The struggle for economic and political independence for the republics may, more than the nature of economic reform, ultimately influence how conversion is implemented in the Soviet Union. In a 1988 speech before the United Nations, Mikhail Gorbachev suggested that international conversion plans be implemented in conjunction with the arms reduction process. In the domestic arena, conversion has been touted as a potential means for rescuing the floundering economy. In terms of “personnel conversion,” the half-million military servicemen and officers affected by the unilateral troop reductions first must be either retrained or directed toward industries that can use their specialized skills. Both supporters and opponents of conversion have voiced their opinions in the context of the “last trump” debate. S. Yelekoev, a sector chief at the Institute of the World Economy and International Relations, for example, disputes the “last trump” theory based on his assessment of the economy’s inability to incorporate foreign technology.