New Officers’ Honor Code and Ethics Needed

Over the weekend, a Defense Ministry source told Interfaks-AVN that, until 1 February, officers in units, brigades, and ships are discussing a new honor code.  Deputy Defense Minister Nikolay Pankov is leading this broad discussion on the “moral profile of the contemporary Russian officer.”

A new set of corporate ethics for officers will be adopted during the Defense Ministry’s 3rd All-Army Assembly of Officers this November in Moscow.  The Assembly will address raising the educational level and professionalism of officers, the “social-legal” defense of servicemen, and raising the status of officers in society.

Today Aleksandr Konovalov told Gzt.ru that military men need to choose their work as service to the people not just a profession, and officers need to have higher standards than average citizens.  He describes his idealized vision of an officer who has a high sense of justice and duty, values the lives of his subordinates, and won’t use the army for anyone’s private interests, including those in power.

Vitaliy Shlykov also gave Gzt.ru his view on military professionalism.  He says there are now way too few instructors who can impart the qualities officers need–competence, traditions and ethics, and corporateness.  The basic provisions of the new code need to be laid out first though, according to Shlykov.

Konovalov wants to start from scratch.  “New profile officers” have to be formed outside the existing army traditions, which have appeared spontaneously and not always honorably.

How does this square with the reality that officers commit most crimes in the Russian Armed Forces?  Not well.

In the midst of an optimistic army crime report on 26 November, Krasnaya zvezda admitted:

“One of the main problems is the growth of legal violations among officers, including stealing budget money allocated for defense needs, and other corruption crimes by military officials.  The scale of ‘officer’ crime has reached the highest level in the last decade.  Today every fourth registered crime among the troops is committed by this category of servicemen, a third of them are of the corruption type.  The losses caused to military units and organizations by these crimes have increased by one-third and exceed the half-billion level.  The structure of this type of crime has substantially transformed.  Today the theft of military property and financial means is almost half of all the legal violations of officers.  The quantity of cases of bribetaking, of forgery of duty positions, of appropriations, and expenditures has grown substantially.”

According to KZ, senior officers are more often the perpetrators.  In the last year, they committed more than half of all illegal acts.  In 2008, 20 generals and admirals were held criminally responsible, 1,611 officers, including 160 unit commanders, were found guilty.  Out of the 874 people held criminally responsible in 2009, 162 were commanders of units, 127 were colonels and captains 1st rank and 14 were general officers.  More than 270 people were convicted, including 3 generals.  In 2009, over 5,500 law violations were uncovered in this sphere over the course of prosecutor inspections.  The losses amount to 2 billion rubles.

The smaller officer corps–now 150,000 according to the Defense Ministry–and the possibility of dramatically higher pay for all officers by 2012 might reduce officer crime and make those officers who are still part of the ‘new profile’ more honorable and ethical.

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