Too Old?

How old is too old? Here’s some perspective on the clock ticking against Russian army commanders as they climb the career ladder.

General-Colonel Gerasimov was 56 when he took command of the Central MD in April 2012. He was appointed chief of the General Staff seven months later.

Since 2010 when Russia’s current MDs were established, 14 generals have been appointed to command them.

Their ages at appointment run from 47 to 58. General-Colonel Surovikin took command of the Eastern MD at 47. One of his predecessors — Admiral Sidenko — took over at 58.

Here’s what the 14 ages look like:

47 — 52 — 53 — 53 — 53 — 54 — 54 — 54 — 55 — 55 — 56 — 56 — 56 — 58

Not a card-carrying statistician, but this much is obvious. The median age is 54. Range 11 years. Throw out the high and low and it’s a narrower window of 52 to 56.

The four current MD commanders were 52, 53, 54, and 55. An average of 53.5 years.

Overlay on this the twelve current army commanders with ages running from 46 to 55.

The older ones might not receive serious consideration for future stepping-stone jobs as deputy commanders or chiefs of staff, first deputy commanders in one of the MDs.

Younger ones just have more time for advancement, more time to spend as a deputy waiting for a possible first deputy job.

It leads, however, to a major unknown. Is age even a significant consideration in Shoygu’s and Putin’s decision making on MD commanders?

Life expectancy for males in the RF in 2019 was 68 years.

4 responses to “Too Old?

  1. To elaborate, we know who was picked and we know how old they were, but we don’t know if their age was a significant factor or if older candidates weren’t picked because of their age.

  2. Anders Puck Nielsen

    Mark Galeotti has repeatedly made the point that Putin doesn’t like to let trusted people retire, and that at least in the top layers we see a rising average age. Interesting if that reproduces itself in the lower ranks.

  3. Definitely true at the top layers; less true maybe in the MOD with the exception of key people like Shoygu (of course), Gerasimov, possibly long-time Dep MOD Nikolay Pankov who may be something of a grand vizier (and direct reporter) for Putin in the armed forces. In the military, of course too, there’s a law on mandatory retirement ages. It’s interesting and significant when they ignore it!

  4. As a note, yesterday the Duma passed Putin’s draft law on extending service term limits in its first reading. It would allow marshals, generals, and admirals to sign a contract extending their service by up to five years, to either 70 or 65. That process will be regulated by the president’s polozheniye on conducting military service. Would expect this to be a rare exception rather than the rule — Shoygu, Gerasimov, Putin’s cronies still wearing shoulderboards, etc.

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