Exercises on a major scale are under way in Russia.

The Russian Armed Forces energetically exercised last week. Command post exercise of the CIS Collective Security Treaty Organization began at the CSTO Headquarters on Leningradsky Prospekt, Moscow, last Wednesday. Run between August 26 and 28, the exercise was played on maps and computer screens. Options were considered, decisions made, and orders issued within the framework of the exercise. Some of the decisions and orders concerned two following phases of the exercise – the ones code-named West’2009 in Belarus in late September and Cooperation’2009 in Kazakhstan in the last days of October.

Legends of the exercises will be different. In West’2009, servicemen of the Belarussian and Russian regular armies with help from Kazakh paratroops and a tactical group of the Armenian Armed Forces will practice dealing with an external aggression (no need to say whose or against whom). Cooperation’2009 in its turn will become a test for the CSTO Collective Rapid Deployment Forces. This international formation does not include the Belarussians. This part of the exercise is regarded as counter-terrorism. It will involve Russian paratroops, OMON and SOBR units, Kazakh paratroops, SWAT teams, and units of the National Security Committee, an Armenian motorized infantry company, and Kyrgyz special forces.

Exercise Autumn’2009 is taking place practically all over Russia. Units of the Ground Forces, Air Force, Airborne Troops, and assets of the Black Sea Fleet participated in the first phase of the exercise on the territory of the Caucasus Military District. These days, the exercise continues in the northwestern part of the country. Code-named Ladoga’2009, this part is commanded by Ground Forces Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Boldyrev. The exercise is taking part on the territory 1,500 kilometers wide and 300 kilometers deep. It involves paratroops, surface combatants and submarines of the Northern Fleet firing missiles and torpedoes in the Barents Sea, Marines landed on the Kola Peninsula, border guards of the Federal Security Service, Interior Troops, and units of the Ministry of Emergencies. The 138th Motorized Infantry Brigade of the Leningrad Military District is scheduled to run a nighttime firing practice in the course of Ladoga’2009.

The term “brigade” is probably instrumental in all these maneuvers. Forty formations of the Russian Ground Forces carried out a transition to the brigade basis. Transition of 46 other formations is currently under way. The Ground Forces sadly lack sophisticated communications and control means, jammers, reconnaissance and target marking means, and navigators linked either to GLONASS or to AWACS-type aircraft. Teaching officers the use of all these devices will be difficult. Very many of them persistently maintain that they are not used to all this “fancy stuff”.

The Defense Ministry in the meantime mounted another campaign in the media in the hope to lure professional noncoms into the Army and Navy. They are promised training at special centers (2 years 10 months) and pay amounting to 20,000 rubles while there and 35,000 afterwards (more than colonels are paid, these days). The Defense Ministry claims that it is already trying to choose between 3-4 applicants per vacancy. All in all, it needs 2,000 noncoms. Well, someone will have to handle privates once 150,000 officers are discharged from the Armed Forces.