Russias declining might by fdh56iuoui


									  r uss i a

                     In the near future, quality will not replace
                     quantity in the Russian Army, with cuts to
                      the absolute numbers of staff, garrisons,
                     bases, and equipment. New technological
                    solutions capable of delivering a sea-change
                      in conventional weaponry remain in the
                        distant future – and with the current
                        resourcing they might be altogether
                                beyond the horizon. >
                                 BY JUKK A HELLBERG, COLONEL (RE T )

2       SOTILAS
 SUOMENSUOMEN SOTILAS 6 • 2009                                         SUOMEN SOTILAS
   r uss i a

                                                                                                                  In a real crisis, a state like Russia may be capable of increasing
                                                                                                                  its military potential faster than generally perceived. This is no
                                                                                                                  longer possible in complete secrecy and without reactions abroad,

             he considerable technologi-      activity and corruption, and to a degree
             cal backwardness of Russia’s     Russia’s new openness in internation-
             armed forces came to light       al politics. Russia’s perceived threat sce-
             over a century and a half ago    narios have changed to more inert ones,
             in the Crimean War. The need     and are now better based in concrete re-
             to defend the whole imperi-      ality in support of the political decision-
             um and the oversight in de-      making. For the Western world, this new
             veloping a railroad network      international orientation of Russia is
             prevented the generals from      positive development. One hopes that
             concentrating sufficient for-    in this process the quality of the inter-
ces in the Crimea. In 1853 the Imperial       change is at least as important as quan-
Army could only issue one musket for          tity.
every two soldiers, and only four per
cent of the infantry had a proper rifle. A
technological divide had opened up bet-       A new look
ween Russia and the West, with radical        Russian Ministry of Defence’s latest re-
reforms the only potential remedy. The        form design builds on the national se-
problem only got worse, however, and              curity strategy and military doctrine
in the following century the                               until 2020, to be implement-
Russo-Japanese War, and                                       ed in 2009-2012. During
the First World War pro-                                         this time, the plan is to
ved the Czar’s army was                                           streamline and mod-
insufficient as a fighting                                         ernise the Russian
force.                                                             armed forces in sweep-
    Has there really not                                          ing and swift steps. The
been any change in over                                           deepest and potentially
a century? Various, often                                       most painful impact will
incomplete reforms have                                        be felt in the officer corps,
gone on for almost two dec-                                  the organisational struc-
ades, practically for the whole                            ture, acquisition programs,
existence of the “new” Russia.                           and the garrisons. In many as-
Nearly every attempt has culmi-                      pects the reforms are modeled af-
nated in reductions to staff and bas-             ter the West, especially the United
es, coinciding with end of life of a weap-    States. If the changes can be successfully
ons system. The mid-nineties saw the          implemented in full – which is doubtful
release of more than 100 000 officers in      in light of e.g. the social impact – the de-
a single year, a situation which nearly re-   velopments would be historically posi-
sulted in a societal meltdown. Today, the     tive. Were that the case, one could rea-
reform debate is open, passionate, and        sonably draw the tentative conclusion
in part very critical in the Russian media    that Russia is moving from plain power
– both for and against. However, no-one       politics towards the bumpy road of in-
has cast into doubt the need for or the       ternational co-operation. The military
continued existence of Russian armed          action in Georgia last August did not
forces.                                       slow Russia’s process of international-
                                                                                               WASHINGTON TIMES

    The main drivers for the reduction-       isation: in the grand scheme of things,
ist reforms are the armed forces’ chronic     the international community does dis-
budget deficit, the endogenous criminal       tinguish between the minor and major, >

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                                                                                                                                                The embattled                                                                Finland’s
                                                                                                                                                   morals                                                                 stable security

