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Military want to extend conscript service term, Kremlin has no such plans

November 23, 2012, 11:15 UTC+3

Conscript service term was reduced to one year in 2008. The reform was initiated by President Vladimir Putin

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The head of the Duma Defence Committee, Vladimir Komoyedov has stated it is necessary to increase the term of service in the army for conscripts to 1.5 years. However, a high-ranking source in the Kremlin told Itar-Tass that “definitely, there are no such plans.” But the RF Army General Staff said that if such an idea produces a bill, the military will not be against it.

The Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily publishes Komoyedov’s commentary: “The need to increase the term of conscript service up to 1.5 years is my personal position. I think that all military experts will agree with me that it is clearly not enough. It turns out that without the training period, a soldier serves only six months, and after that he has just a few months before the demobilisation. Half of the conscripts go, half stay, another half of yet untrained arrive. How can the state’s defence capability be strengthened in such circumstances?”

The Novye Izvestia daily recalls that the conscript service term was reduced to one year in 2008. The reform was initiated by President Vladimir Putin. The RF presidential administration said on Thursday that there are no plans at present to increase the compulsory military service term. However, representative of the main organisational mobilisation department of the RF General Staff, Colonel Alexei Knyazev said that the General Staff will not be against such a bill. Russia is currently facing a severe shortage of the armed forces personnel, head of the Centre for International Security of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexei Arbatov said in an interview with the newspaper. “We have 180,000 contract servicemen and 220,000 officers, as well as we manage to annually call up about 300,000 conscripts. That will make 700,000, but we have the goal to have the army personnel strength of one million. If the service term is extended to 1.5 years, then the army strength will rise to 850,000 men, and if the service term is increased to 2 years – up to 900,000.”

The cutting of the conscript service term to one year has worsened the RF Army’s combat readiness, believes the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily. The boot camps have cut the training period for recruits to three months, instead of six months earlier. This is similar to the short courses of the World War Two period when newly drafted recruits were hastily dispatched to the battle zone. Hundreds of thousands of “raw,” poorly trained “specialists” over the remaining 6–9 months had to complete their training in combat units, often mangling sophisticated military equipment.

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