Russia Expands Ground Forces

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The war in Syria and the simmering conflict on the Donbass have tended to obscure significant changes within the Russian Ground Forces, namely the raising of new motorized rifle and tank divisions on the basis of permanent readiness brigades, the reactivation of regiments within existing reduced-strength divisions, and the creation of numerous artillery and air defense brigades and other non-divisional units apparently for inclusion in the combined arms and tank armies for which the new divisions are being intended.

News reports from just the last few weeks have identified the following units undergoing reactivation procedures:

The 42nd Guards Red Banner Evpatoriya Motorized Rifle Division, which is being rebuilt using two motorized rifle brigades stationed within the Republic of Chechnya, assigned to the 58th Army of the Southern Military District.

The 90th Guards Twice Red Banner Vitebsk-Novgorod Tank Division, being reconstituted on the basis of the 7th Guards Separate Tank Brigade stationed in Chelyabinsk Region and assigned to the Central Military District.

The 150th Order of Kutuzov Idritsa-Berlin Motorized Rifle Division, stationed in the Rostov Region and assigned to the Southern Military District.

The 10th Guards Red Banner Order of Suvorov, Kutuzov, and October Revolution Urals-Lvov Tank Division, assigned to the Western Military District and stationed in the Voronezh Region, near the border with Ukraine.  This division is being reformed using a divisional mobilization base.

Furthermore, the 4nd Guards Kantemirovskaya Tank Division and 2nd Guards Tamanskaya Motorized Divisions, stationed within the Western Military District in the vicinity of Moscow and assigned to the newly reformed 1st Guards Tank Army, have received an additional tank and motorized rifle regiment, respectively, to return them to full strength.

In all cases, the units follow divisional organizations roughly similar to late Soviet-era formations, with the tank divisions having 3 tank and 1 motorized rifle regiments and  motorized rifle divisions having 3 motorized rifle and 1 tank regiments. It has not been reported whether the individual regiments will similarly follow the standard 3 plus 1 mix of motorized rifle and tank battalions, though it appears likely they will do so.

The units will utilize the standard range of equipment used by Russian “heavy” forces, including T-90A and T-72B3 main battle tanks, BMP-3, BMP-2, and BTR-82 infantry fighting vehicles, 2S19 self-propelled howitzers, BM-21 multiple rocket launchers, plus self-propelled air defense gun and missile systems. Eventually the divisions will start receiving latest generation weapons that were first exhibited during the 2015 Victory Day Parade such as the T-14 MBT, Kurganets and Bumerang IFVs, T-15 heavy IFV, 2S35 Koalitsiya-SV self-propelled howitzer, as well as possible upgraded T-90AM and BMP-3M vehicles. While no re-equipment schedule has been announced, it seems highly likely the units of the 1st Guards Tank Army, which will form the Ground Forces’ strategic reserve to be used in decisive defensive and offensive operations, will enjoy the top priority in that regard.

The activation of these units is being accompanied by equally significant reinforcement of non-divisional formations, such as separate artillery, air defense, and combat engineer brigades and battalions that would naturally support the larger units during high-intensity combat operations conducted by the 1st Guards Tank and 20th Combined Arms armies. Separate motorized rifle and tank brigades that are not being converted into divisions have also had their troop and equipment strengths increased, and there are reports some of them will become all-volunteer for rapid reaction and possible expeditionary missions.

The fact these are costly, long-term investments in Russia’s security along its Western borders suggests that, in spite of the political changes in the West illustrated by the election of Donald J. Trump, Brexit, the Italian referendum, the Russian leadership does not necessarily view them as indicators of an irreversible and permanent change in Western policies away from regime change, “color revolutions”, and confrontation with Russia. EU, especially, is experiencing the worst crisis of its short existence, and the prospect of its disintegration is driving its elites to frame Russia as a threat to the EU’s through such means as, if Western media are to be believed, “hacking”, “propaganda”, and even “weaponizing giant squids” in order to preserve some semblance of European unity. The prospect of Ukraine’s collapse as a state has had the effect of increasing Ukrainian bombardments and provocations along the border with Novorossia. Finally, many in the US and indeed in Europe are correctly perceiving the recent developments in Aleppo as a victory for Russia and a defeat for themselves, which will naturally prompt them to “take revenge” elsewhere. The ongoing modernization and expansion of Ground Forces, by far the most important component of Russia’s conventional forces, indicates that the Kremlin is aware the crisis is not yet past. Indeed, it may not have even reached its peak yet.

