Update on Russian arms sales to the Middle East and North Africa

In early March, I posted a list of Russian arms sales to the Middle East and North Africa. Since then, more comprehensive information has come out on this topic. Most importantly, Ruslan Pukhov just published a comprehensive overview of Russian arms contracts with North African states in the most recent issue of VPK. Plus the SIPRI databases are back online and can provide some additional information as well. So what follows is a bit of a reprise, but with a significant amount of new information.

Contracts with Libya since 2005 include (prices and year contract concluded listed in parentheses):

  • modernization of Libyan S-125 Pechora-2 SAMs (SA-3 in NATO parlance) to the Pechora-2M level (<$100 million) (2009)
  • purchase of 12 Tor-M2E SAMs (SA-15 in NATO parlance) ($300 million) (2010, though other reports indicate 2008)
  • purchase of an unknown number of Igla-S portable SAMs (SA-24 in NATO parlance) (<$100 million) (2008)
  • modernization of 145 T-72 tanks ($300 million) (2010)
  • purchase of BMP-3M infantry fighting vehicles ($300 million) (not included on latest list)
  • purchase of 6 Yak-130 training aircraft ($120 million) (2010)
  • repair of 12 MiG-23ML fighter jets (<$50 million) (2006)
  • building a factory in Libya to produce AK-103 machine guns under license ($500 million) (2010)
  • purchase of 9M123 Chrystanthemum self-propelled anti-tank missile systems (not included on latest list)
  • purchase of 3 Molniya missile boats, with 96 Kh-35 Uran anti-ship missiles ($250 million) (2010)
  • repair and modernization of 2 Koni-class frigates and 3 Nanuchka II-class corvettes ($200 million) (2010)

In addition, various reports indicate that negotiations were fairly advanced on an additional $2 billion deal that was to include:

  • 12-15 Su-35 fighter jets
  • 4 Su-30MK fighter jets
  • Il-76 transport planes
  • Ka-52 helicopters
  • 48 T-90SA tanks
  • Pantsir-S1 self-propelled SAMs
  • 1-2 Kilo submarines

All of these contracts and potential contracts will undoubtedly be canceled now. If Gaddhafi stays in power, UN sanctions will prevent their fulfillment. If he is replaced, the new leaders will most likely seek to review his military procurement strategy — with a likely shift to a more Western-oriented procurement posture.

Known contracts still to be fulfilled with Algeria are even more extensive:

  • purchase of 16 SU-30MKI fighter jets ($1.5 billion)
  • modernization of 250 T-72M tanks (150 already completed) (total value $200 million)
  • purchase of 16 Yak-130 training aircraft (part of $8 billion deal signed in 2006)
  • modernization of one Koni-class frigate and one Nanuchka-class corvette ($100 million)
  • purchase of 3 S-300 air defense systems and 38 Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft missile systems (part of $8 billion deal signed in 2006)

Most of these are leftovers from the big contracts concluded in 2006, with just the fighter jets being a new contract signed in 2010 as a replacement for the canceled deal for MiG-29SMT fighter planes.

Syria is the other major customer for Russia’s military industry. Recent contracts that have yet to be completed include:

  • modernization of 24 MiG-29s to SMT level
  • purchase of 2 MiG-31M interceptors, second-hand from Russian air force
  • purchase of 8 battalions of Buk-M2E missile systems ($1 billion)
  • modernization of S-125 Pechora-2 SAMs to the Pechora-2M level
  • modernization of 200 T-72 tanks to T-72M1M level (part of $500 million contract to modernize 1000 tanks, 800 already completed)
  • purchase of 9M123 Chrystanthemum self-propelled anti-tank missile systems (status uncertain)
  • purchase of 36 Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft missile systems (part of 2006 contract, 30 delivered in 2008-10)
  • purchase of 2 K-300 Bastian coastal defense systems

While the recent repression of anti-government protesters in Syria has not yet led to international sanctions or arms embargoes, the political uncertainty that now surrounds the Assad regime must make the Russian suppliers for these contracts very nervous.

