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Strategic command and staff exercise
[SKShU - Strategicheskie Komandno Shtabnye Ucheniya]

Russian annual strategic exercises 2008-2018
Year Exercise Military District number of troops (forces)
declared by the
Defense Ministry
2008KavkazSouthern 8000 40,000
2009 ZapadWest11,90013,000
2010 VostokEast 20,000
2011 Tsentr Central 12,000 -
2012 KavkazSouth8,000-
2013 ZapadWest 11,92090,000
2014 VostokEast 100,000 155,000
2015 Tsentr Central 95,000 100,000
2016 KavkazSouth 12,500 120,000
2017 ZapadWest 12,700 60,000-70,000
2018 VostokEast 297000 75000 - 100,000
2019 Tsentr Central

Increasing the combat readiness of troops is one of the main priorities of the ongoing military reform in Russia. In combat training, it is necessary to highlight such important components as the development and improvement of individual skills of military personnel, working out the coherence of military command bodies and methods of their command of the troops, organization and maintenance of close interaction between the various types of forces.

The culmination of combat training are large-scale maneuvers - Strategic command and staff exercise [SKShU - Strategicheskie Komandno Shtabnye Ucheniya], sometimes called Joint Strategic Exercises [JSE = Sovmestniea Strategichskni Ucheniya] by some western analysts. These operational-strategic exercises, which employ tens of thousands of people and thousands of pieces of equipment, are conducted in each military district at intervals of several years. Today the role of such exercises is especially important, because with their help the capabilities of the control system of the RF Armed Forces and newly formed formations and units are checked. In addition, in the course of the exercise, modern forms of the use of troops in all strategic areas are being developed, new methods of organizing and conducting combat by military units are being tested. Large-scale exercises, consistently conducted in all military districts, make it possible to systematize the accumulated experience of “actions in a new format”, to search for and find the optimal forms of combat use. In the aggregate, this allows the Russian Armed Forces to develop actively.

Army General Valery Gerasimov recalled that the previous strategic exercises were conducted in the territories of the Central Military District (in 2015), the Southern (in 2016) and the Western (in 2017) - “West-2017”. According to the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, along with the planned measures for the preparation of troops, sudden comprehensive checks of combat readiness are carried out. Four to six inspections are held annually at the level of the district, fleet, and the type of troops that cover almost all of the Armed Forces.

“The first sudden inspections carried out in 2013 revealed serious shortcomings in the training of troops,” said Valery Gerasimov. He recalled that the formations and military units were, as it were, tied to their military camps and the nearest training grounds, and they did not have the practice of regrouping over long distances and into new areas. Individual training of personnel also left much to be desired. “Analyzing the results of the first inspections, we made conclusions and took measures to remedy the situation,” said the head of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces. - The training of troops has since undergone significant changes. Major adjustments were made to the training methods, programs and courses of combat training.”

According to Valery Gerasimov, now in the course of sudden inspections, troops operate mainly on unfamiliar test ranges, and regroupings are carried out over long distances. At the same time, the expansion of the geography of these activities revealed a number of problems. “With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the change in the ownership of enterprises and organizations of railway, air and sea transport, a number of difficulties arose that had to be solved to ensure the logistics of troop transportation,” the head of the General Staff explained. - This required decision-making at the regional and federal levels on the use of railways, civilian airfields and ports in the interests of the Armed Forces. Now these problems are solved.”

Valery Gerasimov noted that today, commanders and headquarters in any military district and branch of the armed forces are able to organize and carry out regrouping over long distances and performing tasks in unfamiliar terrain. The solution of these tasks in 2013-2014 allowed in September 2015 to deploy the Russian group of troops in the Syrian Arab Republic in a short time. As a result, for the first time in the modern history of Russia, the Armed Forces began to be used in a remote theater of military operations.

“Now in our combat units mainly contract servicemen serve. They are engaged in combat training, are professionals in their field. There are draftees, but not so many. In the regiment, brigade, two battalions and a number of other combat units are staffed by contract servicemen, and the third battalion - by conscription. The sergeants are all contract servicemen, ”said the Chief of the General Staff of the RF Armed Forces.

According to him, battalion tactical groups are being created on the basis of subunits staffed by contract servicemen. There are two or three in the regiment and brigade. These are battalions with reinforcements of 800–900 people each. They are provided with everything necessary for the conduct of hostilities, including means of observation, navigation and closed communications. According to the results of inspections, control classes, these units are evaluated mainly for “good” and “excellent”.

“Today there are 126 battalion tactical groups in the Land and Airborne Forces, staffed by contract servicemen and in constant readiness to perform combat missions,” Valery Gerasimov said in Septebmer 2018.

According to his assessment, the events held since 2013 gave their results. Significantly improved individual indicators of combat training. Navigation of the crews of the ships increased to 57 days and more than doubled. The annual flight time per pilot increased by 20% and amounted to more than 100 hours in all types of aviation. Practical driving experience of tank mechanics and infantry combat vehicles with a norm of 250 km now ranges from 345 to 410 km. The number of parachute jumps for the year increased to 200 thousand, which is almost twice the 2012 figures.

“The increase in the level of training of troops was facilitated by the arrival of new modern technology. Compared to 2012, the availability of modern weapons and military equipment increased 3.5 times from 16 to 60 percent, ”said the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces.

On 17 September 2018, in an interview with the Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation based on the results of the exercises, Defense Minister Shoigu described all the preparatory exercises and activities before and during the active phase, indicating that “ more than 300 thousand troops are involved in this entire range of activities. Naturally, these are the Armed Forces, two military districts (Central and Eastern), two fleets (Pacific and Northern), aviation, army aviation, and our allied colleagues — the armed forces of China and Mongolia.”

It is estimated that at various training sites during the active phase of the Vostok-2018 exercises, combat units and units of 75,000 to 100,000 were involved, and during the preparatory and active phases, from the end of June to September 16, 2018, a total of 297,000 military personnel participated ( combat units and units and units and support units). However, the basis of these calculations was the study of the correlation in the U.S. Army of combat units and units and units and support units, starting from the First World War and until the second war in Iraq, and the calculations can significantly diverge from the real indicators due to possible differences in the American and Soviet ( Russian) approach to material and technical support and combat support.

The lack of certainty in the number of troops (forces) at various stages of the Vostok-2018 exercises is an example of the inevitable uncertainty created by the Russian approach to large-scale exercises and related confidence-building and transparency-building measures. It also fits into the model of behavior when Russia, on the one hand, systematically underestimates the number of troops (forces) in exercises west of the Urals, for which contractual requirements for reporting and monitoring are applied (thus avoiding official monitoring); and on the other hand, it gives exact or even inflated figures for exercises east of the Urals, for which reporting or observation requirements do not apply.

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Page last modified: 23-10-2019 18:32:25 ZULU