MOSCOW, October 24 (RIA Novosti) – The downsizing of the Russian army's special forces was one of the most significant mistakes made by former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, a former commander of a special force unit said Thursday.
The special units of the Chief Intelligence Directorate (GRU) of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces were downsized in 2009-2010 as part of ongoing military reforms. Former GRU chief Army General Valentin Korabelnikov resigned over the cuts.
“I’m sure the downsizing was wrong,” Lt. Gen. Dmitry Gerasimov, former commander of a GRU brigade, said in an interview with RIA Novosti as the special forces mark their 63rd anniversary.
“The number of high-level professionals was reduced and training programs were cut to the minimum,” he added.
Serdyukov, who had held the post of Defense Minister since 2007, was sacked in November 2012 and replaced by Sergei Shoigu amid a series of ongoing corruption scandals that have rocked Russia’s defense sector. Shoigu has repeatedly criticized the performance of some defense-related agencies, as well as mistakes made by his predecessor.
The Russian armed forces are in the midst of a major shake-up, including a huge reequipment program, a gradual transition to fully-volunteer armed services, and organizational changes, in a bid to create forces more suitable for future challenges and less like the legacy forces left over from the Soviet era.