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Central Food Service

Central Food Directorate of the USSR Ministry of Defense was responsible for military state farms and auxiliary farming operations. It was replaced by the Central Food Service of the RF Ministry of Defense.

By 1991, the Ministry of Defense maintained eighty-three military state farms and 9,000 auxiliary farming operations for military units, organizations, and institutions. It also owned thirty-six military forestry enterprises and eighty-four military forestry sections. In addition to working with peasants sowing crops in the spring and harvesting in the autumn, a Soviet conscript stood a good chance of being assigned full- or part-time work on a army-owned farm. To run these eighty-three farms the Army had its own career agronomists with the rank of warrant officer. The auxiliary farming operations (farms for individual units) were often supervised by officers or zampolits detailed from other duties, with no special agricultural training. Most of the workers on military state farms were civilians, but unit farms employed soldiers' labor as much as possible.

The goals of a military state farm were to feed itself and a military unit; the unit farms were to feed the unit and sell surplus to the officers. The quality of the farm's produce directly affected the nutrition and health of the unit. There was no guarantees that farm production goals would be met and often they were not. The army's farms faced the difficulties common to all of Russian agriculture: lack of housing, lack of personnel, and desperately bad roads. Considering that far more soldiers were now from the urban areas than ever before, such work may have been seen as especially degrading to the morale and self-image of these soldiers.

In the opinion of the famous Russian General A.V. Suvorov "soldiers should be kept with feet warm, head cold and stomach empty". However, this last sentiment was not shard by later Soviet military leaders. On the contrary, improvement of the military personnel diet was considered to be a very important task in the USSR. As a result the military joined the new developing third sector in Soviet agriculture. This new trend involved the entry into agriculture of institutions whose primary purpose is not the production of food. We may term these new forms as a 'third' sector in Soviet agriculture, since they are distinct from production in sovkhozy and kolkozy, which may be termed call the 'first' sector, and from the production on private plots and 'family farms' on rented land, which may be termed the 'second' sector. A variety of institutions participated in this newly developed sector, including factories, trade and transport organizations, schools, and the military.

For the Soviet Armed Forces, this surprising policy was a relatively new phenomenon, dating from the first All-Army Convention on the Improvement of the Everyday Life of the Troops in 1977. Later in 1982, it became part of the new agricultural strategy of the country, known as the Food Program. Since 1985, decrees launching the perestroika of Soviet society have accelerated this evolution in the military sector.

The modern leadership of the Tyl, or 'rear services' of the Soviet Armed Forces, acknowledged that the quality of the food is a very important factor in raising the soldiers' spirits and even in strengthening their patriotism. The new conditions of military life and labor, especially those brought about by modern technological equipment, created additional nervous and psychological stress. Together with the new qualitative characteristics of the draftees, who were better educated and used to more comfort than their predecessors, the new conditions require a new approach towards the food situation in the army. A balanced and uninterrupted food supply contributes not only to the good physical condition of the personnel but to their moral readiness for action during combat training as well as war. The Chief of the Central Food Administration emphasised that food supply in the military sector is a tremendously important social task and should be treated as a matter of national prestige.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 15:48:08 ZULU