The main approaches to the formation of a concept of a military reform are being discussed on Friday at the conference under Chairman of the Government of Russia Mikhail Kasyanov. Opening the conference, the Prime Minister recalled that a fortnight ago the president had approved the government's proposal to gradually put manning of the army onto a contract footing. Furthermore, as Kasyanov said, a possibility to cut the duration of conscripts' service in the army is now being considered. He pointed out that this reform, in keeping with the president's instruction, must begin in 2004. The government has only a year for preparing to carry it out, since financing for it must be laid down already in the budget for 2004. The head of the government said that the concept of carrying out the reform must be ready in June 2002, and the corresponding federal special-purpose programme would be finalized in the second half of next year. Kasyanov stressed that it was also necessary to take into account the economic and social reforms which were now underway in the country, and to estimate the state's possibilities so as to avoid mistakes and not to delay the military reform which was awaited in society. Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation Anatoly Kvashnin who delivered the main report at the conference reminded those present of the targets of the reform, determined by the president. It is first of all the enhancement of the army's combat readiness by optimising its numerical strength and composition, and improvement of the qualitative level of technical supply for the Armed Forces. Vice-Premier of the government and Minister of Finance Alexei Kudrin, head of the Emergency Situations Ministry Sergei Shoigu, Deputy Minister of Defence Lyubov Kudelina, and deputies of the State Duma (the lower chamber of parliament) Boris Nemtsov and Yegor Gaidar are taking part in the conference.