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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Professional Russian Army? Dream On!

The Moscow Times reports that the Kremlin's alleged plan to fill the ranks of Russia's military with professional soldiers has come to utter failure:

Professional soldiers are jumping ship because of low wages and a lack of social infrastructure, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported Thursday.

Only 15 percent to 19 percent of volunteers sign up for a second hitch in the armed forces when their original three-year contract expires, the newspaper reported, citing a Defense Ministry survey.

As a result, the military will lose its core of professional soldiers within three years, the newspaper concluded, adding that the personnel drain would hit units on permanent combat readiness status the hardest.

These units contain the majority of volunteer soldiers, who signed up in 2004 and 2005.
The General Staff of the armed forces plans for 50 percent of the soldiers in the armed forces to be professionals by 2008.

In a poll conducted by the Defense Ministry's Sociology Center, 29 percent of current contract soldiers said they would not renew their contracts because the military provided no facilities for rest and relaxation such as clubs and gyms, the newspaper reported.

Another 27 percent of those polled intended to leave the military because of low wages, which average 7,000 rubles to 9,000 rubles ($261 to $336) per month.

Even the Defense Ministry's 42nd army division, deployed in Chechnya, is expected to lose large numbers of contract soldiers, despite wages of 15,000 rubles ($560) per month.

Another 26 percent of professional soldiers want a discharge because they cannot afford a decent place to live, the Defense Ministry's survey indicated.

No margin of error or other information about the survey was provided in the report.

Calls to the press office of the Defense Ministry went unanswered on Thursday

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