Moscow is to increase its annual defense spending by 59 percent by 2015 as it attempts to modernize its military – while the United States looks to ways to downside in the face of major spending cuts.
Increased spending reflects the latest in Russia’s military doctrine that is meant to address its security strategy and what it defines as threats to the homeland. Among the five points outlined by then-Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev – called the Medvedev Doctrine – Russian defense doctrine calls for protecting its citizens “wherever they may be.”
“Our foreign policy decisions will be based on this need,” Medvedev said. “We will also protect the interests of our business community abroad. It should be clear to all that we will respond to any aggressive act committed against us.”
One element in redefining its regional and global outlook is Russia’s new doctrine in not accepting the monopoly the United States has over the global system. This also includes not accepting the Western alliance of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to barge in on its regional area of influence.
Russia is expected to concentrate its modernization efforts in command and control structures and the ability to project its conventional forces within its regional area of influence, designed primarily to project Russia itself while relying more on its nuclear arsenal to thwart attempts to gain influence by other countries.
In an effort to streamline its command and control structure into joint strategic commands, the military will create four districts to replace the original six it has had. Within each, the military’s air, land and sea components will operate independently from military forces in the other districts.
It also will transform brigades into stand-alone self-sufficient units while reducing the number of brigades in an effort to fully man them. The idea is to create a more rapid force with greater flexibility while doing away with complicated command structures that existed under the military’s previous structure. This will bring down the number of brigades from 85 to 64.
The new arrangement also calls for cutting military personnel from 1.2 million to some one million with a change in the numbers of officers, non-commissioned officers and enlisted personnel.
Analysts say these changes are designed to create greater civilian control over the military by placing more civilians in the defense ministry. In addition, the general staff will report only to the defense minister, although previously they reported directly to the Russian president.
By placing the military under firmer civilian control, it is expected that it will shift the power balance away from the general staff, while the GS itself will be downsized, as well as create more incentive for reforms in the years ahead.
While this latest effort is to redefine its military doctrine from the old Soviet days, there will be major constraints, including the ability to pay for it. That depends on how high or low the price of Russia’s oil exports go.
It still has dated – some outdated – military equipment and weapons which gradually will need to be replaced. The annual increases in budget have sought to do just that.
However, Russia will need to rely on increased military funding not only to maintain its current combat capability but to increase it to meet its local, regional and global military commitments. In so doing, Moscow will need to determine what its military priorities will be.