Global Insights: Pentagon Welcomes Russia's First Civilian Defense Minister

Richard Weitz, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2010, Column

When Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov meets with U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at the Pentagon tomorrow, they will have a lot to discuss. Although Serdyukov has been defense minister since 2007, this will be his first official visit to the Pentagon. That's primarily because he has focused his attention back home, implementing the most comprehensive reform of the Russian military in almost a century. Indeed, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell noted last week that Gates and Serdyukov "are both taking on very bold, very ambitious reform initiatives within their respective militaries, and I think they want to talk about how that's going."

Though the two might very well compare notes, the extent of Serdyukov's reform program as well as the challenges he faces are much greater than those confronting Gates. ...