June 30, 2015
Translated from Russian by J.Hawk
Moscow, June 30. Interfax-AVN. Russian Federation Combat Engineers Chief, Lieutenant General Yuriy Stavitskiy, announced that the first assault engineer-sapper battalion has been established in the Russian Armed Forces on the basis of the 1st Combat Engineer Brigade in Murom.
“We have assault units within the Airborne Forces, and formed a battalion of this type within the 1st Combat Engineer Brigade. So far it’s the only one. We’ll see how it operates,” he said on Tuesday.
The new battalion is manned only by contract soldiers and is subordinated directly to the Chief of Combat Engineer Forces. It will include two assault companies and one heavy specialized equipment company. It will also receive specialized equipment being developed for the unit. “For the moment it will not participate in exercises. The battalion has already been formed and staffed, now we have to train and prepare it–it’s all new methodology. We are creating assault training lanes, materiel depot, equipment,” Stavitskiy summed up.
He emphasized that the idea represents the embodiment of the unique experience of the Great Patriotic War, when the Combat Engineer Forces had 10 sapper armies and about 20 special purpose assault sapper brigades.
“Any urban area, any fortified area, which came under assault by our forces, was accompanied by our sappers. They had special body armor, the troops were specially selected, no more than 30 years of age, preferably sportsmen, with a high level of fitness,” Stavitskiy said.
J.Hawk’s Comment: This is not the sort of news that makes headlines, even though maybe it should. The establishment of a new military formation is usually a reflection of the type of warfare the military in question expects to be fighting in the foreseeable future. The fact that, as Savitskiy pointed out, assault sappers are an offensive branch of forces specializing in breaking down resistance in fortified and urban areas, suggests that’s the kind of fighting the Russian military might see in the future. Question being, where? It seems like too much of a coincidence that just as the UAF are betting on static field fortifications, the Russian military is re-establishing units whose primary mission is defeating such fortifications…
Incidentally, it’s not the only such news in recent months. It was reported earlier that the Russian Ground Forces re-instituted the First Guards Tank Army, with headquarters somewhere in the Moscow Region. The news report did not specify whether the 1st GTA is in fact intended to operate as a tank army (in other words, as an offensive formation responsible for the break-out once the assault sappers have completed their break-in…), or whether the name is simply an honorific. Still, given that the Russian military doesn’t do things on a whim or without a grander purpose in mind, one has to wonder what are the contingency plans for which these formations are being established.