New Russian Brigade TO&E

edit 2014: Keep in mind this TO&E is from 2009.The Russian army kept making changes.
edit 2017: I keep getting visitors who want to see Russian brigade TO&Es here. Again, this article war about a rumour and is obsolete. You may (though I don't vouch for it since it was written for simulations) find what you are looking for here: http://www.testofbattle.com/upload/bob/CDModern/USSR%20CDTOB%20list.pdf
Still, feel free to read this blog. :-)

Russia is re-organizing its ground forces to a new, brigade-based structure. That's a move that the German army did in the late 50's and it became the model for many NATO allies during the 60's and 70's (we kept the division HQs as a fig leaf for political reasons mostly).

The advantage of a brigade-centric structure is the supposedly optimal combination of combat power and agility on the battlefield. The greater (x3) quantity of brigades in comparison to divisions also reduces the widths and areas to be covered by their staffs.

Russian army units are traditionally smaller than Western counterparts (a Soviet WW2 Corps was about as large as a German WW2 division if both were at target strength). That reduced the need for a step towards smaller, more agile units (the orthodox way of covering a large war zone with a smaller army than known from both world wars).

I heard about their army reform efforts years ago and understood it to be mostly about reform of the "hidden" values (less overhead, better training, better morale and the like), and for less mobbing, but it involves also said brigade structure.

This is one of the versions about their new standard combat brigade structure. They don't seem to have settled on one specific design and there's some uncertainty around the issue. Here's no room for multiple TO&Es, so let's focus on this version and keep in mind that this TO&E is preliminary and unreliable info.

Russian Independent Motor Rifle Brigade
(about 4,500 personnel)

Command Company

Signal Battalion
- HQ
- 2 x Signal Companies

1x or 2x Tank Battalion(s) (usually 1)
- HQ: 1 x MBT
- 4 x Tank Companies with each 10 x T72/T-80/T-90

3 x Motor Rifle Battalions
- HQ
- 3 x Motor Rifle Companies: 10 x BMP or BTR or MT-LB
- Mortar Company: 6 x 120mm Mortars 2B11/2S12 or 6 x 82mm Mortars 2B14
- AGL platoon: 3 x BMP or BTR, 6 x AGS-30 AGL
- Antitank platoon: 3 x BMP or BTR, 6 x AT4/AT13/AT14
- Recon platoon: 1 x BMR-K, 2 BMP or 3 x BTR
- Engineer platoon
- Logistic platoon
- Medical platoon

Artillery Command and recon battery
2 x SP howitzer battalions
- HQ
- 3 x SP Howitzer Batteries: 6 x 2S3M or 2S19 152mm SP Howitzers or 6 x 2S1 122mm Howitzers

Rocket launcher battalion
- HQ
- 3 x MLRS Batteries: 6 x BM21

Antitank Battalion
- HQ
- 1-2 AT Gun Batteries: 6 x 100mm MT-12 AT-Gun, should be replaced with 6 x 2S25 Sprut
- 1-2 ATGM Batteries: 9-12 x 9P148 (AT-5) or 9-12 x 9P149 (AT-6), should be replaced with 12 x 9P162 (BMP3 with AT-14 Kornet)

Air defence missile battalion
- HQ
- 3 x Heavy AD Batteries: 4 x SA-8 or 4 x SA-15 or 2 SA-11

Air defence missile - artillery battalion
- HQ
- 1 x SP AD Gun Battery: 6 x ZSU-23-4 or 2S6
- 1 x AD Battery: 6 x SA-13
- 1 x AD Battery: 27 x SA-14

Recon Company: 4 x BMR-K, 6 x BMP oder 10 x BTR

NBC Defence Company

Engineer Battalion
- HQ
- Engineer sapper company
- Engineer construction company
- Engineer technical company
- Pontoon bridge company

Maintenance battalion
- HQ
- Tracked Vehicle Maintenance Company
- Tracked Vehicle Maintenance Company
- Ordnance/Weapons Maintenance Company
- Electronic Maintenance company
- Combat Recovery Company

Supply battalion
- HQ
- 3 x Transport Companies
- Support Company
Medical company

+ garrison services

- - - - -

My remarks:

The real quality depends on 'hidden' values, especially on the training, communications, availability of supply and doctrine.

Russian companies, battalions and regiments are still smaller than comparable Western units (many companies look like large Western platoons). The brigade would otherwise amount to a division.

One suspicion is that the C4I of the brigade will have weak spots - that's difficult to tell from the distance, though.

36 SPH, 18 SP MRL and 18 mortars. That's a strong indirect fire support for a brigade.

The aforementioned brigade structure is apparently for combat brigades - other brigades would be artillery brigades. Additionally.

