The President gave the order on March 28, 2013 to hold large-scale military exercises in the Black Sea area, and on March 29 came to Krasnodar Territory to personally to observe the exercises.
The exercises involved up to 7,000 servicemen, more than 30 ships based in Sevastopol and Novorossiisk, aircraft, paratroopers rapid reaction forces, marines, and Military Intelligence special forces.
The discussion on improving the Armed Forces’ combat readiness and defence capacity continued at the meeting with members of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff. This meeting was the first in a series of encounters with chief commanders and commanders of various arms of the armed forces on the pressing issues of national defence.
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Beginning of meeting with senior Defence Ministry and Security Council Staff officials
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.
At the Defence Ministry Board meeting back in February, we clarified the main priorities for our Armed Forces’ development and training.
The main tasks are to improve the organisational structure, modernise arms and equipment, and build a modern, compact and effective army capable of carrying out any mission and able to guarantee our country’s security in all circumstances.
We have held a number of training exercises, including snap exercises, recently in order to assess the re-equipment and training process and see what progress has been made.
One of those snap exercises took place here, in southern Russia, on March 28–29, 2013. The Black Sea Fleet, forces from the Southern Military District, air force, paratroopers, and special forces units all took part.
Today, we will analyse those exercises, the results obtained and the problems or shortcomings they revealed. All of this is to be taken into account in our subsequent work, including the Zapad-2013 strategic exercises scheduled for autumn this year.
As for the things I want you to focus on in your reports, first, on the military command bodies’ performance, and second, the way the servicemen performed. Third is how effectively we are using the military infrastructure – the bases, air fields, and testing grounds. We have invested considerable effort and money in developing this infrastructure over recent years, and we have to see if this is producing actual results, if there is any real change for the better, and what else we should do in this area. Fourth is arms and military equipment. We have been delivering more new equipment to the various units, and still more is set to come over the near future, as you know. We have to look at how the servicemen are using it, and we must assess too, how it performs in near-real combat conditions.
Before giving the floor to the Chief of General Staff for his report, I would like to hear from the Security Council experts, who have a lot of experience of analytical work in the armed forces, and then I will say a few more words myself with reference to the preliminary documents and reports that I received for analysis.
First Deputy Security Council Secretary Yury Averyanov: Thank you, Mr President.
I would like to begin by saying that based on my practical experience as an officer in the former Armed Forces of the USSR, as well as my practice of teaching at the General Staff Academy, the actions of the troops who snapped into action on the Commander-in-Chief’s order convincingly demonstrated the readiness of our country to defend its southern borders, and garnered great public interest both in our country and abroad. We think it’s important that the exercises showed an increase in the prestige of military service, because the officers saw an ability of their subordinates to meet the challenge.
The results of the exercise also confirmed the timeliness of the measures taken by the national leadership to further strengthen the combat capacity of the Armed Forces, increasing the level of weapon and military equipment serviceability, carrying out the state armament programme and the state defence order. There is a clear need for higher-quality training for military commanders at all levels in military formations and military units.
At the same time, I must admit that the exercises held did not allow us to test some important elements of battle preparedness. We believe that in the future we must also conduct comprehensive tests of all forms of support, first and foremost operative and battle support, of everything related to reconnaissance, engineering support, radiation and chemical protection, biological protection, electromagnetic warfare and so on.
Clearly, these snap exercises will allow for accumulating experience in their planning and execution, and this will undoubtedly improve the level of training of the Russian Federation’s Armed Forces. I believe it is imperative to hold such events in the future.
Snap exercises provide the opportunity to see the real degree of readiness of the army and navy as well as military command bodies for fulfilling set objectives. At the same time, it is critical that these exercises supplement scheduled combat training. They should be comprehensive in nature and their results should be subject to thorough, objective analysis and mandatory accountability in preparing troops and command staff.
In conclusion, I would also like to say it is imperative to hold such exercises within a training setting, so that the problem-solving will allow officers and command staff to see what could transpire in a real situation in the future. This approach will not permit simplifications that generally result in high losses in equipment and personnel in real combat operations.
Thank you for your attention.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you, Mr Averyanov.
I would like to note the following. Such tests, snap exercises, are not just a review, even though a simple review is a complicated undertaking too. I would like to use the chance and thank you and all the participants of the military parade [on May 9] for the spectacular scene we watched. It was a major, sophisticated event. The personnel and officers of the Moscow Military District and all the participants did an excellent job at the military parade.
But the subject of today’s discussion, as well as future discussions, is much more complicated than the parade we saw. Because we need to solve problems with standard equipment which have been set before the participants of the exercises. Overall, I think that all the personnel managed the challenges and I would like to thank for that the Defence Ministry and its officials, the heads of the General Staff, the Southern Military District staff, paratroopers, Navy and special units.
The point of these exercises is not just to report back and demonstrate neat military equipment. The point of these exercises is to find weak spots and to analyse the situation – deeply, thoroughly and objectively – in order to improve the structure and combat performance of all subdivisions, as I already said at the beginning, so that the cohesiveness and efficacy of the combat performance is at the necessary level.
We can already say where our weak spots lie (we had said it before, and these snap exercises confirmed it once again): first and foremost, they involve communication and several other components of military and combat performance. Today, let’s discuss this, analyse it and outline objectives for the near future.