Generals get marching orders

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The Independent Online
BELGRADE (Reuter) - Yugoslavia's Supreme Defence Council yesterday retired 42 generals and admirals, including the Chief of Staff, General Zivota Panic, to make way for younger officers at the head of the Yugoslav Army.

General Momcilo Perisic, a 48- year-old infantry officer who holds a degree in psychology, replaced Gen Panic, who was appointed in May 1992 after a purge of 40 generals tainted by the army's performance in fighting after the secession of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia. The Tanjug news agency said Gen Panic took part in the session of the council, whose most influential member is the Serbian President, Slobodan Milosevic. Political sources said the retirements were part of President Milosevic's campaign to tighten his grip over the army and reduce its influence compared to that of the police, whose numbers have been increased to about 80,000.

The Yugoslav Army was formed when Serbia and Montenegro proclaimed a new rump federation last year following the dissolution of the former federation of six republics. Half of its strength of about 120,000 men are conscripts. The Defence Council said the army's transformation required an infusion of younger officers in the senior ranks.