Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 140

Defense Council secretary Yury Baturin yesterday provided a few more details on the military reform measures endorsed by President Boris Yeltsin earlier in the week. (See yesterday’s Monitor) Baturin explained the changes to take place in the command of the Ground Forces as an attempt to do away with what has been duplication between the efforts of the General Staff and the Ground Forces headquarters. A "well informed source" on the General Staff said that the Ground Forces headquarters will be abolished on September 1, with its training and administrative functions to be taken over by two new departments in the Defense Ministry: the Chief Department for Land Troops and the Chief Department for Military Training. These departments, as well as six others, will be placed under the supervision of a new Deputy Defense Minister — one whose post has yet to be created. Earlier in the year there were suggestions that a 3rd first deputy defense minister would be appointed.

Many of the other announced changes are some time off, including the realignment from eight to six military districts. The Volga and Urals districts are to be combined next year, while the amalgamation of the Siberian and Transbaikal districts are to follow two years later. Baturin said that the merger of the Air Defense Troops and the Air Force would not take place until 1999. He also indicated that he had not been in favor of the idea of merging the military Space Troops and the Strategic Rocket Forces, but said that Defense Minister Igor Sergeev — previously the commander of the Strategic Rocket Forces — had convinced "the leadership" to take this step.

Despite all the information released to the media, the drafting of the reform program is apparently far from complete. The reform measures are to be considered again today before being formally presented to the Defense Council, chaired by President Yeltsin, on July 25. Baturin indicated that work on the plans would continue even after that date, with the "full concept" to be unveiled later. (Russian agencies, July 17)

Yeltsin Speaks with Ingush President on Telephone.