During the last several years, the Russian Airborne Troops (VDV) have undergone important changes in organization as well as the procurement of equipment—a process that is by no means complete. For the foreseeable future, the VDV is set to expand the number of units and continue to introduce modern combat vehicles like the BMD-4M and BTR-MDM. At the same time, however, the changes represent at least a partial return to Soviet practices with the reintroduction of tank units and, in the next few years, helicopter and artillery units to the VDV.
Russian Forces in Kaliningrad: Implications of the newly formed 18th Guards Motor Rifle Division
Several tactical formations in Kaliningrad have been reorganized into a restored 18th Guards Motor Rifle division. The plan to establish this division was telegraphed at least two years in advance. After much neglect, Kaliningrad began seeing modernization, infrastructure investment, and a slow force structure expansion after 2016. Russian ground forces have been converting many of their brigades back into divisions as the main tactical formation, though quite a few appear to have 3 instead of 4 maneuver regiments in practice. The news has been covered elsewhere in BMPD and Konrad Muzyka took a stab at it earlier, so I’m not the first to write on this, but hope this will be a more comprehensive update.
Rethinking the Structure and Role of Russia’s Airborne Forces
The Russian Airborne Forces (VDV) compose one of the more important instruments in the General Staff’s toolkit, serving as a rapid reaction force for local conflicts, supporting special operations, or striking behind enemy lines in a conventional war. The VDV has proven to be leading edge of Russian (and Soviet) military power in operations from the 1956 intervention in Hungary, to the 2014 seizure and annexation of Crimea. A combat arm distinct from the Land Forces, the VDV may be used tactically, operationally, or play a strategic role, depending on how it is employed. Whether responding to a crisis, or choosing to visit the territory of its neighbor without notice, Russia is likely to lean on the highest readiness units with elite training, and good mobility, which in many cases means the VDV.