THE ARMED FORCES REFORMING IS ENTERING THE DECISIVE PHASE

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In some places this causes discontent. To release the laid off officers significant sums are necessary. The available funds are evidently insufficient today.

On May 1st the process of the Russian Armed Forces reduction entered the decisive phase. As Defense Minister Igor Sergeev said recently, now the main burden is laid on the Anti-Aircraft Defense Forces and Air Force. The efforts of the Defense Ministry, General Staff and Air Force command are concentrated on this point. Since May 1st both Armed Forces branches are commanded from the single command post. The practical work is going on reforming and disbanding of military units which have the lowest combat-readiness levels. In the Navy the Baltic and Pacific Fleets will be subject to the main reforming. They will incorporate part of the Ground Forces. In accordance with the Defense Ministry’s doctrines, since May 1st a significant number of the Anti-Aircraft Defense, Air Force, Airborne Forces units, mechanized, tank and other regiments of the Armed Forces ceased to exist. From a geographical point of view the picture is as follows:

FAR EAST

In May the re-subordination of Kamchatka army corps to the Pacific Fleet will be completed. There are some people in the Ground Forces and Far East Military District commands, who consider these actions to be a mistake. However the General Staff insisted that the ground units should be subordinated to the Navy.

Unification of the Air Force and Anti-Aircraft Defense Forces armies, previously deployed in the Far east, is also being completed. A variant of the new Air Force army is being formed. For this purpose the units, dubbing each other (aviation, anti-aircraft, missile, radio-technical and others), are reduced. In Kamchatka the anti-aircraft defense units will be a part of the Pacific Fleet’s. However the commander of the Anti-Aircraft Defense Forces army, deployed in the Far East, Uruzmag Ogoev thinks the anti-aircraft defense of the peninsula will not be weakened. First of all, it will be enforced by the Fleet’s anti-aircraft defenses, secondly, it will be more controllable, because the staff of the united command will be nearby. Anyway, in the operational sphere the units protecting the aerial space in Kamchatka, will also be subordinated to the Air Force armies.

Solving the problems of military installations, as well as the problems of the armament and ammunition released during the Anti-Aircraft Defense Forces and Air Force reduction, will be laid on the military commandant’s officers, formed in the former garrisons. This is connected with the fact that in some military installations (for example, in Kalinka near Khabarovsk, in Sokol in Sakhalin and so on) families of the former servicemen stay to live. Their separation is a big problem, demanding significant funds from the state for settlement of the former officers’ families in a new place.

CENTRAL AND WESTERN SIBERIA AREAS

Since May 1st the 100th airborne brigade, deployed in Khakassia, ceased to exist. However the fate of more than 800 released officers and warrant officers is not clear. Many of them can not retire due to absence of money for repayment of the gratuities of discharge.

Almost all anti-aircraft regiments are disbanded in Siberian military district. In accordance with the Defense Minister’s resolution, which had been sent to the Siberian anti-aircraft corps command in January, the number of the anti-aircraft missile regiments will be reduced from 4 to 1. The remaining anti-aircraft unit, like it is planned will be deployed in Novosibirsk, where the corps headquarters are currently located.

The Altai People’s Patriotic Union spoke in protection of one of the regiments being disbanded. Its statement specially stresses the fact that in accordance with last year’s results the anti-aircraft missile regiment, deployed here, was recognized as the best among all Siberian anti-aircraft units. Moreover, according to the Union’s information, the Altai regiment is armed with the most modern anti-aircraft missile system S-300PM. It receives S-300PM system earlier than any other Russian anti-aircraft unit. The APPU also put forward some calculations, which, according to its leaders, show that disbanding of the regiment will cost the state much more, than its maintenance within several years. Monthly financial requirements of the Altai anti-aircraft regiment do not exceed 150,000 rubles, while re-deployment of the equipment will cost at least 5.5. million rubles. Besides the redundancy payments to the officers and warrant-officers alone will exceed 1.5 million rubles.

Officers are also dissatisfied with the actions of Moscow’s military leaders. In Barnaul the meeting of the officers of disbanded anti-aircraft missile regiment was organized, participants of which approved a very critical resolution. Anyway, the officers expressed their opinion that it would have been logical to, first of all, reduce the military units, armed with obsolete armament. Besides, in accordance with the view of the delegates, the planned reduction will break the existing order, when the anti-aircraft units covered primarily the Strategic Missile forces bases, and then the centers of production for nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, and then only- strategically important enterprises. Reform of the Altai anti-aircraft missile regiment will leave two Strategic Missile forces divisions, deployed in Altai, without any cover, while its re-deployment, according to the officers, would have allowed it to cover both Novosibirsk and the whole Altai territory.

POVOLZHYE AND URAL AREAS

By May 1st the 104th airborne division was reorganized into the 31st independent airborne brigade. The division’s authorized strength was reduced by more than 2500 people. It is necessary to dismiss some 400 officers (that is, commanders, majors, colonels who have served for 20 years and more), 200 warrant-officers and 250 servicewomen and contract servicemen. 70 of them do not have any housing. They refuse to receive the housing certificates. They also have to receive money compensations, 18,000 rubles each. Officers of the rank of captain or major, who are released, will be able to get jobs as bailiffs. For the officers the re-training courses were organized free of charge. As for the warrant-officers, they will have to look for a job according to their former civil professions. Some 100 officers will serve in the Interior Forces in the Privolzhsky and North Caucasus military districts. In April 16th echelons were sent to hand their armament over to the other airborne units. That is some 700 wheeled and 200 tracked vehicles.

