ACHILLES’ HEEL OF THE ARMY’S LOGISTICS SERVICE

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The Defense Ministry started preparations for gaining control over the logistics services of the security ministries after Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov was appointed as deputy prime minister. General of the Army Vladimir Isakov, Deputy Defense Minister and Chief of the Army’s Logistics Service, announced the launching of the interdepartmental unified logistics system. The Defense Ministry will control this system from January 1, 2006. In other words, the Defense Ministry will gain control over planning of logistics services and training of officers for logistics structures of all security ministries. The Defense Ministry will supply the necessary material resources to the Interior Ministry, the FSB, the Emergencies Ministry and more. The budget is around 600 billion roubles (one-sixth of the budget). This is the cost of the state defense order of all security structures in 2006.

Isakov said that the new structure will decrease expenses because the logistics service will purchase unified products. In particular, the Defense Ministry established the Joint supply center in early 2005. It has spent 93% of the budget of the state defense order on food, fuel and lubricants, and other material resources. Last year different security structures managed to spend only 7% of the budget. As a result, the state saved 48 million roubles on uniforms. The federal state defense order service ensures the transparency of all tenders and transactions.

It should be noted that the Joint supply center and interdepartmental logistics system were established under the aegis of the Logistics Service of the Armed Forces. The federal state defense order service is subordinated to the defense minister too. The question is if such system guarantees independence and absence of corruption. Is it efficient to concentrate 15% of the state budget in one structure? Unfortunately, there are no answers.

Last week Vladimir Isakov stated that suppliers displayed high-quality products during tenders and supplied low-quality products to the security structures after the contracts were signed.

Isakov said, “We investigate such incidents and sue the suppliers. We have won a substantial number of lawsuits.” The question is why the Army received low-quality products. As is known, the Defense Ministry’s representatives control quality at defense plants. In the meantime, this does not only concern food and uniforms. Suppliers sell low-quality fuel and weapons. Sergei Ivanov expressed his dissatisfaction with the quality of products supplied by the defense industry.

What’s the solution? To all appearances, the system has serious faults.

A round-table conference held by the federal state defense order service, concluded, “Military representatives at defense plants receive low pay in comparison with the cost of what they control. Contracts cost millions of roubles. Sometimes they turn a blind eye to faulty products.” Representatives of the logistics service and defense plants agreed with him.

Another problem, which the Defense Ministry cannot solve, is corruption in the Army. Sergei Ivanov finalized the performance of the Russian Army in 2005, and concluded that “the crime rate among officers is too high”. Russian officers commit every seventh crime. The number of crimes committed by senior officers has increased by a third in comparison with 2004. They embezzle military property and money.

The defense minister said that, “the Army misused fuel and lubricants worth 82 million roubles during three quarters of 2005”. The Defense Ministry states that officers commit crimes because of low pay.

In other words, the state seeks to save money by means of centralizing logistics in one structure. The performance of the interdepartmental logistics system testifies that this is a realistic task. But what’s the price of this achievement? The system forgets about the quality of products. Quality can only be improved by means of stepping up requirements to the quality control service. In the meantime, officers who control quality at defense plants need financial incentives. Officers steal military property because they do not have enough money to maintain their families. To all appearances, the state has forgotten this.

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