The Old is the New… Or, Is the New the Old?
Shoigu is in uniform, indicating that political dalliance with “civilian” control of Minoborony is over, there’s a pair of old-style boots with footcloths in the corner, and there’s a Soviet banner behind the map. All of this points up that Yolkin doesn’t believe that the Serdyukov “reforms” have any oomph or staying power. It was much the same after 1918… the Red Army became an organic continuation of the old tsarist forces in the end, just as the current forces are, essentially, an organic continuation of the Red Army. The generals LIKE the “old army”… it DID win the Great Victory, didn’t it?
The Russian armed forces may see some of the major reforms launched by former Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov scrapped, as his recently appointed successor, Sergei Shoigu, continues to give in to generals on lesser issues that still have an impact on the big picture. Serdyukov’s reforms came under heavy criticism within the military, resulting as they did in the dismissal of tens of thousands of officers, disbanding hundreds of army units, and the closure of dozens of military training centres. To abolish the mass-mobilisation concept, which was at the base of all these painful decisions, marked a break with 300 years of Russian military culture. The counter-reform now underway is an inevitable result of the decision that President Putin made when he appointed Shoigu… the decision to make the Minister of Defence an Army General once again. When commenting on this decision, analysts close to the Kremlin insisted that the president was trying to help the newly-appointed Shoigu build up his authority… something that the fiercely-denounced civilian Serdyukov lacked. However, Russian generals are skilful manipulators. They can easily make any new commander believe that he’s part of the army machine, and each new head of the Minoborony inevitably feels like part of the military corporation.
17 January 2013