Other contracts with potentially vulnerable states in the region include:

  • Yemen: purchase of 100 BTR-80A armored vehicles and 50 120-mm towed mortars ($60 million)
  • Egypt: modernization of 20  S-125 Pechora-2 SAMs to the Pechora-2M level (10 completed)
  • Kuwait: purchase of BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles
  • Kuwait: purchase of 2 Murena assault hovercraft (as payment for Russian debt to Kuwait)
  • Jordan: construction of factory to make Khashim RPGs
  • Lebanon: purchase of 6 Mi-24 helicopters
  • Lebanon: purchase of 31 T-72M1 tanks
  • Lebanon: purchase 36 M-46 130mm towed guns
  • United Arab Emirates: purchase of 50 Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft missile systems (16 delivered) ($800 million). Deal originally made in 2000, first deliveries delayed from 2003 to 2009.

The instability in North Africa and the Middle East is clearly likely to have a potentially quite significant negative impact on Russian arms sales to the region. The leaders of the two largest clients, Libya and Syria, are both currently engaged in fights for their political survival. International sanctions will close the Libyan market to Russian sales for the foreseeable future regardless of the outcome of the ongoing military conflict there. Although chances are that the Assad regime will survive the current wave of protests sweeping through Syria, the use of the army in mass repression may make it more politically difficult for Russia to sell arms to Assad in the future.

Meanwhile, there are few new customers in the region. Algeria has largely turned away from Russian equipment after its bad experience with the MiG-29 purchase. Morocco does not have the money to buy much in the way of advanced equipment. Egypt’s new government is likely to maintain its close relationship with the U.S. military. The Gulf States have traditionally purchased most of their military equipment from the U.S. and Western Europe as well and are unlikely to shift to Russian equipment, since most of them have the money to pay for the most advanced Western items and the political relationships to make such deals happen.

Given this situation, it seems that Russia’s arms exporters will have to focus primarily on Asia and Latin America in the foreseeable future.

Gareev’s response to Makarov

Friday’s NVO carried Gareev’s response to Makarov’s speech at the Military Science Academy. Or more accurately, it was his response to the reporting about the speech. Most of the text consisted of whining about how journalists have been misreporting the tenor of Makarov’s remarks, that he wasn’t actually criticizing the academy, but simply pointing out the various problems that beset the military and defense industry. What’s more Gareev argued that most of the problems discussed by Makarov do not fall under the purview of military science in any case.

After that start, Gareev pretty much just kow-tows to Makarov, talking about how members of the academy understand that they are to some extent to blame for the deficiencies in military science described by Makarov. It gets better by the end though, with Gareev complaining that the military hasn’t given the academy any assignments for 2011. In the last couple of paragraphs, he’s practically begging for something for the academy to do, promising that if the military were willing to give its members another chance to present their ideas, their experience and creativity would benefit the military’s transformation.

It all seems quite pathetic, really. Gareev had an illustrious career in the Soviet military. He is considered to be Russia’s greatest living military theoretician and has headed the academy since its founding in 1995. But he’s 87 years old. His formative years were during World War II and network-centric warfare didn’t come into existence until he was well into his sixties. So it’s not surprising that he’s not up on the latest in war-fighting theory. Perhaps it would be best if he were to retire and let someone younger and more familiar with the state of the art in military science run the academy?

Makarov takes down Gareev and the military’s old guard

By now, there have been a number of articles analyzing Nikolai Makarov’s speech at the General Assembly of the Russian Academy of Military Sciences. At the risk of repetition, let me add my two cents to the discussion.

A fundamental critique of the military’s academic establishment

It seems to me that the most important part of the speech is Makarov’s clear statement that Russian military science had failed to provide the Russian military with methods for adapting to the new forms of warfare being used by the armies of all other major world powers. Between the advent of network-centric warfare in the early 1990s and the announcement of Serdiukov’s miltiary reforms in 2008, there was no effort to introduce modern information management systems into the Russian military. Instead, the various military academies and institutes continued studying the old wars, assuming that in the future, the Russian military would be called upon to fight World War II yet again, and what’s more, do it with World War II era technology and tactics.

