Serdyukov to Cut Military Staff

Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said Tuesday that he would cut the number of generals and other senior officials and consolidate military schools in an attempt to streamline the armed forces.

Serdyukov said the staff in the Defense Ministry's administration in Moscow would be slashed from about 21,000 to 8,500 by 2012.

Two hundred of the military's 1,100 generals will retire by 2012, while the number of junior officers will grow to 60,000 from the current 50,000, he said.

"We are doing this so that junior officers can command real military units rather than fictional warehouses," Serdyukov said at a ministry meeting.

The ministry also plans to consolidate the its 65 universities and academies into 10 education centers.

Serdyukov dismissed statements by some senior military officials after the conflict in Georgia in August that the armed forces would create rapid-response units.

"No new rapid-response forces will be created because we already have them — the paratroopers," he said. "The latest events in the Caucasus demonstrated the high professionalism and mobility of the paratroopers' units."

Last week, Serdyukov said the military would be cut from 1.13 million to 1 million servicemen, including 150,000 officers, by 2012.