More Talk of Raising Draft Age to 30

Appearing on Thursday’s RIA Novosti talk show ‘Civil Defense,’ Deputy Defense Minister, State Secretary Nikolay Pankov claimed raising the upper age limit for conscription would benefit the army, and Russian society as a whole.

Under Russian law, men aged 18 to 27 are subject to the draft.  In April, GOMU Chief Vasiliy Smirnov floated the possibility of increasing the age to 30 as a way to help fill the army’s ranks at a time when 270,000 new conscripts are needed every six months, and contract service has failed to produce sufficient numbers of professional soldiers.

Pankov told his interviewer:

“I think this question [of raising the draft age limit] is very productive, and I wouldn’t reject this idea.”

But he admitted it needs more study.

After Smirnov’s April trial balloon, Defense Minister Serdyukov and General Staff Chief Makarov backed awayfrom raising the draft age, saying they were only ‘reviewing options.’

The issue really boils down to this:  how many 27-year-olds are the Russians currently drafting, and how much would drafting 28-, 29-, and 30-year-olds really help fill gaps in the ranks?

One has to conclude the return on conscription greatly diminishes at the outer edge, while resistance to it increases.  Forum.msk editor Anatoliy Baranov commented that raising the draft age limit to 30 is unpopular because average life expectancy for men is less than 60.  He continues:

“Of course, against the background of a general decline in the draft contingent by almost 2 times for social and demographic reasons, there are no and can’t be solutions fully compensating for this ‘demographic hole.’”

“How do you keep general military training and not draft everyone into the army at the same time?  There are, of course, solutions, but the current Defense Ministry leadership, it seems, consciously ‘overlooks’ them.”

Baranov seems to be saying, if the military wants a million-man army, with 600,000-700,000 conscripts, it’ll have to increase, not the draft age, but the draft term from one year back to 18-months or two years.

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