Military Review

"Fights" in the foothills of the Alagyaz

To serve and comprehend the "science of victory" by servicemen of the 102 Russian military base stationed in the Republic of Armenia falls in the highlands.

Here you are not plain ...

The Gyumrinsky station of permanent dislocation "Big Fortress" with a number of adjacent military camps is located at an altitude of one and a half thousand meters above sea level. In the 12 kilometers west of the FPD, there is a “lower” Kamhud training complex with a drop in mountain heights to 1.840 meters. The “upper” training complex “Alagyaz” is located in 70 kilometers north-west of Gyumri. Its working heights for motorized infantry units reach the 2.280 mark of meters.

However, this is not the limit. By appropriate agreement, Russian military intelligence officers and snipers improve their skills, including at the Pambak high-altitude training ground of Armenia, where they have to hone their skills at altitudes up to 2.800 meters above sea level.

But the Alagyaz training complex is considered the main component for the training of the RSV contingent. Large areas of it allow, without inconvenience for the local population, to use dozens of weapons and combat equipment in the process of combat training, from the Kalashnikov assault rifle to the gun rocket installations.

Judging by the responses of our soldiers and officers, for mountain training and in the interests of developing professional skills in the conditions of the extreme terrain of the foothills of the Alagyaz is the best area. There is no other such on the territory of the Central Russian Upland, from which, in fact, the main contingent of Russian servicemen arrives, cannot be found. Therefore, sharing impressions about the conditions of combat training, my interlocutors involuntarily turned to the experience of combat work at Russian training grounds that they had involuntarily. At the same time, they added that the skill acquired in Alagyaz in their further service in the territory of Russia would be really expensive ...

According to the commander of the tank platoon of Senior Lieutenant Andrei Nikishin, here, in the conditions of the Armenian mountains, experienced commanders perceive the level of training of the contingent arriving in the RVB structure, if tactfully expressed, to be condescending. And this is despite the fact that not new recruits are sent to the staff of the 102 military base, but variable military personnel who had not only received proper military education in training centers, but after graduation served to serve a month or two in linear units of combat units.

“All this in no way detracts from the professional skills that were obtained by soldiers of military service before arriving at us,” makes addition the first lieutenant Nikishin. - Just gained in the mountains the experience of performing maneuvers, finding targets, conducting combat, etc. It differs significantly from similar tasks that are worked out on flat terrain.

In confirmation of his words, the officer gave the following example:
- Take the simplest - the stage of landing crews in combat vehicles. On an ordinary Russian director, this element does not cause excessive physical exertion, for example, among tankers. But in the conditions of the highlands, the servicemen reach the fighting vehicles and feel: that’s all, there is not enough breath. And then a new team: “To battle!” I managed to catch my breath, no, but I had to mobilize again, overcoming fatigue, getting up on armor, taking a place in the fighting compartment and starting working out the combat training task. It is clear that such a tension of forces affects the emotional state of military personnel. And from what it will be at the time of entry into the "battle", directly depends on the result of the fire mission, training exercises for driving.

It’s hard to disagree. Especially when the training exercise just mentioned is carried out nearby tank crews. However, referring to the platoon commander, I note that the faces of his subordinates "do not talk" about the experienced overloads.

“You just observe the stage of training the personnel at the final stage of the training period,” explains Andrei Nikishin. - These crews served in the highlands for five months. They have already adapted. In addition, months of active training, as they say, are not in vain. Not only that physical training for us is one of the main academic disciplines. My tankers get dosed physical exertion during the whole working day: running, catching up on the crossbar, doing a series of push-ups when moving to the next place of employment is already the norm for them. The path to the dining room runs through the horizontal bar. Throw a bullet-proof vest over sportswear during the period of mass sports work - as a matter of course. It is in such conditions that endurance appears in those who serve in the mountains ...

To this, it is worth adding that a competent combination of physical exertion with intense combat training ultimately gives the very desired result. As it turned out, tankers devote practical classes in Alagyaz to two weeks per month. 50 percent of the tasks being worked out falls on the dark time of the day. Every second lesson - with elements of fire training.

Plus, the subordinates of Senior Lieutenant Nikishin, by the end of their service life as part of the RVB, the assigned combat vehicles already know, according to the interlocutor, "fifty to sixty percent."

“That's because,” the officer says, “that we have no one to rely on.” Routine maintenance of tanks, elimination of problems arising in conditions of mountainous terrain, have to be performed by ourselves. We do not take care of technical outsourcing. Representatives of manufacturers of military equipment to us, abroad, do not come. As a result, we are accustomed to be guided by the words: “If not yourself, then who?”

