The number of contracted soldiers in the Russian armed forces is growing, though
Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Colonel-General Vasili Smirnov, has recently given a press conference, which was devoted to the spring recruit campaign, which was launched in Russia nationwide on April 1st.
The current army recruitment principle of the Russian Armed Forces is based on the actual conscription and the contractual service. The number of contracted soldiers in the Russian army has been growing steadily, Vasili Smirnov said. The number of volunteers in the Russian Armed Forces is estimated at about 150,000. The number is expected to grow further on and reach 280,000 people by the beginning of 2008, which is 50 percent of soldiers and sergeants. About 80 formations and units, including 72 permanent alertness elements of ground and airborne troops, as well as marines of the Navy (totaling 133,000 people) will be shifted to the contractual basis. The necessary infrastructure for professional soldiers (educational, training and housing facilities) to be recruited during the current recruitment campaign was prepared in 2004.
About 155,000 conscripts are to join the Russian Armed Forces during the spring campaign. A lot of young men are exempt for health problems, though. “We can recruit only 9.1 percent of call-up age men,” Vasili Smirnov said. The official emphasized that the same number made up 9.5 percent in 2004 and 27 percent in 1994. About 57 percent of men, who were recruited in the Russian army last autumn, had various health restrictions and could not be dispatched to alertness units or other military subdivisions. In addition, 44.6 percent of conscripts do not have higher education or any work experience; 2.5 percent have previous convictions. One-fourth of the conscripts had secondary or incomplete general education. Vasili Smirnov believes that this situation will repeat during the spring recruitment campaign.
The general believes that the Russian authorities need to revise the system of current army deferments. Smirnov is certain one should not recruit those men, who study and those who experience severe social and health problems.
Mental disorders rank first on the list of diseases, on which a draftee becomes eligible for a deferment. Psychological ailments are usually found with six percent of Russian conscripts, although it is possible to say that the situation is improving at this point. About 120,000 people were diagnosed with mental diseases, whereas the number dropped to 114,000 in 2004. The number of drug addicts reduced as well: from 20,000 in 2002 to 9,000 in 2004. The situation with HIV-positive young men is the same: 5,000 in 2002 and 2,000 in 2004.