On October 26, the federal government issued resolution No. 809 “On measures for state support of the Russian defense sporting-technical organization (ROSTO).” According to this resolution, divisions of ROSTO will give flight training to freshmen and sophomores of the Defense Ministry’s educational institutions for military pilots, maintain the necessary skill level of pilots, specialists of the Airborne Troops, and maintenance personnel (i.e. officers who serve under contracts and reserve officers).
For this purpose the government has instructed the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade to include assignments into the federal budget (including the year’s federal investment program) to develop ROSTO’s educational aviation-sporting divisions.
In other words, from now on ROSTO’s aviation schools will be integrated into the training system for military personnel. These schools will also train reserve pilots and officers in technical professions and professions of the Airborne Troops. ROSTO’s material base will be used as a powerful means for preparing the country’s mobilization resources and training professional servicemen.
The governmental resolution emphasizes that these measures are being taken in order to “improve combat and mobilization readiness of the Armed Forces and other troops, military formations, and agencies, to man troops with citizens trained in military professions, and to accumulate pilot and maintenance specialists in the reserve.”
Meanwhile, in our opinion, the objectives in this field have not been fully delineated. ROSTO’s pilot schools are being integrated into the military education system mainly to make the military personnel training system less expensive. It is known that ROSTO is the only public association in Russia that actually fulfills state orders for military professional pre-draft training of conscripts for the Armed Forces and other troops. This is a self-sustaining organization which can earn money for the training process on its own by operating for-profit driving schools and sporting businesses, organizing contests in military applied ports and so on. Suffice to say that ROSTO has a broad network of facilities providing educational services (453 schools, 90 aviation organizations, over 3,000 sporting-technical clubs, and about 1,000 courses).
Specialists in all security agencies are trained on this very basis. Last year ROSTO was financed only by 9%, but fulfilled the military personnel training program by almost 86%. Therefore, the financial situation of the Armed Forces will improve once the Armed Forces begin using ROSTO’s material base. The Defense Ministry is even interested in improving ROSTO’s financial base. The governmental resolution has instructed the Defense Ministry to provide the necessary educational, training-sporting, and sporting aircraft, aircraft accessories, parachutes, communication devices, and ground flight support equipment free of charge with approval of the Property Relations Ministry. The Defense Ministry is also supposed to support ROSTO in the repair of aircraft and ground equipment, upgrade equipment, extend ROSTO’s resource, and assign money to equip and maintain airfields.
ROSTO annually gives primary military and professional education to over 800,000 people, including about 122,000 conscripts trained in 39 military professions under an agreement with the General Staff.
In the future ROSTO may expand the preparation of mobilization reserves and training of specialists for service on a contract basis. The educational base of ROSTO allows for the organization of centers for the selection and comprehensive training of contract servicemen. The capabilities of aviation clubs and regular aviation-sporting clubs allow manning of three reserve aviation armies and reinforcement of the Airborne Forces’ resources by 16,000 people.
Colonel General Vladislav Putilin, Director of the Main Organizational-Mobilization Department of the General Staff, says: “We have to stress that reforms and cost cutting in the preparation of mobilization resources has not just begun today. In the first half of 1999, the Armed Forces cut 28 training units. Since July 1, 1999, 29 interagency regional training centers of ROSTO have begun training junior specialists. Experimental training of combat engineers in ROSTO divisions began in 1998. ROSTO trained 5,500 conscripts which were sent to the troops. The experiment saved 32 million rubles. It turned out that training of military specialists by ROSTO was 50% less expensive than in the Defense Ministry’s training units. ROSTO itself compensated for expenditures on the training process from funds received from its commercial activities.”
Bearing in mind these advantages the General Staff plans to organize pre-draft training of the following specialists by increasing the size of ROSTCO training divisions: communications engineers, armored personnel carriers and tracked prime-movers drivers, maintenance and repair personnel for automotive and armored vehicles, military cynologists. The plans are far-reaching. According to the military, some of their advantages are obvious. If the main burden of training specialists is laid on ROSTO, during 24 months of active service a soldier or a sergeant will be better trained in his military profession, because it will not be necessary to spend half a year on his primary training in a training unit.
Meanwhile, there are still problems with ROSTO’s system of military personnel training. ROSTO schools still lack the necessary material base and other resources. The Armed Forces have promised to help, and do aid by sharing know-how, educational aids, and simulators. However, they cannot provide fuel and lubricants, because their own troop drivers are often trained “on foot in a machine manner,” and the troops have only 20% of the fuel and lubricants necessary at their disposal in the best-case scenario. At this point we can hardly hope that self-sustainable ROSTO is richer than the Armed Forces, and will be able to buy fuel and other materials and resources to train specialists at its own expense. Training of military personnel is a matter of the entire state, and the supply of fuel and lubricants and other material resources to ROSTO’s schools needs to be centralized. However, this principle is not always followed.
Another problem is that students are enlisted in the schools of ROSTO primarily by region. So far the Defense Ministry does not have enough money to pay cover travel and housing costs for students from other cities. Requests from the General Staff to local administrations about financial assistance are not always met with a friendly response or even understanding. At this point we need to add that only the Defense Ministry finances the pre-draft training of conscripts, although one-fifth of conscripts are drafted to other security agencies.
Legal problems also hamper the project. According to military experts, it is high time to enact the federal law on ROSTO by adjusting a substantial part of the legal base of this organization to the current federal legislation. The law on ROSTO will also have to legalize the legal and property relations established between ROSTO and state power bodies.
Thus, new forms of preparation of mobilization resources require further improvements and material and legal support. Only in this case will the efficiency of military personnel training be improved.