When the soil is like sandpaper

By the way, a little about the use of technology in the very conditions of the highlands. The head of the technical support department of the 102 military base, Lieutenant Colonel Vyacheslav Panov, notes:

- One of the most serious problems is the operational wear of equipment. On landfills - the hardest soil. Solid skalnik. Take the same driving route for combat vehicles. The length of the route - 5 kilometers. Along all the broken track in this "soil" - stones, fragments of rocky soil and boulders. And the rut itself is like a stone sandpaper. Caterpillars, skating rinks, and torsion bars of combat vehicles undergo tremendous dynamic loads while moving on it ...

Lieutenant Colonel Panov did not exaggerate at all. For the sake of a couple of shots from the driving route, it was possible to personally experience the entire rigidity of the five-kilometer Alagyaz distance. On the particularly stony sections of the driving route, there was a feeling that the BMP chassis had now and then stumbled upon poles concreted into the ground.

I could not resist at the finish, asked the motorized riflemen the question that arose during the trip: “You didn’t think to clear the stone driving route at least once?” The answer was discouraged by its sense of purpose: “Why? To simplify your own task ?! ”

But the stones on the track, as it turned out, were still half the problem. The driving route is laid out in such a way that it is not possible to find an analogue for him at Russian polygons either. Not only that here rises alternately alternate with descents, so right in the process of climbing skyscrapers you have to make sharp turns, on unexpectedly opening descents almost immediately turn left or right at ninety or even more degrees! And where practically next there are obstacles of “breakdown” - a passage in a mine-explosive barrier and a track-bridge. Similar route elements are in the chain of any standard route for practical driving instruction. But just like that, right on the way down ...

Moreover, on Alagyaz, restrictive landmarks are often not the usual poles with flags, but natural boulders, which, having failed to cope with the control of a multi-ton combat vehicle, will not go off.

According to the officers - commanders of the motorized rifle and tank units of the 102 military base, on the Alagyaz highway especially goes to those driver mechanics whose service falls on the winter months. As it is known, in cold weather, the contact of the caterpillars with the ground is already fragile, and on the slippery stone “substrate” it is completely insignificant. Heads at the training places are forced every time to remind the participants of the race to keep the distance during the descents in case of a possible skid.

But what is surprising. Drivers, who had a chance to talk with, argued that the mountain driving route is much more interesting than the plains. In turn, the unit commanders note that by the end of their service in Armenia, the majority of conscripts perform a test driving exercise with a very decent result. Moreover, there are frequent examples when drivers ask for passing the exam for the next grade level exactly on the Alagyaz highway. In such cases, the commanders try not to refuse, regretting only that such trained specialists in Russia are not waiting for the continuation of their work activities and the transfer of practical experience to young servicemen, but to transfer to the reserve after the conscription period ...

Yourself a mechanic

However, the subject of increased wear of the undercarriage is, according to Lieutenant Colonel Panov, only part of the issue.

“In the conditions of Russian polygons, one practically does not have to deal with such, for example, a problem as prolonged loads on the power plants of combat vehicles due to the complexity of the terrain,” the source develops the theme. - But in the mountains - it is an integral "option." At altitudes, the vehicle suffocates from lack of oxygen. Engines work with a large overload, in fact, for wear.

The officer gave this example. During the multi-kilometer march at the Alagyaz UTK armored columns climb the mountain almost 1.000 additional meters. Not only that their way to the place of upcoming classes runs in the range of heights from 2.300 to 2.700 meters, there is another area where a long climb stretches for two dozen kilometers. It remains only to note the endurance of domestic combat vehicles, operated in the mode of such extreme overloads.

Not surprisingly, in such conditions, the command of the 102 military base pays close attention to the professional training of the remrota specialists and the battalion technical support units, which have all the necessary repair facilities available to provide technical assistance even on the ground, when in conditions of mountains the evacuation of a combat vehicle does not appear possible. Vyacheslav Panov explains that having technical assistance units equipped with small repair and recovery complexes as part of the base is a forced measure. After all, the majority of driver-mechanics are conscripts with little experience in the practical use and maintenance of combat vehicles by military standards. At the same time, the training program for specialists in combat specialties as part of the 102 th RSB is too concise and intensive to take their attention “on the full program” to ensure the combat-training process.

And yet a positive point in the technical training of the driver’s staff is definitely present. The rotational system of the personnel of the Armed Forces has developed so that the stages of transfer of weapons and equipment to the seasonal mode of operation occur with the participation of both compositions: the decreasing and the new arrivals. This allows you to maintain the principle of continuity of generations and the transfer of experience. Especially in the part concerning the operation and maintenance of engineering equipment. Its wear on the rocky-stony soils of Alagyaz and Kamhud is enormous. And not only in the summer.

“In winter, without preliminary work of engineering vehicles on firing directions, driving routes there is nothing to do,” the officers of the divisions explained. - There is so much snow that, sometimes, the BMP will not break through.

