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The new Russian defence minister changed the style of command, but continues the Russian army reform

January 15, 2013, 11:41 UTC+3

After the appointment of Shoigu as defence minister he cancels the most odious, but secondary decisions of his predecessor

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Russian Defence Minister General Sergei Shoigu held the first 2013 telecom conference from the Central Command Post of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces with the commanders subordinate to him. Shoigu instructed at the telecom conference to refuse from the use of the foot cloths in the Russian Army already by the end of this year. Along with them the tarpaulin boots can go down in the past. The style of command changed under the new defence minister, but the reform, which was launched by his predecessor continues, the analysts believe.

First of all, the defence minister pledged that similar meetings under his command will be held regularly no rarer than once a month, the Kommersant daily reported. Chief of the Russian General Staff Col. Gen. Valery Gerasimov or other deputy defence ministers, as well as all commanders of the military districts will hold these meetings every week, he said. “We will discuss the most important issues at such telecom conferences, particularly the putting of new weapons into service, the current situation in the military education, health care, life-supporting facilities, repairs and maintenance of new military hardware,” the defence minister began to name these issues. “We should also consider the combat training and the life-supporting facilities in the military townships,” he said.

Shoigu’s indignation over ongoing use of foot cloths was prioritized in his speech, the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily noted. Despite the talks on this issue going on for many years, this leftover remains for fair reasons. The quality of footwear is so inferior that the socks are torn off for 2-3 days. Moreover, there is no proper size at the warehouse. The harsh truth of life of the conscript serviceman is that there are only two sizes at all: the boots that are fit or unfit to wear for him. However, the minister stated categorically, “We should forget the word foot cloths by the end of 2013.”

The Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily recalled that the foresaid clothes were excluded from the daily army clothes several years ago. However, in the army logistic reports the tarpaulin boots are still named as the working footwear for privates and sergeants. But in fact the servicemen wear the tarpaulin boots together with the foot cloths almost in all military units. The winter woollen socks with nylon plastic are included in a new basic uniform. The military clothes designers affirmed that the legs are dry and warm in them.

The Vedomosti daily reported in its editorial article about the activities of Sergei Shoigu, who was appointed at the post of the defence minister after the dismissal of Anatoly Serdyukov. The electronic media and the blogs immediately raised again the debates over the benefits or the harm of foot cloths and socks, the newspaper noted. Many exclamations like “the foot cloths are a symbol of sluggishness of our army” were made public in the media. The defence minister amused and gladdened the society this way. The newspaper recalled that the cancellation of the foot cloths makes part of the transition of the army to new clothes that was launched under Anatoly Serdyukov and this cancellation was declared back in 2008.

After the appointment of Shoigu as defence minister he cancels the most odious, but secondary decisions of his predecessor. The bringing of the shoulder straps from the breast back on the shoulders, the comeback to the participation of the cadets of the Suvorov Military Academies in the Great Victory Parade, the revival of sport squadrons and the reinstatement of several officers fired under Serdyukov – all these decisions sound like the review of Serdyukov’s work as the defence minister and are welcomed in the army. But meanwhile Shoigu continues the guidelines of Serdyukov’s military policy and will continue a reform, which is aimed at forming a compact army from permanent readiness military units and which his predecessor launched.

Just one top military official replaced another one at the post of the defence minister. He is more influential and more qualified in the ways how the Russian state officials work and how the public opinion is being shaped. The reform continues to be carried out, but the style of command changed.

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