                                                                                                                                               n the beginning of the 18th   the most worrying fact is that even
                                                                                                                                               century Peter the Great       the stern measures of the recent           The military security environment
                                                                                                                                               modernised the govern-        past have in practice failed to yield      immediately surrounding Fin-
                                                                                                                                               ment, but the reforms were    any improvement whatsoever. Sta-           land (Leningrad military district,
                                                                                                                                               improvised and rather ill-    tistics show that under the agency         Northern Fleet) has stabilised for
                                                                                                                                               conceived. He did un-          of other important bodies, e.g. the       a number of reasons recently. To-
                                                                                                                                     derstand, however,                                     Ministry of Internal        day Russia can be read, thanks to
                                                                                                                                     that the corruption                                     Affairs, illegal activi-   e.g. the open electronic communi-
                                                                                                                                     and tax evasion                                           ties have been sig-      cations, like an open book. Signif-
                                                                                                                                     must be eradicat-                                         nificantly reduced.      icant reductions in the surround-
                                                                                                                                     ed. To this task he                                       Measures continue        ing military strength will not be
                                                                                                                                     appointed in 1711                                        to be implemented,        made, due to the simple fact that
                                                                                                                                     a body of nine ad-                                       however, and in the       there is no more “redundant” mil-
                                                                                                                                     visors, led by chief                                    long run improve-          itary. Russia does not want to re-
                                                                                                                                     fiscal Nesterov, but                                 ment is inevitable. The       duce its security level near zero
                                                                                                                                     even he was later ex-                                investigative authori-        even on its north-west border.
                                                                                                                                     ecuted for corruption.                               ties and the judiciary        The current deployable strength,
                                                                                                                                     Corruption in Russia is,                          are picking up, as evinced       their quality or quantity notwith-
                                                                                                                                     like in Italy, in the blood, now              by increase in the number of         standing, is allegedly “sufficient to
                                                                                                                                     and in the future. The defense ad-      crimes revealed, and soon the high-        prepare for a potential sometime
                                                                                                                                     ministration and the subordinate        est officers, the admirals and the         threat”. In light of the quantity and
                                                                                                                                     armed forces are by no means ex-        generals, may no longer be un-             quality of the positioned Russian
                                                                                                                                     empt from this rule.                    touchable.                                 troops, the border we share can at
                                               important and less so events that have    er strongly defined by its relationship         In the Russian armed forces,                                                   least in the immediate future be
                                               taken place. None of the great pow-       with the U.S.                               criminality and corruption are eve-     JH                                         considered a haven of tranquility.
                                               ers is going to willingly give up their                                               ryday. For the Ministry of Defence,                                                A joint military exercise would at
                             In any case,      present or potentially attainable pre-
                                               rogatives. Thus it is more than appro-    No news from the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        least cut the dull.

                             Russia’s          priate for them to uphold Russia as a     Eastern front                                                                                                                  JH
                                               co-operative partner.                     Russia’s updated military doctrine
                             behavior in           Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the   considers a large-scale war scenar-
                                               Security Council of Russia, has stated    io very unlikely, but does not rule it
                             foreign and       that a new military doctrine, updat-      out. The armed forces are developed
                                               ed from the year 2000 version, will be    with the prevention and containment
                             military policy   ready by the end of 2009. Information     of locally occurring wars and armed

                             matters is        that has so far been made public has
                                               it that the revision does not contain
                                                                                         conflicts in mind. The use of tacti-
                                                                                         cal nuclear weapons in local conflict
                             rather strongly   radically new or unprecedented con-
                                               tent. Russia continues to seek a stra-
                                                                                         is deemed possible. The strategic nu-
                                                                                         clear armament is considered a deter-
                             defined by its    tegic parity with the United States and   rent, but pre-emptive use may be con-
                                               wants equal status in international       sidered in face of “a critical threat to
                             relationship      decision-making. Conflictingly, Rus-      national security”. In countering ter-
                                               sia holds the U.S. as a strategic part-   rorism, emphasis is placed on “skill,
                             with the US.”     ner, but on the other hand views the      not numbers”, in other words, special
                                               U.S. and its allies as a potential ene-   forces and equipment and precision
                                               my and global troublemakers. In this      strikes at terrorists’ pressure points,
                                               context Russia does not want its sta-     for example their sources of funding.
                                               tus as a great power disputed in polit-   In the development and upkeep of the
                                               ical, economic, nor military terms. In    defense industry, the old purely scien-
                                               any case, Russia’s behavior in foreign    tific and technological perspective is to
                                               and military policy matters is rath-      be augmented with a socioeconomic >