In the speech, Makarov took several digs at the head of the Military Academy, 87 year old General Makhmud Gareev. In particular, he arrived late, missing Gareev’s opening speech. In other circumstances, this might be seen as a symptom of his tight schedule, or could even be blamed on Moscow traffic. But given that the bulk of Makarov’s speech was focused on criticizing the Academy’s performance under Gareev’s leadership, there can be no doubt that this was a deliberate snub. Furthermore, Makarov made a snide comment about the Academy continuing to conduct research on topics such as guerrilla warfare during World War II, which he argued had been studied sufficiently and could not contribute to the future development of the Russian military. Makarov went on to note that the problems weren’t limited to the Academy, but were common to most military academic institutes.

The result of this academic failure was seen in the Russian military’s performance in the 2008 war with Georgia. As he has in the past, Makarov argues that this was the proximate cause of the start of radical military reform. In this speech, he notes that the problems made evident by Russian performance in this conflict required drastic measures even though the military’s academic establishment had failed to provide a theoretical basis for the reform. The result was a rather explicit confirmation that the leadership is seeking to transform the Russian military into a modern army that will use highly trained forces and the latest technology to engage potential enemies. Of course, the road from here to there will be long and potentially uneven, but as I’ve argued before, at least the will is there.

To this end, I have to disagree somewhat with Aleksandr Golts’ skepticism on this account. While he is happy with Makarov’s speech, he argues that until this speech, he was not sure that Makarov supported the new approach. It seems to me that Makarov has all along been the chief proponent of radical reform among the military’s senior ranks. This is why Serdiukov appointed him to be essentially his right-hand man, and why he is one of the few senior officers who were not retired during Serdiukov’s house cleaning.

New training for new technology

The second key point made by Makarov in his speech related to the introduction of advanced information technology into the Russian military and into its training regimen. Makarov pointed out that currently, if the staff is prepared, it takes 5-6 hours for a brigade commander to make a plan on how to conduct combat operations and to send out orders to his subordinates. It then takes another 5 hours for the field officers to make their decisions on the basis of these orders and pass them on to their subordinates. Using digital technology and modern information management systems, he argued that it takes Chinese commanders just 20 minutes to do what Russian commanders require 10 hours to accomplish.

In order to train Russian officers to use such methods, the Ministry of Defense purchased two simulator training systems that are able to simultaneously train 3000 soldiers each. These systems will be based in Nizhny Novgorod oblast and will allow the military to train an entire brigade, from commanders all the way to infantry soldiers. The actions of each soldier will be videotaped and analyzed, with the goal of examining the extent to which soldiers are able to take initiative and use creative thinking to carry out their orders and achieve their individual and group goals. In the German system, soldiers are only allowed to train on actual equipment after they have passed the simulator training. Makarov noted that the goal of the Russian army is to have all ground forces brigades pass through such training.

Makarov’s arguments on this topic lead to a couple of thoughts. First of all, the purchase of training systems from Germany indicates yet another potential avenue for cooperation with NATO. While Makarov went out of his way to note that the software and training programs used at this facility will be purely Russian, the shift to a German-designed simulator-based training system will undoubtedly help promote interoperability between Russian and NATO forces, potentially pointing toward greater cooperation at some point in the future.

Second, note the comparison to China. Russian military types may have gotten used to comparisons to advanced NATO countries, but arguing that China is much better at warfighting than Russia is a calculated move designed to show just how backward Russia is in network-centric warfare.

Finally, if the Russian military is going to get serious about shifting to high-tech network centric warfare, it’s going to need to have soldiers and officers that have the know-how to make use of such technology. And that means getting away from conscripting the dregs of society. Which brings us to Makarov’s final key point.

The contract soldiers strike back

Makarov made two important statements about manpower in this speech. First of all, he argued that the recent announcement that the number of officers in the military will be increased from 150,000 to 220,000 does not mean that the army will simply hire back 70,000 of the recently retired officers. That had been the assumption when Serdiukov first made the announcement about the increase in the total number of officers a few weeks ago. Makarov, instead, argued that the new officers will primarily be technical specialists and will not be those who were recently laid off.

Second, he reiterated Serdiukov’s recent announcement that the number of contract soldiers will be increased to 425,000. The type of contract soldiers the military will seek to attract will be fundamentally different than in the past. Rather than trying to press conscripts to sign a contract to stay on for another three years, they will focus on hiring soldiers who are capable of mastering the complex technology with which Makarov hopes to equip the Russian military. To this end, salaries for contract soldiers will be 2-3 times higher than in the past (25,000 rubles/month).

