The Main Threats Are Internal: Direction of the Tsentr 2011 Manoeuvres Are Being Assumed by the President

Text of report by the website of heavyweight Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta on 19 September

[Sergey Konovalov report: "The Main Threats Are Internal: Direction of the Tsentr 2011 Manoeuvres Are Being Assumed by the President"]

The Russian Army under the direction of Supreme Commander Dmitriy Medvedev today begins optimization of the set of tasks involving support for military security in the Central Asian sector. The Tsentr 2011 operational-strategic exercise, in which, aside from Russian troops, subunits of the armed forces of Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Armenia are engaged, is entering the active phase. These manoeuvres are in terms of the nature of the tasks that are being worked up fundamentally different from those have taken place on the post-Soviet territory earlier.

A statement of General of the Army Nikolay Makarov, chief of the Russian General Staff, says that the Tsentr 2011 operational-strategic exercise will, first, be held without the enlistment of large force contingents: "Not armies at full strength but brigades, at the most, will be engaged." Second, operations of tactical force groupings to "localize both internal and external conflicts" will be worked up at the manoeuvres. Makarov says that, considering the events in North Africa and the Middle East, "Russia’s military organization has to be prepared for the worst scenarios of the development of the situation" here. The commander does not, that is, rule out the troops having to perform also police functions, like those that are currently being performed by the army in Syria. And it is no accident, evidently, that, according to official Defence Ministry information, operations teams from the MVD, FSB, Federal Protective Service, and Ministry of Emergencies will be taking part in the operational-strategic exercise from Russia. At one stage of the manoeuvres at the Chebarkul range army subunits and MVD and FSB special forces will tackle assignments in the liberation of a city from terrorists and rebels.

Lieutenant-General Aleksandr Poryadin, commander of the MVD of Russia Interior Troops Urals Regional Command, said, describing the general scenario of the Tsentr 2011 manoeuvres, that "there is nothing fundamentally new in the general scenario of this exercise for the special forces since they have already had occasion to free hostages, in trouble spots included." The general stressed that "the emphasis is being put on the practical optimization of the components of these operations with regard to the specific situation modelled by the directors." The directors are, as we know, the administration and the General Staff.

The fact that the Russian troops are at the manoeuvres represented in different theatres with the participation of union troops also is noticeable, meanwhile. Russian and Belarusian subunits are rehearsing at the Gorokhovets range as part of the Shchit Soyuza 2011 exercise a number of practical objectives, including, Major-General Sergey Yudin, commander of the 20th Combined-Arms Army, acknowledged, the adversary’s employment of "tactical airborne operations and subunits of special-operations forces and also illegal armed elements operating in the rear of our troops." In the Caspian Russian naval and ground force contingents are interacting with units and force groupings of Kazakhstan (the "Caspian" coalition force contingent has been formed there). Almost the entire Caspian Flotilla of the Russian Navy has been engaged for the tasks of support of military security in the area of oil efforts and fishing here. The force contingent is composed from Kazakhstan of air-assault subunits, naval infantry, subunits of interior troops of the Interior Ministry, the coastguard of the National Security Committee Border Service, and the Ministry of Emergencies. At the same time, a coalition ground force contingent composed of approximately 3,000 servicemen, which is in the charge of Lieutenant-General Murat Maykeyev, commander in chief of the Armed Forces of Kazakhstan Ground Troops, is operating at the Kazakhstani Oymasha military range.

Command-staff exercises under the auspices of the Lyaur Training Centre of the 201st Russian Military Base of the Collective Prompt-Response Force (KSOR) of the CSTO states are taking place at this moment as part of the Tsentr 2011 operational-strategic exercise under the direction of Major-General Aleksandr Lentsov, deputy commander of the RF Airborne Troops. Dmitriy Matushkin, aide to the officer commanding the 201st Russian Military Base, says that operations teams (representatives) of military contingents and formations of special forces of the interior ministry, the security authorities, and the ministry of emergencies from Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Tajikistan and also the Secretariat and Joint Staff of the CSTO have been enlisted in the exercises.

A coalition force contingent has been deployed in Kyrgyzstan as well. A joint tactical exercise with subunits from the CSTO Central Asian Region Collective Rapid-Deployment Force (KSBR TsAR) is taking place there in the combined training centre of this country’s armed forces. Operations teams from the armed forces of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan are taking part. The part of the troops, command, and staff of the KSBR TsAR is being played by the military leadership of the CSTO and a Kyrgyz mountain rifle company and special group and also an air group of the 999th Air Base of the RF Armed Forces (city of Kant). The theme of the exercise is "preparation and prosecution of a special KSBR TsAR operation to eliminate illegal armed elements".

"The Russian leadership, albeit belatedly, has concluded that the successful solution of questions of military security, of the internal security of its allies included, is possible only through the formation and use on the post-Soviet territory of coalition force contingents. This is correct, and we should not be afraid of this," military expert Vladimir Popov believes. He notes here that "at the level of optimization of documents within the CSTO, SCO, and so forth the materialization of this idea now lags behind actual practice."

Source: Nezavisimaya Gazeta website, Moscow, in Russian 19 Sep 11


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