On changes in the military personnel policy in the Russian Federation

In the phase of completing the Federal Target Program (FTP) for the switchover to the contractual basis of military units of permanent readiness, one newly emerged problem has become the practice of compelling servicemen under conscription to get enlisted into military service under contract by “voluntarily” signing the contract. There have also been some attempts to extend the “typical set” of violations of military servicemen’s rights committed against conscripts also to non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and other ranks.

In this connection, it was suggested that certain alterations should be introduced in Federal Law of 28 March 1998, No 53-FZ, “On the military duty and military service”, which were designed to eliminate the opportunities for compelling servicemen to sign contracts while serving under conscription. Previously this had been applied mainly to those young men who had made no attempts to get enrolled into a higher educational establishment prior to their enlistment, or who had failed to get enrolled.

However, the legislative provisions determining the possibility of signing a contract by a military serviceman have been significantly modified. The changed wording has had to do with the orientation towards the manning of the RF armed forces and other troops with graduates of military educational establishments.

From now on, all male persons who were granted a “study period postponement”, if they have no other grounds for being excused from the army service, will be invited (or called up) to serve in the army, with the following options available to them:
1) to sign a contract of military service in the position of soldier, or sailor, or sergeant, or starshina (master sergeant) – for three years; or a contract of military service in the position of praporshchik (ensign), or petty officer, or officer – for 5 years (naturally, if the graduate’s specialty corresponds to the military department’s needs);
2) to sign a contract of military service in the position of soldier or sailor – for 1 year (in the event of any other specialty acquired at the educational establishment).

The graduate of a higher educational establishment will have to make this choice at a military commissariat, while still being out of the army. If chooses service under conscription, six months later (when he is already in the barracks) he may be offered one of the following three options of continuing his military service:
- under contract in the position of soldier, or sailor, or sergeant, or starshina (master sergeant) – for no less than 2.5 years,
- under contract in the position of praporshchik (ensign), or petty officer, or officer – for 5 years;
- service under conscription for the remaining six months.

The interests of the army’s “top brass” in such a system are quite understandable. It will be essential for the Army, in the next few years, to be manned in a more rapid manner on a contractual basis, and especially in filling the positions of “the new type of sergeants”, and preferably by well-educated persons.
However, there are also the interests of the industrial (civil and military) sectors of the national economy, which are in need of highly qualified specialists to ensure growth on an innovative basis. Therefore, the heads of enterprises belonging to the military-industrial complex have always resorted to the practice of trying to “book” specialists, and now they are also periodically discussing this issue.

In order to achieve the results corresponding to the departmental interests, it appears feasible to create such a system for preparing citizens for performing their Constitutional duty to defend the Fatherland (in an event of war) , backed by an adequate system of material and other incentives, which would enable a RF citizen, in time of peace, to make this decision on a voluntary basis – whether to make his contribution into this country’s economic growth as a civil employee or entrepreneur by producing commodities or civil services while at the same time replenishing the state budget, or to contribute to military security and to perform for a certain period of time the duties of a military serviceman. It should be noted that the State has opportunities for influencing this choice – by applying a system of incentives and rules.

Thus, the problem of enforced signing of contracts may become aggravated even further by extending also to the graduates of higher educational establishments, who will now have once again to deal with the issue of their attitude to army service. In this connection, much will depend on just how voluntary will be the choice of their further manner of service for the servicemen under conscription.

This problem can gave at least two solutions.

The first variant can be realized by adopting the proposals, put forth by human rights activists, concerning the alteration of the wording of Item 1 of Article 34 of the Federal Law “On the military duty and military service” by eliminating the clause concerning the possibility of concluding a contract “with military servicemen serving under conscription” after “no less than 6 months” of their service. This provision in legislation was introduced at the time when the period of service under conscription was 2 years; however, it not only failed to speed up the implementation of the FTP designed to switch over military units of permanent readiness to the contractual basis, but also resulted in some law violations (when the servicemen were compelled to sign a contract), in extortions and sometimes even in desertion of the contractees from the RF Armed Forces. It should be noted that the adjustment of the Law suggested by human rights activists in order to achieve the implementation of the first variant will not require any additional expenses.

The second variant of solving this problem has to do with raising once again the issue of the purpose of conscription into the army. It should remain only as a method for preparing young men for service on a contractual basis, and/or for keeping “a mobilization resource”. This was the wording approved in “The fundamental principles of the RF state policy in military buildup for the period until 2010”, approved in August 2002. To achieve this goal, 6 months of service-training in training units is quite sufficient. This service will apply to those who choose not to get enrolled in a higher educational establishment, or who have failed to do so. For students it will be sufficient to do a training program at a military chair, followed by short-term training in military camps. In any event, young men must pass relevant tests under a relevant military specialty program, and then, which is also important, to take oath. The citizens who have taken oath must serve in the regular forces only on a contractual basis, voluntarily, and for a period of no less than 3 years.

This method for solving the problem, substantiated by IET specialists, has been known for a long time. Its implementation will involve an increase of budget expenditure by less than 0.5 % of the present level of expenditure on the national military security. At the same time, this variant will ensure growth of the army’s combat capabilities, strengthen law enforcement and help to reduce corruption in Russia.

In legal terms, the implementation of this proposal will involve only the replacement of ‘12’ by ‘6’ in Subitem D of Item 1 of Article 38, whereby in the Federal Law “On the military duty and military service” the period of military service under conscription is established.

In order to implement this proposal, political will is required. It appears that this political will is indeed available – which is confirmed by the approval of the new Federal program “Reforming and development of the state service system in the RF” (2009–2013)” (Edict of the RF President of 10 March 2009), which aims at reforming all types of state service, including military service.

V. I. Tsymbal – Doctor of Technical Sciences, Head of the Department for Military Economics