Makarov noted that the General Staff has studied the experience of East European states such as Poland, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic in shifting from conscription to a contract force. Soldiers in these countries receive $1100-1200/month in salary and housing allowance. The Russian military hopes to reach this level of pay in the foreseeable future as well. (Note the use of East European states as a model. This is yet another calculated effort to provoke the more hidebound generals.)

Furthermore, he made it clear that the contract soldiers will form the core of the Russian military, with conscripts making up no more than 10-15% of the total force. This is a very interesting statement that has not gotten the attention it deserves. If there are 425,000 contract soldiers and 220,000 officers, and 15% of the total force is made up of conscripts, some simple arithmetic indicates that the total force will consist of 760,000 soldiers and officers, of whom 115,000 would be conscripts. In other words, Makarov was implicitly indicating that the Russian military is going to a) give up on the million man army and b) drop its target of having 200,000+ conscripts. Both of these developments are inevitable given Russia’s demographic situation for the coming decade, but so far the military leadership has stuck to its manpower goals despite the obvious impossibility of reaching them in the near future.

So what we have is a slightly oblique statement of a fairly radical vision of reform. Makarov is betting on a smaller, more high tech military. Furthermore, his presentation was calculated to put down the military’s old guard, as symbolized by the Military Academy’s 87-year old director. In the coming months and years, we shall see to what extent he is able to implement this vision.

Text of Makarov’s speech at the Academy of Military Sciences

Originally published in Russian in Voenno-Promyshlennyi Kur’er, March 30, 2011.

On 26 March, a general reporting-election session of the Academy of the Military Sciences took place. The title of the agenda was: “Results of the Work of the Academy of the Military Sciences in the Period 2005-2010 and the Tasks for the Subsequent Period”. Leaders of the Ministry of Defense of Russia participated in the session. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and central organs of military command and control participated. The actual problems of military construction in Russia at the present stage was reviewed along with the summary of the results of the work of the academy. General of the Army Nikolay Makarov, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, gave a speech at the session. VPK is publishing a brief summary of his report:

The most important tasks at the present time are the elaboration of a concept of non-traditional wars and armed conflicts, forms and methods for armed warfare, a theory for command and control of the troops, taking the new look of the Armed Forces into consideration, and the everyday practice of combat and operational preparation of automated systems of command and control, as well as communications systems built on the basis of computer networks.

Gaps in military science.

Meanwhile, for some reason, the classic ratio of forces is still being used by us in all calculations. But, for a long time, this has not corresponded to the real state of affairs. For some reason, the information component and the information-management system, which function in many of the leading armies of the world, are not being taken into account. In this respect, over a period of two years, we have not been able to move from a deadlock. There have been no scientific developments on how to make a transition to new methods and technologies with a calculation of the correlation of forces, taking the latest methods for armed combat and arms into consideration. There have been certain achievements but they are so primitive that they do not reflect the real state of affairs. After the campaign in Iraq in 2003, our military science and our military leadership did not make the appropriate conclusions.

For the sake of fairness, I will mention the following: Back in the 1980s, some of our military scientists tried to substantiate a new view, including the theory of non-contact wars. But, for a number of reasons, the results of this research were not realized. That is, a kind of gap formed up. Consequently, figuratively speaking, we danced in place for a long period of time. Science was ripped away from the troops and the troops were ripped away from science.

At the present time, the Odyssey Dawn operation of a coalition grouping is taking place in Libya. As before, the leading role has been given to high-precision weapons. But it is not just necessary to know how to use them. It is also necessary to have them. As is the case with all systems for reconnaissance, guidance, adjustment, and target-indication, without which it is not possible to conduct combat operations. A priority of the coalition is to take critically important facilities out of commission, including air defense components, aviation bases, communications, and the system for state and military command and control. Strikes are being carried out on the troops who are supporting Kaddafi and 203 Tomahawk cruise missiles have already been used, not counting high-precision aviation bombs, including self-guiding aviation bombs.

“In the past twenty years, we were not able to bring military art up to a modern level and we continued to live with obsolete concepts about the nature of modern wars.”

