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A Revolution In Russian Military Affairs Part One

Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Nikita Petrov
Moscow (UPI) Oct 21, 2008
On Oct. 14 Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov announced plans to overhaul the national military establishment by 2012. However, many aspects of the proposed army reforms have yet to be clarified.

On the one hand, Serdyukov has listed numerous revolutionary concepts of interest to both civilians and the Russian military, including plans to cut the number of vacant officer positions.

Moreover, Serdyukov wants to eliminate undermanned Russian army units that were to have been deployed to full strength in case of an all-out war, and whose officers now guard obsolete military equipment, and to replace the four-level troop-control system with a three-level equivalent.

The army-division-regiment triad will now give way to the tactical command-brigade tandem comprising "modular" task forces that, in turn, would consist of motorized-rifle, tank and reconnaissance battalions, artillery and surface-to-air missile -- SAM -- battalions, as well as mobile telecommunications and logistics-support units.

Such units will operate in conjunction with air force units, receiving information from them and from Russian space units. Coastal-defense units and warships also will support them whenever possible.

The Kremlin and the Russian Defense Ministry have summed up the results of the August 2008 peace enforcement operation against the former Soviet republic of Georgia in the Caucasus that attacked its breakaway province of South Ossetia.

Even the most conservative Russian military leaders now realize that army brigades are the most progressive and effective fighting units. However, some generals doubt that such units can operate effectively everywhere. Their doubts are facilitated by Serdyukov's failure to explain changes in line with specific concepts and doctrines.

It is also unclear exactly for what conflicts the Russian army should prepare, and what theoretical enemies it could face in the next 15 to 20 years. Any army reform seems pointless without these basic assessments.

Under a scenario that would pit Russia against U.S. and NATO armed forces, it should expand its strategic nuclear forces and the aerospace defense system. At the same time, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and U.S. forces would continue to outnumber Russia's army and navy in the foreseeable future.

This can be explained by the national financial-economic situation, the current state of the Russian defense industry and the structure of its armed forces.

However, the Kremlin's force of intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and air-launched cruise missiles will always prevent Western leaders from taking any drastic action against Russia.

Russia's strategic nuclear forces now have 682 ballistic and cruise missiles with 3,100 nuclear warheads. The Strategic Missile Force has 430 missile systems, including 75 R-36-MUTTKH and R-36-M-2 Voyevoda (NATO designation SS-18 Satan) intercontinental ballistic missiles, 100 UR-NUTTKH Sotka (NATO designation SS-19 Stiletto) intercontinental ballistic missiles, 201 land-mobile Topol (NATO designation SS-25 Sickle) intercontinental ballistic missile systems, 48 silo-based Topol-M (NATO designation SS-27) intercontinental ballistic missiles and six land-mobile Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile systems.

(Part 2: Russia's future potential threats in Asia)

(Nikita Petrov is a Russian military commentator. This article is reprinted by permission of RIA Novosti. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.)

(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

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Russia could pull fleet out of Sevastopol: Ivanov
London (AFP) Oct 20, 2008
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov has told the BBC the country's Black Sea fleet will leave its disputed naval base in Sevastopol in 2017 if the Ukrainian government requests it.

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