A new stage of reform begins in the Russian army. This time it will touch professional servicemen, the officers of which number more than 300,000 or about one-third of all servicemen in the Armed Forces. Meanwhile, according to Ground Forces Commander, Army General Alexei Maslov, already from December 1 of 2007 this quantity will be reduced at least by 12,800 officers drafted fro the reserve. These are so-called two-year officers. According to Maslov, henceforth units and formations of permanent readiness and those being on combat duty in the Ground Forces, as well as units fulfilling peacekeeping tasks will not be manned with the officers drafted from the reserve for two years anymore.
Earlier, at a consultation of top-ranking officials of the Armed Forces, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov announced that drafting this category of officers to military service would stop from January 1 of 2008. Earlier, Army General Nikolai Pankov, State Secretary and Deputy Defense Minister, reported that “in conditions when the Armed Forces are transferred to the contract manning it is not logical to maintain officers drafted from the reserve for two years.”
According to Pankov, the Defense Ministry also decided that graduates of military departments of civil higher educational institutions would not pass conscript service in the army “of course, if they do not wish to serve as volunteers.”
Pankov also said that “a kind of officer mobilization reserve of the Armed Forces” would be formed from graduates of the military departments. Speaking on military service of students, Pankov emphasized, “Students of higher educational institutions will not be drafted to the army but after graduation they should serve conscript service for one years.”
How will be the personnel shortage caused by the abolishment of the institution of two-year officers liquidated? This was seemingly outlined clearly in the report of the Defense Minister at the meeting of top-ranking officials of the Armed Forces.
First, according to Serdyukov, “The preparation of professional officers from among students on the basis of civil higher educational institutions was started. In 2007, we had the first graduates from among the military specialists sent to military service under contract and 790 people were recruited for study at military departments. In the future, the quantity of people trained in this form will reach 3,000 graduates a year. This will allow partial compensation for consequences of abolishment of drafting of officers from the reserve.”
Second, the training of junior officers will be continued at courses of the Ground Forces.
Third, federal bill on increase of the maximum age of service on officers’ posts was worked out simultaneously.
To some extent the ministry will compensate for the human resources hunger for junior officers on account of “measures aimed at reduction of quantity of the students dismissed from higher educational institutions and reduction of the number of cases of early resignation of officers until the end of the first contract.” According to Serdyukov, “A mechanism was developed and a procedure was determined for calculation of the size of compensation for money spent by the state on training. These proposals were approved by legislators and came into effect now.”
Meanwhile, these steps raise a number of questions. For example, drafting officers to the army will be stopped from 2008 and a significant reinforcement of the Armed Forces (by 3,000 people) on account of contract recruitment of graduates of the military centers of civilian higher educational institutions will begin only between 2010 and 2011. This means that a shortage of junior officers is as though preprogrammed. Another aspect is training of officers at courses of the Ground Forces. This is not the best way out. The situation was similar only during World War II and immediately after it. What for is it necessary to disseminate defective officer education when there is well-tested Soviet method of officers training in military higher educational institutions.
The state is going to increase the term of military service on account of an increase of the maximum age of service on officers’ posts. This is also a discriminatory decision alien to democratic society. Russian officers have lost a number of important social benefits. They are among the lowest paid officers in the world. Why is it necessary to infringe on their rights further?
It seems that the significant increase of salaries for officers could increase the prestige of military service but the minister has said very little about this. Judging by the growing inflation, material well-being of officers will hardly be improved and they will evidently seek for other ways to quit the military service. And problems will remain …