At the present time, we still have little of this equipment. Most importantly, there has been no full answer to the question: How are the priorities to be set in the construction of the Armed Forces? In the past twenty years, we were not able to bring military art up to a modern level and we continued to live with obsolete concepts about the nature of modern wars. This is at a time when the whole world developed critical technologies and information-management systems and began to produce high-precision weapons. As before, we were focused on having a massive army and purchasing obsolete armaments from industry. We missed out on the development of the latest methods and, after that, the means for armed combat. We approached August 2008, when conflict between Georgia and South Ossetia broke out, in such a state.

That conflict stimulated us to do a lot. We attentively studied the experience of military construction in the leading western states and the vectors of the development of the Armed Forces presented by our military chiefs and military scientists. I analyzed a mass of documents and various ways for the reformation of the Armed Forces. For example, it was proposed that the Armed Forces be reduced to a million servicemen, as requested by the Security Council of the Russian Federation. At the same time, to reduce a bulky mobilized component of formations and military units of a reduced complement and reduced personnel, which, according to documents of 2008, it would require months for deployment. Why? Because the equipment in the units with a reduced complement and reduced personnel was practically completely out of order. Or there was another way—to establish one army of permanent readiness in each district and let the rest have reduced complements and personnel.

Such were the options. But the conflict between Georgia and South Ossetia also revealed a considerable number of other deep-seated problems. Consequently, we proceeded to make a major transformation even in the absence of an adequate scientific-theoretical basis.

Several tasks were set, the resolution of which was not possible without the participation of military science. For example, the development of new forms and methods for the conducting of combat operations and, on the basis on them, the reworking of program and regulation documents in order to optimize the training process. At the present time, we are not ruling out traditional, large-scale wars. We will not reject the operational art that exists. It evoked and continues to evoke respect. But forms and methods for conducting wars of the future will be different. It is necessary to know how to foresee them. Consequently, the task of military science is to work for making advances and the equipping of the army with the most modern devices for the conducting of war, primarily war against an enemy who possesses high technology.

At the present time, in order for a commander of an army to make a decision on the conducting of combat operations, determine a plan, and make other calculations, it takes the preparatory apparatus 5-6 hours. And it takes just about as much time to make a final decision. Altogether, about 10 hours. But, due to the introduction of computer technologies, information-management systems, and elaborate computer programming, this time can be significantly reduced. At recent training exercises conducted in China, the commander required only 20 minutes for this.

At times, we simply do not grasp such factors, we do not understand them. But it is necessary to grasp them and understand them in order not to put our army in unfavorable conditions beforehand.

The reorganization of the military-scientific complex has been conducted. However, that still has not brought about the necessary results in full measure. We are putting the available achievements into practice in the Armed Forces and we are breaking in new measures for operational and combat training. But, without a systematic scientific approach, the General Staff sometimes has to proceed by trial and error. There are very few serious scientific developments which could serve as a basis, including during the writing of program-regulation documents. But, indeed, we have a mass of scientific workers. In the higher military educational institutes of Russia, 1,200 doctors [of the sciences] and more than 10,000 candidates of the sciences are serving. And, unfortunately, projects, which we have been working out for two years already, are mainly written by officers of the General Staff, with the involvement of some academies and the Center for Military-Strategic Research. In particular, we are not observing any help from the military scientists. As a result, the work is dragging along.

A clear example is the elaboration of the main document for the Ground Troops—the Field Manual for a Brigade. There was an attempt to formulate some new provisions, primarily those based on old normative requirements, But without a study of the changing capabilities of our troops and foreign troops in defense and offense and a study or armaments and military equipment for striking an enemy and areas at long range, etc., this was not done.

It is necessary to make real calculations and to prepare proposals on their basis. At the present time, unfortunately, this is lacking even in the reports of the commanders. In the Academy [of the General Staff], they taught me to set forth my decision “on the basis of calculations that had been made”. But now you do not hear that anywhere. Everybody is just making reports, but there are no calculations whatsoever. Evidential motivation has sharply decreased and it is urgently necessary to correct that.

With a template for initiative.