Four to five combat battalions is a lot in a single brigade (German brigades have three). The span of command & control is unnecessarily wide.

The recce units are rather small and won't be able to do much more than for example route recce.

This brigade TO&E was obviously made for conventional warfare, although certain Russian 'peacekeeping' activities would be in the range of its abilities as well.

I saw a different TO&E version as well; it had an electronic warfare company and a sniper platoon.



  1. Not too different from the old regimental structure, but with more artillery. The Russians love their artillery as much as the US loves air power. I'd prefer organic firepower, but my countrymen disagree for the most part.

    Notice there's not much in the way of maintenance and it's all kicked up to Bn? That cost them dearly in Afghanistan and it had to be added to each company as time went on with a small "section" in each maneuver company devoted to towing, and repair of vehicles. This same lack mechanics was felt by the US in Vietnam.

    The lack of recon is intentional. The second company of each Bn is trained in Reconnaissance. Some of the Russian army accounts of their adventure in Georgia always had the second company leading the way.

    The lack of C4I is standard Red Army. A Bn commander and his XO were expected to plan most operations with a staff of less than five people, including them. They really don't appreciate lower level units getting too complicated by design. Maybe they're right?

    All in all, it's not too bad, or much different.

    1. At the time their NCOs were 2 year conscripts who were deemed smarter than the others by their lieutenants. They rarely had what the west would call senior NCOs and they lacked low level cohesion as a result.

  2. I like that they keep an NBC company in the brigade structure. In the US Army, you get a pair of NBC recon vehicles. That's about it. Maybe a decon platoon will be chopped to support, but only if it's a really big exercise and the reserves are participating.

  3. Decon is a good idea for many purposes, even ones completely unrelated to NBC problems.

    It's good for delousing, for example (if the unit is prepared for it).

    You won't see such needs if you only do exercises for a few days, of course.

  4. Have to concur with EN here, not much fundamental change beyond a re-shuffling of the old regimental battalion-sized cards.
    I found interesting that there would be a separate medium-range SAM battalion. SA-8/15 used to be division-level only in the (publicly available) late-80s TOEs. Potentially a useful move, reminds of reflexions about fighting without air superiority already mentioned here.

  5. Russian motorized rifle brigades have always seemed rather light on actual rifles (dismounts). With only 21 per platoon, and ~60 per company, it seems like they would be very constrained for any op that doesn't look like a Fulda Gap dash.

    1. They weren't really constrained in Afghanistan and Chechnya with this. There is no need in large infantry blobs when you got plenty of automatic weapons and indirect support on call. You know, if you have an arty battalion for every infantry battalion, you can always count on fire support.

  6. Actually they way Russians operate their combat battalions doesn't exceed their span of control. Three of the four tank companies are usually attached to the infantry battalions and the fourth is general reserve. In case of two tank battalions probably one whole battalion would be attached to INFBATs and one whole battalion as general reserve or for supporting breakthrough.

    The single biggest flaw is head to tail ratio with deplorable amounts of infantry. With approximately less than 600 rifleman the brigade can't sustain heavy casualties on infantry and will rely very heavily on vehicles as is evident by the amount of tanks and such. A single Finnish jaeger coy will have as much infantry as Russian motorized battalion. Obviously the difference in firepower is huge. The mere 600 rifleman each have over 7 soldiers supporting them; 600 frontline inf and 3900 supporting troops.

    1. Artillery and AD units are notsupport' troops in Russian point of view, but rather 'main' units of different branches working in cooperation for the main efford of a brigade (destroying of enemy forces in an offence or defence and holding ground). So 'supporting' troops are only engineer battalion, NBC units, recon coy (battalion, actually), maintainance and supply units.

  7. You didn't mention an electronic warfare battalion. Nowadays a brigade additionaly have an UAV company (with different types of UAVs), recon battalion instead of company and sniper platoon\company (roughly one platoon per motor rifle battalion). And an engineer battalion is bit different (all engineer platoons transfered from motor rifle battalions to additional engineer company, but all pontoon companies is transfered out to specialised engineer brigades).

    On C4I matter: current TOE differs from actial order of battle of a brigade with many units temporary grouped together under high-ranked officer of similar branch (for example, all artillery available) or are set under command of other units (for example, UAVs obviously never works as a whole company, but rather supporting several units at once under discretion of the brigade staff depending on brigade CO plan of operation at general and availability of intelligance and recon information at any given moment)

    1. This is from 09. They barely had any of those at the time. The Russians have improved their military equipment a lot in just 9 years.