Military Service - Contract Service
Volunteers in Russian army are called contractors, which implies they enlisted for money. As of March 2019, about 400,000 contract soldiers were serving in the Russian army. According to Defense Minister Shoigu, in each regiment and brigade, two battalions are formed by contractors, and one by conscripts, not participating in combat missions. The armed forces had 136 tactical battalion groups formed by contractors. As of March 2020, the number of conscripts was 225,000 and the number of contract soldiers was 405,000.
On 17 June 2022 the military commissariat of the cities of Arkhangelsk and Novodvinsk, Primorsky and Solovetsky districts of the Arkhangelsk region recruited citizens for military service under a contract for the positions of privates, sergeants and officers. The terms of the contract provide for a service life of 3 months, a salary of 210 thousand rubles per month [equal to about US$3500/month or about $10,000 for the three month term] and a full social package with social guarantees. Candidates must be citizens of the Russian Federation who have completed military service. Mikhail Pirogovsky wrote “Russia beyond the big cities, in localities like Biysk or Porkhov. It’s all those townlets with a grey-on-grey color scheme and roads like they’ve just been bombed. Born there? Your alcoholic father has quite possibly been beating up your granny for her $US150 pension, and junkies were doing salt in the back of your class in the eighth grade. Collection of scrap metal was an honorable alternative to petty theft, though the metal had to be stolen anyway. Your social circle was all sporting Adidas tracksuits, a third had done jail time. Chances are, you knew someone who killed someone. You sure knew someone who drank themselves to death (maybe it was your dad). … It's the young men from these low places who comprise a disproportionate percentage of the Russian invading force in Ukraine.”
Russia’s State Duma approved a bill 25 May 2022 to remove the upper age limit for contractual service in the country’s military. Previously, only Russians aged between 18 and 40 and foreigners aged 18 to 30 can enlist as professional soldiers in the Russian army. The Russian Defense Ministry considers the transition to a fully contract army economically inexpedient, said Colonel-General Yevgeny Burdinsky, head of the Main Organizational and Mobilization Directorate of the General Staff of the RF Armed Forces, on 01 October 2020 on the Russia-24 TV channel. “You know, it seems that there is no need to completely switch to a contract, because it is too expensive a pleasure. And during the pandemic, we have, you know, how many complications there were. And we need to give the economy itself such rapid development. move] is impractical, "Burdinsky said, answering the question about the transition to a fully contract army. According to him, "the army may be too expensive."
He also noted that young people undergoing military service "are fulfilling their dream and their right to defend the state." "At the same time, as the military, we also think about how we accumulate a mobilization resource, and we knew that in each region we have enough people who, if necessary, can stand up to defend our Motherland," the general added.
In the Russian system, enlisted service members are designated as either “conscript” or “contract serviceman,” and there is apparently little interaction between these enlisted personnel types. In general, contract servicemen fill “trigger puller” positions and require advanced skills and training. Conscripts usually fill positions that require little training, such as drivers, cooks, laborers, or lower-level maintenance personnel. Conscripts would be unable to be effective warfighters on the modern battlefield because the conscription period in the Russian Federation has been reduced to one year.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said 11 April 2019 that conscription sooner or later will be a thing of the past. “We are moving towards the creation of a professional army. Due to the increasing complexity of military equipment, only professionals can manage it,” said the President. “The call is gradually becoming a thing of the past. True, this requires time and adequate funding, ”Putin added. The head of state explained that due to the increasing complexity of military equipment and the tasks facing the troops, the professional army is more in demand. The president noted that while some states are not moving to a fully professional army, as the soldiers always have tasks that do not require deep qualifications. “But, nevertheless, there is such a tendency, we will continue to move along it,” he concluded.
The number of contract soldiers in the Russian armed forces reached almost 400 thousand people. This was announced on 11 March 2019 by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at a meeting of the State Duma Committee on Defense. Shoigu: by the end of 2025 about 500 thousand contract soldiers will serve in the Russian army "Since 2012, the number of contractors has more than doubled and currently stands at 394,000 people," the minister said. According to him, now in each regiment and brigade two battalions are completed with contract soldiers, the third is completed with draftees who are not involved in the performance of combat missions. "Today, there are 136 battalion tactical groups in the armed forces, staffed by contract servicemen ready to carry out any assigned tasks," the minister said.
The issue of gradually replacing Russia's ineffectual conscription system with a volunteer force brought heated discussion in the defense establishment. The task of creation of military units of permanent readiness is being tackled; however, the problem of sustaining their permanent combat readiness has remained unsolved, as the Armed Forces would be, through 2020, manned with conscripts at 65%. Having served in the army for one year, they demobilize, are replaced by rookies, and unit cohesion vanishes.
A total of 48 percent of Russians believe the military draft should remain a key source of manpower for the army, while 40 percent think only professional contract soldiers should serve, according to a survey published 18 February 2014 by the independent Levada Center. Almost half of Russians (48 percent) would like their children to serve in the army, while 33 percent would prefer to help their relatives dodge military service.
In November 2003 Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a package of legislative amendments creating the legal foundations for CIS citizens to serve in the Russian army on a contract basis. This opportunity would be offered to people aged 18-30 from CIS countries as early as January 1, 2004, when the Russian armed forces move on from an experiment in the 76th airborne division to full-scale professional enlistment. The military believed that the appearance of foreigners in the army and navy will help to fill more quickly the 147,578 vacancies that were to be taken up in permanently combat ready units before 2008.
Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov promoted substantial transformations within the Defense Ministry in 2006. Under his leadership, the Defense Ministry announced that permanent combat readiness units would be converted to mostly contract-based recruitment, and conscription terms would be reduced to 12 months from January 1, 2008. The transition to one-year service terms will make it necessary to conscript twice as many people. Ivanov promised the public to stop sending conscripts to hot-spots (for that purpose we have permanent combat readiness units, made up of contract personnel). A project was launched to introduce a fundamentally new system for the Defense Ministry to provide housing for military personnel: based on mortgages. Public oversight structures have been established: the Public Chamber and parents' committees for military units. Some Defense Ministry initiatives were unpopular - such as revising the number of conscription deferments and grounds for exemption, and cutting the number of military cadet faculties.
The Russian Armed Forces were never planned to be all-volunteer, the top general in charge of mobilization said 27 April 2007. "No such plans have ever been on the table. The history, economy and geography of our state, with its lengthy land borders, means that a mixed force is a necessity," Lt. Gen. Vladimir Konstantinov, head of the Mobilization Directorate, said. He said more than half the personnel should be conscripted. "The real challenge is to create military service conditions that would be competitive on the labor market. So far, they are not. Only 14-15% of volunteers extend their first contract," he said. In 2006, 47,000 volunteers were enlisted and about as many discharged, he said. Konstantinov put the number of enlisted volunteers in the fighting force at roughly 197,000.
On 18 October 2008 Chief of General Staff Nikolay Makarov said the Russian armed forces will be reduced from 1.13m to 1m people under a modernization plan. Makarov said the autumn conscription was going according to plan. "Our only little worry is about years 2012-2014" because there was a demographic trough 18-20 years ago. "Since 2001, our conscription pool has been halved. But we hope by that time [2012-2014], by increasing the salaries of contract servicemen by 100 or 200 per cent, we will be able to attract more contract servicemen," Makarov said. "At the moment, 80 per cent of the armed forces are officers and warrant officers," he said. Makarov outlined five major points of the reform: the armed forces will be reduced to 1m people; the share of officers should not be more than 15 per cent, i.e. 150,000 officers; all units will be put on permanent readiness; allowances for officers will be increased; new ways of thinking will be introduced in the army.
The Russian Armed Forces will continue using a mixture of conscripts and contracted recruits for the next 10-15 years, President Dmitry Medvedev said on 04 April 2011. Russia is in the process of reforming its armed forces by shifting the focus away from a largely inefficient body of conscripted soldiers toward a smaller professional army. The current length of military service for draftees is one year, while the shortest term of a military service contract is three years. "I believe that in the next 10-15 years, our recruiting system should combine both conscription and contracting," Medvedev said at a meeting with paratroopers at a military base near Moscow. "We should do everything possible to make contract service attractive and prestigious." In line with the reform, the armed forces will be downsized to 1 million personnel by 2016. Deputy Chief of the General Staff Vasily Smirnov said the reformed forces would be made up of 220,000 officers, 425,000 contract servicemen and 300,000 conscript soldiers. The Russian military is planning to raise the number of professional soldiers in the Armed Forces to 450,000 by 2017.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in October 2012 that the armed forces will continue to rely on conscription in the coming years and there are no plans to do away with the draft anytime soon. Contract service personnel will be deployed with units designated for the highest degree of readiness and those that employ complex and expensive technologies, such as the Navy, the Strategic Missile Forces and the Aerospace Defense Forces. The number of contract service members is to increase by about 50,000 a year to 240,000 at the end of 2013, 295,000 in 2014, 350,000 in 2015, 400,000 in 2016 and 425,000 in 2017, when contractors will account for over half of all military personnel.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said 09 November 2013 that a key purpose of the current military reform in the country is to make the Russian army a highly mobile and professional force capable of responding rapidly and efficiently to any security threat. He said, however, that Russia will never have a fully professional army because it would be hard to maintain it. “The territory of our country is too big to maintain a fully professional force, but we should be able to mobilize our resources in case of a threat,” the minister said. Shoigu said earlier that 205,000 professional soldiers currently serve in the armed forces and their number will gradually increase in the next seven years. The Defense Ministry has previously announced plans to reach a target of 425,000 professional soldiers, or almost half of the armed forces, by 2017, with an annual recruitment and retention of about 50,000 contract personnel.
Russia’s military will have 500,000 soldiers serving on professional contracts within a decade, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said 10 December 2013. Half of the armed forces will be made up of professional service personnel by 2022 under plans to shift away from conscripts and more than double the number of contract soldiers from the present 220,000. But Shoigu also acknowledged at an expanded meeting of the Defense Ministry Board that Russia’s armed forces are currently short of nearly one in five troops. “At present, the Russian military has 82 percent of the required manpower,” Shoigu said. “We have prioritized full manning of airborne, special forces, naval infantry and peacekeeping units, including those involved in ensuring security during the Winter Olympics in Sochi.”
In the Russian Armed Forces on contract there were 295,000 troops at the end of 2014. By the end of 2015 the contract number was expected to be 352,000 troops. According to the plans of the Armed Forces, by 2021 in the Armed Forces there would be 500,000 contract servicemen.
More than 350,000 contract servicemen will serve in the Russian army by the end of 2015, but the Defense Ministry is not going to abandon the conscription, head of the General Staff’s main mobilization organization department Lieutenant General Vasily Tonkoshkurov told reporters on 31 March 2015. "It is planned that by the end of 2015 more than 350,000 contract soldiers will serve in the Armed Forces, above all, on positions of non-commissioned officers and related to the operation of modern armaments and equipment. That is, these positions will be occupied by the servicemen not for one year, but for three to five years as a minimum," Tonkoshkurov said.
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