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    Russia to cut military personnel to 1 mln by 2012

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    Russia will cut military personnel numbers to 1 million by 2012, four years earlier than the initial target of 2016, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said on Wednesday.

    MOSCOW, October 8 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will cut military personnel numbers to 1 million by 2012, four years earlier than the initial target of 2016, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said on Wednesday.

    "It was planned that the Russian military would number 1 million by 2016," he told the press. "Our new task is to achieve this target by 2012."

    The number of officers will also be slashed to 150,000 by 2012 from the current 450,000, Serdyukov added.

    The minister said that the reduction of officer numbers would be mostly conducted by the "gradual retirement of officers whose service terms have expired."

    Russia has already downsized its Armed Forces from 4.5 million in the Soviet era to about 1.2 million personnel at present.

    The Russian General Staff is also facing an upcoming large-scale reshuffle aimed at optimizing the number of senior officers and generals serving at central headquarters in Moscow.

    The scale and the context of military reforms is believed to be the major source of a long-running conflict between the General Staff and the Ministry of Defense, which intensified after the appointment of Serdyukov as defense minister.

    According to some military analysts, the June appointment of Gen. Nikolai Makarov, former chief of Armed Forces Arms Procurement, as chief of General Staff, indicates that the Russian military leadership is attempting to "reverse the negative, destructive trends that are now plaguing the Armed Forces, and stop the technical degradation of the Army and Navy."

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