Tag Archives: Pay

The Price of Military Labor

Today Voyenno-promyshlennyy kuryer published what it says is the nearly complete version of new military pay and pension rates that will be reviewed by the Defense Ministry and other power ministries by 20 May, and passed on to the Duma not later than 22 June for approval.  There might, says VPK, be some changes and amendments as parliaments are want to make.  But expect the package to become law by early July at the latest.  The new pay rates will be implemented for the Defense Ministry, as long promised, on 1 January 2012, and a year later for other power ministries.

In the following graphic, VPK shows duty and rank pay for some military men.

Duty and Rank Pay

This is just a foretaste of the data presented.  Of course, duty pay is the more significant component.  It’s why some officers outside the TO&E, i.e. without duties, are hurting so badly — they don’t get this big chunk of pay.

But what it says is a sergeant who’s the upper grade of two for section commander gets 6,500 rubles for his rank and 15,000 rubles for his duty or position pay, or 21,500 rubles per month.  But let’s call this “base” pay onto which other supplements are added.  A general-colonel serving as a deputy defense minister would get 64,000 rubles in “base” pay per month.

Supplements and coefficients are calculated for years served, class qualifications, work with state secrets, service under special [usually climatological] conditions, etc.  The following graphic shows part of the list.  It actually runs up to nine different supplements and coefficients.

Supplementary Pay

Supplements are sometimes calculated on duty pay; other times on combined duty and rank pay.  Let’s say our section commander sergeant has served 10 years, has a second class qualification, works with secret information, and serves with Russian troops in Tajikistan — he would add 4,300 and 2,150 and 1,500 and perhaps 15,000 to that “base” of 21,500.  His supplemented pay becomes 44,450 rubles per month — not bad, but this would likely be an exceptional case we’ve made just for illustration purposes.

Note that items 6 and 7 on the supplement chart are Defense Minister Serdyukov’s “premium” pay supplements for outstanding performance.  They allow officers to double their duty pay or even triple their combined duty and rank pay.  “Premium” pay was a stopgap to raise military salaries until a new, higher pay system could be devised.  But VPK makes it look like this will become a permanent feature of the new system.

The draft law sets out lots of other special payments and benefits to servicemen for this and that, relocation, death, injury, dismissal, etc.

The following graphic provides some examples of what officers and soldiers will make.

Some Pay Examples

This shows the kind of lieutenant platoon commander that Medvedev, Putin, and Serdyukov have described earning over 50,000 rubles per month.  And our putative section commander sergeant . . . it lists him at about what we estimated 41,000 rubles or so, plus other supplements that take him over 50,000 too.

There’s an exemplar pension chart for those that are interested, and below is a snip of the 50-grade schedule the military uses.  If you view the entire chart, grade 50 is for a first deputy minister, there are two grades for MD commanders, and seven different ones for deputy army commanders, so on and so forth.

Grade Schedule

 What’s it all mean?  Again, this pay reform is a thing both necessary and long in coming.  It’s also going to be very expensive at a time when there’ll be lots of other outlays for the GPV, for contract enlisted, for military housing, for better military infrastructure, etc.  It won’t be easy.  But it seems to be a priority.  The difficulty is that it’s very hard to move forward on all military reform fronts at once.  We’ll have to watch to see which areas are treated with preference or, alternatively, neglected.

More on the Military Personnel Zigzag

Wednesday’s Argumenty nedeli looked briefly at the reversal of Defense Minister Serdyukov’s cuts in the Russian officer corps, as well as plans to increase officer pay.

AN said Serdyukov said 70 thousand officers were needed to establish Air-Space (Aerospace) Defense (VKO), but noted he didn’t say where he would find so many officers for such a complex and specialized military field.

Those thrown out of the service in the course of implementing the “new profile” can’t be brought back, and training new officers will take 10-12 years following the reform of the military education system and the liquidation of the Mozhayskiy Military-Space Academy.

And, says AN, radically increasing pay won’t be so simple.  The budgets for 2011 and 2012 have been approved, so pay raises will have to wait until 2013 and 2014, after a new Duma and president have been elected.  And increasing the number of contractees [also with higher pay] will be another factor in army financing problems.

A General Staff source told AN:

“The approximate manning of VKO in all duty positions, including conscripts, contractees, and officers, will be 20-22 thousand.  This means the majority of duty positions will transfer there from Space Troops (KV), air defense troops and missile defense.  But after the mass cuts there aren’t enough commanders on the level of company, regiment and even brigade commanders.  And in all services and branches of the Armed Forces at that.  Therefore, it’s incorrect to think that all 70 thousand are going into VKO.”

According to him, the establishment of any new service [if it is a service rather than a branch], especially one as high-tech as VKO, requires “decades of work by all staffs.”

AN also cites Aleksandr Khramchikhin:

“It seems to me that constant casting about on the size of the officer corps just says that military reform issues haven’t been worked out in a strategic plan.”

