Military reform demands an army of under 800,000 strong

The optimal size of the Russian armed forces under modern conditions should not exceed 800,000 men, in the view of Aleksei Arbatov, chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee. He explained his view at a press conference last week on the topic of "Russia's Geopolitical Interests and Military Reform." He also said that the minimum size of the Russian army should be on the order of no less than 600,000.

"Russia must have an effective nuclear-space potential, not terribly big in terms of personnel, approximately 150,000 to 200,000 men," Arbatov asserted. "Another 400,000 trooops the "core," should constitute a quick-reaction force, designed to handle local and regional tasks." The deputy does not think a million-man army accords with the interests of the impending reform of the military. "A million-strong army makes it impossible for us to go over to a contract principle of recruitment or to re-equip the armed forces," Arbatov said. He noted that, currently, 70% of the military budget of the nation-approximately USD 10.4 billion-goes to army maintenance.

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