The appointment of the head of the GRU (as, indeed, the SVR) is always a significant event. But it has little to do with purely political circumstances and the “struggle of the clans”, which they began to search immediately after the sudden death of General Igor Sergun. Intelligence - and military, and "civil" - the work of technical, routine, the priorities in it are in no way connected with internal politics or change of government. Here continuity and professionalism are important, which does not negate, of course, the need for periodic metered reforms.
Most of all, intelligence officials fear precisely “political” decisions - the unexpected appointment to leadership positions of people who are not familiar with the specifics of work. Experience and история suggest that such steps in difficult historical periods led to curiosities at best, and failures at worst. A classic example is the situation around the GRU during the period of perestroika and immediately after the collapse of the USSR. Both worthy army generals who headed the GRU in the “Gorbachev period” (after the resignation of the living legend Peter Ivashutin in 1987) did not have anything to do with intelligence. One of them was remembered as a “masquerade”: he sincerely believed that the officers of the General Staff should go to work in uniform and issued a corresponding order. As a result, the staff of the central office came to the old building of the GRU on Khoroshevskoe highway in uniform, and in their offices they were already dressed in costumes. Funny Perhaps. But you have to understand that anyone could be placed opposite the checkpoint and rewrite the title of incoming and branch of troops. Including, therefore, even biased rumors about the arrival of a “Varyag” in the GRU (no matter where it comes from — from the FSO or from “competitors”) are perceived so painfully.
Preserving continuity in intelligence is not a corporate whim and not a desire to isolate oneself from "outsiders." In the end, the GRU does not take "from the student's bench," as in the Soviet time in the KGB, people from various military branches work there, if we talk about intelligence and the central apparatus. Although the military diplomatic academy is a specialized educational institution, they already get there with a certain general military experience, so that it can be considered something of a “second education”.
By the way, in military intelligence, people have long been concerned about the lack of specialized educational institutions that could be targeted by talented young people. We are talking about the training of specialists for strategic agent and intelligence-operational intelligence, and not special forces. In the past ten years, the GRU is usually talked about in relation to special-purpose units, which was greatly facilitated by the flourishing of serial cinema. But special forces are only a small part of the work of the GRU. Combined arms officers are trained at the Novosibirsk Higher Military Command School, but, again, this applies only to special forces and field intelligence. And there was no platform for special training for young people. The disbanding of the Military Institute of Foreign Languages in 1993 year exacerbated the situation with personnel and vocational training.
With all this, the candidacy of the chief of military intelligence demonstrates the vector in which intelligence will develop, as well as the priorities of the current moment. All the heads of the GRU from 1997, according to their professional specialization, clearly corresponded to the tasks that were then considered paramount or seemed so to the Minister of Defense. But after the sudden death of General Igor Sergun, taking into account the principle of interdepartmental continuity, the choice of candidates for the post of the head of the GRU turned out to be small. The commander-in-chief, the minister of defense and the chief of the general staff were to be chosen from among the four acting deputy directors of the department. Perhaps this was the predetermined monthly time lag: Igor Sergun died on January 3, and the new head of the GRU was appointed only on February 2. On the other hand, in such an environment, the choice made in the end turned out to be particularly revealing.
For example, General Sergey Gizunov, winner of the Russian government’s award in science and technology for 2009, was considered as one of the candidates. Before moving to the headquarters of the GRU, he supervised 85, the main center of the special service, he was 26165, the building complex at the beginning of Komsomolsky Avenue in Moscow. His employees didn’t see the automaton, but in three minutes they will be able to decipher any code and encrypt it back, without interrupting writing a doctoral dissertation on quantum physics. Gizunov is more a scientist than a scout. His scientific works are devoted to topics that an ordinary person is not able to say or say. For example, “Pseudo-somatoids generated by matroids” or “Optimal linear codes and a critical problem for matroids”. Do not ask what it is and why matroids have pseudo-somatoids generated by their self-consciousness. Just believe that all this is directly related to cryptography and the construction of the so-called greedy algorithms used for decryption.
It’s not even the case that a man with his heart for theoretical algebra would plan to transfer troops, use the concept of "polite people" or coordinate the activities of illegal residency across distant lands. This is quite possible if you correctly place the relevant specialists to the positions of deputies. But scientific activity, cryptography and mathematical planning are not the main priority of the GRU now. With all due respect to General Gizunov and his extraordinary mind, cryptography and intelligence science are just “servants” to ensure operational activities.
Another potential candidate is General Vyacheslav Kondrashov, Doctor of Historical Sciences, author of the fundamental work Military Intelligence in World War II. Last year, he co-authored a report on US European missile defense and NATO (together with the then Chief of the General Staff’s operational administration, General Andrei Tretiak) and spoke at the State Duma on the missile potential of the countries of the Near and Middle East, which, in particular, detailed characteristics of Iran’s missile potential. Based on Kondrashov’s data, the negotiating position of the Russian Federation regarding the deployment of American missile defense systems in Europe was formed, since these data demonstrated Iran’s inability even to theoretically threaten any objects in the area in which the United States intended to deploy its missile defense system, citing the “Iranian threat ". There is some reason to believe that General Kondrashov was in charge of preparing similar reports assessing North Korea’s missile potential. This paper was called “The tactical and technical characteristics of armaments in the countries of the Near and Middle East, including Iran, and North Korea, ballistic missiles and opportunities for their improvement”, and was read at a scientific-practical conference at the Military Academy of the General Staff .
