In Thursday’s Vedomosti, Aleksey Nikolskiy wrote about Defense Minister Serdyukov’s remarks on contract service to the Federation Council. Serdyukov and General Staff Chief Makarov have cited different figures on the current number of contractees (150,000 vs. 190,000), but agree they’ll be cut. Professionals will come not only later, but in a smaller numbers. And contractees will occupy only certain duties.
Nikolskiy cites a figure of only 50,000 contractees signed on during Russia’s failed 2003-2007 attempt to set up a professional enlisted force.
A future smaller number of contract NCOs could receive pay equivalent to that of junior officers. Except that junior officer pay is supposed to increase dramatically toward 2012 under the new pay system.
According to Nikolskiy’s interlocutors, a new table of organization will soon spell out exactly where contractees will serve, i.e. there will reportedly be few driver-mechanic contractees, while the number of senior NCO billets will increase.
While contract soldiers decrease, how will Moscow manage its commitment to keep conscripts out of ‘hot spots’ (i.e. potential combat zones)? As recently as April, the Defense Ministry had to reassure the public it had no intention of stationing draftees in Chechnya.
Here’s Nikolskiy verbatim:
“In the long run, contractees in the army will increase from 150,000 to 250,000, but first they will cut them to pick the best and pay them more.”
“Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov told reporters in the Federation Council yesterday there are no plans to abandon contractee servicemen and their number in the future will increase to 200,000-250,000. The day before in the defense committee of the upper chamber, the Genshtab chief Nikolay Makarov said the number of contractees will be significantly reduced compared with the current 190,000. According to him, contractees will occupy only duties in the Navy, Air Forces and Air Defense requiring good professional training, and also in permanent readiness units. Only conscript soldiers will serve in the remaining posts.”
“An officer from the Defense Ministry central apparatus explains that Serdyukov’s and Makarov’s statements don’t contradict one another. In the long run, depending on developing financial conditions, the number of contractees will grow, but first they will reduce them to get rid of ballast which got into these posts during the first attempt at professionalization of the army.”
“In 2003 the FTsP “Transition to Manning with Soldiers Conducting Military Service on Contract in Some Formations and Military Units” was adopted at a cost of more than 20 billion rubles. According to it, by 2007, the number of contractees in soldier and sergeant duties in permanent readiness units should have gotten to 150,000. However, they began to fulfill this program from the wrong end, said an officer, having simply mechanically increased the number of contractees in posts not worrying about their training or paying a normal wage. As a result, they took less than 50,000 and the program collapsed, as the Defense Ministry’s leaders confirmed this year. Now, after their reduction, the number of contractees will be increased carefully, take well trained people into posts and pay them wages equivalent to salaries of junior officers, said Vedomosti’s source. At President Dmitriy Medvedev’s meeting on Monday [7 June], increasing wages was discussed and a figure was named—from 25,000 rubles [monthly].”
“In the words of an officer from one of the Ground Troops’ motorized rifle brigades, the latest order about contractees came to the unit at the beginning of the year and it indicated there should be no more than 5 percent of them among the number of soldiers and sergeants in driver duties, though more posts for contract sergeants as company and battery sergeant-majors were introduced.”
“According to him, you can’t judge where exactly contractees will serve until the introduction of new tables of organization which they’ve promised to do in coming months.”