Nezavisimaya gazeta’s Vladimir Mukhin writes this morning that the results of the fall draft are still being tallied, but the General Staff has already announced that several regions didn’t meet their conscription plans. And so, for the first time in recent years, the Armed Forces is facing undermanned conscript soldier and sergeant ranks, while the number of contract soldiers continues its decline.
Mukhin harks back to Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov’s recent Duma session, where he admitted that the army’s demand for soldiers is not being fully met. The exact quantitative deficit is a secret, but Mukhin says even a crude estimate tells him the military is at least 20 percent undermanned.
The Armed Forces now officially have less than 500,000 conscripts, 181,000 officers, and 120,000 contractees (800,000 in all, roughly), although approved manning is 1 million.
“It goes without saying, undermanning affects their combat readiness. And measures taken to resolve the problem, let’s say it directly, are hard to call adequate.”
A retired VDV general tells Mukhin contractees in the Pskov-based 76th Airborne Division (VDD or ВДД) dropped from 20 percent of personnel to 12 percent in 2010. The outflow was due to low pay of 11,000 rubles per month against an oblast average of about 18,000.
Mukhin forgets to mention that the 76th VDD was the cradle of “Pskov experiment” with contract service in 2003. It led to the wider Federal Targeted Program, 2004-2007, which General Staff Chief Makarov declared a failure early last year.
The Pskov-based 2nd Spetsnaz Brigade recently received a Defense Ministry order not to extend professional contractees, and to replace them with conscript soldiers and sergeants from training sub-units (i.e. guys who’ve been in the army all of three months).
Mukhin’s ex-general says:
“We don’t have to say what Spetsnaz brigades do. Namely, as before, they carry out not training, but combat missions in North Caucasus hot spots. You can’t train a good Spetsnaz soldier in a year even, much less three months. I don’t want to be the prophet of doom, but this means the likelihood of casualties will grow in a combat situation.”
A good article by Mukhin. His general’s words will likely be borne out. Anyone who followed both Chechen wars can see the Russian Army lining itself up to relearn the bitter lessons of those conflicts when it comes to choosing between professionals and draftees.
It would seem that the Ministry of Defense is no longer shy about publicizing the fact that there is no longer a million man army, whereas there was a lot of speculation before that the MOD would do everything in its power to try to maintain that level because anything less would be politically unacceptable. Has something changed in the public perception of Russia’s military power, or the Kremlin’s own goals?
Also, wondering if you saw this piece on Makarov allegedly retiring soon and would be interested in your thoughts: http://www.argumenti.ru/army/n271/90164/. Thanks and keep up the great work!