In confirmation, they paid attention to the two-meter concrete fence of the field camp. The thickness of the snow cover, they say, is such that along it, through the fence of the path, they tread ...

However, the complexity of the mountain soil professional impulse of engineers of the military troops of the military base does not hold back. With their participation at the Alagyaz training center, in the interests of the process of combat training of motorized riflemen, a battalion fortification point was equipped. On Kamhud - two more strong points. But the unit commanders do not rush to create “entirely civilized conditions for battle” at landfills, bearing in mind that in a real situation the operational equipment in the stony layers of good-quality trench galleries is unlikely to be time. Therefore, within the framework of tactical training, the themes of the active use of the so-called natural resource have become part of the practice - when numerous folds of erection made of stone parastrokes are used as shelters for personnel. In the midst of personnel, it is quickly becoming the norm to perfectly know the rules of disguise in open territory.
Not only.

Attacking mountains

"If you want to leave the battlefield the winner, learn to shoot straight." This rule has been heard more than once in Alagyaz from motorized riflemen, tankers, mortar gunners, and even "Reactants." It would seem a hackneyed interpretation. But not for those who study combat in mountain conditions.

“Everything is different here,” notes the commander of a motorized rifle company, Senior Lieutenant Mikhail Khaliman. - It seems, here it is, the goal in front of you. But without proper practice, you will not get from the first shot. You'll miss it from the fifth. Because in the mountains, not only distance is deceptive. The whole list of accompanying factors makes its adjustments to the shooting calculations: gusty wind, atmospheric pressure of high mountains, ascending heat fluxes. And our goals are located where the enemy can actually be - at the very foot of the heights, on the ascending mountain slopes. In the crevices, among the stones. In tactical terms, working out the tasks of countering the enemy is cultivated both from the bottom up, from the foot up the mountain, and from the top down. If possible, we work on rocky terrain, mastering the basics of climbing. Moreover, in our business, the study of success theory alone will not be achieved. In fire training, we train motorized infantry. In a few days, we give a capacious theoretical part in the RPM, and spend the rest of the time in the firing camp. Rifle - practice day and night. Then again in the PDP, a brief analysis of actions, the repetition of the theory, and back to the test site ...

“Plus, active physical training,” adds the commander of the grenade launcher platoon, Senior Lieutenant Andrei Zyuzik. - Without this, we can not do. For the grenade launcher, endurance is comparable to the level of training in fire training. Especially here in the mountains. Moving with AGS-17 on the shoulders at high altitudes is quite difficult. Therefore, seven-kilometer marches on foot, with full armament, are already for us as a training norm ... When I return to my duty station in Russia, I will definitely keep the principle of additional physical training for my rocket launchers. Even in the program of training specialists I will pay more attention to such moments as the firing of a hinged trajectory at closed firing positions. Only here, “attacking” the mountains, I realized the importance of comprehensive preparation of our profile fighter: if the current situation does not require skills in particular elements today, this does not mean that the conditions of the battle will not create a precedent tomorrow.

... here the climate is different

“Add to this the skills of moving in a very rough terrain, operational deployment of firing positions and target reconnaissance in conditions of unpredictable weather behavior in the mountains,” notes Lieutenant Roman Shkinyov, commander of an artillery battery control platoon of the jet-artillery battalion. - And a special emphasis should be placed on the last moment. On the mountainside it is quite difficult to choose landmarks. It is necessary either to look carefully and for a long time for what the eye can “catch on”, or to show imagination, endowing certain elements of the relief with images that everyone can understand - the hill “striped”, “the hump of a whale”, “cat's tail”. In this case, it is necessary to have time to choose the points of aiming of weapons. Slightly delayed, and all the “bindings” will hide nowhere the fog that came from, the rain that broke out, the twilight quickly gathering in the mountains, or the heat-induced haze, when the target “floats” even in observation devices. If you didn’t have time - waste time moving towards the depth of the range, closer to the target, or change the firing position, moving along the front.

Roman Shkinev teaches subordinates to act in just such a temporary “context”, teaches to have time to solve combat training tasks during periods of initially falling weather corridors. In this case, the officer emotionally notes:

- Surprisingly, the staff liked such cocky conditions of service. They rush to practice in the mountains. More and more often they are witty in the field, more intuitively approach the process of combat training ...

To the question to the interlocutors: “What is missing here in the mountains in terms of combat training?”, Only the commander of a tank company, captain Artem Danchin, thought, recalled:

- It’s a pity there is no possibility to organize classes in underwater driving of tanks in the mountains. Because of this, we have to assume that the training of the combat training program is not fully in progress. But we are more than compensating for the missing topic of training with practical driving and fire training, which in the end does not allow us to doubt the excellent skills of tank crews returning to Russia.