Minister on the Line of Fire

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Sergei Shoigu returned might and integrity to the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation

On the 6th of November 2015 it was three years since Sergei Shoigu became the head of the Russian Ministry of Defence. After scandalous reforms and reduction of Army personal, closing down of military academies, a catastrophic fall in the prestige of military service, the appointment of the EMERCOM head for the position of the Defence Minister didn’t cause any major discussions in the society. Everybody understood: it won’t get any worse. Three years later, and we can now appreciate just how appropriate the President’s decision was.

Substantial changes happened in the structure of the Russian Armed Forces. A new corps appeared in the Russian military structure in 2015 – the Airspace Forces.

Since 2013 eight new operational joint task forces were created, over 25 divisions (joint military divisions, aviation divisions, AA defence divisions, naval surface vessels’ divisions) and 15 brigades.

The control system of the Russian Armed Forces is continued to be improved. For the improvement of the said system’s effectiveness, a National Defence Control Centre of the Russian Federation has been created. It allows the Kremlin to not only watch the global situation, but also provides real-time effective control of the entire Russian military might.

In the military districts, regional and territorial centers were created, whose purpose in the same as the NDCC. They complete the system down to and including an operational detachment.
Minister on the Line of Fire

Originally appeared at VPK, translated by Comrade Korolyov exclusively for SouthFront

Combat readiness

Since 2012 and up to 2015 the amount of training exercises has increased to twice its pre-2012 value (from 423 to 866). All of them were inter-corps exercises and were conducted in the way that ensured maximum realism. They were also designed in such a way, that every corps would have a task relevant to its main purpose in a realistic combat scenario.

Intensification of combat drills allowed to increase the flight-hours of the Air Force crews by 129%, hours spent at sea of surface naval vessel crews by 117%, parachute jumps of the military personal by 5%.

The main training events were combat drills of the Russian military on its strategic fronts (“West-2013”, “East-2014”, “Centre-2015”) and also combined drills of the Commonwealth of Independent States (Soviet Union’s Republics’ organisation established in the nineties).

There was an increase in the intensity of the operational readiness events and drills. In 2012 there were 423 such drills, in 2013 – 548, in 2014 – 781, in 2015 – 866.

Since 2013 and up to 2015 the number of flights of the Russian strategic long-range aviation increased by 15%.

The Russian Navy vessels increased their combat patrols from 55 to 125 in the same time period.

Since 2013 the military is not the only one taking part in such drills, but also the Ministry of Internal Affairs and various organs of other Russian state security organisations on the federal, regional and local scale.

Defence budget

The state defence budget is now being properly financed and is a priority. Controlling functions over the timely completion of the Defense Ministry’s orders by various industries were created, as well as acceptance of the new technologies and armaments, military and specialist technology and vehicles were organised.

Since 2012 by 2015, budget assignations’ growth for the state’s defence orders (2.6 times the original value) to the industries was ensured, as well as production and modernization of over 17 000 units of military vehicles and other technology.

The main nomenclatures of the Russian military show that in the last three years over 15.8 thousand units of new and prospective armaments and vehicles were released.

The completion of the state defence order will allow to finish rearming of the 207 military units of various types (joint forces, separate units and their structural detachments) by the end of the year.

According to the results of the conducted events done to rearm the Armed Forces of Russia in 2015, the fraction of modern technology and vehicles will be increased by 23.4% compared to 2014, and will now comprise 49.4% (in 2014 – 26%).

A new concept of inter-corps control system was developed in 2015, as well as the new edition of the state defence order Federal Law. An innovative control mechanism of the budget’s finances’ spending was suggested. It is based on using the information from various structures that are taking part in completing the state defence order.

As of the 1st of September, the new law is now being practically applied and in force.

The results of the work done so far for the Ministry of Defence:

  • Receiving the information about the finances movement online
  • Evaluating the quality of the resulting cooperation
  • Planning an appropriate investment policy

Recruiting for the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation

Serious work has been done by the Ministry of Defence to form new ways of recruiting members of the public to serve in the Armed Forces. The main focus was to increase the quality of selection, preparation and further service of the contract servicemen.

Soldiers’ and sergeant’s trades’ vacancy filling is accomplished through modernizing the conscription system, as well as increasing the number of contract professional servicemen. As of 2012, no less than 50 000 citizens become professional contract servicemen each year. Therefore, by the end of this year, the total number of contract servicemen will reach 352 thousand people.

Trades, that are vital for combat capacity of a military unit, as well as specialist trades that provide maintenance and running of complex military technology and vehicles are the first priority, when it comes to recruiting contract professional servicemen.

The work to maximize the scientific and sports potential of Russian citizens that begun in 2013, is continued. In compliance with the orders of the president of the Russian Federation, 12 science companies and 4 sports companies were created. Servicemen in those units have established themselves as effective specialists, showed high results in the latest Olympic Games.

