Tag Archives: FOM

Through the Public’s Eye

How does the Russian military look in the public’s eye?  The Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) asked recently, and the answers showed a fairly substantial improvement in the average citizen’s view of the capabilities of the armed forces.

The poll indicates the constant Russian media drumbeat on rearmament has affected public perceptions of the military’s capabilities.  Its unopposed march through Crimea this spring probably contributed as well, but no survey questions addressed this.

FOM asked, if extra government funding were available, would respondents use it on military or civilian needs. Those polled still strongly prefer civilian uses (55% vs. 61% in early 2012).

Seventy-four percent of those surveyed now think the armed forces are capable of ensuring the country’s security (vs. only 49% in early 2013).  Those who think not dropped to seven percent (vs. 23% in 2013).

Are They Capable?

Are They Capable?

In response to an open follow-up question, 21 percent said the military is capable because it has all combat equipment it needs.

Asked if the military’s combat capability is increasing, decreasing, or not changing, 64 percent said increasing (vs. 38% in 2013).  Only 12 percent said not changing (vs. 30% in 2013).

In an open follow-up, 20 percent said expedited outfitting, development of defense industry, and new weapons are all necessary for increasing the combat capability of the armed forces.

At the same time, 63 percent indicated Russia has a sufficient amount of modern arms and equipment (vs. 43% in 2013). Sixty-five percent think the share of modern weapons is increasing; 41 percent thought so in 2013.

The survey also asked respondents to rate their knowledge of the situation and problems in the armed forces.  These numbers were basically unchanged.  In this survey and in 2013, less than 30 percent said they knew them “well” or considered themselves “not badly” informed.  Slightly less than 70 percent said they didn’t know much or were poorly informed.

But, as the saying goes, opinions are something everyone has.

About one-third reported having relatives, friends, or acquaintances in the military; about two-thirds said they don’t.

The poll was done on 23-24 August with responses from 1,500 participants in 43 regions and 100 populated areas.  Its margin of error is not greater than 3.6 percent.

FOM also offers a complete breakdown of its survey results from the webpage for those who’d like to download them.  It shows them by age, sex, political preference, education, income, etc.

FOM’s Poll

On this election day 2012, let’s look at FOM’s survey on attitudes about the army.  Its questions are different from 2011But this year’s results show less enchantment with positive changes in the army.

Just prior to the army’s February 23 holiday, FOM asked its sample whether the Russian Army’s combat capability is high or low.  Only 15 percent said high, 33 percent said low, 37 percent said average (not high or low), and 15 percent found it hard to say.

Two years ago 24 percent said high and only 27 percent said low.

Then FOM asked whether the army’s combat capability is increasing or decreasing.  Twenty-eight percent said increasing, 17 percent said decreasing, 38 percent said not changing, and 16 percent found it hard to answer.

In 2010, 36 percent said increasing.

It’d be interesting if FOM asked respondents to say what combat capability means to them.

Then FOM asked about the military’s prestige.  Given the choice of high or low, 21 percent said high, 27 percent low, 40 percent not high or low, and 12 percent found it hard to answer.

But 38 percent said the military’s prestige is growing, 11 percent declining, 38 percent not changing, and 13 percent hard to answer.

If Russia’s budget had extra resources that could go only to military needs, or only to civilian needs, just 18 percent said they would direct that money to the military, 61 percent said to civilian uses, and 21 percent said hard to answer.

New Poll on Conscription

FOM's Poll on Conscription

The Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) just published a major poll looking at Russian attitudes toward the callup and obligatory military service.  It’s 48 pages, but here are some highlights.

The poll was conducted in July, with 3,000 respondents in 204 populated places in 64 of Russia’s regions.

Fifty-two percent of respondents favor a mixed manning system combining conscription with contract service, and 23 percent favor the callup only.

Sixty-four percent support the announced plan to cut conscripts and increase contract soldiers, although only 22 percent would support taking money from education and health care to pay for them.  Survey participants on average thought 34,500 rubles was worthy pay for contractees.

