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RUSSIAN MILITARY POWER 2017 (DIA publication)


John Kettler

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Had no idea any such thing existed anymore, but there is a brand new continuation of the Cold War intelligence trove called SOVIET MILITARY POWER when it was first released under Reagan at the direction of SECDEF Casper Weinberg. It's called RUSSIAN MILITARY POWER 2017 and, though I've not read it yet (found it minutes ago), it looks to be very much like its predecessors as a one stop shop on the topic, which now also includes matters such as cyber warfare. Back in my military aerospace days, I'd hear from my colleague who had a CIA sponsor about bitter inter-agency fights over what could and couldn't be used in this extremely useful DIA pub. Rather surreal to have a SECRET/NOFORN/WNINTEL image in a doc in your safe and see the same thing in SMP. Now others are in that same boat! Be advised that there's something wrong with linking here, for while it pulls up the complete doc over on DIA;s end, when Pasted here all that shows is the cover!  That said, there is a working link in the bottom of the DIA press release from June 2017 announcing the subject of this post.

 

Russia%20Military%20Power%20Report%20201

Here's another surprise. China now rates its own equivalent publication, as seen in this brief DIA video.
 

Regards,

John Kettler

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Thanks Mr. Kettler.

Edit:

After a quick scan, it seems very little attention has been paid (1 paragraph on page 31) to Russian non-strategic nuclear weapons and doctrine - from what I understand the scenarios in which they may be used differ from the West, and I was hoping this paper would deal with this issue as it is one area where a flawed understanding could lead to escalation.

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fireship4,

The material you seek is on pages 52-55. There is specific discussion of the Brigades and BTGs. To me, this DIA pub an exceedingly  strange document in terms of organization, emphasis and citations. Let me start with the last. I don't recall ever seeing citations in previous pubs of this sort. While more than odd, this is a boon for researchers who read Russian. Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine the mighty ground forces which once made NATO tremble reduced to a mere appendix, not to mention most of the other military services as well. My how things have changed! The principal categories are now strategic nuclear and a vast array of information warfare capabilities. Wow! A quick look at the tabular material on the RUAF indicates a painful lack of QC at the DIA. Was fascinated to learn the most capable fighter was a MiG-29!  

Regards,

John Kettler

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On 06/10/2017 at 2:01 AM, John Kettler said:

...The material you seek is on pages 52-55...

I think you may have misunderstood me - the section you mention includes info about BTGs etc. as you say, however I was looking for information on the fielding and doctrine behind Russian non-strategic nuclear weapons, ie tactical/theatre nuclear weapons.  There is a little in the below section:

Quote

Transition to the New Look Program
Moscow’s limitations in modernizing its military had led to heavy dependence on its aging nuclear forces to defend the state. But while the presence of a robust nuclear deterrent
dissuaded potential aggressors from directly attacking the Russian Federation, it was not flexible enough for Moscow to use in small, local conflicts such as Georgia or as a tool of power projection. The New Look program was...

But that is basically it from what I can tell apart from the mention on pg 31.

Since I'm already skimming and criticising, I have another couple of thoughts.  Who is this document aimed at?

Quote

Our policymakers and commanders must have a complete understanding of Russia’s military capabilities, especially as U.S. and Russian forces may increasingly encounter each other around the globe. DIA will continue to provide our leaders decision-space, ensuring they have the time and information necessary to protect our nation. The wrong decisions—or the right ones made too late—could have dire consequences.

Ok, fine, so non-military personell?  Politicians/civil servants who don't have a military backround but would make better decisions with a bit more?

The section I quoted above, apart from the new look program, a couple of other interesting things

Quote

...Partially- manned Soviet-style divisions were reorganized into what were planned to be fully-manned brigades; officer ranks were trimmed from 350,000 billets to initially 150,000, although later the number rose to 220,000; the contract manning effort was reshaped and reinvigorated, with a goal of 425,000 professional enlisted personnel in the force by 2017...

And then in another section:

Quote

The centerpiece of the 2008–2009 New Look reforms was the elimination of the divisional/ regimental structure and its replacement by the
brigade.
The Russian Ground Troops currently have about 40 combined arms brigades.399 In the winter of 2013, one motorized rifle brigade and one tank brigade were reformed as divisions, and in the spring of 2016, it was announced that four new divisions would be formed in the Western and Southern Military Districts and one in the Central Military District

Wait but they are moving some back to divisions?  Is that indecision or budget or what?

Quote

The re-introduction of some smaller divisions may be based more on their potential intimidation value than they are on their potential value in combat.

What?  Well anyway, I read there is a mix of volunteers and contracted soldiers?  And it affects things to the extent that you want to separate them when trying to form a BTG?

Quote

Most, if not all, New Look maneuver brigades have one BTG, manned entirely or mostly with contract soldiers,

Ok great that looks like something interesting to read about - how much of the army is volunteers and how do they stack up to their "contracted" comrades?

