After talking GOZ-2011 and contracting with OPK enterprises, Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov fielded Rossiyskaya gazeta questions on pay, military sanatorium-resort (i.e. vacation) benefits, apartments, contractees, opposition to reforms, and MPs.
He said increased pay will more than offset the loss of vacation benefits.
The military will have acquired 135,000 apartments by the end of 2011. It will obtain another 25,000 next year according to Serdyukov.
He rejected any suggestion officers were deceived or Prime Minister Vladimir Putin “set up” when it came to the original 2010 and 2012 deadlines for solving permanent and service apartment problems:
“No one was deceived. You know the number of those without apartments in the army sharply increased after the transition of the Armed Forces to a new profile began. The dismissal of servicemen accompanied this process. Unfortunately, the registration of those needing housing was conducted badly.”
“Precisely because of this, the lists for the receipt of housing rose from 70 thousand to 170 thousand. It’s understandable that a hundred thousand increase could in no way be “inserted” into the bounds of 2010.”
On contractees, Serdyukov said there will be 180,000 in 2012, and 50,000 will be added each year until the number reaches 425,000 in 2017. He added the optimal ratio, in his view, is 80 percent contractees to 20 percent conscripts. But, if financing allowed, he’d go to 90-10. Conscripts will serve primarily as infantrymen in motorized rifle brigades where less technical skill is required.
Asked the usual question on resistance to his steps to renew the army, Serdyukov said reforms weren’t all to his credit; they were devised mainly in the Defense Ministry by uniformed officers. He said he can’t say there was strong resistance but rather misunderstanding about changes being made. Without prompting, Serdyukov identified personnel downsizing, dismissals, and officers placed outside the shtat [TO&E] as sources of opposition to his work.
Serdyukov claimed there would be fewer inquiries from Duma deputies if they visited units instead of relying on newspaper articles and information from the Internet.
Finally, for the first half of his interview, Serdyukov talked about launching Russia’s military police. First, the MP garrison service will stand up, followed by disciplinary battalions and the military automobile inspectorate. Troops from line units will no longer guard cargoes or bases, he said. MPs will be responsible for order in garrisons. He concluded:
“In my view, this will bring real changes in barracks life, it will fight barracks hooliganism.”
Serdyukov would say dedovshchina doesn’t exist, and he wouldn’t bring himself to say simply barracks violence. But, in essence, he acknowledges that “real changes” in the barracks are needed.
He said a Main Directorate of Military Police has been created and General-Lieutenant Surovikin will head it. The MPs will have several thousand specially trained personnel, including possibly some officers now outside the shtat.