Decision to form CSTO Forces may be made in December

A decision to form the Collective Security Treaty (CSTO) Forces will be made at the December session of the CSTO Collective Security Council, a knowledgeable source told Interfax-AVN on Thursday.

"Combat and peacekeeping contingents of the organization will be grouped into a fist, and the Collective Security Council will most probably brand them as the CSTO Forces in December. The CSTO Joint Staff will become the Force's unified command," he said.

"Due to the extensive restructuring of the CSTO military component, much importance is given to the status of the CSTO Joint Staff Chief, his powers and duties," the source said.

Actually, the CSTO Joint Staff Chief "will be in command of the CSTO Forces," he said. "He will be in charge of the entire military component of the organization, the CSTO Forces."

The CSTO Joint Staff Chief will be appointed for at least three years, without combining that post with other military positions, the source said. "A representative of the Russian Armed Forces will take the position first," he added.

"There were about ten generals on the candidate list originally. The shortlist includes General Staff Deputy Chief Col. Gen. Alexander Postnikov, Airborne Forces Commander Col. Gen. Vladimir Shamanov, Airborne Forces Deputy Commander Lt. Gen. Alexander Lentsov and Combined-Arms Army Commander Maj. Gen. Andrei Serdyukov. More candidates may be suggested at the CSTO summit in Moscow on December 19," the source said.

The central appraisal commission will evaluate the Russian candidate for the CSTO Joint Staff Chief and the Russian Defense Ministry Board will approve the nomination.

So far, the CSTO Joint Staff chief is appointed for the inter-session period and combines positions of a First Deputy Defense Minister - General Staff Chief of the Armed Forces of a CSTO member country. Kazakh First Deputy Defense Minister, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Col. Gen. Saken Zhasulakov holds the position now.

The CSTO Joint Staff was established on January 1, 2004. It is manned by several dozens of officers representing the Armed Forces of CSTO member countries.

The CSTO forces currently include peacekeeping contingents and the Collective Operative Reaction Force made up of military units and special units of the Interior Ministry, security services and the Emergency Situations Ministry.

Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan members of the CSTO established in 1992. Uzbekistan suspended its membership in the organization.

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