After years of empty promises and desultory debate, military reform is moving forward. Credit President Putin for acting where Boris Yeltsin dithered. But Putin’s plans were drawn up in secret and remain largely classified.
Happily for Russians, the tools of Kremlinology, honed over many Soviet decades, are still razor-sharp. So it is easy to tell who’s headed up, and who’s headed down.
Among recent personnel changes, the Ground Forces commander in chief was named deputy minister of defense. Ground Forces up. But when the “commander in chief” of the strategic missile troops was replaced, his successor received only the title of “commander.” Rocket Forces down. Press reports also say the Ground Forces will now report directly to the minister of defense, not to the General Staff, and will take over some administrative functions that the ministry now handles. General Staff down too. The new Ground Forces commander, Colonel General Nikolai Kormiltsev, is likely to be the most powerful of the service chiefs, the first among unequals.