By Paul Goble
Vladimir Putin’s Russian Guard has announced plans to subordinate a variety of elite special forces, including the OMON, SOBR, OSpN,, and USpN, under a single command that will be capable of dispatching them to any part of Russia to put down disorders.
Izvestiya today reports that this new force will also have its own independent air power, thereby making it independent of the interior ministry on which it had to rely for this service elsewhere (iz.ru/680237/bogdan-stepovoi-aleksei-ramm-evgenii-andreev/rosgvardiia-sobiraet-elitnye-chasti-v-kulak).
Some military experts say that “the concentration of the spetsnaz of the Russian guard in a single fist will increase its mobility and effectiveness,” the Moscow paper says. But others are divided about this move, with some saying it will improve coordination among these various units while others insist that it will only create “an unnecessary bureaucratic superstructure.”
Much of what is going on may be nothing more than the growing pains of Putin’s new security force, but Izvestiya notes that “OMON officers say that there already are problems with inter-agency coordination of the Russian Guard and the Ministry of Internal Affairs,” especially with regard to its possible support of police actions.
This new force may also come in conflict with the FSB which at present has primary responsibility for combatting terrorism, and so the reform sets the stage for more infighting at the top. But it is possible that the new force will allow the Kremlin to act more quickly and effectively if protests become violent.
Training will be standardized and the new forces will be far more mobile than any hitherto. Vladislav Shurygin, a military expert, says that the new forces “can be quickly and effectively shifted to various regions and address there a wide variety of tasks: the struggle with mass disorders, the arrest of criminals and terrorists, and the performance of special ops.”