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Soviet Navy - Warrant Officers

Representing about 10 percent of all Soviet Navy personnel were the warrant officers, or michmany, who were above the sailors in both rank and privilege. In Western navies, the backbone of any ship is provided largely by petty officers, or senior enlisted who have become experts in their trade. In the Soviet Navy. however, where few men "enlist" for extended service, the michman was the only person capable of assisting officers in the training and discipline of the conscripts.

The michman rank was reintroduced in 1971 and was since modified several times in an attempt to retain the best qualified personnel. With wages starting at about 170 rubles per month, michmany were paid more than conscripts, granted up to 45 days of leave per year, and provided better uniforms and living conditions than sailors. Extra benefits notwithstanding, attracting and retaining qualified warrant officers was a quixotic process for the Soviet naval leadership. Because they often lacked the respect of lower- rated personnel and sense limited potential for advancement, retention among michmany was extremely low. On the other hand, the michmany who did reenlist were often those not qualified enough to do well in the civilian sector.

Those who did not manage to receive secondary education before the service had an opportunity to study in evening general educational schools. Study at civilian higher educational institutions was also authorized in areas close to the military sepcialization. Granting them an opportunity to take examinations in the military school curriculum as an external student was an important way to increase the military and specialized knowledge of the warrant officers.

Warrant officers [praporshchiki and michmany], the combat assistants of the officers, had a large part in the training and indoctrination of the soldiers, seamen, sergeants, and petty officers. In the 1970s this new category of commanders and military specialists had gone through its early development and become firmly established. But this did not mean that the indoctrination of the warrant officers themselves was a completed process and that there was no need to worry about instilling a profound understanding of patriotic and international duty and a feeling of personal responsibility for the defense of their native land in these servicemen.

Lt Gen I. P. Repin, first deputy chief of the Political Directorate of the Ground Forces: "The Facets of Authority - Results of the Discussion of Warrant Officer (Praporshchik) I. Baranovskiy s Letter 'Proud Rank, Great Honor"], wrote in September 1977: "Ideological-political maturity is a very important facet of authority. A majority of warrant officers are party and Komsomol activists and leading public workers. They are setting the tone in socialist competition for a worthy celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution and taking a vital part in discussion of the draft of the new Constitution. In the subunits they are agitators and propagandists for the decisions of the 25th CPSU Congress and the orders of the USSR Minister of Defense and make a worthy contribution to practical implementation of these demands in their work sectors."

Maj Gen D. Volkogonov, professor and Doctor of Philosophy, wrote in June 1977 in the column "An Aid for Warrant Officer Political Training": "Revolutionary Vigilance: Education of Personnel in Class Irreconcilability Toward Imperialism and The Political Vigilance of Soviet Soldiers" : " ... today's young generation did not pass through the school of the class struggle, they did not participate in the wars In defense of the Fatherland and they did not share in many of those diffi- culties which the older generations had to bear. All of this is true. But, at the same time, we must not lose sight of the fact that the ideological struggle is one of the most critical forms of the class struggle, the struggle with imperialism; during the course of this struggle today, each soldier can strengthen his political maturity, "class feeling" and ideological determination. A clear-cut understanding of this issue also helps warrant officers (praporshchiki i michmany) to purposefully and convin- cingly set-up their work for educating personnel in a spirit of high political vigilance and of class irreconcilability toward every appearance of bourgeois ideology. ... Irreconcilability toward socialism's enemies is always supported by a lucid, clear-cut class position which is expressed in specific ideological concepts and theoretical propositions. The enemy's attempts to "wash away," to deprive some of the concepts of their class nature for example, "freedom," "democracy" and "human rights" are intended to deprive people of clear, class goals and perspectives."

Vice Adm I. Alikov, member of military council, chief of political directorate of Twice-Honored Red Banner Baltic Fleet, wrote "31 JulyUSSR Navy Day: Ocean Strength of the Power" on 29 July 1983, "... no matter how formidable and sophisticated the arms are, they do not decide the matter of themselves. The main strength of the fleet is the people in whose hands the formidable combat equipment rests. Responding to the con- cern of the party and people and deeply realizing their responsibility, Soviet navymen are bearing the baton of naval glory and valor with honor. They have proven more than once that they are up to any mission. Admirals and officers, warrant officers [michmany], petty officers and seamen learn military expertise on long deployments and cruises, in drills, exercises and maneuvers, all the while striving to take most effective advantage of combat training. That is how the ability to fight a strong, well armed enemy is acquired. There is no greater sense of responsibility for them than responsibility for the safety of our country's maritime borders. Their allegiance to the great Lenin's behests and devotion to the Communist Party is embodied in faultless service to the Motherland."

But in a characteristic article in the principal Soviet Navy journal, Morskov sbornik (Naval Herald), it was stressed that warrant officers need to overcome their unenviable reputation by fighting "against such negative phenomena as egoism, conceit, indifference, and rudeness." So long as the Soviet Navy continues to be a sharply stratified organization where a conscript's prospects for mobility were nil, it continued to be plagued by overworked officers and a thin middle tier of michmany.

A refusal to serve where the interests of the Motherland required it and persistence in carrying out personal and at times even selfish plans did not raise the authority of a warrant officer. Of course anything can happen in life. At times the state of health of the warrant officer himself, the illness of near ones and other reasons demand a change in duty station. Both the commanders and personnel entities take account of these circumstances. Guided by the statute on performance of duty by warrant officers [praporshchiki and michmany], they take the necessary steps, but still in all instances the interests of duty and of combat readiness must remain the primary criteria.

Warrant officers [praporshchiki and michmany] and extended-term servicemen with no housing or who required an improvement in housing conditions could join housing construction cooperatives at their place of permanent residence on a universal basis, and on an equal basis with other citizens, through the ispol- koms of local Soviets of people's deputies. Warrant officers and extended-term servicemen who had lost ties with the Soviet Navy but who lived on closed and isolated military posts have the right to enter ZhSK's set up in cities and populated points of those union republics (not having an oblast breakdown), autonomous republics, krays and oblasts on whose territory these persons live.

The assignment of so-called 'responsible' officers and warrant officers [praporshchiki and michmany] in units and subunits contradicted demands of the Combined-Arms Regulations, undermines one-man command and degraded the responsibility of commanders as well as appointed persons of the daily detail for daily maintenance of regulation order and for strengthening military discipline. Such a practice by some commanders indicated their inability to organize the personnel's life and routine strictly by the regulations and cannot be justified.

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Page last modified: 01-02-2017 19:32:58 ZULU