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  • chris chuba

    Long term planning should never be derailed due to transient political gestures. I have to give the Iranians credit. It looks like they did two things right.

    1. In the JCPOA, they insisted on getting their $100B of frozen assets out in cash, in Euros and gold. They didn’t fall for the ‘rapproachment’ line. They anticipated that the U.S. would still make it hard for them to trade with Europe. That was brilliant. Commentators in the West were yacking that they did this because ‘cash cannot be traced for their nefarious terrorist plots’, rubbish, if you had your money frozen in a bank for 35yrs, you’d put it under a mattress too.

    2. In Iraq after we did regime change and installed democracy, what happened to the U.S. NGO’s like the National Endowment for Democracies? It looks like Iran knew the playbook and got there first. Maybe this is why the Neocons are so pissed off at them. The Russians really got taken in Eastern Europe but not the Iranians. I am really curious about why U.S. NGO’s failed to make any inroads in Iraq, not enough Arab speakers? Yeah, I know that Iraq is majority Shiite but it still looks like the Iranians beat them to the punch.

    • Brad Isherwood

      Chris. …you might find that Iran is moving in confused circles.
      Taking political gesture and slice of business deals while same time be humiliated and have their Elite class collect at Zurich banks while near Austerity at Home.

      Iran vs Saudi in Syria for shitty Idlib prov….the decades old seat of Muslim Brotherhood.
      Hezbollah paid in blood to help Syria…
      Yet get assassinate key commanders and IAF bomb weapons transfer. ..
      It’s like a Mob hit…..so who can do this when Russia watching?

      The mid east conflicts,
      We see them and debate them like here. ..
      And we know jack. …know what…..goes down… and why.

      The Patrician class on Rome’s Palatine hill….these Oligarchs arranged for marauders
      To breach Rome’s city gates. ..burn and ransack. ..then shorty
      The Senate meets to vote Legions go out to secure Roman Security.
      Gee….where have we seen this play before? ? [ 2001 …911 …New York ]

      Russia is very Strong….Stand off….distance from the mud pit fight.

      Iran….claw in dirt with Saudi for scraps while Erdogan Turkey maneuver for Silk Roads.

      Don’t blame Russia stand off and light a cigarette. ..pour a Vodka.
      These Mid east nations with grudge match. …best step aside and let them beat each other’s brains out. : )

    • Barba_Papa

      Iran, a country which neighbors Iraq, which knows that country (it used to be part of Persia), which has the holiest shrines of Shia Islam so hundreds of thousands of Iranians visit annually, where Iraqi Shia clerics go to study, which is one of the few friends in the region which the Shia dominated Iraqi government has amidst a sea of Sunni countries which would love nothing better then to bring the Iraqi Shia government down.

      As opposed to US NGO’s, who come from the other side of the world, from a culture which is renowned from being completely ignorant about the world outside of its borders, especially the Muslim world, and whose government had spent a decade putting Iraq under crippling sanctions and bombing the place.

      Yeah I can easily see why the Iranians had it so easy to make inroads into Iraq while the Americans were bungling around utterly clueless. Maybe the biggest mystery would be why the Bush administration and neo-cons expected any different outcome? That when you remove a Sunni dictator ruling over a Shia majority country then Iran would not only take advantage of that but see the regional balance of power shift in its favor. It’s not rocket science. I could see it coming before the 2003 invasion and who I but a nobody on the internet.

      Maybe I should apply for a job with Trump? It’s not like I could do a worse job as a security advisor.

      • Ronald

        Barba Papa : You are one of few who has a good understanding of Shia , Iran . Their priesthood , has made a lot of noise since the Revoluion of 79 , but the business class knows they have no idea how to run a country. Those Iranians are in LA 3-5 million , and the French Riviera , 5- 8 million . Now with the moderates gaining control of the government , they may return , and recharge their nation with funds . The Shia in Iraq were kept down economically by Saddam , so with a fresh start after his “fall” , new educational and economic options . Iran was the only one who really understood what the Iraqi government was up against , and so became a natural ally . They understand that their only hope for survival , is to defeat the Wahhabi Sunni’s of Saudi Arabia ( as in ISIS and Al Nusra ) in both Iraq and Syria . Leave the US no reason to be there .
        Sooner is better than latter .
        If Russia wants to create two long term allies to guard the Russian southern borders, this is a golden moment to see beyond Syria .

