The Russian Defense Ministry is undertaking what some analysts are describing as the most far-reaching restructuring of the armed forces since World War II. But apparently, nobody is allowed to talk about it.
Writing in "Russia Profile" on November 12, Dmitry Babich described the changes, planned for 2009-12:
"The army will have a completely new structure. Instead of the old chain of command 'military district -- army -- division -- regiment,' formed during the Great Patriotic War and retained until now, a new system will be established. 'Military district -- operative command -- brigade' has only three links in the chain instead of the old four. But that will mean that many divisions and armies, with their banners, traditions, and officer positions, will have to become part of history."
Among other things, this means that more than half of all Russian officers could lose their jobs in the next three years.
According to a November 29 report in "Kommersant," the changes have sparked a mini-rebellion among top generals, some of whom have tendered their resignations. Fearing the dissent could spread, General Nikolai Makarov, head of the General Staff, has signed an order classifying all information about the changes and forbidding officers from discussing them publicly.
Those who disobey it will be subject to criminal prosecution.
-- Brian Whitmore