So, Do You Have a Girlfriend? (photo: Izvestiya / Gleb Shchelkunov)
A strange and ironic title. “Do Ask, Do Tell” might be appropriate too.
By chance, two recent articles focused on the Main Directorate for Personnel Work (GURLS or ГУРЛС).
Information at Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye’s disposal indicates Defense Minister Shoygu will reorganize GURLS into a Cadre Policy Department (DKP or ДКП), like what he had at MChS. The change would encompass everyone working with personnel issues, military education, and psychological evaluation and treatment.
Author Vladimir Mukhin concludes the Defense Ministry’s personnel structures haven’t been effective during the entire post-Soviet period. But former Defense Minister Serdyukov, in particular, had little use for personnel work. He dismissed the last chief of GURLS, and left the post vacant. The chief before was convicted for bribery and sent to jail for seven years.
Serdyukov cut personnel work officers by a factor of three, sold off cultural-educational institutions in large garrisons, and was prepared to privatize major facilities reportedly worth “several billion dollars” — the Central Academic Theater of the Russian Army, the Cultural Center and Museum of the Armed Forces.
The article in Izvestiya is much more interesting.
Its headline says Russian officers are obligated to determine the sexual orientation of their soldiers (among other things).
This comes from “methodological recommendations” codified by GURLS at the end of last year. They cover the spectrum of psychological work with young soldiers, from counteracting “barracks rackets” to national [ethnic] and religious issues.
As they put it, “disorderly sexual relations” qualify as a sign of nervous-psychological instability on par with alcohol addiction, running away from home, suicidal tendencies, and stealing.
Officer-educators (officer-indoctrinators) should get to know a soldier, ask about his sexual experience, if he has a girlfriend, and whether her fidelity is important to him.
A physical inspection of the soldier to look for tattoos is recommended:
“The reasons for having tattoos could attest to a low cultural and educational level. If the influence of external motivations is established, for example persuasion, coercion, then this will attest to the compliance of the young man, his inclination to submit to another’s will.”
“. . . knowledge of tattoo symbols will help the officer best organize work with a specific individual. Special attention should go to tattoos on areas of the face, the genitals, the buttocks. They can attest not only to specific personal attitudes, but also to possible sexual deviations.”
A military psychologist from GURLS tells the paper the army remains a bastion of traditional views on sexuality:
“In closed military collectives, sexual minorities introduce unnecessary tension, negatively influence the moral atmosphere. Soldiers begin thinking not about their service, but about extraneous things.”
An assistant battalion commander for personnel work says he can’t talk with every young soldier; this is up to company and platoon commanders. But the perplexed officer asked rhetorically:
“Will they inspect genitals for tattoos? And how do you ask about the first sexual experience? ‘When did you try a woman for the first time, greenhorn? Answer straight, don’t weasel.'”
He claimed he had one gay contractee who came to the army looking for more partners.
Other officers told Izvestiya they aren’t in a hurry to follow GURLS’ guidance.
Before Serdyukov introduced the “new profile” reforms, companies had deputy commanders for indoctrination work, and battalions still had a staff psychologist. Now there’s only the deputy battalion commander for personnel work, and companies have four officers — the company commander and three platoon commanders.