Saturday, July 18, 2015

Another Good Idea If Russia Had the Money

Russia's reserves reflect an old system that doesn't work for anything better than cannon fodder. The Russians are taking a small step to create Western style trained reserve forces.

In theory, having a new trained reserve force is a good idea for Russia:

[The new reserve force] will be distinct from Russia's existing military reserves because the part-time personnel will be paid a monthly sum and train regularly.

Russia already has several million military reservists consisting of ex-servicemen, but they do little training as there are restrictions on how often they can be called up.

The existing reserves are little better than drafting civilians. You have to retrain them because knowledge fades quickly without constant training. When you just had to march and shoot a rifle, that system could suffice (at a bloody cost), but now you are just sending lambs to the slaughter.

America's army reserve system of the National Guard and Reserves proved its worth by providing forces that could be plugged into the active force and perform at levels approaching regulars.

If memory serves me, PTSD (combat fatigue) is more of a problem with reserve units since personnel are recalled civilians without the routine stresses of active duty forces to strengthen their ability to resist wartime stress.

But the system worked in providing trained forces for combat. Indeed, in 2005, I believe the majority of combat units in Iraq were Guard units, which took up the slack while the Army was reorganizing its brigades.

But the new Russian Western-style force will start at only 5,000. If Russia wants to replace their existing reserves, they will find it is rather expensive.

On top of ambitious plans that are already unaffordable to reequip their army and air force, and expand the navy, this initiative seems unlikely to get funding.

UPDATE: Related on the reserves issue, the Finns are adding new reserves able to be rapidly mobilized and sent on offensive missions. Which would help repel Crimea-like subliminal invasions that count on Finland taking weeks to mobilize their conventional reserves.