Logistics

To modernize and optimize armaments’, rockets’ and munitions’ warehouses, 390 (from those 264 just in 2015) out of 580 warehouses were built. The rest will be commissioned in 2016. In those warehouses there will be about 400 000 tonnes of munitions (currently – over 45 000 tonnes).

All warehouses are equipped with hi-tech modern security systems, as well as fully mechanized. They also allow to exclude any external effects on the munitions, ensure their safety and protection from explosions and fires, and – if the need arises – stop the fires from spreading to other objects.

The building of new 22 modern fuelling complexes is being continued, they are in full agreement with international standards. In 2014 there were 3 such complexes built, in 2015 – they were completed on 5 more airfields. Oil companies invested in the construction of new and reconstruction of old Soviet facilities over 12 billion rubles.

In accordance with the development plan of the Armed Forces, instead of 330 existing bases and storage facilities that are now morally and physically obsolete, the first one of 24 new industrial logistical complexes is being built in Naro-Fominsk. It is being planned to finish the construction by the end of 2016. By 2020, 23 more such complexes will be constructed and equipped with the most modern means of accounting for and working with various types of cargo. They will form the unified logistical system of storing materials and technology for the Armed Forces.

This year, in addition to the 15 existing full-life-cycle field camps (APL-500), on the testing grounds of military districts there were added 10 more (each able to house 5 thousand people). This allowed to include the testing grounds for combat training throughout the year and autonomously organize the life support of servicemen living on site.

There are new parking zones being built for the newly commissioned military vehicles. For this, the heated fast-construction shelters are being used.

Construction readiness of buildings and launch facilities for new space launchers that are entering their combat service is ensured. The commissioned infrastructure allowed the missile and rocket divisions to proceed to their combat duties on schedule.

Launch facilities for “Angara” rocket launcher are completed on the Plesetsk cosmodrome.

Construction of the “geoport” in Novorossiysk is ahead of schedule. Completion is scheduled in 2017.

Arctic infrastructure

In the 2015’s navigational period, for the units located in 156 toughly reached regions of the Far North, Siberia and the Far East, where over 21 thousand servicemen and their families live, more than 130 thousand tonnes of various cargo were delivered on schedule. It is guaranteed that the supplies will not run out until the 2016’s navigational period.

To house personal of the forming military units in the Arctic (town of Rogachyovo of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, islands of Zelmya Alexandry of the Zemlya Franza-Iosifa archipelago, Sredniy of the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago, Kotel’niy of the Novosibirskie ostrova archipelago, Vrangel and Schmidt cape) 337 objects of military infrastructure are being constructed. To supply the construction projects, there were over 80 thousand tonnes of building materials shipped to the sites by air and sea in 2015 (50 thousand tonnes more, than in 2014). The main work on the combat objects and housing for the personal is done, construction and equipment of maintenance positions, parking and storage zones are continuing.

A special attention should be given to the work done this year in ecologically cleaning the regions and territories of the future military units, as well as the ecological cleaning of abandoned garrisons, military testing grounds of the Arctic. Nothing of the kind was done since the break-up of the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, over 446 hectares of land is polluted in the Arctic, over 65 thousand tonnes of non-recycled metal have been accumulated. To clean the territory, there were detachments of liquidation of ecological damage formed in 2015. The result of their work so far: 78 hectares of land were cleaned, 4.3 thousand tonnes of metal scraps were collected (135% of the plan for the year), 1.8 thousand tonnes were already transported away, the rest are awaiting shipment to the continent in 2016.

Life quality of the troops

In the times of the USSR, the living quality of military personal was the second priority. During the leadership of Sergei Shoigu, it became one of the priorities. By 2020 it is planned to modernise and improve the life quality in 519 towns and cities that house military servicemen. 104 of those were already completed. In faraway territories cultural and entertainment centers are being built, with cinemas, cafes, libraries and shops.

There is an increase in the number of military education and medicine objects that underwent a thorough examination and modernisation, infrastructure elements were either reconstructed or built to replace the existing ones.

A special topic is, of course, living quarters. On 1st January 2012, the queue for living quarters was comprised of 82.4 thousand servicemen. In 2012-2015 there were 52 thousand more people that joined the waiting line.

In the same time period, permanent housing was given to 95.9 thousand servicemen. As of now, in the housing queue there are 31.1 thousand servicemen, which means the waiting line was reduced by 2.6 times.

Financial support

Existing law accounts for annual indexation of financial support. However, ever since 2012, it was not conducted. Nonetheless, Russian Ministry of Defence managed to save the level of financial support of its employees. It is not lower than salaries and wages employees of leading economy spheres receive for their work (on average in 2014 – 58.8 thousand rubles).

