Everybody already knows problems of the Russian army: the level of combat training leaves much to be desired, there is lack of military equipment, corruption is flourishing among officers, and so on. The above mentioned problems plus those not mentioned here are the greatest disadvantage of the army. And what can bring positive changes in the future?
Reformers in the legislative and executive authorities suggest different variants for solution of the army problems in Russia. These are: army on a contractual basis, an alternative service for those who don’t want to lose their health (at best) in the army where relations with senior soldiers are always a terrible problem. Others suggest to make the budget of the Defense Ministry transparent, develop new defence doctrines (for General Staff generals to finally find out who is a friend and who is an enemy), etc.
Russia’s first president Boris Yeltsin had no special sympathy for army: he remembered the events of the 1991 coup perfectly well that is why he preferred not to go deeply into the army problems. And the army, being completely neglected, was on a steady decline.
Incumbent President Vladimir Putin is quite different: although his working schedule is rather tense, he still manages to find time to visit military units scattered all about Russia. Recently, before February 23, when the Military Man’s Day is celebrated in Russia, Vladimir Putin met with minor officers of the Russian armed forces. Officers told the president about a sad situation in the army: there are no important training books in departments where sergeants are trained for operations on military machines; that is why the same training posters are used within the past 30 years already; equipment of military units is so much outdated that military men have to purchase technique and communication systems out of their own pockets and then adapt them for missions realization.
It is also quite a problem with whom to accomplish missions; indeed, intellectual capabilities of army conscripts are extremely low, and the level of preparedness of young men demonstrates that further studies are hardly to be a success. In response to the enumerated problems, the president said that all of them would be settled as soon as the army was switched to a contractual basis.
The government acutely perceives any movement in the Kremlin, that is why officials drew some conclusions and the government approved new regulations on medical military expertise on February 25.
The regulations have introduced innovations saying that young men with unconventional sexual preference won’t be called up in the Russian army any more. At that, as is seen from the regulations, the character of sexual preference will be determined not in military registration and enlistment offices, but in a special clinic. Another innovation is that young men with mental deficiency won’t be called up as well; as in the previous case, the degree of deficiency will be determined in a special clinic as well. Besides, in addition to the above mentioned categories, drug addicts and alcoholics won’t be subject to conscription as well.
Unfortunately, the new regulations don’t explain how special military medical commissions will determine sexual preferences of conscripts.
Dmitry Chirkin PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://politics.pravda.ru/politics/2003/1/1/5/8308_army.html
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