A number of sources indicate that it was General Kondrashov who was at the end of 2013 of the year in Egypt when, after the freezing of military cooperation programs by Obama, Cairo first turned to Russia for help in rearming the army. Then it was about the supply of missile weapons, almost "Topol" that overly excited Israel, which took unprecedented measures to thwart a possible deal. More realistic, however, would be the assumption that it was still not about “Topol”, but about “Iskander” in their export performance (their range is noticeably smaller than that of the missile systems entering the Russian army). Behind this story, apparently, Saudi Arabia and now the disgraced prince Bandar stood, who intended to arm Egypt, as it were, with neutral missiles capable of hitting Iran’s territory. According to Arab sources, it was General Kondrashov’s report that could change President Putin’s view of a rocket deal with Egypt. But here we must make a reservation that it would be unprofessional to unconditionally trust Arab sources to any degree of verification. In their performance, any story turns into "A Thousand and One Nights."
In other words, General Kondrashov is a professional in the field of missile weapons, assessing missile threats and strategic military capabilities, and has outstanding literary talents (the combination of humanitarian inclinations and technical knowledge in strategic intelligence is expensive). In the current situation, this person is in his place, perfectly corresponding to the level of tasks that are set for him. However, this is only a part of the tasks now facing the GRU, and transferring the experience of the profile professional to the entire overloaded colossus, which, no matter how it is reduced, still does not fit into the barn, apparently, the time has not come yet.
The third potential candidate for the post of head of the GRU was considered the most famous media, albeit with reservations. General Igor Lelin was remembered as a colonel when, in 2000, he worked as a military attache at the Russian embassy in Tallinn. The officially accredited diplomat cannot avoid publicity, and Lelin and his deputy, naval attache Igor Shitov, took part in laying wreaths at a memorial to Soviet soldiers-liberators, when he was still standing on Tõnismägi Square and was not transferred to the cemetery. After graduating from the mission abroad, Igor Lelin continued his service not in the GRU, but in the Personnel Department of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, including in charge of military schools. And there is reason to believe that the Estonian business trip could be interrupted due to circumstances beyond the control of Lelin, and his continued participation in operational intelligence was called into question due to "exposure to light."
In theory, this circumstance did not prevent him from applying for the post of head of the GRU. In the end, no one particularly concealed exactly which diplomatic posts were reserved for intelligence officers (no one is surprised by the incorrectly large number of cultural attachés in the US embassy in Moscow). But the experience in agent-intelligence reconnaissance (and the residency activities in countries of the non-exploratory type, such as Estonia) can also be attributed to one significant flaw. As a rule, such people lack the experience of strategic thinking and global assessment of information. In especially critical cases, a peculiar form of “attachment” to the region in which the employee has worked for a long time is developed, as a result of which local information begins to seem something extremely important, objectivity in evaluation is lost, the overall picture is distorted, despite the fact that historically “small” residency "still prevails work on the" main enemy ", that is, the United States.
No one argues that this fully applies to General Lelin. But this is a well-known professional deformation, which is more in intelligence than in any other profession, with the exception of theater. But it was the ability to evaluate strategic information, structure the general flow, and choose from it the most essential, determined the current choice of the new head of the GRU in favor of General Igor Korobov. Less is known about his record of service than the others, but for most of his career he was directly involved with strategic intelligence and oversaw this area as first deputy head of department.
In modern GRU, strategic intelligence is structurally divided between territorial departments and a special Directorate of strategic doctrines and armaments. Given the specificity of the GRU, in the processing of strategic data, more attention is paid there to the military aspects, and not to politics. But in the modern world, the role of theoretical constructions has grown significantly, primarily in the strategic military planning. The armies are now developing not linearly, simply increasing quantitatively and improving their weapons, but according to theoretically built strategies. As a result, such types of armaments that previously had not been given special importance may receive an unexpected development. Another example is the emergence of a military-political crisis in a previously stable region. To assess such threats, a new approach to the collection, and most importantly, to the processing and evaluation of operational data that pretend to be “strategic” is required. The lack of such a strategic analysis system suffered from the late Soviet KGB, and even the specially created management there with General Leonov did not change the situation, but only aggravated the problem, since Leonov and the company were too carried away with conspiracy.
Now the need for a strategic assessment of information is greater than ever in the history of the Russian Federation. The choice of General Korobov for the post of head of the GRU could have been predetermined by just such a deal and the attendant calculations in the leadership of the country and the army. And this, in turn, forms a new vector for the development of military intelligence, including in terms of internal reforms and recruitment. No politics. Only pragmatist.