At sea pace: how the structure of black berets will change in the coming years
And due to which their combat power will grow significantly
Since the first day of the special operation in Ukraine, Marines have been actively involved in combat operations. People in pea jackets and pea caps in 1918 were one of the symbols of the Civil War. The exploits of the marines of the Soviet Union are written in gold letters in the history of the Great Patriotic War — they distinguished themselves in the defense of Odessa and Sevastopol, Novorossiysk and Leningrad, Murmansk and Moscow. In the future, these units took part in the Chechen wars, in the operation to force the Georgian authorities to peace, as well as in many local conflicts around the world. How the legendary black berets are fighting today and what changes can be expected in the structure of the Marine Corps in the next decade — Izvestia understood.
In hard-fought battles
On the account of the Marines-a successful landing near Berdyansk, the liberation of Mariupol. Serious forces of the VFU were shackled in the Odessa region, when amphibious ships of the Black Sea Fleet imitated the preparation of an amphibious operation. The battles in the Kiev and Kharkiv directions at the beginning of the SVO were also successful. Later, the Marines were noted during the storming of the village of Pavlovka in the Donbass.
As of today, the 155th Marine Brigade of the Pacific Fleet has been awarded the honorary title "Guards" by Russian President Vladimir Putin's decrees. And the 336th brigade of the Baltic Fleet was awarded the Order of Zhukov. Eight Marines earned the title of Hero of Russia, unfortunately, some of them — posthumously. Undoubtedly, the Marines, their courage and training were one of the discoveries of the SVO. One can only regret that currently there is no practice of awarding honorary titles for the liberation of a particular locality, and then there is information that the military Council of the Black Sea Fleet has applied for the assignment of the honorary name "Mariupol"to the 810th brigade.
Marines (MP) are essentially soldiers of the three elements, capable of operating in land, sea, and air landings. Such opportunities are given to them by enhanced combat training, and the history of the Russian Marine Corps serves as a good motivation "not to drop the glory of their ancestors."
In Soviet times, their main formation was the brigade. Such a formation at that time consisted of an amphibious assault and reconnaissance battalion, three marine battalions (one of them was cropped), a tank - on floating PT-76s-and a powerful artillery component. There were four brigades in total. But there was also the 55th Marine Division in Vladivostok. Its main task was the land defense of the Muravyov-Amursky Peninsula, on which Vladivostok stands. The Marine brigades were primarily focused on operations of the beginning of a possible war with NATO-the seizure of straits in the Baltic Sea and the Turkish Straits to ensure the withdrawal of Soviet Navy forces from the closed sea areas of the Baltic and Black Seas.
At the end of the Soviet era, the process of adapting Marine corps units, as well as other coastal units of the Soviet Navy, to new realities was underway — the so-called reform of General Ivan Skuratov. In the course of it, in particular, it was planned to double the power of this type of troops — to create a second amphibious assault battalion in their composition and deploy a couple more marine infantry battalions. The battalions themselves became larger units consisting of four companies with two artillery batteries. New tanks were to come into service with the MP units. However, the collapse of the USSR prevented these plans, moreover, a large-scale reduction began. As a result, at the beginning of the first Chechen War, the main unit of the 61st Brigade of the Northern Fleet-the amphibious assault battalion — was understaffed in 80% of its personnel. But this did not prevent the Northern Fleet Command from completing and preparing the battalion. As a result, the Northern Fleet Marines managed to prove themselves worthy in the storming of Grozny and, in particular, the Dudayev Palace.
Since 1991, there has been a constant process of reforming, reducing and optimizing the Russian Navy's Marine corps units, especially in the course of the so-called new and new look reforms. In principle, by 2017, the structure of units was established in the form of a brigade (reconnaissance and amphibious assault battalions, one or two marine infantry battalions, an artillery division, a tank battalion or company, sniper and drone companies, as well as other units).
In 2018, the 177th Marine Regiment was established in Kaspiysk. It consists of three battalions, a reconnaissance and amphibious company, a drone company, artillery and other units. Most likely, it is on it that the promising regimental structure of the Marine Corps is being tested.
