Is the Russian Army's Combat Capability Increasing?
A nice find on Mil.ru . . . the Defense Ministry website has the Internet poll above on its front page. If you click on Voting Results, you go to the results of all surveys conducted by the Defense Ministry’s Sociological Center.
To this particular question, 78 percent of respondents said its combat capability is decreasing.
Stepping back a bit, clicking on Sociological Center goes to a narrative explaining a little about it. Its purpose is monitoring social processes in the military to work out scientifically-founded proposals on the morale-psychological support of military organizational development, training, and employment of the Armed Forces. It also provides information support to commanders, staffs, and personnel officers. The Center is charged with collecting data about the socio-economic circumstances of servicemen and their families.
The military opinion surveying effort has been around for a while. During the first big push for contract service beginning in 2003, Defense Ministry pollsters actively asked contractees, or prospective ones, what attracted or discouraged them from signing up.
We’re not told how or when these survey questions were asked. They’re likely Internet polls rather than more scientific random sampling.
But one still admires the brutal honesty of publishing these results. They don’t accord with what Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov wants to see or hear three years after launching military reform. They indicate how far the Russians have to go to turn around the perception, if not the reality, of life in the Armed Forces. At the same time, getting feedback is a critical step in correcting their problems.
Your author has regrouped the survey results on various questions thematically. In the interests of brevity, only the answer with the highest percentage is shown.
Let’s start with other combat capability-related questions:
- How do you evaluate the Russian Army’s current combat capability? 72 percent said low.
- Is three months sufficient to train a military specialist? 82 percent said no.
- What effect is the humanization of service having on combat readiness? 71 percent said it is causing it to decline.
- Are you satisfied by the media’s presentation of Armed Forces exercises? 75 percent said no.
- How do you evaluate the present level of combat training? 74 percent said poor.
- Can the Armed Forces reliably guarantee Russia’s security? 81 percent said no.
- Is there now a military threat to Russia from other countries? 79 percent said yes.
Some very general questions:
- Do you approve of the Russian Army’s activity? 62 percent said no.
- How do you feel when you talk about the Armed Forces? 52 percent said negative.
- Is it necessary for the media to discuss negative events in the Armed Forces? 75 percent said yes.
- How does the media portray the activities of the Armed Forces? 64 percent said not objectively.
- Do you agree that “A powerful army is a powerful Russia?” 80 percent said yes.
- Should draft evaders be punished? 68 percent said yes.
- How do you feel about draft evasion? 59 percent said negative.
- Does military service promote striving for a healthy way of life? 56 percent said yes.
- Would you want a close relative to serve in the army? 68 percent said no.
On law and order in the ranks:
- Who should control the military police? 52 percent said the Defense Ministry.
- Do officers have enough powers to keep order? 84 percent said no.
- How do you assess measures to counter corruption in the army? 66 percent said they have little effect.
- Is “dedovshchina” an acute problem? 62 percent said yes.
On personnel, pay, and benefits:
- Should Order No. 400 premium pay continue or be discontinued? 80 percent said discontinue it.
- How do you feel about rotating officers’ duty stations? 51 percent are negative.
- How has Order No. 400 affected corruption in the army? 88 percent said it’s caused it to grow.
- Is there a “cadre famine” in the Armed Forces? 83 percent said yes.
- How do you evaluate the consequences of Order No. 400? 89 percent are negative.
- Where should priests be located? 42 percent said in battalions.
- Will priests help in forming healthy moral relations in the military collective? 55 percent said no.
- How do you evaluate the effect of the military mortgage system? 74 percent said low.
- Will higher pay in 2012 raise the social status of servicemen? 58 percent said no.
- Will requalifying military arsenal workers increase safety? 65 percent said no.
- Do military families live better or worse than people in your region? 77 percent said worse.
- Are social guarantees for servicemen sufficient? 86 percent said no.
- Has the prestige of the Armed Forces increased in the course of military reform? 59 percent said it remains at the previous level.
The responses on the army’s capabilities weren’t new. One is surprised, however, at how negative respondents were on premium pay, how little they expect from higher officer pay, and the lack of any improved perception of the prestige of military service.