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and humanitarian viewpoint. Improve-          negligible, even negative in some sec-       vate criminal gain by military and civ-      id change can be funded and managed.        ever, the true current strength is already
ments to the social well-being of the         tors of the armed forces. This year’s de-    il personnel, and sizable criminal cases         The idea of a lighter organisation-     significantly less than that, six to eight
hundreds of thousands of defense in-          fense budget is about 32 billion euros,      regarding state purchases are frequent-      al model is already a decade old. Pavel     hundred thousand. This means that
dustry employees and their families           and in 2011 it is estimated to grow by       ly publicised.                               Grachov, an Army General and a defense      many young officers are almost perma-
have been promised, to preserve civil
                                              2 billion euros at the current rates. The
                                              majority of the budget will continue to
                                                                                                                                        minister in 1992-1996 could not garner
                                                                                                                                        the political support needed for the re-
                                                                                                                                                                                    nently stuck in rank and file duties. In
                                                                                                                                                                                    the future, the greatest cuts will focus in
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   “…In the
                                                                                           Aiming for cost-efficiency
    The content of the military doctrine
is in part influenced by the change of di-
                                              be spent on alleviating social problems
                                              instead of, say, the qualitative develop-    The Russian armed forces plan to move
                                                                                                                                        form, mainly due to his contradictory
                                                                                                                                        persona, inadequately prepared propos-
                                                                                                                                                                                    the heart of the armed forces, the officer
                                                                                                                                                                                    corps. In the next two years, 200 000 of-      near future,
rection in Russia’s foreign policy. In the    ment of the personnel, the infrastruc-       to a new cost-saving organisational          al, and the armed forces’ then strong re-   ficers are to be transferred in the reserve,
prevention and solution of crises, em-
phasis is now placed on political and
                                              ture, or the training. Finding a solution
                                              to the nagging social issues is nearly an
                                                                                           structure by the end of 2012. The Min-
                                                                                           istry of Defence and the subordinate
                                                                                                                                        sistance to change. There is still change
                                                                                                                                        resistance present in the army today,
                                                                                                                                                                                    which means the army will be left with
                                                                                                                                                                                    150 000 officers.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   quality will
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   not replace
diplomatic measures. This direction is        endless task. The given resourcing forc-     leading General Staff are expected to        but it seems the developments can no            The number of colonels will go down
grounded in reality since the great pow-      es the defense administration to con-        undergo significant personnel cuts.          longer be held back in their entirety.      from 15 000 to 3000, lieutenant colonels
ers’ mutual economic dependence is            sider the focus areas keenly, and to find    At the same time, the various levels of      Traditionally, the Russian officers see     from 19 000 to 7500, and majors from
growing. As an example, in November
2009 Russia had a direct foreign debt
                                              ways to monitor the input-output ratio,
                                              and especially to check inefficiency and
                                                                                           management are combined to reduce
                                                                                           duplicate functions. The military dis-
                                                                                                                                        red when faced with any sort of quan-
                                                                                                                                        titative reductions, regardless whether
                                                                                                                                                                                    100 000 to 30 000. Of the 1100 present
                                                                                                                                                                                    generals and admirals, less than 900 will
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   quantity in
of 28 billion dollars. In contrast, in June   misconduct.                                  trict–army–division–regiment structure       there would be tangible benefits or not.    remain. This reduction reflects already
2009 the US owed 776 billion to China,
712 billion to Japan, and 120 billion to
                                                  In 2005 the state defense pro-
                                              curement (weapon and equipment)
                                                                                           will be replaced with the lighter military
                                                                                           district–operative staff–brigade–battal-
                                                                                                                                        It may be the attitudes are slowly chang-
                                                                                                                                        ing, and the benefits are seen in another
                                                                                                                                                                                    in drastic cuts in the intake of the Army
                                                                                                                                                                                    General Staff Academy. In contrast, the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   the Russian
Russia. These are ample grounds to play
it nice together.
                                              amounted to about 4-5 billion euros. In
                                              2009 the figure is put to slightly over 11
                                                                                           ion organisation. Bases will be closed,
                                                                                           combined, and training is to be central-
                                                                                                                                        light today. With free access to informa-
                                                                                                                                        tion and increased debate, proper in-
                                                                                                                                                                                    numbers of lieutenants and senior lieu-
                                                                                                                                                                                    tenants will increase only by 10 000, to
                                              billion, with no growth expected for at      ised on a regional level. As an example,     sight is bound to proliferate.              60 000. By the numbers, it is clear that
                                              least two years. And that is, according      the number of Army units and groups                                                      the reform is not going to be small nor
Halting growth means slow                     to Russian military experts, what brings     will go down from 1890 to less than                                                      cheap. The training of conscripts and
development                                   to ruin the current 2015 purchase pro-       two hundred, the air forces and air de-      Utopia or realism?                          contract rank and file will be trusted to
Russia’s defense budget has grown in          gram. The comprehensive lack of trans-       fense units will be cut from 340 to 180,     The book strength of the Russian Army       “sergeants”, following the model of the
the recent past 15 to 25 per cent annu-       parency in the purchasing processes          and the naval forces’ units from 240 to      is scheduled to drop from 1.34M to ex-      United States military. Russian Army as
ally. The real growth, however, cleared       also contributes. Procurement funding        123. Common sense begs the question          actly 1 million by the end of 2012. Ac-     a whole (officers, professional privates,
of inflation, pricing etc. has remained       is misappropriated on all levels for pri-    as to how such a tremendous and rap-         cording to estimates in the public, how-    conscripts) has a grave problem with >

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recruiting, resulting in low quality and
motivation. This is yet another factor
that works to slow development, and
especially any qualitative reforms.