A short item that says a lot . . . just a couple comments:

  • This piece is saying that VKO officers and specialists will be taken from the ranks of those currently serving in KV, PVO, and PRO.
  • The 70,000 additional officers will plug holes in command positions throughout the Armed Forces.
  • It would be difficult to bring back dismissed officers.  But there are lots of serving officers living in limbo outside the shtat (штат), outside the TO&E at the disposition (распоряжение) of their commanders, who could be called back to their units.
  • Military education’s been hammered, but it looks like Mozhayskiy’s still operating.
  • Delivering the promised new higher pay system in 2012 will be difficult under current and projected budgetary constraints.  So it’s another opportunity for the regime to fail.  But the Kremlin and White House don’t really need to worry about military votes anyway.
  • Kramchikhin’s right on.  Serdyukov’s idea to cut the officer corps in half – from more than 30 to 15 percent of Armed Forces personnel – was right.  But he failed to plan properly for it, and he tried to do it too fast.  Without accounting, or compensating, for the myriad historical, economic, and cultural reasons Russia had so many officers in the first place – reliance on conscripts and the lack of a strong NCO corps being first and foremost.  So another correct step is discredited by hubris, lack of foresight, and poor execution.  Serdyukov didn’t need to measure seven times before cutting, but twice would have been nice.
  • Taking “decades” to put VKO in place would certainly be the old-fashioned speed of Russian military reform.  But if it’s to be done quickly and successfully, it has to be done with more care than Serdyukov’s demonstrated over the last four years.

Walking Back Serdyukov’s Personnel Policies (Part II)

Medvedev in Meeting on Military Pay (photo: Kremlin.ru)

So officers were cut too drastically, and their numbers are going to be increased.

One recalls Ilya Kramnik saying officer cuts were causing serious tension in the ranks.  As if to prove the point, on Wednesday, near Novosibirsk, a drunken major living outside the “shtat” threatened to blow up his room in the unit’s dormitory.  This summer Aleksey Nikolskiy said halving officers caused trouble for brigades in the Vostok-2010 exercise.

But it’s not just an officer shortage that’s led to this policy reversal.  Difficulties with conscription and sergeants have forced the Defense Ministry to plug holes with more officers. 

Aleksandr Sharavin talked to BFM.ru about the situation:

“I think this is connected with the fact that now the situation in the army is very tense.  They cut officers from 450 thousand [sic] to 150.  They cut warrant officers completely, and professional sergeants aren’t appearing, we didn’t train them, and still can’t do this.  What we’ve got is a lot of conscript soldiers, few contractees, generally no professional sergeants, and a triple load laid on the remaining officers.  Now we have to compensate by increasing the number of officers.”  

Increasing the officer ranks wasn’t the only personnel policy reversal announced on 2 February.  A preliminary decision to increase contractees in the Armed Forces was also discussed.  Serdyukov said:

“This issue isn’t finally decided, but we have a proposal for an increase.  The Security Council was ordered to review this issue, in the course of the month a concrete figure – how much the number of contractees will be increased from 2012 – will be determined.”     

Utro.ru entitled it’s coverage of this story “Army Reform Reversed,” and reminded readers that army contract service was curtailed last winter because the military couldn’t afford it.  And now apparently it can?

We don’t know how many contract sergeants might be added starting next year.  In fact, no one seems to know how many there are now.  Newsru.com claims the army currently has 180,000 contract soldiers, sergeants, and warrants.  If that’s true, the Armed Forces are about 900,000.  But if there are fewer contractees, and conscripts are less than 560,000, then the Armed Forces are that much below 900,000.

Can an about-face on the elimination of warrant officers be far behind?

As early as 27 January, Rossiyskaya gazeta reported Deputy Defense Minister Pankov said some cadets might be inducted into VVUZy in 2011.  It was just back in the fall that the Defense Ministry put a two-year moratorium on them.  As it is, VVUZy now have about 45,000 cadets in the classes of 2011, 2012, and 2013.

But the Defense Ministry is looking at having these would-be officers join 5,000 other former cadets as sergeants.  The Defense Ministry is talking about salaries as high as 40,000 rubles a month for professional NCOs.  But current NCO training efforts in VVUZy are going very slowly, and the army wants 250,000 of them, according to Nezavisimaya gazeta.

Let’s return for a bit to Medvedev’s Tuesday session on raising pay for servicemen and law enforcement.  We’re talking Defense Ministry, MVD, MChS, FSB, FSO, and SVR here.  Men with ranks, badges, and guns.  Medvedev called higher pay for them:

“. . . an issue of state importance.  In the last analysis, our efforts to reform the Armed Forces, create a new profile of the Armed Forces and, of course, reform the system of law enforcement organs, including reforming the Internal Affairs Ministry and creating police depend on it.”

