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'Catastrophic Crisis' Facing Russina Army

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June 22, 2009

Editor's Note: The following report is excerpted from Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin, the premium online newsletter published by the founder of WND. Subscriptions are $99 a year or, for monthly trials, just $9.95 per month for credit card users, and provide instant access for the complete reports.

Aging weapons, poor maintenance and rank-and-file officers who don't "want to do anything" mean the Russian military is on the verge of a "catastrophic crisis" and if forced into action would be much more likely to use strategic nuclear weapons, according to a report in Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin.

This is the prognosis of Russian Chief of the General Staff and First Deputy Defense Minister Army-General Nikolai Makarov.

In addition, Makarov said the Russian air force is not procuring sufficient numbers of new modern aircraft and has fewer flight-worthy aircraft with badly trained pilots incapable of conducting actual combat operations.

"They can run bombing missions only in daytime with the sun shining, but they miss their targets anyway," Makarov said.

Makarov is in charge of overseeing the Russian military reform begun under then-president and now Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Keep in touch with the most important breaking news stories about critical developments around the globe with Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin, the premium, online intelligence news source edited and published by the founder of WND.

In an effort to implement some military reform, Makarov has sought to discharge hundreds of thousands of officers. However, the effort also has met with opposition, particularly from a special Duma, or parliamentary, working group headed by Mikhail Babich, who also is deputy chairman of the Duma defense committee.

Babich produced a report that said the planned dismissal of some 323,000 officers had to be postponed and the transformation of army divisions into brigades also must stop. He claimed that such reforms lacked appropriate legislation to proceed and needed the full Duma's approval.

Markarov was highly critical of such comments, claiming the top brass did nothing while in charge. Indeed, the Russian military is considered to be top-heavy in terms of general officers who have posed an expensive financial burden and are in the most senior and well-paid positions.

Even a reduction by 50 percent of the officers by 2012 is considered to be ambitious, even though those who would be cut would be closer to retirement

. However, the goal is to increase dramatically the ranks of junior officers and non-commissioned officers, or NCOs.

Another reform sought will be a smaller but more flexible permanent readiness force, which will place greater emphasis on the leadership role from junior officers and NCOs, contrary to Russian military tradition.

There also is a culture of brutality – especially among conscripts, drunkenness, desertion and drug abuse that the military needs to overcome. The Russian military, particularly during the time it was in Afghanistan, has a history of heroin smuggling and black-market alcohol selling, including overall drug abuse and corruption in its ranks.

F. Michael Maloof, a frequent G2B contributor, is a former senior security policy analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

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