In May the 235th military transport aviation regiment, deployed at the Ulianovsk-Vostochny airbase, will be finally disbanded.

In Chelyabinsk region the 320th separate transport aviation squadron was formed, which has to search, rescue and evacuate cosmonauts and spacecraft returning to Earth,. The squadron was formed in January, as the explaining note about the military unit’s re-deployment says: in connection with the organizational measures, the personnel of the Armed Forces is being reduced. The aviation regiment, deployed in Kazakhstan with the same functions, is also disbanded.

In May the disbanding of the 2nd anti-aircraft regiment, deployed in Komi republic, will also be completed. According to the officers serving there, after these regiments’ liquidation the Russian aerial borders from Arctic to the Central Urals remain uncovered.

NORTH-WESTERN RUSSIAN AREAS

In North-Western Russia the Armed Forces will be reduced by 40%. According to chief of staff of Leningrad Military District Lieutenant General Pavel Labutin, in 1998 it is necessary to liquidate or reform 107 units and release 5,000 professional servicemen. The district’s command is ready to fulfill this task, but no funds are assigned for this purpose. Moreover, since 1996 no compensation for housing rent, child benefit, compensations for the food rations and resort medical treatment were paid.

Only 22% of the sum, necessary for the actions connected with reduction, were allocated. Among 5,000 servicemen, removed to the reserve, almost 2,000 do not have any housing. Overall, in Leningrad military district there are 9,197 homeless officers. In the Northern Fleet this figure reaches 12,000 people. In Murmansk 947 military pensioners are waiting to receive housing. They will have a long wait: only 48 apartments were received for them, and in 1997- 47. The government planned to build 999 apartments in the North-Western Region, but assigned the funds for just 224. In Severomorsk 4,900 military pensioners live, 1,500 of them are unemployed. Taking into account the upcoming reductions of Safonovo and Severomorsk-3 garrisons, the number of the unemployed will grow by hundreds people.

In his letter to Navy commander admiral Vladimir Kuroedov, head of Severomorsk administration Vitaly Voloshin warned him that if no measures to normalize the situation are taken, a social explosion is possible.

NORTH CAUCASUS

Here reforming of the 21st independent airborne Stavropol Cossack brigade is being completed. According to the Stavropol leadership. Among the 180 military units, deployed in Stavropol territory, this is the most disciplined and combat-ready unit. They made frequent appeals to the Defense Ministry not to reduce the brigade. However by now some 600 people were released from the brigade. The newly formed regiment is 1,700 people strong. It will be subordinated to the 7th Novorossiysk airborne division. (Overall, during reorganization of 1997-1998 the Airborne Forces lost 16,000 people).

CENTRAL RUSSIAN AREAS

Here, as a rule, the units and formations, subordinated to the center, are reduced, as well as the command staff of the Defense Ministry, General Staff and Armed Forces branches. Taking into account that the Western direction is becoming a strategic one, since May 20 Voronezh guards corps is reorganized into the 20th guards tank army. Meanwhile, the Anti-Aircraft Defense Forces group in this direction is significantly reduced. In May the Bryansk anti-aircraft division is being liquidated. Besides, it is planned to significantly reduce the Armed Forces military educational institutions. In 1998-1999 14 higher educational institutions and 1 filial branch are subject to the reduction, among them, in 1998: Krasnodar higher military command engineering school of the Missile Forces and Kamyshin higher military command engineering construction school; in 1998 it is planned to organized the Armed Forces Academy for all Arms by merging of the Military Academy of M. Frunze, Military Armor Academy and the higher officers’ courses Vystrel. A range of the military academies will be enlarged as other higher educational institutions join them as filial branches:

– the Volsk Higher Military Logistics School and Ulianovsk Higher Military-Technical School will join the Military Academy of Logistics and Transport;

– the Moscow Higher Military Radio-Electronics School of Anti-Aircraft Defense will join the Military Academy of Strategic Missile Forces of Peter the Great.

Some military academies will be transformed into military universities by having other higher educational institutions join them as filial branches:

– the Military Engineering Space Academy- will become the Military Engineering Space University gaining the Pushkin Higher Radio-Electronics School of Anti-Aircraft Defense as well as the St. Petersburg Higher Military Topographic Command School;

Schools:

– the Mikhailov Artillery Academy- will become the Mikhailov Artillery University gaining the Mikhailov Higher Artillery Command Engineering Schools, Saratov Higher Military Command Engineering School of Missile Forces and Kazan Artillery Command Engineering School;

– the Military Academy of Anti-Aircraft Defense will become the Military University gaining the St. Petersburg Higher School of Anti-Aircraft Defense Radio-Electronics;

– Military Academy of Ground Forces Anti-Aircraft Defense will become the Military University of the Ground Forces Anti-Aircraft Defense gaining of Orenburg Higher Anti-Aircraft Missile Command School;

– Military Communications Academy- into the Military Communications Uiversity gaining the Ulianovsk Higher Command Engineering Communications School, the Kemerovo Higher Military Command Communications School and the Ryazan Higher Military Command Communications School;

– the Military Engineering Academy- into the Military Engineering University gaining the Nizhny Novgorod Higher Military Engineering Command School and the Tumen Higher Military Engineering Command School;

– the Military Academy of Chemical Protection will become the Military University of Chemical Protection gaining the Kostroma Higher Military Command School for Chemical Protection and the Tambov Higher Military Command School for Chemical Protection.

These are the main measures which the Armed Forces are taking in connection with their reorganization.

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