Russia To Parade Military As Defense Industry Decays

Russia To Parade Military As Defense Industry Decays
April 9th, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: Russia To Parade Military As Defense Industry Decays

Russia To Parade Military As Defense Industry Decays
Washington Times
April 9, 2008
Pg. 15
By David R. Sands, The Washington Times
Russia next month will stage its first Red Square parade of missiles, tanks and soldiers since the Soviet times, but the country's military faces massive crises in manpower, equipment, training and strategy despite the energy revenue windfall of recent years.
A panel of U.S. and Russian defense experts yesterday painted a deeply pessimistic portrait of the state of Russia's military and defense industries, plagued by collapsing morale, inferior arms, a decaying industrial base, and deep divisions among top-level civilian and career military officials over the future.
"When you read about new deployments or overflights of U.S. ships, I believe there's quite a lot less here than meets the eye," said Eugene B. Rumer, a senior research fellow at the National Defense University's Institute for National Strategic Studies.
"Yes, they are spending more on defense, but it really does not amount to the significant strategic change of Russia's military posture that some have been led to think," he said at a briefing at the Heritage Foundation.
"This is a military in crisis; there's no other way to describe it," said Stephen Blank, a security expert at the U.S. Army War College. "And it's a crisis 17 years in the making."
Mr. Putin has adopted a more bellicose tone since taking office in 2000, aggressively prosecuting a war against separatists in Chechnya while denouncing U.S. and NATO plans to install a missile defense system in Eastern Europe and expand the alliance to former Soviet states such as Ukraine and Georgia.
Officially, the Russian defense budget is set to grow 20 percent this year to $40 billion, although some analysts say the real purchasing power of the budget will be much higher.
The Russian military, decimated in the decade after the end of the Cold War, has also staged some symbolic exercises recalling past glories, including the Red Square parade set for May 9, a major joint military exercise with China, and the resumption of strategic bomber patrols over the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
But Alexander Golts, a respected Russian defense analyst and writer, said the symbolic breakthroughs mask real problems.
Mr. Putin, he said, "was really shocked by the state of the Russian military" when he took power. The million-man Russian army was barely able to muster a force of 50,000 to fight Chechen rebels.
But plans to go from the widely resented military draft to an all-volunteer force have lagged greatly, and the country's population decline and the competition of rising salaries in the private sector make the transition even more difficult.
When President-elect Dmitry Medvedev is sworn in next month, Mr. Golts said, "he faces a very simple choice he can destroy the education system or he can destroy the conscript system. I think it's clear the Russian armed forces will be reduced in numbers even if there is no formal announcement."
The quality of the force is also not likely to improve, according to Mikhail Tsypkin, an instructor at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. A fifth of all military volunteers, known as "contract soldiers," have quit in the last five years.
Russia's military-industrial sector also is facing a deep crisis, unable to produce world-class arms for the Russian military and in danger of losing key exports markets such as India because of inferior goods and a terrible record of service.

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