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Russian military to be fully rearmed by 2020

MOSCOW, November 19 (RIA Novosti) - Around 80-100% of the Russian Armed Forces will be equipped with modern weapons and military hardware by 2018-2020, the Russian General Staff chief said on Wednesday.

"In the next 3-5 years we plan to equip 30% of the Armed Forces with advanced weapons and military hardware and to raise this figure to 80-100% by 2018-2020," Gen. of the Army Nikolai Makarov said.

He also said the command staff of Russia's Defense Ministry and the General Staff of the Armed Forces was also overstaffed and inefficient and failing to carry out its tasks effectively.

"The command staff, including the General Staff and Defense Ministry, is being reduced. The staff has grown to an unbelievable size and the functions and tasks it is supposed to fulfill are not being fulfilled," Gen. Makarov told journalists.

He also said the troop command system in Russia is out of date and should be streamlined.

Earlier Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said staffing levels at central headquarters and high-level command structures are expected to be slashed by 60% from 22,000 personnel to 8,500 by 2012 as part of sweeping military reforms.

Serdyukov announced the cuts to Russia's Armed Forces in October and said some 150,000 officer posts are expected to go by 2012. The minister said, by global standards, officers should comprise 7% to 20% of staffing levels, but at 32% the officer level in Russia's Armed Force was far too high.

Serdyukov said that there were currently more than 1,100 generals in the Russian military and around 200 of those posts needed to be abolished, while the number of junior officers should be increased.

In addition, he said more than 100,000 serving warrant officers are due to be discharged or absorbed into other ranks by the end of 2009.

Russia has already downsized its Armed Forces from Soviet-era levels of 4.5 million personnel to the current figure of about 1.2 million, which includes 310,000 officers. The latest reforms will see the military reduced to around 1.1 million.

The reforms will also include drastic changes to the structure of Russia's Armed Forces to ensure greater mobility and improve combat readiness.

Makarov explained the changes: "Two command chains will be eliminated: regiments and divisions as far as recent events (two Chechen campaigns and the August Caucasus conflict this year) have demonstrated, that our command system, created in the 1960s - army, division, regiment and battalion is so complex and heavy that at the present time we are unable to ensure quick decision making, that orders reach troops, interoperability and effective command."