Roger N. McDermott, The Reform of Russia’s Conventional Armed Forces. Jamestown Foundation 2011 c. 300pp.Reforming Russia’s conventional armed forces, modernizing its weapons and equipment, and reorienting its military to suit the needs of the state and the changing nature of modern conflict has been long overdue. In the aftermath of the Russia-Georgia war in 2008 and the ensuing crisis in NATO-Russia relations, Moscow finally launched a genuine and systemic reform agenda that has changed the face of its armed forces—although its long-term success remains open to question.
This book traces the complex origins and numerous twists of the Russian armed forces reform and assesses the key challenges it faces. Roger N. McDermott examines the obstacles confronting Russian defense planners as they seek to transform the military education system, encourage high standards among the officer corps, and overcome the weaknesses of the domestic defense industry to facilitate modernization. Moscow’s long-term political and economic support will prove necessary, while pursuit of reform is likely to result in a lengthy period of transition for the armed forces. Whether, or to what extent, such challenges are sufficiently resolved will determine the Russian state’s future capability to project military power, preserve the country’s territorial integrity, and validate its claims to “great power” status.