Sunday, April 26, 2015

Half of Russian Army Soldiers Now Working on Contract Basis, Defense Ministry Says

Paul Goble


            Staunton, April 26 – Yesterday, Deputy Defense Minister Nikolay Pankov said that 50 percent of the uniformed personnel of the Russian Army are working on contract as professionals rather than as draftees, a figure that has been achieved as a result of difficulties in the civilian economy and of new benefits extended to those who sign up.


            But precisely for that combination of reasons, the Russian military is unlikely to be able to meet its plans to move toward an all-professional army anytime soon if the country maintains a military of its current size, the economy improves or the government is unable to continue to boost benefits for servicemen and women.


            Even if all those things obtain, the declining size of the prime draft age or military service pool will mean that professional military personnel will effectively take people away from jobs in the civilian sector and become a choke point on the future economic development of the Russian Federation.


            Moreover, the drive toward professionalism while it almost certainly would lead to a more skilled military is likely to be opposed by senior generals who still place a high value on the kind of massive force structures that is only possible with a draft and one that takes people into the service for relatively short periods.


            Nonetheless, Pankov’s statement is an indication of what the defense ministry is currently trying to do.  He said that “Today, we have 300,000 contract soldiers who are serving either in the ranks or as sergeants and about 200,000 officers. And, in this way, the deputy minister continued, “50 percent of our army is a contract one” (


            According to Pankov, “interest in contract service has grown thanks to the conditions which are being created for military personnel.” More than 50,000 of those serving on contract “have been able to use military-backed mortgages” and thus obtain housing (


                Three weeks ago, Col.Gen. Viktor Goremykin, the chief of the defense ministry’s manpower administration, said that Moscow plans to have all the junior command staff be professionals rather than draftees and will increase the number of contractors in the ranks by 50,000 more than Pankov says the army has now (


                That will be an enormously expensive undertaking, and the Russian government will have to divert funds from other sectors, including education and public health, if it is to meet that goal, an indication that a professional army does not solve Russia’s military problems and may in fact be beyond its reach unless the economy remains in the doldrums or worse.

              But Vladimir Putin may see one great advantage to a professional army, an advantage that he may be willing to beggar the rest of the country to get: Draft-based armies provide a closer check on leaders than do professional ones because the draftees are closer to the rest of the population and more likely to register its objections than are the professionals.

No comments:

Post a Comment