Opening Address at a Meeting with Commanders of Military Districts 2008-09-26 20:19:22 Donguz test ground, Orenburg Region Russian President Dmitry Medvedev: Dear friends! Today the operational and strategic exercises Centre-2008, conducted within the framework of the Stability-2008 strategic exercises, have been successfully completed. First and foremost I would especially like to emphasise the ability of the military bodies concerned with strategy in Central Asia to respond quickly and adequately to modern threats. The exercises were a success. I congratulate all those who participated in the exercises, in their preparation and carrying them out, on their results. It is especially important that the troops of the Volga-Urals Military District met the challenges that were set them in close cooperation at one stage with our allies in the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organisation) — the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The main forces that participated in the last phase have been listed, but I cannot help but reiterate here in the presence of the media that 47,000 people and 134 supervising bodies took part in the exercises. The name of the exercises speaks for itself and is deeply symbolic today. Stability is precisely what our government is seeking and what we must uphold in a variety of situations, if required by using military force. Just recently we had to react to the aggression launched by the Georgian regime and, as we have seen, an absolutely real war can erupt suddenly and local simmering conflicts, which are sometimes even called frozen, can turn into a real military fire. During the operation the Russian Armed Forces forced Georgia to make peace and achieved its objectives with honour. Our troops showed proof of high morale and combat training. We can say honestly that the actions of our troops saved tens of thousands of lives. For their courage and heroism 1491 soldiers have been awarded state decorations, some of them posthumously. Today it is vital to make a realistic assessment of the global military and political situation and have a clear understanding of potential threats. And developments in South Ossetia only exacerbated the need to find an urgent solution to these problems. As you know, just recently I adopted refined parameters for the military composition of our Armed Forces until 2020. To be effective in combat missions our Armed Forces should take the five following aspects into account in their development. First, I am referring to improving the organisational and personnel structures and the systems which oversee how troops are organised. To speak simply and frankly all military compounds and units must change to become permanently combat ready. The second challenge is improving the efficiency with which the Armed Forces are managed. If we do not do so it will be impossible to count on success in today's wars and other armed conflicts. The third issue involves improving the system of personnel training, military education and military science: we have done so before and this is an absolutely imperative task right now. And, finally, fourthly, of course we need an army which is equipped with sophisticated weapons. We will also give high priority to this issue. Fundamentally new, high-technology weapons will play a particular role in this regard. And finally, last but not least, I would like to mention the social aspects of the Armed Forces ranging from wages, housing conditions, and everyday living to a wide variety of other issues. These five factors will determine the efficiency of our Armed Forces in combat. By 2020 we must guarantee our capacities of nuclear deterrence in various military and political conditions, in various military and political situations, as well as ensure the comprehensive provision of new types of weapons and means of gathering intelligence. In addition, we must have also achieved superiority in the air, in conducting high-precision strikes on land and sea targets, as well as the rapid transfer of troops. We have planned to construct a series of warships. First and foremost nuclear submarine cruisers with cruise missiles and multipurpose submarines. We will also establish an air-space defence system. Of course I have not listed everything that we need to do to change the image of the Armed Forces. This work will be carried out through to 2020, but the most important thing is that by December we already have a clear plan of action for the future. Social security for troops and their families remains one of our priorities. The structure of wages should encourage soldiers to faithfully perform their duties and improve their skills. I am of course referring to the new structure of wages which should be implemented already next year while maintaining the supplementary payments that servicemen and other members of personnel presently receive. I know that by the end of 2008 the Ministry of Defence plans to obtain more than 28 thousand apartments and maybe more — at any rate this is the rough number. We are working on the acquisition of housing and participating in the construction of housing for troops with funds derived from the reappropriation of property that has been vacated. In general the drafts of the 2009 federal budget and the plans for 2010 and 2011 contain provisions that the Ministry of Defence will address housing issues with a sum of 135,800 million rubles. This is a large amount of money that will allow for the construction of more than 67,000 apartments. By the end of 2010 no fewer than 22,000 troops must receive housing through the implementation of a programme of state housing certificates. Before 2012 the necessary number of service apartments will be built, as we agreed. You know that we have adopted a federal target programme that will address the social problems of contract servicemen. It covers the period from 2009 to 2015 and provides for funding from the federal budget for the construction of hostels, kindergartens, schools as well as cultural and recreational centres. All of this must also be addressed. The tasks with regards to providing permanent housing by 2010 and service housing by 2012 should be strictly implemented. The question should be constantly monitored (in this respect I am addressing the Minister of Defence). Once again I would like to thank you for preparing and conducting these exercises. We have not carried out anything like this in the past 20 years, neither in Russia nor even in the Soviet Union. Thank you. I wish you success and good luck.