Heaven thunders over Ashuluk

Russian training grounds of Gorokhovetsky and Ashuluk host Union Shield-2011 joint operational exercises of armed forces of Belarus and Russia

By Alexander Makoveev

Undoubtedly, the scale of the joint exercises was impressive, involving around 12,000 of the military and up to 200 military vehicles (including 100 tanks), alongside 50 planes and helicopters.

On the eve of the exercises, General Mayor Piotr Tikhonovsky, Chief of the Armed Forces’ General Staff and Belarus’ First Deputy Defence Minister, emphasised that Union Shield-2011 was exclusively of defensive character. This was proven by the combat play on Gorokhovetsky training ground, where troops of the Western Operative Command of the Armed Forces of Belarus worked closely with the 20th Army of the Russian Western Military District to battle their rival. Using a flexible defence plan and efficient application of artillery and aviation, as well as pilotless aircraft, the allies defeated the enemy.

Belarus’ Defence Minister, General-Lieutenant Yuri Zhadobin, notes that Belarusian and Russian troops acted as a single unit. General-Colonel Arkady Bakhin, the Commander of the Western Military District of the Russian Armed Forces, agrees, stressing that the major accent of the exercises was the control and interaction of troops. The soldiers demonstrated good combat skills and preparedness.

During the second stage of the exercises, the efficiency of the single regional air defence system of our two states regarding air attacks was scrutinised. Combat units of air defence missile formations fulfilled live fire exercises at Ashuluk training ground, using S-300, ‘Buk’ and ‘Osa’ systems.

The strategies used in solving the complex tasks were truly impressive, with air defence missile formations facing the latest ‘Bekas’ and ‘Saman’ target-missiles, imitating the movement of precision-guided weapons. The Commander of the Russian Air Force’s 185th Centre for Military Training and Deployment, General-Major Vladimir Gradusov, explained, “We don’t want to use targets which have no relation to reality and don’t imitate what we’d expect in a real situation.”

No one observing could doubt that the Union Shield-2011 joint exercises will positively influence the efficiency of the armed forces of our two states.

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