In 2012, the average level of military monthly wage comprised 57 800 rubles, in 2013 – 59 900 rubles, in 2014 – 62 100 rubles.

Even though the Russian Ministry of Finances is now optimizing the budget, the Russian Ministry of Defence doesn’t plan to cancel separate payments that would lead to lowering of the monthly wage.

As a result of lowering the number of servicemen under the command of military commanders, there are now seven times less servicemen per one single commander: 6200 people (compared to 46.6 thousand as of 1st January 2013). The finances that were freed up in the process were redirected to housing payments of servicemen who were discharged or are in reserve in 2014 – 26.5 billion rubles.

Thanks to the effective policy of optimization of Russian military structure and recruiting new personal, to aid the financial stimulation, the Ministry of Defence made decisions to introduce extra payments that account for specialist conditions of service for certain categories of servicemen.

Currently, there are monthly wage additions for the servicemen who serve in the units fully comprised from professional contract service, and also servicemen of the Arctic Military Group (from 2500 to 10000 rubles).

As of 2012, the Ministry of Defence organised the carrying out of presidential order #597. The result is increase in wages of separate certain categories of workers (to 100 and 200 per cent from average wage in the respective subjective district of the Russian Federation), that are serving in military medical institutions, military education facilities, science and culture, based on the quality and effectiveness of the said institutions.

In 2013-2014 the wages of the said categories of workers were on average observed at 56 400 rubles for scientists, 50 500 for doctors, 32 500 for junior medical and nursing staff, professors and lecturers – 57 500, cultural workers – 41 400.

Payments were centralised through United Financial Defence Ministry Centre, financial payment facilities were installed in the military units’ places of location. Maximum proximity of financial workers to military personal allows for quick operational decisions on the financial front.

Financial transparency

Full-scaled annual inventoriation allowed to provide reliable accounting and minimize the excess and lack of materials for the military. Today, the cases are isolated.

The Russian government constantly monitors and analyses the completion of all state contacts, which allows:

  • To prevent sabotage
  • Minimize risks of non-completion
  • Get rid of negative factors
  • Timely decision-making about controlling the flow of free finances into priorities objectives.

In 2014 the Ministry of Defence achieved one of the highest indicators in useful spending of federal budget (99.97%). Thus, the created system allows for transparency of monetary flows and lets us to solve tasks and problems in full and timely financing of military formations in various situations, including emergencies and sudden problems.

Since 2014, the Ministry of Defence started to realize the “Effective Army” program, which now unites the most prioritized investing, social, scientific and innovatory projects in the areas of logistics, construction and social development. Their realization must increase the effective spending of military budget in specific areas of interest of the Defence Ministry.

A new compulsory analysis of economic effectiveness of major-scale projects was introduced. A positive evaluation was given to the following, as a result of a financial-economic expertise:

  • Construction of arsenals (bases, storage facilities) for storing rockets (munitions)
  • Instalment of communal services consumption registry devices
  • Handing down of unoccupied military property to municipal ownership

Since 2013, all military construction up until 2021 are strictly synchronized and tied to the Plan of construction and development of the Armed Forces.

Rearming of the military with the newest technology and vehicles, recruiting and creation of infrastructural objects are also synchronized with available finances.

Military education

The Defence Ministry’s educational network includes 26 military educational facilities. Only since 2013 eleven new military universities were created out of former Military Educational National Centres. Over 11 thousand people each year are admitted to the military academies of Russia. In some, there are 26 people competing for 1 available student position.

Pre-tertiary military education of the youth is achieved through seven institutes and cadet units. These are Kyzylsk, Vladivostok and Sevastopol presidential cadet units, Perm and North-Caucasian Suvorov’s cadet units, Omsk and Aksaisk Cossack cadet units.

New railroad

To comply with presidential order #196 of 17th April 2015, units of Railroad Troops are constructing a new two-way electrified railroad from Zhuravka to Millerovo from 11th to 52.4th kilometre. There were 4 million cubic meters of ground lifted and transported already.

As per president’s orders, the Southern military district railroad brigade has completed the demining and cleaning of the ground sheet and redirection line. This was done in the process of reconstruction of the Abkhazian railroad and consisted of rebuilding 33 km and 24 buildings and objects, including 14 large and medium-sized railroad bridges (total length – 1100 metres).

We can give more factual examples, but it is already evident, that in three years and enormous amount of work has been done to solidify the image and authority of the Armed Forces. It would have been impossible to achieve without the new head of the military. Sergei Shoigu once confessed that these were, probably, the most difficult days of his life. By pure chance he found himself at the frontline fighting for a new image of the Armed Forces and he won the battle for its honor and dignity, for its high professionalism and combat readiness.

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