The Defense Ministry is talking median pay of 50,000 rubles a month for lieutenants starting in 2012.  Just a sampling . . . a cadet would get 18,200, a contract soldier 24,800, a squad sergeant 34,600, and a brigade commander 93,800 rubles per month.

NG’s Vladimir Mukhin reports the Finance Ministry believes the new military pay plan will cost another 1 percent of Russia’s GDP, taking the defense budget from nearly 3 to nearly 4 percent of GDP.  All this while the government wonders whether outyear budgets will be in deficit or not.

The last couple days represent the first major defeat for Serdyukov.  His military personnel policies are a complete and utter shambles.  Political analyst Aleksey Mukhin commented to BFM.ru on Defense Minister Serdyukov’s prospects: 

“ It’s fully possible that soon they’ll call him enemy No. 1 for the reform which is being conducted.”

If they don’t already.  One guesses he’ll keep his post though.

So after flirting briefly with paying relatively few officers more money, the Defense Ministry’s going to pay more officers more money instead.  And this is more officers at the same time President Medvedev’s ordered a 20 percent cut in government bureaucracy.

The fact is military reform’s gone beyond the military now and become more of a factor in domestic politics.  Vlasti are just a bit nervous about social stability in the runup to elections this year and next, and are also a little worried about the guys with the guns.  For the regime, the extra money is worth keeping 70,000 potential ex-officer opponents out of the streets.  It may feel this provides some insurance that the guys with guns will do as they’re told.

As BFM.ru concludes, the Tunisian [or Egyptian] “virus” could spread.  And the terrorist threat is high.  So Russia’s leadership has to think about an effective and combat capable army.

Commentator Sergey Markov told BFM.ru that the regime wants to increase the number of officers who can fight, but it will continue cutting those in support functions and replacing them with civilians:

“But everyone understands perfectly that you can’t do without a real combat force.”

Medvedev Talks to Brigade Commanders

Medvedev Speaks at Brigade Commanders' Assembly

According to Kremlin.ru, President Dmitriy Medvedev traveled to the Gorokhovets training ground near Nizhniy Novgorod today to observe battalion-level ground and air maneuvers.  It’s a modern twist on an old tradition of presidential speeches before end-of-training-year assemblies in Moscow. 

Medvedev inspected a new field camp, different weapons and equipment, and watched a Tunguska demonstration.

Afterward he met brigade commanders observing the exercise, and addressed them about the process of reforming the armed forces.

Medvedev said for two years Russia has been actively modernizing its armed forces to make them more compact, effective, and better equipped, and completing ‘org-shtat’ measures [i.e. TO&E changes] to achieve a ‘new profile.’  Flanked by Defense Minister Serdyukov and General Staff Chief Makarov, he promised the assembled commanders a defense budget worth 2.8 percent of Russia’s GDP every year until 2020, but he said getting this level of spending will not be easy, and it requires adjustments and cuts elsewhere.

He particularly emphasized establishing the new system of higher pay to replace earlier ad hoc measures like premium pay.  He seemed to say extra money will be squeezed out for this, but people will be watching how it’s spent.  Kremlin.ru posted some of Medvedev’s opening remarks:

“This is creating the conditions to equip the troops with new equipment in accordance with the current edition of the State Program of Armaments and, what is a no less important task and really no less complex, to resolve all social issues which exist for servicemen.  This issues are also well-known.”

 “First and foremost is the indexation of pay which we are already now conducting, and implementation of the housing construction program.  From 2012, the planned reform of the military pay system not according to those fragmentary pieces which exist at present, not according to those selective approaches which exist, but a full reform of pay.”

“In the final accounting, we should get so that base salary, monetary salary of servicemen will be increased practically three times. And in the process to preserve and to extend to all the Armed Forces that which we talked about in the past, that which we did according to groundwork laid in bounds of order 400 and some other Defense Ministry documents.”

“All planned measures, reform measures should be calculated and materially supported in the most rigorous way.  An adjustment in the military budget is being conducted and oversight of the use of resources is being organized for this.  I promise the attention of all Defense Ministry leaders on this:  all these processes need to be completed in coordination with other government structures in order that we should have absolute precision here.”

“A high level of financial support for the Armed Forces allows, I hope, for freeing servicemen from noncore housekeeping functions – that, in fact, was done long ago in the armies of other countries.  The troops need first and foremost to put their attention on operational training, combat exercises, to concentrate exclusively on these issues.  Security duties (firstly, perhaps not even security, but cleaning), everyday support, food preparation should be transferred to civilian organizations.”

Medvedev told the commanders their brigades should be self-sufficient, modern, balanced, and capable of fulfilling missions given them, and he invited their feedback because, as he said, the success of the military’s transformation depends on it.

“It would also be useful for me to know your opinion on the quality of the reform, on the organizational changes, what, in your view, has proven itself useful, and where there are problems.”

Despite soliciting their honest opinions, one doubts the Supreme CINC will hear many complaints from this audience.  They are, after all, winners in the reform process since they managed to continue serving in command positions.