Sand Career Generals: Large-Scale Leadership Rotation Begins In Russia


Originally appeared on; Translated by J.Hawk exclusively for SouthFront

Key positions in the Russian Armed Forces will be occupied by veterans of the operations in Syria and other military campaigns

February 23 will see the publication of a decree nominating several high-ranking officers of the Russian Army to new positions. Izvestia was told by sources familiar with the situation in the Ministry of Defense that key positions will be occupied by generals with combat experience in Syria. According to their information, unusual personnel decisions will be made. The most sensational could be the appointment of an Army general to the post of the Navy chief of staff. Sources indicate that promotions will be granted to primarily those commanders who excelled in hot spots. When the document was being prepared, candidates’ participation in campaigns from the first Chechen campaign to the Syria operation was considered, with only specific combat successes being taken into account.

Sand Career Generals: Large-Scale Leadership Rotation Begins In Russia

Global Look Press/Friedemann Kohler

Land-Lubber Navy

Personnel policy innovations include placing infantry officers into all branches of forces. Thus the second-highest Navy officer may become Lieutenant General Oleg Makarevich, one of the first commander of the famous 42nd Motor Rifle Division fighting in Chechnya. According to Izvestia sources, Oleg Makarevich, who also fought in Syria, is considered for one of two posts: General Staff Deputy Chief of Staff, and the Navy Main Staff Chief. If he is sent to the Navy, it would be the first time in decades when an infantry officer occupied a senior naval post.

Sand Career Generals: Large-Scale Leadership Rotation Begins In Russia

Lieutenant General Oleg Makarevich

It’s worth noting Makarevich is no stranger to the Navy. In 2017 he was the first in the newly created position of Navy Deputy Chief for land and coastal forces. He commanded the coastal component which in recent years was greatly strengthened—right now the Navy includes several Army corps. Moreover, the Navy chief of staff will also be required to command aircraft, submarines, surface ships, and a huge support fleet.

That freed-up position will be filled by Western Military District (MD) chief, Lieutenant General Viktor Astapov.  This nomination continues the trend of placing Army officers with combat experience in high-level positions. Astapov also participated in both Chechen campaigns. During his service he passed through every level from platoon commander to division commander in the Airborne Forces. He commanded the 49th Combined Arms Army and served as the deputy commander of the Southern Military District. He was awarded the Order for Bravery and the Order for Combat Merit.

Astapov’s current post will be occupied by the Western Military District deputy commander Lieutenant General Aleksey Zavizyon who led motor rifle units in the second Chechen war. He also commanded the 201st Military Base in Tajikistan and occupied command posts within Russian forces in Syria on several occasions.

Calling the Center, Please Respond

According to Izvestia sources, there will also be personnel changes in the Central Military District command. Thus the district commander, Colonel General Evgeniy Ustinov will become the Airborne Forces chief of staff. In spite of his age (he’s already 58), Ustinov is considered one of the most promising troop leaders of the Russian Army. Ustinov participated in the majority of combat operations of the Soviet era and also in the “five day war” with Georgia. Ustinov served in the peacekeeping contingent in former Yugoslavia, and was assigned to Syria in 2016 and 2017, participating in the planning of the second liberation of Palmyra. He is a recipient of seven high state decorations.

Sand Career Generals: Large-Scale Leadership Rotation Begins In Russia

Colonel General Evgeniy Ustinov

Ustinov’s place will be taken by the Southern MD chief of staff Lieutenant General Mikhail Teplinskiy, one of the most authoritative Russian troop leaders. During the assault on Groznyy on January 1 1995 he was sent at the head of a reconnaissance company to assist the 131st Maikop Brigade. His unit broke into the city center and seized one of the high rises. Then it spent several days repelling attacks in full encirclement, killing 44 enemy fighters. Teplinskiy’s company did not suffer a single casualty. This fight is now studied by Airborne Forces officers as an example of successful actions in encirclement. Teplinskiy was granted the Hero of Russia award in recognition of his urban warfare success, and he has also been awarded the orders for Bravery and Kutuzov, as well as the Medal of Courage. Teplinskiy also distinguished himself in Syria—his subordinates call him a flawless combat machine.

Sand Career Generals: Large-Scale Leadership Rotation Begins In Russia

Moscow, May 25, 1995. Senior Lieutenant Mikhail Yuryevich Teplinskiy while receiving the Hero of Russia award for heroism and bravery while carrying out a special mission, from the hands of RF President Boris Yeltsin.

Moscow, May 25, 1995. Senior Lieutenant Mikhail Yuryevich Teplinskiy while receiving the Hero of Russia award for heroism and bravery while carrying out a special mission, from the hands of RF President Boris Yeltsin.

