RUSSIA IMPROVES THE SYSTEM OF ITS ARMED FORCES MANNING

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WEEKLY ANALISISEnlistment of contract servicemen to the Armed Forces is frozen, and the conscripts will be sent to the “hot spots”

On November 11 President Yeltsin signed decree No. 1356 “On bringing of the legal acts of the president in accordance with the federal law ‘On military duty and military service'”. This document legalized the new system of the troops manning. It is known that the President signed the federal law “On military duty and military service” on March 28. This law defined the main provisions, regarding preparation of the youth for the military service and somehow reanimates the former (Soviet) system of the healthcare and educational programs for the draftees, introduced the military-patriotic education, specified procedure of the military service, defined the delays of the draft and benefits for the draftees, but along with this law the presidential decrees were also in effect. Of course, the law has a bigger power, than the presidential decrees, but still there was some difference in their interpretation. Half a year was necessary to remove these differences.

What exactly was brought into correspondence with the legislative base in the system of the troops manning? First of all, procedure of the conscripts sending to the “hot spots” was legally regulated. Thus, according to clause 1 of decree No. 723 of May 16 of 1996 “On procedure of the conscripts participation in fulfillment of the tasks under conditions of the armed conflicts and their participation in combat operations “, the contract servicemen were sent to fulfill combat tasks in the conflict areas. From now on the number of servicemen’s categories, who can participate in combat operations, was broadened in accordance with the law “On military duty and military service”. According to the law, the conscripts can also be sent to the “hot spots”, but exclusively on the voluntary basis. They will have the same privileges, as the contract servicemen, during the time of the respective tasks fulfillment. They will receive the money allowances as the contract servicemen, and their service time will be calculated according to the ratio “one day for two days”. Their service time will be also calculated in the same way in case they are wounded and so on and are treated in a military medical institution. Why will from now on the conscripts be sent to the “hot spots”? The answer is simple. The country is undergoing a crisis, and it simply does not have enough money for the contract servicemen. Sending of the volunteers to the conflict zones does not contradict to the international norms and principles of social justice, but, knowing the Russian reality, we can easily suggest which violations may occur in this sphere. For example, the soldiers may be formed in the ranks and asked: “Who is afraid to go to a ‘hot spot’?” hardly anyone will “dare” to demonstrate himself as a coward in the ranks. Then a warrant officer will give the list, which was prepared beforehand, to the soldiers, and they will sign the words, saying that they are not “cowards” and “are ready to participate in combat operations”. It is possible that the whole peacekeeping units are currently sent to Abkhazia and South Ossetia in this manner, as well as to the unquiet regions of the North Caucasus and to the Chechen border. We need to say that the presidential amendments also influenced the fate of the contract service as such. It is known that initially, in accordance with presidential decree No. 722 of May 16, 1996, “On transition to the manning of the privates and soldiers ranks of the Armed Forces and other troops on the professional basis”, the troops manning on the voluntary basis with the simultaneous cancellation of the drafting should have been started. From now on, taking into account the amendments, this clause is written differently: “To transit to the manning of the soldiers posts by the contract servicemen, when the necessary conditions are created”. It is quite clear that such conditions will be created not very soon, and that presidential decree No. 722 was a populist one and did not take into account the real Russian problems. If we recall that this decree was composed on the eve of the presidential election, we will clearly see that it was necessary to win as much votes as possible.Amendments to decree No. 1702 of December 17, 1996, also take into account the modern realities. They stipulate drafting by 1999 “… up to 15,000 citizens, who graduated from the state, municipal or private higher educational institutions with have the state accreditation for the respective directions of education (profession), who were enlisted to the reserve with the officer’s rank and who did not serve the active service, including 5,000 citizens directly after graduation of the above mentioned educational institutions, according to the military or civil professions, in accordance with the plan, annually developed by the Defense Ministry.” It is also quite clear what caused the necessity of drafting of such citizens. According to the report of colonel general Ilya Panin, commander of the main personnel and military education department of the Defense Ministry, now 13% of all junior officers posts remain vacant. The deficit of the platoons and crews commanders equals 17% of their authorized number, and the deficit of the companies’ commanders- more than 11%. The Armed Forces still badly lack the specialists of engineering, tank, missile-artillery forces and financial service. Meanwhile already this year more than 18,000 officers younger than 30 retired from the service. This is almost equal to the annual number of graduates of the military educational institutions. Thus, the problem of the Armed Forces manning with the young officers is not solved, and it will be evidently aggravated, because the Armed Forces reduction is completed, and within the next few years there will be 1.2 million posts in the Armed Forces. The social and financial problems will make the young officers leave the Armed Forces. Another draft to the Armed Forces currently goes on in Russia. According to presidential decree No. 1127 of September 21, by December 31 of 1998 the military registration and enlistment offices have to send some 158,000 young people to the Armed Forces and other troops, which exceeds 83% of the conscripts, drafted in spring. This is relatively much, because, as is known, by 1999 the Armed Forces will be reduced almost by 33.3%. According to the specialists of the General Staff, the stable and relatively big number of drafted conscripts is conditioned by the continuing manning of the units to the complete authorized personnel, as well as by the stopping of the contract servicemen enlistment, and by their replacement by the conscripts. The peculiarity of the present draft is the fact that the citizens with previous convictions will not be drafted. Lieutenant general Vasily Smirnov, deputy commander of the main organizational-mobilization department of the General Staff, in autumn only 7% of the young people, subject to the draft, will be drafted. He added: “in this situation we can draft the best ones to man the units, where there are the increased demands to the personnel.” Of course, the words of the general give us a certain optimism, but the moral-psychological situation in the troops can hardly be changed principally. Still it is expected that there will be many draftees with the bad health (up to 30%), tending to take alcohol and drugs (up to 10%) and those who originated from unfavorable families (up to 40%). The Russian Armed Forces will still primarily consist of the workers and farmers sons (up to 90), and a certain part of the young people will avoid the draft. Anyway, we think that the quality of the draft is defined not only by these factors. The so-called factor of the social justice has a special importance. For example, the law “On military duty and military service” defined that the students of higher educational institutions enjoy big privileges and delays of the draft, but today, as a rule, such education (even in the state higher educational institutions), is commercial, and many Russian families can not afford it. Those, who have the money, can easily avoid the draft, having entered a commercial department of a higher educational institution. Seeing such injustice, many “smart” young people from the underprivileged families try to avoid the draft by their own methods, for example, do not come to the military registration and enlistment offices. Their number grows annually. In 1996 some 30,000 conscripts avoided the draft. In spring of 1998 their number already reached 40,000, but the administrative measures were taken only several hundred of them (they were brought to the military registration and enlistment offices with assistance of militia), and not more than 20 of them were taken to the legal account (in spring of 1997- 32). The General Staff is also concerned about the fact that some human rights organizations launched a campaign for hindering of the draft. There is also a big problem, resulting from the fact that no money was assigned for the work of the draft commissions, that is why many doctors of the draft commission, transport and other services, providing the draft, will again work for free. Like it was before, the Defense Ministry still hopes for the assistance of the local power bodies, which already often provided for the work of the military registration and enlistment offices and delivery of the draftees to the troops on their own money.

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