    • Southern

      In Iraq after we did regime change and installed democracy ????

      Please stop you’re killing me.

  • Jesus

    It’s good the Russians are beginning to organize and deploy large armed formations within the constraints of manpower limitations, being able to mobilize two armies comprising of several tank and motorized divisions for western deployment; this represents a strong deterrent, even an offensive threat to NATO, considering that Poland has a mere 1100 tanks and Germany has mothballed most of their Leopard 2 tanks having a few hundred that are active. All the hollering and boasting of NATO has awaken the sleepy bear.

  • Kell

    Re-armed with BM-21s?
    Wow the old stuffs still got it.

  • Ovuef2r

    Long time ago Germany was a divided country that, under Bismarck, made her unity by going to war with France in 1870. And nowadays Germany is the leading country of the EU..
    The differences are that Germans spoke all the same language and Merkel is not Bismarck (even if there are similarities between those two).
    The best thing to unite people is a common enemy…

  • Gabriel Hollows

    What’s the need for so many tanks? They’re only useful for bringing down fortifications and other tanks, things which infantry and air-power do better respectively.

  • paul

    Red Banner Evpatoriya Motorized Rifle Division, Twice Red Banner
    Vitebsk-Novgorod Tank Division, Order of Kutuzov
    Idritsa-Berlin Motorized Rifle Division – these are names
    filled with pride and lift the spirits. The heritage is clear and for
    sure these formations will be fighting units.

  • Drinas

    With the amount of rubles the Kremlin is willing to spend this task will prove difficult. Unfortunately the “Atlanticists” are still preventing any meaningful rearmament of Russia.

  • Vito

    italian referendum and brexit are not really significant of a change as their natural outcome , namely a change , is continuosly delayed by the ruling class in the countries to keep the existent status quo

  • Valery Grigoryev

    Gentlemen who can read Russian text, please, get the info:
    http://www.fontanka.ru/2015/10/16/118/

  • SmokyBlue

    South Front is a fake news site.

    • Christoph Weise

      Any idea where I could find a non-fake news site?

    • The Bandalar

      I won’t deny that I’ve seen some conspiratorial nonsense on SouthFront before… but the fact is that SouthFront is usually MUCH closer to the truth than standard western media with regards to Syria. If SouthFront is fake news, then every single western news outlet is also fake news.

      I think it’s important to read both sides to get a decent understanding of what is happening. I noticed you posted false information about the Russo/Georgian war on another thread – this is a perfect example of why you need to read both sides! See that thread for more details…

      • SmokyBlue

        You have definitely drunk the Kool-Aid, my friend. The Western media (BBC, Reuters, etc.) provide generally objective, well-researched news about international events. The BBC in particular has reporters on the ground just about everywhere in the world, reporters who are very close, if not intimately involved with their communities. SouthFront is an obvious tool of the Russian government (like RT, Sputnik and others). I am very familiar with the abhorrent actions of the Russians in both Georgia and Ukraine.

        • АЛЕКСАНДР ВЕЛИКИЙ

          “The Western media (BBC, Reuters, etc.) provide generally objective, well-researched news about international events.”

          Obvious troll is obvious. I like how you used two of the least-discredited (but still discredited) lame-stream media outlets as an example, nice try.

          • Tudor Miron

            That SmokyBlue guy is funny :) After reading “The Western media (BBC, Reuters, etc.) provide generally objective, well-researched news about international events” statement, I thought is is Podesta posting here :)

  • Ernst Lindenberg

    If there’s good reason to blame Russia something was their ability to block Maidan in Feb 2014. In future they have to be much better blocking Maidan in Minsk or anywhere near their strategic areas (Finland, Caucasus, Uzbekistan etc).

  • SOF

    ‘Weaponizing giant squids’ definitely came from C&C Red Alert 2. These guys aren’t creative.