The chief of staff of Southern MD position will be filled by another paratrooper, the current commander of the 8th Army, Lieutenant General Sergey Kuzovlev. He fought in both Chechen wars, and in March 2017 he was nominated to command the newly reactivated 8th Guards Army in Novocherkassk.

Eastern Experience

According to Izvestia sources, the Eastern MD chief of staff will be replaced too. Lieutenant General Aleksandr Chayko, who currently fills that post, will become the first deputy chief of the General Staff Academy. In the past he has commanded units starting with a reconnaissance platoon and ending with Russia’s sole tank army. Chayko was the first chief of staff of the Russian group of forces in Syria. In April 2017 he was nominated for the post of chief of staff and the first deputy commander of the Eastern MD.

His current post will be filled by the deputy Ground Forces commander, Lieutenant General Sergey Kuralenko. He carried out operations in Syria on several occasions, and since 2016 he’s been leading the Coordinating Center in Syria working on reconciliation.

Sand Career Generals: Large-Scale Leadership Rotation Begins In Russia

Lieutenant General Aleksandr Chayko

“The Ministry of Defense is currently seeking to ensure as many officers and generals obtain combat experience in Syria”, noted Viktor Murakhovskiy, the chief editor of Motherland’s Arsenal journal. “Nearly 100% of tactical and operational-level aviation flight crews have carried out operations over Syria. Nearly the same proportion of army regiment and brigade commanders did as well. Upon return they introduce combat experience into their units, which changes the face of the armed forces. We see organizational changes, and improved combat training.

Successes achieved in operational art on the battlefield  are the only objective way to assess equipment and personnel. This was stated on more than one occasion by the president, the minister of defense, the General Staff chief, Murakhovskiy reminded.

SERIES – Russia’s Preparing For War:


  • BMWA1

    Teplinsky’s combat record pales however in comparison with that of US National Security Council head Bulldog Bolton’s service with the Canadian Moose Mounties during the Vietnam War era!

    • You can call me Al

      In 1982, Pompeo graduated from Los Amigos High School in Fountain Valley, California, where he played power forward on the basketball team.[12] In 1986, Pompeo graduated first in his class from the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he majored in engineering management.[13][14]

      From 1986 to 1991, Pompeo served in the U.S. Army as an Armor Branch Officer with the 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry in the 4th Infantry Division, reaching the rank of Captain.

      Secretary of State-in-waiting Mike Pompeo never served in the Gulf War, even though media outlets and many of his colleagues have repeatedly said he did, and Pompeo has done nothing to dispute their claims.

      Splinter News asked the CIA about Pompeo’s record, and the agency confirmed that while he was in the Army from 1986 to 1991, he never saw action in the Middle East.

      A spokesperson said that Pompeo, who is currently director of the CIA, “was in the U.S. Army at the time of the Gulf War — serving until 1991. He was not deployed to that theater.” The war lasted less than seven months, between August 1990 and February 1991.

      The discrepancy between Pompeo’s record and public accounts was first brought to light by Ned Price, a former CIA spokesman and special assistant to President Obama, who highlighted a series of inconsistencies on Twitter.

      • FlorianGeyer

        It works in the movies ,Al.
        There are lots of combat opportunities there I understand.

        The casting couch has proven to be a very dangerous environment :)

      • skinner15

        I bet the Army couldn’t get the fat b’stard to fit into a suit neither.

        Surely the useless git could at least shave his chin, to let us see if he has a neck!

  • Hrky75

    Although I personally like seeing distinguished war veterans being promoted to senior command positions – because an army without proper combat experience is usually just very expensive stage prop – the risk is always that those people would start preparing the troops to fight the last war. These people fought mostly guerillas and insurgents largely without any formal military structure, training and command for the better part of last 3 decades from Chechnia to Syria. IMHO they run the risk of seeing all their present and future opponents in that light.

    • Sinbad2

      I disagree with your assessment that the insurgents had no formal military structure.
      They were always controlled by Israeli British or American command structures.
      The Russian Kalibr attack on the ISIS command post that killed many IDF and British troops is proof of that.

      • viktor ziv

        This was respond to two A-10 and two F-16 attack on Deir ez-Zor republican guard unit attacking ISIS in September 2016, killing some 70 or 80 guard members, if my memory serves me right. Instantly after bombing ISIS counter attacked.

  • Mish

    That’s “Sand Quarry Generals” and a reference to a film

  • Zionism = EVIL

    Lieutenant General Mikhail Teplinskiy is the right man for Syria. He should be be responsible for taking the Zionist and Wahhabi trash out.