In the western direction, NATO pressure remains, anti-Russian rhetoric in the alliance countries and Ukraine does not subside, and the maneuvers of the 20th Army remain highly relevant (from Belgorod to Kiev in a straight line - only 430 km).
After the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Warsaw Pact countries in the 1990s, Russian armies and divisions were systematically reduced for decades. And at the beginning of the XXI century, the western direction and the capital of Russia were defended only by the 20th Guards Combined Arms Army (withdrawn from the German Democratic Republic), which was deployed in a truncated form in twelve regions of the Central Federal District. In 2010, the army headquarters and its individual parts were transferred from the Voronezh region east, to Nizhny Novgorod. And from Smolensk to Moscow there were only military enlistment offices. The reverse movement began only in 2014, against the background of aggravation of relations with Ukraine.
Near the state border, new military units and new combined-arms training ranges appear. So, recently in the Voronezh region, clearing of unexploded ordnance and preparations for the reconstruction of the Pogonovo training ground began; the possibility of expanding the combined arms training ground near Boguchar is being discussed. In the same place, on a site of 206 hectares, two military camps are being built, in which they plan to deploy more than 5 thousand military personnel (the cost of the project will be about 2.1 billion rubles).
Not all important military exercises and trainings are made public, but Russia is energetically strengthening its defense in the western direction. The intensity of classes in the field is increasing, and even command-and-staff exercises and trainings have a pronounced practical orientation. In September 2016, servicemen of a motorized rifle compound of the Western Military District (ZVO), with the support of helicopters at the Pogonovo training ground in the Voronezh region, worked to stop the breakthrough of the state border. And later, as if completing the elimination of the breakthrough, the gunners successfully performed night firing at the same training ground.
At an enlarged meeting of the military council of the Western Military District in St. Petersburg, the district’s annual results were summed up. Commander of the Western Military District troops Colonel-General Andrei Kartapolov said: "In 2016, the district conducted more than 1,100 exercises and trainings of various levels, the troops received more than one thousand units of modern military equipment, extensive work was done to improve the infrastructure and commission new combat training facilities "
Earlier in November 2016, exercises of the 20th Army took place, during which improved command and control methods in general, training of commanders and staffs, command and control bodies. The organization and conduct of various types of military operations, the modern organization of work at control points were worked out. The goal is to get as close as possible to high-tech information exchange parameters. In modern conflicts, the winner is the one who quickly makes the right decisions.
On 17 November 2016, a command and staff training (KShT) began in the Western Military District (ZVO) with the command and control bodies of the formations and military units of the 20th Combined Arms Army, which is deployed in the Voronezh, Bryansk and Belgorod regions. A military operation is carried out using a wide range of weapons. Headquarters at various levels in a difficult environment must quickly make decisions and provide continuous and stable command and control. During the training, information exchange on an automated control system is worked out around the clock, the algorithms for the preparation of operations (combat operations) and troop command are refined.
Two commanders of the 20th Army, who were replaced in a year and a half, came from the 58th and returned to it. Major General Kuzovlev, who previously held the post of chief of staff of the South-Eastern Military District association, was transferred to Voronezh in July 2015 - almost immediately after the redeployment of the 20th Army from the Nizhny Novgorod Region. In August 2016, he returned to the 58th army as commander. He himself, in an interview with Kommersant, praised the transfer as an increase: "This is an appointment to the largest, most powerful and one of the most combat-ready armies." The former colleague of Major General Kuzovlev, deputy commander of the 58th Army, Major General Yevgeny Nikiforov, took the place of commander of the 20th Army. During the standard transfer ritual, he called the formation of two divisions in the army one of the main tasks in the new post.
In the 20th Guards Combined Arms Army (headquarters in Voronezh) the third commander changed in a year and a half. Following his predecessor, Sergei Kuzovlev, he left the association and, with a promotion, returned to the 58th army (headquarters in Vladikavkaz), Major General Evgeny Nikiforov. His place was taken in March 2017 by the commander of the 68th Army Corps of the Eastern Military District, Major General Alexander Peryazev, who had previously led the combat training of the Ground Forces.
By presidential decree of 15 May 2018, Major General Andrei Ivanaev was appointed commander of the 20th Guards Combined Arms Army, and was introduced to the personnel. For more than a year this post was held by Alexander Peryazev, now he has gone on promotion to Moscow and will continue to work in the Main Directorate of Combat Training. The ceremony was traditionally begun with the removal of the standard of the 20th Army and the presentation of the Badge of the commander. After that, the head of the headquarters of the Western Military District Viktor Astapov said that Ivanaev knows personally: he is a military officer, behind him is the Chelyabinsk Higher Tank Command School, the Combined Arms Academy of the Armed Forces and the Academy of the General Staff. Major General began his service as a tank platoon commander.
With the advent of the new commander, checks began. The commission headed by the chief of staff of the Western Military District Viktor Astapov undertook the audit. Under close scrutiny is not only the work of the management of the 20th Army as a whole (the state of armaments and equipment, discipline, actions of commanders), but also the combat readiness of the signalmen. The latter remains to be proved not in words but in deeds: units will deploy field nodes and communication stations, and the commission will evaluate literally every step. But the test will end with a big exam: the staff will pass tests. As a result, a real picture of the level of training of almost one and a half thousand military personnel will be formed.
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