A new academic year began in Russia on September 1. The main peculiarity of this year is that students of all secondary schools will have to study basic military training and students of high schools will not be able to enter military sub-faculties. The defense minister ordered not to enroll new students in 2005 and 2006. The system of military high schools will soon change.

Firstly, according to the law on universal military service and the law on education with the latest amendments, basic military training will become a mandatory subject in all secondary educational institutions. Major-General Nikolai Bezborodov, a member of the Duma defense committee, said that basic military training will become part of basic personal security training at school. According to the new educational standards, students of all secondary schools will have to attend military training lessons. The duration of military training will amount to around 100 hours, senior students will have to participate in five exercises (40 hours) organized in military units at the end of the academic year.

Secondly, the abolition of military sub-faculties began on September 1. At present civil high schools have 229 military sub-faculties. Around 170,000 young men study at military sub-faculties. Only 20,000 students will remain in 2008. They will have to sign contracts with the Defense Ministry and serve in the Army for three years after graduation. Bezborodov said that graduates from military sub-faculties will have to spend several months in training centers after graduation. After that, they will be sent to military units. He noted that the remaining students will be called up to the Army as privates. They will be promoted to officers after demobilization. The lawmaker said, “This is a cheaper system of training of mobilization resources.”

The general said that the system of training reserve officers at civil high schools was created in 1926. The creation of military sub-faculties coincided with the leadership’s view on prospective wars as wars of large armies. Civil high schools trained 140,000 officers a year on the eve of the break-up of the USSR.

Nikolai Bezborodov noted, “As a result, we have trained too many military specialists. At present we have 3.5 million reserve officers.”

Thirdly, the second phase of reforming of military-educational institutions begins in the country. Sources in the Defense Ministry say that this phase will end in 2010. By that time, the Army will have 61 military high schools, including 15 academies, 3 universities and 43 military high schools. Reforming of the military-educational sector is aimed at solving three basic tasks: to optimize the structure of military-educational institutions; to modernize their training facilities; to organize training of military specialists at civil high schools.

It should be noted that the Army currently has 78 high schools: 16 academies, 4 universities and 58 military high schools. In other words, 17 military high schools will be abolished.

However, the Defense Ministry states that this will not lead to the lack of specialists in the Army. There are plans to relocate some faculties, 11 out of 17 military high schools, which will be abolished, to other military institutes. For instance, one high school will be created on the basis of two institutes of radiation, chemical and biological protection. Some military specialists will be trained by civil high schools. For instance, the military veterinarian institute will be reformed into a military faculty of the Veterinary Academy.

In other words, Russia improves the system of military training. This system resembles the Soviet model. However, there are some differences. First and foremost, they are linked with the state’s intention to optimize expenditures on military training. It’s hard to say if this will contribute to the quality of the training process. Meanwhile, this is an unprecedented move linked with changing the system of training of the mobilization resources in the circumstances of democratization of Russian society.