Daily Archives: June 27, 2011

Demobbing the Central Apparatus

Over the weekend, Moskovskiy komsomolets reported the next wave of reform will civilianize the entire central apparatus of the Defense Ministry.  Civilian administrators will replace uniformed officers everywhere except the Genshtab and “combat support structures.”  Special commissions will select civilians on a competitive basis. 

MK’s Defense Ministry sources claim this phase of reform will be completed by December.  The Main Legal Directorate will civilianize in August-September.  The Press-Service and Information Directorate will be reformed from 1 August.  The Personnel Inspectorate will civilianize also, according to MK’s report.

Needless to say, generals think it strange to let civilians decide the fate of their careers.  But an MK source argued:

“And who prevents them from working just the same, but in civilian attire?  For them, in principle, just like for prosecutors, it’s no different – in shoulderboards or without them, only the knowledge of directive documents and legislative acts is important.”

For counterpoint, MK turned to Leonid Ivashov:

“It’s obvious today that a transition to civilian duties is taking place in the military department.  The second tendency is the domination of women in the new structures.  They head finance, the legal directorate, the apartment-management service, a nice girl headed the directorate for international military cooperation for a time.  Ms. Shevtsova became deputy minister, in charge of construction, a woman – a specialist in taxes and alcohol production heads the military education department . . . .  Don’t think that I’m badly disposed toward women, I like them very much.  I wouldn’t, for example, be irritated if Natalya Narochnitskaya [a well-known scholar, social-political figure, doctor of historical sciences — Ed.) became Defense Minister.  She’s an intelligent analyst, who has tact, and, I think, could bring a lot of useful and healthy things into army structures.  But if managers from business go there and gather such people around them, then the army will turn into some kind of commercial organization.  When they say we are copying the American or other democratic model of an army where the Defense Minister and his department are civilians, this is not true.  Yes, we have a civilian minister.  But I don’t see in a single serious government that people from commercial life come to this post.  They are always politicians, representing some party which controls or consults with them.  But to simply to throw any guy into the military department so – and do what you want, there isn’t anything similar in a single government.”

Ivashov makes the observation that civilianization, and feminization, of the Defense Ministry’s been going on for a while now.  But he spins off into a diatribe against ex-businessman Serdyukov.  It’s not really Serdyukov’s fault there’s no democratic party system to produce politicians who could lead the Defense Ministry.  And one could argue the Defense Ministry was a corrupt commercial organization well back when Ivashov was there, but men in uniforms were the ones making the illicit deals then.  But we digress . . .

Recall at the outset of Serdyukov’s reforms in fall 2008, he indicated he intended to cut the Defense Ministry’s 10,523-strong central apparatus and roughly 11,000 military personnel in command and control organs down to no more than 8,500 in all.  So perhaps now we’re looking at about 4,000 personnel, civilians that is, in the Defense Ministry’s central apparatus.

Dropping officers in favor of civilians in the Defense Ministry might buttress Dmitriy Litovkin’s report last week about a deeper cut in military manpower.