The Defense Ministry’s programs and plans for 2007

We requested Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov to give an overview of 2006 and tell us what the military-industrial complex and the Defense Ministry are planning for 2007.

Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov:

I’d like to break up my answer into several key aspects. First, my work in the government. Earlier this year, on March 20, I was appointed chairman of the government’s Military-Industrial Commission. I soon managed to improve its performance substantially. It is now an effective management body, controlling all processes in the Russian defense sector. I hope we shall be able to ensure its consistent development next year.

Another area of my work is the government’s Maritime Collegium. This year we have tried to take some concrete steps in implementing the principles of the Maritime Doctrine, encouraging the formation of a competitive image for Russian ship-building, developing merchant shipping and the Navy.

A new federal program was approved on November 22: “Development of the Russian military-industrial complex in 2007-10 and to 2015.” Its implementation will enable us to reorganize the defense sector, with comprehensive modernization, introducing new advanced technology aimed at producing promising, competitive models of military and specialized hardware.

A clear example of reorganization in the defense sector is the formation of the Unified Aviation Corporation. I would like to note that for the first time, Russia is establishing a powerful military-civilian holding company which uses state-private partnership to united the sector’s leading enterprises. Military aviation will take the lead initially, stimulating civil aviation output. Similar holding companies may be established in other sectors of industry, such as ship-building.

Now let’s look at the Defense Ministry’s results for 2006. It continued implementing the federal targeted program for 2004-07 aimed at introducing contract personnel in a number of military units and formations. Over 60 formations and units now consist entirely of contract personnel – involving 78,000 soldiers and sergeants. Next year will be the final year for this targeted program. Eighty-one formations and units will consist entirely of contract personnel. That’s around 125,000 soldiers, sergeants, and sergeants-major. The next step will be to convert all sergeant and sergeant-major positions to a contract basis, as well as crews of surface warships.

The partial conversion of the Armed Forces to contract service will make it possible to reduce conscription terms. All the necessary legislation has been passed in 2006, and conscription terms will be reduced to 18 months from January 1, 2007 and then to one year from January 1, 2008.

Another principally important point for us is that as of 2006, no Russian Armed Forces units are engaged in hostilities in hot-spots. In general, we don’t have any more hot-spots. The situation in Chechnya has been normalized, and all Defense Ministry troops have been withdrawn. Only the 42nd Motorized Rifle Division, consisting of contract personnel, is stationed there on a permanent basis. At the same time, we are continuing to reinforce our southern borders. Deployment bases have almost been completed for two mountin brigades that will be formed in Dagestan and Karachaevo-Cherkessia next year.

Real reforms have been carried out in military education. This year, the state has contracted 31 civilian universities to provide some of their students with officer training for subsequent contract service, and 1,450 students have already started training. Their numbers will rise to 3,300 by 2008. The Armed Forces have launched an experimental program aimed at creating a system of basic professional training for conscripts. There are now education centers where conscripts can get not only military training, but also some civilian skills in demand in the labor market.

And another important point: the Armed Forces are becoming more open to the public. The Defense Ministry has established a Public Council this year. I would like to note that this is the first, and thus far the only, civilian oversight body established in Russia’s security and law enforcement agencies. It will soon start operating. Moreover, parent committees are being established within military units, and we have high hopes for them.