Military to Cut to 1 Million Soldiers by 2012

Russia plans to trim its armed forces by more than 10 percent by 2012, with radical cuts among the officer ranks, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said.

The Kremlin plans to streamline and modernize the military, which has suffered from inefficiency and low morale despite steady increases in the defense budget in recent years.

Serdyukov said in a statement that the military will be cut from 1.13 million to a total of 1 million in 2012 including 150,000 officers.

The military now has about 400,000 officers, according to national media reports, so Serdyukov's statement means that almost two out of three officers will have to quit the armed forces.

The number of officers will be reduced gradually as they retire, Serdyukov said. "We are not going to cut living flesh," he said in remarks posted on the ministry's web site Wednesday. He said the military will have more high-readiness units.

Serdyukov said the original intention had been to make the cuts by 2012 but that President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the cuts sooner in a plan approved last month.

Officials long have promised to cut the number of officers in the military, saying they make up a much bigger share of the military personnel in Russia compared to Western armies.