The problem with the system for command and control has also not been resolved. Unfortunately, it developed like gun barrel construction [Russian: stvolovaya konstruktsiya.]. Each branch of the Armed Forces and each combat arm has its own system. The Navy has the More [Sea] Automated Control System, The Ground Troops have the Akatsiya [Acacia] Automatic Control System. They do not interface with each other. The situation is the same in the Air Force and Strategic Missile Troops. At the present time, we are trying to make a break-through in resolving this difficult problem.

In 2010, full-fledged inter-branch organs for command and control were formed—joint strategic commands as an organized system for command and control in a theater of military operations. At the same time, the development of a technical basis for a prospective information-management system for the Armed Forces continues to be a problem. It must be based on the use of a common information space, in which subsystems for reconnaissance, observation, navigation, identification, target-indication, guidance, combat command and control, and a number of others are integrated. At the present time, we have started work on the development of a model for a common information space.

The development of computer software support makes it possible to carry out the collection, analysis, and evaluation of a situation and the depiction of it on an electronic map with the instantaneous coordination of all of the facilities and targets, as well as the conducting of calculations and the making of well-founded decisions by the commanders. But this process is also proceeding with difficulty. The problem is not with the absence of an element bases, as we often say, or the poor skills of the computer programmers. The problem is that, in many departments of the military institutions of higher education, the understanding of the meaning of the work of a commander and the goals and tasks of this work and the understanding of the necessity to make calculations have been lost. If one reads a plan for a defensive or an offensive operation, it turns out that it has not changed much from plans made several years ago. The orientation is not on a creative approach but on hackneyed operations.

At the present time, we are assigning a task to the commanders. They are to make a plan that does not include more than five proposals. The essence [of the plan] is most important. And then the details and the decision. Here, it is important to overcome stereotypes in thinking. It is important to optimize an algorithm for the work of any official on the basis of scientific analysis. It is only possible to set to work on the process of automation after that. And, in essence, we still have nothing to automate.

And this task is mainly being resolved by military officers. Although it should be fulfilled in the military academies and scientific-research organizations. But, in the main department of the Academy of the General Staff, for example, a number of scientific themes have been elaborated which have little relation to what I am talking about. For example, the theme, “The Main Problems of the Organization of Guerrilla Warfare and Ways for the Resolution of Them in the Years of the Great Patriotic War”, has already been repeatedly researched and hardly has any meaning at the present time.

Unfortunately, that is the state of affairs in many military institutions of higher education. The dissertations turned out in them absolutely do not correspond to modern requirements. Such dissertations do little for the development of military science and the construction of the Armed Forces. But now not only they but the [dissertation] abstracts, courses, and diplomas must have practical applications. We made such a decision. All themes of examination papers related to the military will be coordinated in a Military-Scientific Committee and approved by the chief of the General Staff. And the doctoral candidates will first defend their dissertations in the General Staff, where the feasibility and worthwhileness of the dissertation themes will be taken into account.

We rightfully expect an increase in the effectiveness and productivity of the Academy of Military Sciences as well. We also have a Russian Academy of Missile and Artillery Sciences. There are also many problems for it. Although the most authoritative scientists work in these scientific institutions. We expect real help from them. But, for that, the academic specialists must know the problems of the troops and compare their proposals with them.

I think it would be expedient to increase the interaction of the scientific research organizations, military institutions of higher education, and the Academy of Military Sciences, with the Military-Scientific Committee of the Armed Forces playing a coordinating role. I foresee the possibility for the involvement of the Academy of Military Sciences as an executor of scientific-research work within the framework of a general contribution to scientific developments for the Armed Forces. I repeat: We need concrete, scientifically based proposals and recommendations right now, in 2011.

Corresponding measures were taken with respect to the Military-Scientific Committee of the General Staff, including measures affecting the personnel. Everybody in that committee was a doctor of sciences but that was in no way reflected in the results of the work. We transformed the Military-Scientific Council of the General Staff into the Military-Scientific Committee of the Armed Forces and it must work in the interests of the Armed Forces. As for the Center for Military-Strategic Research, it is now reports to theAcademy of the General Staff. Almost the entire bloc of scientific operational-strategic developments will be concentrated right there.

