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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia appoints new Airborne Troops chief

RIA Novosti

16:1925/05/2009 MOSCOW, May 25 (RIA Novosti) - Lt. Gen. Vladimir Shamanov has been appointed the new commander of the Russian Airborne Troops, the Defense Ministry spokesman said on Monday.

The former commander, Lt. Gen. Valery Yevtukhovich, was discharged on May 6 after reaching the retirement age of 55.

"General Shamanov, who previously headed the Defense Ministry's combat training directorate, has been appointed commander of the Airborne Troops," Col. Alexander Drobyshevsky said.

Shamanov is a Hero of Russia. He commanded the 76th Airborne Division during the second Chechen War.

Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov said in April that a large number of senior military officers would be discharged when they reached the retirement age or if they failed to pass a military aptitude test.

The Defense Ministry plans to cut 130,000 Armed Forces personnel, bringing numbers down to 1 million by 2016 as part of sweeping military reforms launched under former president and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Experts have warned, though, that the move could undermine the Army's capabilities, with some saying 1 million personnel would be insufficient to protect Russia's vast territory. The changes proposed under the reforms have also been criticized for lacking clarity and sufficient financing.

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