Social problems remain
There are presently 120 000 officers’
families without housing. For almost a
decade the number was even slightly
higher, but in the past couple of years
10 000 to 15 000 have been provided
housing. The ongoing reform inevi-
                                                            Nothing works, but …

                                                          ALL CAN BE
tably means a substantial increase in
the throngs of dissatisfied homeless
ex-army personnel. For example, by

the end of 2009 almost 30 000 officers
who have reached the lowest pension                                                                                                with cuts to the absolute numbers of
age will have been released, uncondi-                                                                                              staff, garrisons, bases, and equipment.
tionally. About half do not presently                                                                                              New technological solutions capable of
have a home, but the Russian law stip-                                                                                             delivering a sea-change in convention-
ulates that all released personnel must                              BY JUKK A HELLBERG, COLONEL (RE T )                           al weaponry remain in the distant future
be guaranteed housing. The number                                                                                                  – and with the current resourcing they
of previously released officers with                                                                                               might be altogether beyond the horizon.

families still without proper housing                                                                                              For this reason Russia’s nuclear deter-
is staggering, at least 200 000. In ad-               he development of Russia’s            Going outside the armed forc-          rent retains a critical role, also evident in
dition, there are approximately 34 000                military potential is, to put     es, also the defense industry is in a      how funding is focused. Even the nucle-
Second World War veterans and fam-                    it politely, in a transition-     real crisis due to lack of investment,     ar weapon has not escaped the problem
ily members completely without or                     al state. Besides the armed       bottoming arms exports, and chron-         of technological backwardness: it seems
in need of a more suitable home. In                   forces, the wider prerequi-       ic brain drain. The large-scale mass       that e.g. completing the Bulava subma-
Western terms this problem alone, but                 sites for using force interna-    production capability has been lost.       rine-launched ballistic missile or the
one of many, would be gargantuan.                     tionally have essentially de-     However, Russia’s goals in interna-        GLONASS positioning system just does
    The Ministry of Defence is con-          clined. This is manifested in Russia’s     tional politics are essentially un-        not seem possible under Russia’s own
stantly liquidating its property and         few operations and presence abroad.        changed – a great power is a great         steam. This is something the Russian
real estate assets, and a part of the pro-   For practical reasons, international       power and won’t let go. In the world       military and technology experts have
ceeds is spent in procuring new hous-        military conflict will be avoided by       today, a slightly “postponed empow-        acknowledged in public, too. By its own
ing. The intent is to acquire 44 000 new     all means, and the nation’s resourc-       erment” is something even a great          account, the Russian Army is once again
apartments in 2009. The personnel’s          es, for example the currency reserves      power must accept. As to the future,       in a fight for survival. And undoubtedly
housing crisis, and to an extent the         (over 400 billion dollars) will no long-   it should be noted that a state like       survive it will, as earlier.
wider social problems, have been tak-        er be sacrificed at the altar of foreign   Russia may be capable of increas-
en so seriously that the ongoing plan        and military policy. With a couple of      ing its military potential faster than
actually has a chance of succeeding in       small exceptions, the extensive and        generally perceived. This is no long-
its most relevant aspects, unlike many       free foreign military aid is no longer     er possible in complete secrecy and        The author, Colonel (ret) Jukka Hell-
previous attempts. Since 2008 there          on the agenda. In this regard Russia       without reactions abroad, however.         berg, 54, has graduated from the Rus-
have been extensive programs to ac-          has turned inwards: solving its own            In the near future, quality will not   sian General Staff Academy in 2001–
quire housing for military personnel,        problems first.                            replace quantity in the Russian Army,      2002. In 1994–1996 and in 2002–2006
all over Russia. The continued lack of                                                                                             he was Finland’s assistant military atta-
housing, poor pay, and other social                                                                                                che and defense attache (military atta-
problems have a grave and chronic ef-                                                                                              che) to Russia and Belarus. He has a long
fect on morale. For subsistence, the                                                                                               and extensive knowledge of Russia, and
personnel may have to turn to crim-               …the defense industry is in a real                                               has worked e.g. as an interpreter. Since
inal means, some of which are over-                                                                                                retiring, he has worked for Osint Ltd., a
looked by the superiors and other au-               crisis… The large-scale mass                                                   Finnish strategic knowledge researcher
thorities all over Russia.                                                                                                         focusing on Russia and CIS countries.
                                                 production capability has been lost.”

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