We have a concept for the establishment of an aerospace defense system up to 2012. It describes what is to be done and when and how it is to be done. We do not have the right to make mistakes in this matter, which is most important for the country and the state. Consequently, some provisions of the concept are now under review. An organ for the command and control of aerospace defense is being formed up in the General Staff and the General Staff will also control it. It must be understood that the Space Troops are only one element in the aerospace defense system. The aerospace defense system must be multi-layered with respect to altitudes and ranges and integrated with forces and systems that are already existing. At the present time, there are still very few of them. We are counting on products turned out by the defense-industrial complex, products that will be coming out starting next year.

As for the air defense systems which were transferred to the districts, nobody is intending to take them away. They will be organized into the army air defense system.

Contract soldiers plus officers.

On the transition to one year of military service. That was not an initiative of the Ministry of Defense. But it required a revision of the entire system for combat training. Because it is extremely difficult to master a specialty in one year. And, at times, it is impossible. Everybody understands that very well. The new structure of the Armed Forces was established on the principle of contract service. In correspondence with the latest decision of [President Medvedev], Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, we have the right to have 425,000 contract soldiers and 220,000 officers in the Armed Forces. But the problem with the contract soldiers remains, since we had to reject the services of many of them.

Indeed, who mainly became a contract soldier up until 2008? It was mainly a soldier who had served for six months and who, through persuasion, coercion, and threats, was made to sign a contract. And he supposedly served out his remaining time as a contract soldier, after which he calmly left the service and went home, not having lived up to his contract. Although it did not matter to him, we paid him from 7 to 13,000 rubles, we clothed him, and we shod him. That is, we spent an enormous amount of money. Unfortunately, we did not turn these citizens into trained specialists. Consequently, we honestly acknowledged that such an approach to the organization of contract service was a mistake.

The new contract soldiers will receive very different pay. They will be carefully selected and they will undergo appropriate training in the training centers. But only the person who passes the exams and is not screened out in the selection process will receive the right to sign a contract. We need intellectually developed people who will be able to master the complex new armament models. And 450,000 contract soldiers are only the first step. In the future, we intend to increase their number.

Let’s look at the experience of the armed forces of Poland and the Czech Republic. There, a contract soldier intensively engages in combat training from 8 A. M. to 4 P. M. But, after 4 P.M. he is free until 8 A.M. He can live in the barracks or rent housing, for which he receives 400 dollars per month. On the whole, the monetary allowance of a Polish contract soldier is 1,100 dollars (we are now trying to arrange [such monetary allowances] for our contract soldiers).

This system made it possible for both the Czech Republic and Poland to have high-quality soldiers and it resolves the problem of non-regulation interactions among the soldiers [that is, it did away with the hazing and bullying of new recruits by older soldiers]. Parents no longer have to worry about their sons in the armed forces. At the present time, 15 persons compete for each vacancy as a contract soldier in the Czech Republic and 25 persons compete for each vacancy as a contract soldier in Poland.

Why such a cost?

Nikolay Makarov also gave answers to a number of pressing questions from people participating in the session of the Academy of Military Sciences.

Question: How does the military-administrative division of the territory of Russia and the establishment of four joint strategic commands correlate with the deployment of the Internal Troops, the Border Troops, and the subunits and military units of the other militarized structures?

Makarov: I still cannot speak about other militarized structures, although the General Staff must coordinate their activities. We are taking a firm approach to this question, since, in the past 10-12 years, much has changed in this respect, and not for the best. Now each department is trying to develop independently. The Internal troops, for example, are buying their own communications systems. The Armed Forces are buying their own communications systems. As a result, money is being spent irrationally. That is hardly good for the state and defense.

As for the joint strategic commands, their locations were approved by the leadership of the country. We cannot move the districts and we cannot move the territories. However, if necessary, the headquarters of the joint strategic commands can be expediently airlifted to any place. But the question is a natural one: Can the other militarized structures make a transition to this administrative division? Time will tell how this question will be answered.

Question: At the present time, do front line aviation assets meet the requirements of the tasks that lie ahead?

