chapter  2
20 Pages

Towards a ‘new look’ of the Russian armed forces? Organizational and personnel changes: Margarete Klein


Although Russia defeated Georgia in only five days in August 2008, the war revealed serious shortcomings in the military operation of the Russian armed forces. Armament and equipment were, to a large degree, outdated. Moscow’s conventional armed forces in particular lacked precision guided weapons, reconnaissance means and modern equipment like thermal imaging, night vision goggles or communication and navigation systems (Vendil Pallin and Westerlund 2009; Klein 2008; McDermott 2009a). Furthermore, the level of combat readiness proved to be low. In a key speech in December 2008, Chief of the General Staff, General Nikolai Makarov, said that in August 2008 only 17 per cent of all military units were ‘capable of fulfilling their tasks’ (‘Top Russian general . . .’ 2009). ‘We could literally count with our fingers how many pilots managed to fulfill combat missions under the simplest conditions,’ Makarov continued (‘Ofitserov perekvalifitsiruiut . . .’ 2008). He severely criticized the officer corps as well: ‘In order to find a person in the rank of lieutenant colonel, colonel or general capable of responsibly leading forces, you had to look left and right in the armed forces’ (‘Russian CGS complains . . .’ 2008).