The 2013 Report of the Ministry of Defense was Published

On Wednesday, January 22, a 2013 report was placed on the Web-site of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. As stated by the authors of the report, it is not an ordinary departmental annual report which unlike some civil departments the Ministry of Defense has not been published minimum for the past one hundred years, but a report on fulfillment of the Plan of Activities of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation as Regards Implementation of Decrees Nos.597, 601, 603, 604 and 605 of May 7, 2012 of the President of the Russian Federation which was published late in June 2013.


The report is made up of three main sections: Military Building, Property Complex and Social Security; in addition to the above it presents a summary of the report in a table format. The specifics of placement of the report, that is, no mention in it of the values of target indices which were planned in June and blocking of access on the Web-site of the Ministry of Defense to the main page of the plan of activities proper which the Ministry of Defense "gave an account of" complicated the analysis to some extent, but did not make it infeasible.


So what does the Ministry of Defense want to report and what it doesn't?


As regards recruiting of the personnel of the Armed Forces, the report says that "the plan of recruiting of contract servicemen was exceeded by 27%" and "the total number of that category of servicemen amounted to over 225,000 persons". It is to be noted that the "ahead of the target" plan envisaged hiring of 241,400 contract servicemen by the end of the year and the difference – the shortage of 16,000 persons -- is equal to the strength of 3 (three) infantry brigades. Surprisingly, but with such a shortage all the target indices as regards recruiting of noncommissioned officers, shipboard personnel of submarine forces of the navy and other were achieved.


It is stated in the report that equipment of armed forces with modern weapons and military hardware increased in general to 19%; it is to be noted that "by the end of the year it amounted to about 50%, over 20%, about 45%, over 50% and over 60% in the Strategic Nuclear Forces, the Army, the Air Force, the Navy and the Aerospace Defense Force, respectively. It means that almost in all the branches of the armed forces the index explicitly exceeds 20%, while the total result amounts to the mere 19%. Such figures can hardly be justified by contribution of the airborne forces and the military logistics.


As expected, the pattern regarding the State Defense Order (SDO) is stated rather strangely. It is learnt fr om the report that "in 2013 by the main indices the volume of the fulfilled measures as regards the SDO increased by 50% as compared to 2012", but the volume in rubles was not specified – the report does not include any budget indices. So, one has only to guess about the size of that dark hole in the budget: either it amounted to the mere Rb 895.6bn by the line of the Ministry of Defense as appears from the statement of Vice Premier Dmitri Rogozin at the State Duma on December 11, 2013, or to Rb 1,295 trillion as appears from the statement of S. Shoigu, Defense Minister at the Collegium of the Ministry of Defense on January 21.


If the data which was recently published by the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation on growth in the output of the military-industrial complex (which growth amounted to the mere 10%, while as early as June the Ministry of Trade and Industry expected growth of about 19%) can be trusted, so in 2013 up to 40 p.p. of growth in the output of the military-industrial complex just disappeared. For the report of the Ministry of Defense, it is not clear how and wh ere it has gone despite the fact that a week before the publication of the report the leadership of the Ministry of Defense admitted that the contracts concluded on the SDO in 2013 were fulfilled for 93.4%. Subsequent official updates, leaks of the information to the mass media and engagement of the Auditing Chamber and the Prosecutor General's Office will certainly correct that preliminary estimate, but taking into service by the Navy of the unique serial strategic submarine Alexander Nevsky on the eve of the New Year and an attack submarine without missiles (the second one after flagship submarine Yuri Dolgoruky) was sufficient enough for comprehensive understanding of the situation.


In other sections and subsections of the report, many positive developments were stated, for example, the fact that enrollment into military educational establishments increased eight times over as compared to 2012, the indices of intense combat training of troops exceeded the expected ones (while still remaining many-folds lower than in the world's leading armies and there is certainly no mention of that fact in the report) and etc.

Undoubtedly, publication of the 2013 Report of the Ministry of Defense is a new positive achievement in development of the defense agency in the spirit of openness and accountability to the public and due to the above the effect of the decrees of May 2012 as a mechanism of enforcement of the domestic bureaucracy to progress should not be overestimated. However, at present the report of the Ministry of Defense can hardly be compared not only to modern reports of the Defense Departments of the US, the UK, Canada and Australia, but also to the annual reports of the People's Commissariat of the Armed Forces and the Navy of the USSR in the 1920s which reports numbered hundreds of typographically published pages.


At the same time, any progress begins from the first step and one would like to believe that that first step has already been made by the Russian Ministry of Defense.


V.B. Zatsepin, PhD (Military Science), Head of the Economics of the Military-Industrial Sector Department