Staunton, May 16 – Russian military planners have always assumed that in the event of a crisis, they could draw on reserves consisting of those who have passed through military service and have acquired certain skills. The problem is that many of these people are aging and lack updated training.
Now, Sergey Shoygu, the defense minister, wants to supplement them by providing military training to men in Russian higher educational institutions. Many of these will never actually serve in the regular army, but with skills acquired in this way, they could be integrated into the military (svpressa.ru/war21/article/298510/).
According to Deputy Defense Minister Nikolay Pankov, current plans call for organizing military training centers in “more than 500 higher educational institutions of Russia.” These will provide training alongside academic preparation, thus allowing the military to create a pool of skilled soldiers without harming the economy by reducing their regular educations.
Something similar existed in Soviet times, military specialist Vladislav Shurygin says; but then university students who went through such courses served in the military for two years as junior officers. Most were treated with contempt by the regular officers, but some liked military life and made it their career.
After 1991, this arrangement disappeared, but it was partially revived n 2016 when the military opened centers in a few technical universities to prepare those with skills the military needed to integrate with the army in case of a crisis. Those attempts are now supposedly going to be extended to much of the country.
Many university-level students will already have some military experience in the Young Army units that have been established in 49 federal subjects; but it is unclear how popular such service will be for many in universities or how effective those receiving such limited military training will be even for the updated reserves.
One thing is certain, however, this new system will militarize yet another institution in Russia and thus create as under Nicholas I a country which views itself as consisting of those who will serve in the army, those who are serving in the army, and those who have military experience that may serve again in the future.