On January 1, 2004 Russia had a total of 1.132 million soldiers. The Defense Ministry press service told Rosbalt that the number 'corresponded to the optimal level of defense and permits talk of completing more complicated and large scale operations in the army and navy.' In 2004 the army is beginning its transition toward using more contract soldiers. 15.7 thousand contract soldiers will be selected this year at a cost of USD 343 million. By 2008, 147 thousand army soldiers will be volunteers.