Quote

 

 

Again, I haven't read the whole document, but from my skimming (which may be all a civil servant may have time for) I would venture:

  • The target audience seems unclear.  There is a "New Look Motorized Rifle Brigade" TOE at one point, and every so often there are lists of the number of personel or tanks in this or that, or the aforementioned MiG29 is most capable table, which all seem pretty pointless without context, especially to someone who has not been to officer school.
  • Several interesting narrative threads which look like they could have been followed to provide some insight aren't followed, and information that is mentioned tends to be scattered around the document.

I never read SMP to my knowledge but I assume it was not like this.  It feels as though what we needed was a book written by David M. Glantz, giving us a little history, a little 90s collapse and consequence, a little new look reform, a little differences in doctrine, a little dont assume they wont do this or that or use this or that - this is how they see this... etc.  You know, what actually military analysts worry about.  And then a lot of nice colour maps to show where things are and how big this or that is and what a division is supposed to do.

To reiterate, I haven't read much of the document, just commenting on what I have in the mean-time.  Apologies if I have over-stated a position on too little information, but I wanted to put the conjecture out there.

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4 hours ago, fireship4 said:

Again, I haven't read the whole document, but from my skimming (which may be all a civil servant may have time for) I would venture:

  • The target audience seems unclear.  There is a "New Look Motorized Rifle Brigade" TOE at one point, and every so often there are lists of the number of personel or tanks in this or that, or the aforementioned MiG29 is most capable table, which all seem pretty pointless without context, especially to someone who has not been to officer school.
  • Several interesting narrative threads which look like they could have been followed to provide some insight aren't followed, and information that is mentioned tends to be scattered around the document.

I never read SMP to my knowledge but I assume it was not like this.  It feels as though what we needed was a book written by David M. Glantz, giving us a little history, a little 90s collapse and consequence, a little new look reform, a little differences in doctrine, a little dont assume they wont do this or that or use this or that - this is how they see this... etc.  You know, what actually military analysts worry about.  And then a lot of nice colour maps to show where things are and how big this or that is and what a division is supposed to do.

To reiterate, I haven't read much of the document, just commenting on what I have in the mean-time.  Apologies if I have over-stated a position on too little information, but I wanted to put the conjecture out there.

The 1984 Version of Soviet Military Power is here:

https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP88B00831R000100210053-2.pdf

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Thanks for the link.

EDIT:  At a glance this looks a much better/more serious document.  Its got maps and diagrams up the wazoo as well.  Man this looks like one of those 90s PC game manuals where the manual was better than the game. 

Wikipedia in fact has links to most or all versions of SMP in .pdf: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_Military_Power

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On 10/10/2017 at 9:23 PM, fireship4 said:

I read there is a mix of volunteers and contracted soldiers?

The Russian army is a mix of conscripts and professional/contracted soldiers.

On 10/10/2017 at 9:23 PM, fireship4 said:

they are moving some back to divisions?  Is that indecision or budget or what?

You may want to check out the posts by @ikalugin following the one below. The short answer is: They are moving back to divisions because those are cheaper to upkeep. It's a mix of budgetary constraints and "grow the army." :)

 

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On 10/12/2017 at 6:27 AM, Machor said:

They are moving back to divisions because those are cheaper to upkeep

Not exactly. The reasons are:

  1. Overall the current military leadership is mentally more into divisional structure rather than brigade one. Specifically divisional structure is considered more fit for old school Cold War era large military conflict.
  2. When brigade structure was established little respect was paid to military logistics functions. Brigade approach was ideologically followed US ideas but logistics structure was omitted. So naturally brigades had troubles in this area and those were to be solved by coming back to divisional structure.
  3. Creating divisions on the basis of existing brigades is a shorter path to larger war machine. And a more convenient way to absorb unprecedented budgets befalling Russian military nowadays :)
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On 10/12/2017 at 6:27 AM, Machor said:

The Russian army is a mix of conscripts and professional/contracted soldiers.

Permanent readiness forces are all professional. Conscription is actually quite low. Given the fall in salaries in commercial sectors and huge allocations going to the military they have absolutely no problems hiring professional soldiers. Actually in Russian regions - where salaries are traditionally way lower than in Moscow and St. Pete - military can afford pay checks beyond competition. Times more than an average salary in regions.

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@IMHO

I was summarizing ikalugin's explanation for the move to divisions; he had specifically stated that the divisional structure allows for a higher ratio of combat to support personnel, which is in line with your points.

Re: Conscription in Russia

is bizarre, in that if you can dodge the draft until 27, you're off the hook. There's criminal liability for not having a legal deferral, but it seems to be very lightly enforced. Young men in Moscow and St. Pete seem to be able to dodge the draft with ease by avoiding the subway, where police conduct random document checks. Moreover, students of prominent universities can train as reserve officers without having to serve, or one can legally defer the draft until 27 by going into graduate studies. For these reasons, it can almost be said that military service is voluntary for those from the larger cities. I assume the reality of small-town Russia is different.

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