For more than a decade, Sergei Shoigu was Russia's can-do action man. As Russia's emergency situations minister, he cut a calm, confident, and reassuring figure, appearing at nearly every large-scale disaster, either natural or manmade.
Shoigu has also long been one of the country's most popular officials. He has been touted as a potential prime minister, and the Moscow rumor mill has even speculated that he might be being groomed to eventually succeed Vladimir Putin as president.
Whether or not that is the case, Shoigu's next emergency mission is going to be a daunting one. In November, Putin tapped him to take command of the country's scandal-plagued Defense Ministry after the controversial Anatoly Serdyukov was dismissed.
Shoigu inherits a ministry rife with corruption and an increasingly outdated military that is badly in need of reform but deeply resistant to change.
In the latest edition of "The Power Vertical Podcast," I discuss the Shoigu phenomenon and the challenge of defense reform with co-host Mark Galeotti, a professor at New York University, an expert on Russia's security services, and author of the blog "In Moscow's Shadows."
Listen to or download the podcast above, or subscribe to "The Power Vertical Podcast" on iTunes.