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The Ukrainian MIC – revisited

August 13, 2015

In February this year, a rather well received entry (at the time) was published regarding the state of the Ukrainian military industrial complex.

It was then an entry published almost a year after Kremlin aggression manifested in the illegal annexation of Crimea and war in the Donbas had errupted.  An entry published almost 6 months ago.

To sum up issues within the Ukrainian MIC at that time, a short quote from that entry, this time with added emphasis on a specific few words – “Pitiful.

It will take months of 24/7 production to produce ample supplies of the advanced weaponry that Ukraine can produce for itself – assuming the still rampant defence related corruption and woeful bureaucracy/procurement policies are dealt with even in part.  Looking to the future, allies of Ukraine may be advised to continually – and bluntly – remind Ukraine of what it is capable of producing itself, and insisting that it does so for domestic defensive purposes. Perhaps allies may even insist upon, and assist in, the construction of new facilities to mass produce more such advanced weaponry in which Ukraine has expertise.”

It is entirely obvious that Ukraine is quite capable of arming itself with advanced weaponry (with some exceptions such as hi-tech EW capabilities and secure communications equipment).

Many may perhaps think that if there is ever an incentive to robustly and swiftly deal with the rampant corruption and woeful bureaucracy/procurement policies within the Ukrainian MIC (and military more generally), then it is when the nation is at war with a belligerent Kremlin that now has defaulted to a strategy of “exhaustion” vis a vis Ukraine centered around, but not limited to, the Donbas.

The current Kremlin “exhaustion” policy relates not only to “hot” military action on the front lines, but also information warfare, economic warfare, political and diplomatic warfare.  In lieu of any other good options, it appears that the strategy of “exhausting” either the Ukrainian or “Western” will to continue is the only strategy the Kremlin is left with that it finds palatable and which (currently) draws no further costs for its truculence.  This current status quo in eastern Ukraine is not a war of “attrition” in a military sense, although that may indeed be part of the tactics that form the far broader strategy of “exhaustion”.

It is thus perhaps timely to revisit the entry of February 2015 and assess how matters have progressed.

The military supply chain remains somewhat unfit for purpose – occassionally for the most basic of issues.  For example, n acquaintance of your author from Vinnitsia was subject to the last mobilisation in Ukraine and sent to Sumy without uniform, boots or bulletproof jacket – subsequently funded and purchased by “friends” rather than supplied by the State.

Returning the the Ukrainian MIC, it too remains pitiful, as Serhiy Pashynsky the Head of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on National Security and Defence made clear yesterday.

Serhiy Pashynsky

Serhiy Pashynsky

It has to be said that Serhiy Pashynsky is not exactly a man known for consistently wise or deft decisions, or at times a close association with the truth, thus the figures he quotes are not necessarily to be believed, however, he is now on record as stating “The state of providing our armed forces after a year and a half of Russian aggression, modernization, and weapons overhauls are extremely low.  The defense industry that includes more than 100 enterprises uses 5-10% of its production capacity.”

This he blames upon the bureaucracy and procurement processes, which would seem entirely unchanged since the February entry from this blog, and possibly unchanged since Kremlin aggression began.   He also acknowledged, as stated in the February entry, that Ukraine has the ability to provide itself with quality anti-tank weaponry – but still hasn’t.

“There are such systems, they need to be delivered to the army.  The process is sluggish.”

The solution he proposes is that his committee draft a Bill to “de-monopilise this area“.  With more than 100 enterprises active within the Ukrainian MIC already, is de-monopilising it in any way going to reduce the discombobulated and overly bureaucratic procurement processes?

De-monopilising” and presumably adding more enterprisies within the Ukrainian MIC may well produce alternative and competitive suppliers – if and when any new draft Bill is submitted to, and passed by, the Rada – but they too will be strangled by bureaucracy if that bureaucracy is not slashed, streamlined and made timely.

There is no need for a draft Bill to address the supply chain management and procurement process bureaucracy within the Ukrainian MIC.  It is an administrative issue that can be addressed, at least in part, now.  It requires an administrative enima being forcefully injected into the rectal cavity of the Ukrainian MIC (and those it answers to), in order to remove all unnecessary bureaucratic blockages that currently make the MIC bureaucratically constipated, and serve to make the Ukrainian military unnecessarily disadvantaged against a far (theoretically) superior Russian military.

Not for a moment is it likely that the 5 – 10% of production capacity Mr Pashynsky states is accurate.  As previously stated he can be somewhat estranged from the facts/truth and has been prone to making unwise decisions and statements.  However, that the procurement processes and bureaucracy surrounding and within the Ukrainian MIC is dramatically effecting its production capacity is undoubtedly accurate.

All in all the Ukrainian MIC remains as pitiful today as it was in February when the last MIC related entry was published, and now a full 18 months into a war with the Kremlin.  This, it has to be said, is beyond “pitiful” as stated in February, and perhaps surpasses gross negligence.

In February it was written “Perhaps allies may even insist upon, and assist in, the construction of new facilities to mass produce more such advanced weaponry in which Ukraine has expertise.”  Clearly there may be a need to add to that, allies assisting in MIC management/services/procurement process overhaul too.

Fortunately for those responsible for the lack of MIC procurement process progress -Serhiy Pashynsky & Co – the Kremlin seemingly having defaulted to a strategy of “exhaustion” has meant their failure to reform the MIC after 18 months of war has received far less attention that it should have done.

Unfortunately for Serhiy Pashynsky & Co, rummaging around in the legislation toolbox for yet another Bill to be seen to be doing something – that may happen in a few months if the Rada votes in favour – is not an excuse not to deliver a forcefully inserted rectal enima into the administrative/procurement process now.

18 months into a war with The Kremlin and to have not simplified/streamlined and expedited the universally acknowledged corrupt, obstructive and untimely procurement processes of the Ukrainian war materials production machinery is simply not only not good enough, it is gross negligence.

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