18-Month Conscription or More Money for Contract Service

Vladimir Mukhin’s report on General Staff Chief Makarov denouncing  contract service has not received much attention.  See Monday’s Nezavisimaya gazeta

Mukhin concludes the military leadership has decided the longstanding effort to transfer some troops to a professional basis and reduce the length of conscript service has been a total fiasco.  And contractees will be reduced, and conscripts increased. 

Mukhin says, with this, Makarov touched the very painful issue of increasing conscript service back to 1.5 years.  He says such a plan is allegedly with the country’s leadership right now [this will really add to Medvedev’s popularity, won’t it?]. 

Duma Deputy Vladimir Komoyedov

Mukhin cites former Black Sea Fleet Commander, Admiral Komoyedov, now a KPRF Duma deputy and member of the Duma’s Defense Committee, who says the issue of raising the draft term is under discussion among generals as well as among legislators. 

Mukhin says all this is perfectly logical to military leaders.  A longer draft term will allow conscripts to be better trained and more knowledgeable and to compensate for the absence of professionals.  But this approach in no way  connects with the political statements of the country’s leadership which assures society there won’t be any increase in conscript service time. 

Komoyedov says: 

“The situation here is complicated.  The idea of increasing the military service term to 1.5 years is written into our, the KPRF, program.  We understand well that in current conditions it’s almost impossible to train a skilled and knowledgeable specialist in the troops in a year.  They’ve begun, apparently, to understand this in the Genshtab also.  It seems to me that military leaders know how to convince the president and prime minister to take unpopular steps on questions of changing to the side of increasing the military service term.  Otherwise the army expects significant undermanning–because of the demographic hole, losses on health grounds, and the like.”  

Mukhin turns next to the Chairman of the All-Russian Professional Servicemen’s Union (OPSV or ОПСВ) Oleg Shvedkov who says:   

“It seems to me that the idea of increasing the conscript military service term to a year and a half, even if it today it’s actively lobbied for by someone in military circles, neither the Kremlin nor Okhotnyy Ryad (the Duma) will support it.  Our leaders have already made so many mistakes including in questions of military reform.  Changes in the conscription and troop manning system will cause significant agitation in society.  The authorities of course won’t allow this.  More likely a decision on increasing military budget parameters for use in selecting and training contractees will be taken.” 

Valentina Melnikova, Secretary of the Union of Committees of Soldiers’ Mothers (СКСМ) of Russia, told Mukhin she still thinks a complete transition to contract service could be made. 

She and Shvedkov are right of course.  Theoretically, Russia could shift to all professional enlisted, but it would take political will lacking heretofore.  After what Makarov and Postnikov said (and knowing the generalitet’s predilections anyway), an effort to reinforce a badly, badly sagging contract service effort seems very unlikely.  And it would seem Makarov and his protege would have to resign too.

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