According to Viktor Litovkin, the Russian military is about to undergo another around of reorganization. The current system of six military districts and seven armies will be replaced by four “operational-strategic directions,” broken down as follows:
- The Western direction will include the current Leningrad and Moscow military districts, the Kaliningrad special district, and the Baltic and Northern Fleets. It will be headquartered in St. Petersburg next door to the Admiralty.
- The Southern direction will include all of the North Caucasus and part of the Volga-Urals military districts, the Black Sea Fleet, and the Caspian Flotilla. Its headquarters will be in Rostov.
- The Northern direction will include the Siberian and the rest of the Volga-Urals military districts and will be based in Ekaterinburg.
- The Eastern direction will include the Far Eastern military district, the Kamchatka special district, and the Pacific Fleet. The headquarters will be in Khabarovsk.
In each case, the direction headquarters will control all troops in their area, including naval and air force units and air defenses, with the exception of Strategic Rocket Forces, which will remain under separate command. At the same time, the headquarters of each of the separate services (i.e. the ground forces, navy, air force, and air defenses) will be transformed into structural divisions of the General Staff.
The transformations are to occur imminently, as there are already plans to test this system in the Vostok-2010 exercises, scheduled for July-August 2010. The main goal of these exercises is to test the integration of all military command and control systems.
These exercises will involve the entire Far East from Lake Baikal to the Pacific Ocean and will consist of a “modern combined arms operation,” including airborne and amphibious landings in hostile territory, counter-terrorism operations, and rocket and artillery attacks. The air force and navy will both have prominent roles, with the Navy in particular involving two cruisers — the Peter the Great and the Moskva.
The goal of all these transformations is to reduce the number of layers of command from sixteen to three, hopefully thereby increasing the speed and accuracy of military decision-making. The idea is that with this new simplified command system and improvements in communication equipment, “the chief of the general staff will be able to call any company or platoon commander” and vice-versa.
Litovkin argues that given the current condition of the Russian military, the goals of this exercise sound like science fiction, rather than anything that could actually be accomplished. I too am skeptical of the military’s ability to implement the reorganization and train people to use all this new communications equipment in the 2-3 month window prior to the start of the exercises. But even if these moves are delayed, they are at least signs that the military is continuing to head (albeit slowly) in the right direction.