforcement agencies, as well as for employees of civil organisations (some divisions of the Russian Railways, courts, defence enterprises, etc.), the loss of access automatically means the loss of a position. And if an army officer without clearance does not find a place of service where it is not necessary to work with classified information, he will have to resign.
Take your greatcoat and go home
In the summer, the military department took care of the problem of overwork of officers. After numerous complaints from the troops, verifications were carried out, which confirmed that the chiefs regularly held meetings after the end of the working day, forcing subordinates to work on weekends and even on vacation. As a result, the Minister of Defence forbade to unjustifiably involve the personnel to carry out duties during off-duty time.
To ensure that these demands are not just words, control groups have begun to be set up in the district headquarters. They will be in charge of checking on the management at all levels. Using secure video channels (the military equivalent of Skype), they will be able to contact any commander and check whether he is holding a meeting at a late hour. If the boss ignores the call, he faces a penalty: for systematic violations, he can get a reprimand and even lose his position.