Russia’s Eastern Military District (MD) is apparently experiencing a junior officer shortage.
The district headquarters in Khabarovsk announced this week that 227 of its contractees are set to receive lieutenant’s shoulderboards in the near future.
The Russian MOD site indicated that these contractees already have a higher education, and 39 have a military specialization. Apparently, they will start serving immediately as junior officers. The other 188 have been enrolled in military training establishments (VUZy) for an unspecified period.
Another 85 will soon be sent off for similar training. The MD is already selecting well-prepared contract servicemen who have a higher education.
The district also intends to send representatives from its personnel directorate and military commissariats to western and central Russia to recruit individuals to serve as officers in the Eastern MD.
The MOD site reminded readers that, in May, MD commander General-Colonel Sergey Surovikin said the district needed to find officers “who were forced to resign during the optimization of the structure and size of the Russian Army” as well as contract servicemen with higher education who want to be officers.
The “optimization” of course was that of former defense minister Anatoliy Serdyukov. His effort to cut bloat in the officer ranks began in earnest in 2009. While focused mainly on senior officers, Serdyukov’s knife also slashed lieutenants and captains at the base of the TO&E pyramid. At the time, commentators reported complaints from units saying they had trouble keeping order and fulfilling routine requirements due to a lack of platoon and company commanders.
In some sense, the news about a JO shortage is surprising given that each spring the MOD gushes about young lieutenants graduating from VUZy and taking up their responsibilities in the nation’s far-flung armed forces. It also brags about stiff competition to enter those VUZy every year.
In another, it isn’t surprising. Serving in the military in Russia’s harsh and underpopulated Far East is no more popular than living there for other reasons. It’s a hardship post with little attraction for 22-year-old.
Lastly, each contractee taken to become an officer means another enlisted soldier has to be signed up for the Eastern MD. And that’s a more difficult sell. One is left wondering if the recruitment of contract servicemen for the Far East isn’t going so well either.
Sufficient numbers of young Russian men are just getting harder to find. It’s hard to get them to go where the military thinks they’re needed. Meanwhile, Moscow is trying to expand its force structure. And the very bottom of Russia’s demographic hole won’t be reached until 2018.