Russia's Air Force chief will visit on June 4-6 two combined Air Force and air defense armies in Siberia and the Far East, to inspect combat readiness ahead of summer training, the AF said on Wednesday. "During a scheduled working visit to the 14th Air Force and Air Defense Army in the Siberian military district and the 11th Air Force and Air Defense Army in the Far Eastern military district, the commander of the Russian Air Force, Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin, will inspect combat readiness of Air Force and air defense units," AF spokesman Lt. Col. Vladimir Drik said. Russia's Air Force is planning to conduct over 200 exercises with 350 live firing drills in the second half of 2008 under the annual summer training program. The main purpose of the intensive training during the period "is to ensure combat readiness of the Russian Air Force in order to safeguard Russia's national interests and security." IISS Military Balance 2007 estimates that the Russian Air Force has 1,650 combat-capable aircraft and 148,000 personnel.
New chief of staff to 'revive Russia's ailing military'
Gen. Nikolai Makarov's appointment as chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces suggests higher priority will be given to modernizing the military, a top Russian military expert said on Tuesday. Deputy Defense Minister Gen. Nikolai Makarov has been appointed chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces. He replaces Gen. Yury Baluyevsky, who has been appointed deputy secretary of Russia's Security Council. In an interview with RIA Novosti, Col. Gen. Leonid Ivashov, president of the Academy of Geopolitical Studies, said the appointment of Gen. Makarov, former chief of Armed Forces Arms Procurement, indicates that he may "reverse the negative, destructive trends that are now plaguing the Armed Forces, and stop the technical degradation of the Army and Navy." He said the Russian military "has an acute shortage of new weaponry and military equipment, ammunition, and other technical systems." Gen. Ivashov said with the right political and financial support, Gen. Makarov would be able to turn the Armed Forces around and make them more operationally effective and improve combat readiness. He said that former General Staff chief Gen. Yury Baluyevsky had disagreed with Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov over military reforms. The new chief of the General Staff told President Dmitry Medvedev earlier on Tuesday that he was fully aware of the responsibility delegated to him and would do everything to achieve the goals set for the Armed Forces, working in conjunction with the Defense Ministry and the Security Council.