Fifty-five percent liked reducing conscript service from two years to one while 37 percent did not.  In the 18-30 age group, 65% supported the shorter service term.

In the population as a whole, 29% believe one-year service has reduced dedovshchina and “nonregulation relations” against 46 percent who feel nothing’s changed by it.  There were fewer of the former and more of the latter among respondents claiming intimate knowledge of army life.

The FOM poll showed strong support for a number of Defense Ministry initiatives to “humanize” conscript service.

Fifty-four percent were critical of draft evaders, but 34% were sympathetic toward them.

Finally, buried deep in the results, participants were asked for their views on the state of affairs in the Russian Army in coming years:

  • 19% said it will improve.
  • 19% said it will worsen.
  • 35% said it will stay the same.
  • 26% said hard to answer.

However, when asked to compare military service conditions today against those 10-15 years ago, more respondents said they are easier (39%), and many fewer said they are harder (14%), by comparison with Russians asked the same question in 2002 (just 6% and a whopping 64% respectively).

Cross-Referenced Polls

FOM against VTsIOM on the army’s current condition:

Army’s condition            FOM    VTsIOM
“Very good, good”        8 percent 13 percent
“Average”      40 percent 44 percent
“Poor, very poor”      35 percent 29 percent

And Levada against VTsIOM on the army’s capability to defend against an external threat:

Capable of defending           Levada   VTsIOM
“Definitely yes, most likely yes”        59 percent 55 percent
“Most likely no, definitely no”        28 percent 30 percent

FOM Defenders’ Day Poll

Time for the annual polls about the army.  And Defense Minister Serdyukov faces a sudden jump in the number of Russians who believe the situation in the army’s worsened during the past year.

The Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) conducted this poll on 12-13 February, with 1,500 respondents in 100 populated areas, in 43 of Russia’s regions.  The poll doesn’t list its margin of error.

Is the Day of the Defender of the Fatherland (23 February – Defenders’ Day) a special day? 

The yes and no answers – let’s call them two-thirds to one-third respectively – have changed little over eight years.  But those picking “difficult to answer” have increased from 5 to 14 percent over that time.

How do you evaluate the situation in the army? 

FOM shows data for the last six years, aggregated as “excellent-good,” “satisfactory,” and “poor-very poor.”  The number responding “excellent-good” has stayed low over that period, starting at 6 percent, going as low as 3 percent in 2006, as high as 11 percent in 2010, and resting at 8 percent this year.  All in all, pretty steady over the period.

“Poor-very poor” and “satisfactory” look like mirror images of each other over time.  The greatest gap between them was in 2006 when 71 percent said “poor-very poor” and 17 percent “satisfactory.”  “Satisfactory” has increased, reaching 42 percent last year, while “poor-very poor” was 33 percent.  In this year’s survey, “satisfactory” holds a slight lead at 40 percent to “poor-very poor’s” 35 percent.  This could be within or very close to the survey’s margin of error.

Is the situation in the army improving, worsening, or staying the same? 

In 2007, 31 percent thought “improving” to 11 percent “worsening.”  Four years later [exactly coinciding with Defense Minister Serdyukov’s tenure], the numbers are almost exactly reversed 35 percent say “worsening” and only 19 percent say “improving.”  And the 35 percent who say “worsening” is a real jump over previous years – 18 percent in 2006, 11 percent in 2007, and 16 percent in 2010.  In other words, the past year’s been difficult for Serdyukov’s Defense Ministry.

Respondents were also asked about some [possible] army reforms they would approve or not approve.  A few examples :

  • Extending the draft age to 30 . . . Approve – 18 percent, disapprove – 67 percent.
  • Removing deferments from students . . . Approve – 29 percent, disapprove – 57 percent.
  • Reducing the number of officers . . . Approve – 24 percent, disapprove – 52 percent.
  • Transferring the army to a contract basis, ending the draft . . . Approve – 51 percent, disapprove – 32 percent.