Russia Stabs its Heroes in the Heart
Russia is firing 200,000 of its military officers, having suddenly discovered they are superfluous. Why? Because the government has run out of money to pay and house them, much less all the enlisted men they would supposedly manage.
Yet, to avoid a mass insurrection by destitute military men who know how to use guns, Russia has promised each of them a $400/month pension and a free apartment. That pension alone would cost the Kremlin nearly a billion dollars each year to pay, with another gigantic sum being tacked on in monthly rent. It makes no sense, of course, for the Kremlin to make such a claim when the reason for the firings in the first place was lack of funds, but sense has never been an obstacle to the Russian government.
So the officers are being relegated to tiny, moldy, disgusting trailer parks along with their families.
Russia’s Moronic Military
Last week the world learned that the Kremlin had administered a basic competency test to 250 high-ranking military officers and that one in five of them had failed, resulting in a purge of 50 from the ranks. It might seem that this represents a gigantic humilation for the Kremlin, but in fact it is merely a ruse designed to cover up an even bigger one.
The Weekly Standard reports:
Traditionally, one of the more important arms shows for Russian industry has been the International Defence Exposition (IDEX) that took place late last month in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Despite the financial woes they are suffering, Russian industry has to participate to try and keep itself alive. However, no one could possibly reconcile the behavior of the Russian delegation at this expo with the dire situation that their industry faces back home.
The fortunes of the Russian defense industrial sector at present make AIG and Bank of America look like the financial picture of health. The Russian industrial conglomerate umbrella company, Rostekhnologia (ROT) that has monopoly control over the entirety of the nation’s defense industry is headed by Sergei Chemezov. He is also a life-long –and perhaps the number one– FOV (Friend of Vladimir Putin) in the Russian government, the two having first befriended one another when they served together in the former East German Democratic Republic (GDR) as KGB officers during the waning days of the Cold War.
Defense expert Aleksandr Golts, writing in the Moscow Times:
It is a well-known fact that the prosecutor general plays one of the most important roles in Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s “managed democracy.” Clearly, that role is not to lead the struggle against crime or to ensure the rule of law. Chief Military Prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky is no exception to the rule. However, Fridinsky recently had what appeared to be a sudden fit of honesty. While speaking to colleagues in the Military Prosecutor’s Office, he alarmingly reported that criminal acts in the armed forces were sharply increasing. Out of nowhere, the number of crimes has surpassed 20,000. One-fourth of those crimes were committed by officers — the highest rate in the past five years. It turns out that corruption has seized the highest echelons of the military establishment. An illegal scheme involving apartments for military personnel was uncovered in the army’s high command that cost the government 250 million rubles ($6.9 million).
Alexander Golts, writing in the Moscow Times, shows that nobody is a worse or more dangerous enemy of the Russian Army than the Russian Army:
The army has been hit with a strange illness. Hundreds of new conscripts have contracted pneumonia almost simultaneously in both ends of the country — in Kaliningrad and Siberia. Official statistics show that only 100 soldiers fell ill in each place, but human rights activists claim that the number is much higher — so high that whole army barracks had to be turned into on-site hospitals. One of the conscripts, Anton Yumatov, who was a law school graduate, died.
The army reacted to the crisis in a typical fashion — by denying that the epidemic even existed. Later, the Military Prosecutor’s Office was forced to admit that there were violations of “the safety requirements for military service and, in particular, violations of disease-control regulations in the soldiers’ barracks.”
Russian military expert Reuben F. Johnson, writing in the Weekly Standard:
In 1976, when Soviet fighter pilot Viktor Belenko defected to the West in his MiG-25, his U.S. debriefers discovered (along with a trove of Soviet secrets) a military man with a life’s accumulation of grievances against the Soviet system. Even at the height of Moscow’s power, Belenko told them, the political leadership could not properly provide for its soldiers, sailors, and airmen, who often lived in squalid conditions with almost no means of entertainment or diversion.
The central obsession of the higher-ranking officers at the aerodrome where he was based was inventing ways to steal the highly purified grain alcohol that was used for cooling the MiG-25’s avionics and deicing the wings. This often required that several tons of jet fuel be dumped on the ground and a nonexistent flight of the MiG-25 entered into the logbook in order to make it seem as though the alcohol had been consumed in service of the aircraft rather than at some drunken late-night dinner. A senseless waste, as he saw it, to soak hundreds of gallons of fuel into the soil and then later say there was not enough funding for proper base housing or an officers’ club.
But the main source of Belenko’s alienation was what he described as the Communist party’s penchant for “trying to repeal the laws of nature by decree.” In the case of his MiG‑25, this translated into the impossible task of being ready to take on the latest U.S. military aircraft in an airplane that still used vacuum-tube technology.
One wonders if there is a similar divorce from reality inside the Kremlin today with regard to the Russian armed forces.
Defense expert Alexander Golts, writing in the Moscow Times:
Every year, the Defense Ministry holds one of its most important conferences. At this annual event, in which all the generals are present and the president gives the key address, we usually learn details about new military reforms and weapons programs.
This year’s meeting, which took place on Nov. 11, was unlike any of the previous ones. First, President Dmitry Medvedev did not attend. Second, there was conspicuously little information released from the meeting. The only thing we know from a short, terse document that the Defense Ministry released after the meeting is that the number of officers will be reduced from 355,000 to 150,000 and the number of military educational institutions will be cut by 80 percent. In addition, the ministry announced that the elite Tamanskaya and Kantemirovskaya divisions as well as the 98th and 106th Airborne Divisions are scheduled to be disbanded in 2009.
Alexander Golts, writing in the Moscow Times:
When Anatoly Serdyukov was hired as defense minister in early 2007, most of my colleagues poked fun at him because he once worked in the furniture business. But I predicted that his experience as head of the Federal Tax Service would help him implement much-needed reforms in the armed forces.
Serdyukov seemed to confirm my faith in his abilities last week when he announced unprecedented personnel cutbacks that had been considered unfathomable. The number of officers will be reduced by almost two-thirds, from 355,000 to 150,000. In addition, the number of military units will be drastically reduced. For example, of 1,890 army units, only 172 will remain.
Serdyukov had to change a ludicrous situation in which there was one officer for every two soldiers. This is why he suggests reducing the number of colonels by almost two-thirds — from 25,000 to 9,000 — and the number of majors by three-fourths — from 100,000 to 25,000. At the same time, the number of lieutenants should increase from 50,000 to 60,000.
But if you take a closer look at Serdyukov’s plan, you will see several serious problems.
Yezhedevny Zhurnal deputy editor Alexander Golts, writing in the Moscow Times:
It is common knowledge that certain animals behave strangely just before an earthquake. Mice and rats leave their dens, and dogs begin to howl. If we apply that logic to Russia’s Defense Ministry, it is in store for a tectonic shift.
Russia’s top brass are usually happy to remain in their “dens” and out of the public eye, but they have suddenly decided to appeal to the people for support. An unidentified high-ranking military source informed Interfax that the General Staff has been dealt a terrible blow. According to media reports, the Defense Ministry has prepared a directive that will cut the General Staff in half. This may be just another groundless leak, but there are signs that the General Staff is in store for some bad news. One example is that it had to relocate from its offices on Arbat to Leninsky Prospekt, site of the former Warsaw Pact headquarters. The official reason for the move was repair work, but it is highly likely that they will not return to their former headquarters.