By the beginning of the SVO, the Marine Corps consisted of five brigades and one regiment. In the course of the operation, a certain number of battalions were formed from volunteers and conscripts who were trained on the basis of MP formations. So, it is known about at least three Tiger battalions formed in Primorye on the basis of the 155th Guards Brigade.
The current global tectonic events require significant reinforcement, primarily of the Russian Navy's marine corps units. On December 21, 2022, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced plans to form five MP divisions.
In Kamchatka, the 40th Krasnodar-Harbin Double Red Banner Brigade is practically the only formation capable of resisting the attempts of a possible enemy to seize this remote territory. Due to the development of the amphibious ships and transport aircraft available to it, it is better to have larger units in this region than now. In its current form, the 40th brigade includes, in fact, two combat battalions, which is clearly not enough. At the same time, the Kuril Islands are still located near Kamchatka, and it is necessary to have forces for their defense.
In Primorye, the 155th Guards Brigade is also, in fact, the only major unit in the Vladivostok region capable of defending the region and participating in counter-amphibious operations on Sakhalin Island and the Kuril Islands. In the coming years, the Pacific Fleet (Pacific Fleet) will be replenished with at least one, or even two universal landing ships of the project 23900 "Ivan Rogov" and two landing ships of the project 11771. Accordingly, the projection capabilities of the amphibious force will increase and a slightly larger compound than the current one will be required.
In the north, on the Kola Peninsula, Russia currently has only three brigades: the 61st Kirkenes Red Banner MP, the 200th Motorized Rifle and Arctic Brigades. Sweden and Finland have finally decided to break with their neutrality and join NATO. Accordingly, Russia will have to strengthen its northern borders. Recently, the Defense Minister announced that several brigades, including the 200th motorized Rifle division, will be reorganized into motorized rifle divisions. But, in addition, Russia has a long border along the Arctic Ocean. Given the creativity of our Western potential opponents, nothing prevents them from organizing some "liberation movement" somewhere in Yamal, then declaring independence from Russia and asking for foreign military assistance. We are already seeing something similar in Asia and Africa. Therefore, Russia should have a free mobile force that can be quickly deployed by sea or air to any area of our Arctic possessions. So the MP division is also needed in the north.
In the Kaliningrad exclave, the 336th Guards Brigade of the Orders of Zhukov, Suvorov and Alexander Nevsky and a number of other units of the coastal troops of the Baltic Fleet are deployed. The exclave is surrounded by the most hostile NATO states to Russia-Poland and the Baltic limitrophes. Moreover, Poland has recently been quantitatively and qualitatively strengthening its armed forces. Hence the direct need for Russia to strengthen its formations in this remote region, including units capable of conducting amphibious operations.
The 810th Guards Order of Zhukov brigade is deployed in Crimea. As part of the DPR troops, there are formations that can be attributed to the Marine corps, such as the 9th Mariupol-Khingansky Regiment of the MP. In 2023, we should expect the integration of parts of the DPR and LPR into the Russian Armed Forces. It is possible that the Black Sea Marine division will be deployed on the basis of these units. And in general, the situation in the Ukrainian direction for many years to come will require the presence of powerful forces capable of also conducting amphibious operations.
Do not forget the fact that on warships and auxiliary vessels on long trips there are groups of marines to defend these units themselves from enemy saboteurs. With the increase in naval personnel and the intensification of the Russian Navy's combat service, more Marines are also needed to defend our ships.
Thus, at present, there is a direct need for Russia to increase the number and power of its amphibious assault units. Such work is already underway. So, for example, as part of the Pacific Fleet marine brigades operating in the Donbass, 152-mm Hyacinth artillery systems are observed, which were not previously in service with MP units. The divisions themselves, presumably, will look like this: two marine infantry regiments, a tank and reconnaissance battalion, an artillery regiment, and a battalion with drones. And in general, the combat power of these units will grow significantly.