In a familiar refrain, a top military leader on June 26 said, "We should fashion our military structure not for the wars of the last century, but for the real wars of today."
This sure sounds like something straight from either Defense Secretary Robert Gates or Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
It's not. The reformer here is Lt. Gen. Vladimir Anatolyevich Shamanov, commander of the Russian Army Airborne troops who, in an interview with the Financial Times strongly backed a drastic restructuring and modernization of Russian forces.
This includes an end to conscription and the development of a modernization program to buy the kind of gear needed for 21st century conflicts, not the heavy 20th century forces developed by the Soviet Union and the United States when they prepared for a large-scale land war in Europe.
But, just like in the United States, military reform has its critics. Igor Rodionov, a retired general and former defense minister, told the FT that "this reform weakens the Army, it weakens the state."
I wonder if there are Russian members of parliament who will continue to back funding for 20th century military hardware because it's good for business in their district.