Russia's Mobilization: Combat-Capable Troops Or Just More Cannon Fodder
How Much Training Are These Troops Receiving Prior To Deployment?
On September 21, Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization” of Russian “reservists” and combat veterans to bolster his invasion force in Ukraine.
On Friday, the Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, reported to Putin that the partial mobilization was now complete, and that 300,000 troops had been raised in just 37 days.
"The dispatch of citizens called up for mobilization has been completed today. The notification of citizens has been terminated. The task set by you, 300 thousand people, has been completed . No additional tasks are planned. The military commissariats, as part of a special military operation, will continue to replenish troops only by accepting volunteers and candidates for military service under a contract," Shoigu said.
Organizing 300,000 troops in just 37 days is an impressive feat for any army. However, what we do not know (nor should we expect to know) are the details of the new formations.
Were entire reserve units called up, and deployed as a unit?
Were individual veterans who were not attached to any particular unit called up, and effectively dropped into whatever unit that lacked the most personnel?
Were the troops given proper supplies and materiel before deployment?
These are but a few of the questions—largely unanswerable—which we must attempt to unravel in order to understand what has and has not been done during Putin’s “partial mobilization”.
With Less Than 37 Days Training, 41,000 Troops Are Already In Combat Formations In Ukraine
On paper, both Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Shoigu emphasize the importance of adequate training. Thus half of the 82,000 already deployed to Ukraine are considered to be adequately “trained”.
"Strictly speaking, 41,000 [persons] operate as part of combat units, and all the rest are still undergoing combat training in one way or another?" - said the head of state, after listening to the report.
The head of the Ministry of Defense gave an affirmative answer. "Yes, Vladimir Vladimirovich. We pay special attention to this, separate. Because it is necessary to send trained, trained, equipped [fighters]," Shoigu confirmed. Putin, after listening to the minister, agreed with him. "Great," he responded. "Absolutely [agree]. That's how it should be done."
Of course, plenty of training is how mobilization “should” be done. What “should” be done is not necessarily the same as what is being done. State news agency TASS has already acknowledged there were significant logistical failures in equiping and outfitting the mobilized troops at first, although this presumably has been resolved.
"At the initial stage, there were problems with the supply, various types of allowances, today these problems have been resolved. All those who arrived in the troops are provided with the prescribed types of allowances, uniforms, equipment, food according to the norms of contract servicemen," [Shoigu] said.
Based on other TASS reporting, the average age of the troops mobilized (and, by extension), deployed, is 35 years, with a number of “entrepreneurs” and small business types among the mobilized.
While it is possible that these individuals have been keeping up with their physical training and military skills, the presentation within the Russian media is of individual Russians showing up at enlistment/recruitment depots for processing—which strongly suggests that, whatever experience these “reservists” might have, they are not necessarily current on their skills.
The 41,000 already inserted into combat formations in Ukraine have had at most two weeks to be processed into the army, assigned to a unit, and given a rudimentary refresher on military protocol, discipline, physical training.
It seems unlikely that such training standards—assuming they have been applied— qualifies as “proper” training and preparation for combat.
Putin certainly implies that such “proper” training is not being provided, as he the other day stated that equipment and training are still unresolved issues for the mobilization efforts.
“Today, the most important thing is equipment, training, coordination. And everything related to making people feel confident if they need to take part directly in hostilities,” he stressed at a meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Friday .
Moreover, the way Russian media has depicted the mobilization effort itself, reserve formations similar to the Select Reserve established for all the branches of the US military have not been mobilized and activated. Rather, individuals—hopefully with a measure of military experience—are being instructed to report to recruitment and induction offices, there to be outfitted and given an initial assignment to a training unit.
The head of state thanked everyone who joined the armed forces and instructed to modernize the work of the military registration and enlistment offices and send only trained and equipped fighters to the front lines.
Russian Industry Is Still Not Meeting The Supply Needs Of The Russian Army
As I have already noted, Russian media has already admitted that Russian industry is not keeping pace with the demands of the troops in Ukraine for supplies and munitions.
Despite what assurances Putin offers up publicly, the statements by his subordinates contradict those assurances, and suggest that the newly mobilized troops are not receiving straight away all the equipment, uniforms, and other necessary material to prepare them for winter combat in Ukraine.
For uniforms especially, a study by Russian news agency Kommersant found the disruptions of imports into Russia are making manufacture particularly problematic.
The main problem is the import component, the study says. Thus, in the production of workwear, the share of the local "contribution" is in the range from 20% to 60%, and the category is highly dependent on the import of cotton, synthetic fibers, yarn, dyes, mainly from China, South Korea, Turkey and the EU countries. According to the PPE Association, over the past year, prices for polyester have increased by more than 40%, cotton has risen in price by 60%, dyes and auxiliary components by 100%, which led to an increase in the cost of workwear by 30-80%.
In addition to the inadequate supply and logistics, it appears that for at least one fourth of the newly mobilized troops, inadequate training can be added to the shortcomings of mobilization.
Without Training, Instead Of Combat-Ready Troops Putin Only Has Cannon Fodder
Any military force, from the time of the Roman Republic down to the present era, requires almost constant training to be ready for combat. When troops are not properly trained, they cease to be a combat-capable force, and devolve into mere cannon fodder.
With the battle for the strategic city of Kherson in the south of Ukraine intensifying, if Putin intends to hold the city, he needs to bolster his forces in the region with combat-capable troops.
Right now, he’s not mobilizing combat capable troops. He’s only mobilizing more cannon fodder to be fed into the meatgrinder war of attrition that has become the operational reality of the front lines in Putin’s war. These newly mobilized troops are poised to become future casualties of war, and no more. These newly mobilized troops are not being properly trained, but merely lined up to be sacrificed.
While it is possible that a measure of heroism by the newly mobilized troops could still save the day for Putin on the Kherson front, a humiliating defeat and withdrawal is, at the present time, the far more likely outcome.
If that does happen, Putin can look to his army’s inability to enforce his own guideline about only deploying properly trained and equipped troops to Ukraine. Putin will have done an admirable job of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, both on the Kherson front and across the front lines in Ukraine.
All Facts Matter is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber. Alternatively, please consider leaving a tip through Ko-Fi. Thank you always for your support!