Strategic Missile Troops Increase Combat CapabilityITAR-TASS World Service 16 Dec 97 Moscow, 16 Dec (ITAR-TASS)--In the last month, the new status of the Strategic Missile Troops has enabled them to considerably increase their combat capability within the framework of Russia's strategic nuclear forces. As of 1 November, following the merger of the Space Military Troops and the Space Missile Defense Forces, the Strategic Missile Troops have been able to fulfil up to 50 percent of all the tasks facing the Strategic Nuclear Forces as far as a retaliatory strike is concerned, and up to 90 per cent as far as a retaliatory counterstrike is concerned, ITAR-TASS was told at the press center of the Strategic Missile Troops today. Russia's youngest arm of the service is 38 years old on Wednesday [17 December]. Its entire history has proved that the Strategic Missile Troops are the guarantor of the country's military security and that they are at the heart of the power of the Russian Army. That is where the reform of the Armed Forces started. The merger of the forces will lead to the loss of 20,000 military posts and more than 3,000 civilian ones. In the meantime, the use of the reformed Strategic Missile Troops for combat purposes has become about 20 percent more efficient. The troops are being managed from one central command point. The press center said that the Strategic Missile Troops will receive a new Topol-M missile complex carrying a 45-tonne single- warhead intercontinental ballistic missile. The new missile is crucial for the future development of the troops. According to the experts, Topol-M has better features and is five to six years ahead of the foreign missile models using hard fuel. Its advantage is that it is highly maneuverable and safe for exploitation. Its production and service costs are much lower, whereas its ability to reach any point in the world in a few minutes meets the requirements of the treaties on the reduction of offensive weapons. The Topol-M missile is at the heart of the promising group of the Strategic Nuclear Forces and the Strategic Missile Troops [sentence as received]. The first launch pads for these missiles will start to be used at the end of December 1997. THIS ARTICLE MAY CONTAIN COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL. COPYING AND DISSEMINATION IS PROHIBITED WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE COPYRIGHT OWNERS.