The Defense Ministry press service today revealed some scarcely concealed official irritation with the poor health of its pool of potential conscripts.
ITAR-TASS reported that almost half the men called to draft commissions have been sent for medical observation. The press service source told ITAR-TASS:
“As of 21 May draft commissions have made decisions on 155,300 of those called up, more than 70,800 men have been sent to places of service. Since the beginning of the call-up, military commissariats have sent nearly 67,000 young men for medical observation.”
The draft campaign which began 1 April will call 270,000 men into the armed forces and other militarized structures. The largest numbers of conscripts thus far have come from the Volga-Ural region and Siberia. In last year’s competition for citizens best prepared for military service, Tatarstan was first, Stavropol second, and Arkhangelsk third.
ITAR-TASS concludes, in the Defense Ministry, they remained worried as before by the weak health of Russian conscripts. In the 2009 call-up [not clear if this means spring, fall, or both draft campaigns taken together], 68 percent of those appearing at draft commissions were found fit for military service without limitations or with insignificant limitations, but of the number actually inducted into the service, more than half had various limitations because of their health. This prevented sending them to military units with high demands on servicemen–the VDV, VMF, MVD VV, and others.
ITAR-TASS reports doctors were forced [spring, fall, all of 2009?] to send nearly 86,400 of those called-up to ambulatory or in-patient observation in medical facilities because of unsatisfactory health indicators. And their fitness for service can only be determined once they complete medical observation. The item notes that, over time, 1-3 percent of young guys go ‘AWOL’ from observation and don’t complete it. The fact that young men manifest health problems for the first time when they’re in front of the draft commission shows the weaknesses of the health care system. The Defense Ministry also believes this shows that medical prophylactic measures for young people are poorly organized in the regions.
Defense Minister Serdyukov indicated today that, although Russia is interested in foreign light armored vehicles, it won’t buy any, and wants to produce its own.
During last week’s visit to Italy, IVECO put on a demonstration for Serdyukov at Moscow’s request.
According to RIA Novosti, Serdyukov said:
“The Defense Ministry is actively studying modern tendencies in arms employment. Particularly in transporting personnel, medical personnel, and also reconnaissance in light armored vehicles. The experience of Afghanistan and Iraq and our experience (in the regions), where explosions often occur, shows it’s essential to transport Defense Ministry sub-units in armored vehicles.”
Maybe Serdyukov should have said we already transport troops in armored vehicles, but we need to transport them in good, modern ones.
Serdyukov also noted that Germany is actively studying armor protection for troops, and Russia’s Defense Ministry is interested in similar production of its own. He called Germany the leader in armor, and noted that German armor is mounted on Italian vehicles. Serdyukov continued:
“We’re not talking about purchases of these vehicles in Italy or another country. The main thing is to organize production of such equipment in Russia.”
Defense Minister Serdyukov today said Moscow still plans on acquiring four Mistral amphibious assault ships. He said Russia is talking not just with France, but also Spain and the Netherlands, about Mistral.
According to RIA Novosti, Serdyukov said:
“At present, we’re in pre-contract negotiations on this type of ship with three governments. They are Spain, the Netherlands, and France. We plan to sign a contract for four of these ships.”
He also said one ship would be completely foreign-made, but Russian shipbuilders would participate in building the other three. And the fourth ship will be built, to the maximum extent, in Russia.
Serdyukov reiterated that the Defense Ministry is working on this acquisition according to President Medvedev’s decision. And the Defense Minister added:
“We are now occupied with the issue very seriously.”
He concluded that the issue of buying the ships will be resolved positively “if there aren’t any revisions, including in the financing question.” And finally Serdyukov noted:
“We understand now that the Northern and Pacific Fleets need these ships.”
Meanwhile, Baltic Shipbuilding Plant ‘Yantar’ is trying to tout its proyekt 11711 large amphibious ship Ivan Gren as an alternative to buying or building foreign ships. VPK.name published a version of this story based on an earlier Interfaks report.
On Friday, TV Tsentr broadcast a story on former military men waiting over a year for new apartments due to the lack of proper transfer and ownership documents. Two of the men and a military wife were interviewed. The footage showed a quiet demonstration on Gogolevskiy Bulvar, several blocks from the Defense Ministry.
One officer showed the camera crew his family’s room in an officer’s dormitory. Another walks through a finished apartment building, saying he is into his second year of waiting. The ‘virtual’ apartments exist, but the documents for them don’t. A military wife says their lives and obtaining services are difficult without a permanent place of residence.
The chief of the regional capital construction directorate talked to the demonstrators about ‘complex relations with the contractor,’ but assured them their apartment problems will be resolved in the next month.