There were 1.162 servicemen in the Russian armed forces as of January 1, 2003, General of the Army Anatoly Kvashnin, Chief of the General Staff, said in an interview with Rossiiskaya Gazeta. In the past ten years, the number of servicemen was slashed by over 1.5 million.
The general said that the current number of servicemen is enough to man strategic deterrence and general-purpose forces. The latter include deployed permanent-readiness units, undermanned formations and reserve units that have only hardware and commanders and where servicemen are dispatched in case of deployment.
Kvashnin believes that protection of the homeland is the task above all for professionals, who make up 51% of commissioned and warrant officers, sergeants and privates and 21% of the overall number of privates and sergeants.
The chief of the General Staff also said that permanent-readiness units will be the first to be fully manned by contract servicemen while other units will have only contract commanders, who will train conscripted privates as long as conscription exists. Those who had served at least six months will enjoy privileges upon contract recruitment.
However, conscription will not be outlawed for several more years yet. The country's leadership is pondering how long conscripted troops should serve: six, 12 or 18 months. Kvashnin said the General Staff had elaborated scientifically substantiated norms.
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