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Russian Army To Be Downsized To 1.1 Million Troops By 2011 - Serdyukov

MOSCOW. May 30 (Interfax) - The Russian Armed Forces will be downsized to 1.1 million people before 2011, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said in an interview with the Rossiiskaya Gazeta newspaper published on Wednesday.

According to him, 1.1 million "is the most optimal size to effectively tackle all tasks set to our country's Army and fleet."

"At the same time, any further reductions will be made according to schedule. Mainly servicemen who have already served the period of time required by the law will be discharged," Serdyukov said.

The central office of the Defense Ministry "is not untouchable, either," the defense minister said. "It must match the functions it is responsible for. Naturally, adjusting these tasks in line with modern requirements involves possible changes of the structure itself," he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on December 26, 2006, stipulating that the current level of the Army's funding remain unchanged even after the number of federal agencies has been reduced, Serdyukov said. "It is a good opportunity for the heads in charge of these issues to stimulate their subordinates to be more productive through optimizing their work," he said.

Asked about the appointment of more deputy defense ministers, Serdyukov said that "no new deputies have appeared." "The head of the Economy and Finance Service, who had the rank of deputy defense minister before the administrative reform, has got it back. It shows the priority of tasks in the Armed Forces' financial and economic sphere," he said.

There are 1.2 million servicemen in Russia's Armed Forces today.