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Russia to complete military reform in 3-4 years


MOSCOW, February 9 (RIA Novosti) - The ongoing reform of the Russian military will be completed in next three or four years, the chief of the Russian General Staff said on Monday.

"We are planning to complete a reform of the military within the next three or four years. The established time frame has not been revised," Gen. Nikolai Marakov said.

He added that as a result of the reform, the Russian military would be more compact, more mobile and better equipped.

The central point of the reform is the reorganization of the military command and control system from a four-tier (military district - army - division - regiment) to a three-tier structure (military district - operational command - brigade).

This also includes the reorganization of the Defense Ministry and the General Staff of the Armed Forces, downsizing commissioned officer personnel, and eliminating the NCO corps.

The Russian defense minister said last year the Armed Forces would total 1 million servicemen, including 150,000 officers by 2012.

Russia has already downsized its Armed Forces from 4.5 million in the Soviet era to about 1.2 million personnel, including 310,000 commissioned officers, at present.

Anatoly Serdyukov said there were currently more than 1,100 generals in the Russian military and around 200 generals' slots would be abolished during the same period, with the number of junior officers increasing.

The Defense Ministry will also reduce the number of senior personnel at central headquarters and high-level command structures by 60% from 22,000 to 8,500 by 2012.

In addition, each military district will have an airborne brigade as a rapid-reaction unit. These units will be used to accomplish tactical missions "promptly and effectively."

Russia is currently divided into six military districts.

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