Makarov: Aviation must carry out strikes without entering the air defense zone of an enemy. But show me even one aircraft in Russia that can do that. The strike range of our Su-25 is only 600-800 meters, not 60 or 100  kilometers. Otherwise, it simply will not hit the target. The same for the Su-24. We have good achievements. We know how to use aviation and how to operate. But we do not have much with which to operate. Our task just consists in making it possible for the Air Force, Air Defense, and the Navy to have the means to implement our latest developments and meet the latest requirements. This is a serious problem. The flight tasks and the summary data must take into consideration the entire structure of the existing weaponry and the possibility for the use of it. Sometimes we cannot do this not because we do not want to do it but for objective reasons.

Question: Why have the attacks of the leadership of the Armed Forces on the defense-industrial complex become more frequent? Hasn’t the time come to establish an organ within the framework of the Ministry of Defense which would integrate the problems of the construction of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and the defense industry?

Makarov: Recently, two persons made incorrect assertions against our defense-industrial complex. Vladimir Popovkin, Deputy Minister of Defense, and Colonel General Aleksandr Postnikov, Commander of the Ground Troops. A serious discussion in the Ministry of Defense took place on this account.

What is the problem? We have projected how wars and conflicts may take place in 2020-2025. The General Staff conducted this work. And we understood what kind of troops, equipment, and weaponry will be necessary for this. Their characteristics were described in the form of tactical-technical requirements of our industry and they were distributed in February 2010. It was directly said that a number of the products of the defense industry do not support the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in fulfilling the tasks that have been set for them. There and then a collapse occurred. Many producers do not want or are not able to produce prospective weaponry and military equipment. They are turning out products that the Armed Forces do not need. But the General Staff will no longer buy what the Armed Forces do not need, no matter how much the defense industry enterprises try to persuade us to do so. Whether they like it or not.

In order to counter this situation, our defense-industrial complex must modernize. Incidentally, [President Medvedev}, Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, raised this issue at a recent session of the Collegium of the Ministry of Defense. He pointed out the non-transparency of the costs of products of the defense-industrial complex and other abnormalities. For example, three years ago a T-90 tank cost 42 million rubles. Now it costs over a 100 million rubles. Why such a cost? Nobody can explain it. We are ready to pay even more but the cost must be objective and realistic!

We are now working with the defense industry enterprises to resolve this problem. There is an organ which is coordinating this work. The Military-Industrial Commission. It is headed by a vice prime minister of the government.

Question: It is known that a training center has been established at the Gorokhovets Training Ground. Germany will work out the logistics and tasks for it. What does this mean? The incapability of our military science and the defense industry enterprises? Or are we already preparing to fight according to the patterns and standards of NATO?

Makarov: Germany has the Magdeburg Training Ground. It is an integrated center for the training of troops of the Bundeswehr. It can be used fully to train a motorized rifle brigade—from combat subunits to rear support subunits. The decision of a combat commander is put into the program software of the complex. After that, the entire brigade sits in simulators and conducts combat operations. The work of each soldier and officer is recorded by a video camera, which is linked up with the computer. And that is the way it is in the course of all of the training exercises. On the screen, the commander sees what decision a hypothetical enemy makes and how he counteracts it in real time. The computer battles against the brigade commander, the soldier, and the mechanic-driver and gives out an objective evaluation. This is a quite effective training support system and I will not conceal the fact that we bought it. We will install it at the Mulina Training Ground. At the same time, the computer software for the simulators will be ours. It will be Russian.

A quick summary of Russian military pay increases

This is mostly for ease of reference. Starting in January 2012, base pay rates in the Russian military will be as follows:

  • Contract soldiers: 25,000 rubles per month
  • Platoon commanders (Lt.): 30,000 (without bonuses)
  • Regiment commander (Lt. Col.-Col.): 40-42,000 (without bonuses)
  • Brigade commander (Col.-Maj. Gen.): 42-44,000 (without bonsuses)
  • Army commander (Lt. Gen.): 54,000 (without bonuses)
  • First deputy defense minister (Army Gen.): 67,000 (without bonuses)

If you include bonuses, this translates to:

  • Lieutenant: 50,000
  • Colonel: 60,000
  • Major General: 73,000
  • Lieutenant General: 90,000
  • Army General: 112,000

Information taken from VPK, which does not discuss the pay rates of sergeants or mid-level officers (captains, majors).