The New Statistics of the Ministry of Defense

After a year-long break, in the section: The Open Data of the Web-site of the Ministry of Defense the official statistics of the above Ministry provided for by Cl. 7.1 of the Federal Plan of Statistical Work was published.


As before, that statistics concerns only the number of pensioners, including disabled persons registered with and receiving the pension fr om the Ministry of Defense. According to the published data, as of January 1, 2013 1,127,671 persons received pensions fr om the Ministry of Defense, including 966,594 persons, 36,500 persons and 124,577 persons receiving retirement pensions, disability pensions and survivor's pensions, respectively. From 2011, the number of persons receiving retirement pension increased by 10,226 persons which can be explained to a great extent by retirement of servicemen which were taken off the payroll starting from 2008. The trend continued last year, too, when another 10,000 persons of that category left the military service after receiving housing. Probably, it was for the above reason that in the latest correction of the federal budget allocations of the Ministry of Defense on pension insurance were increased by Rb 8,100bn having amounted to Rb 263.10bn or 176.7% of the amount of the actually used funds on those purposes two years ago. Generally, within that period the number of military pensioners and disabled servicemen rose by 0.8% with the largest growth registered in the Far Eastern Federal District (4.2%), the Southern Federal District and the Siberian Federal District (2.1% each), while in the Baltic states the index fell by 7%.


Most pensioners and disabled persons of the Ministry of Defense live in the Central Federal District (40.7%, including 9.8% in Moscow), while in the Far Eastern Federal District and the Baltic states their number is small (5.5% and 2.5%, respectively).


Undoubtedly, such publication of the data should be welcome, but the very fact of it has made one pay attention to a number of things.


Firstly, it is stated at the Web-site of the Ministry of Finance that the data was published within the frameworks of implementation of Cl.2 (g) of Decree No.601 of May 7, 2011 of the President of the Russian Federation on the Guidelines of Upgrading of the System of Public Administration. Does it mean that the Ministry of Defense decided to ignore the requirements of previous Presidential Decree No.1063 of August 10, 2011 on Approval of the List of the Information on Activities of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation Placed in the Internet? Judging by the content of the site wh ere there is no data on the budget of the Ministry of Defense, it appears to be so.


Secondly, is it enough for the Ministry of Defense in the 21st century to publish its official statistics in a single table format though it is of a big size? Even one hundred years ago, publications of the military statistics numbered hundreds of pages.


And, finally, is the open military statistics needed at all in Russia? Is it possible in defense issues to rely only on the classified data? Judging by the fact that in the past year the Ministry of Defense did not take any steps to organize the military statistics the statistics is not considered at all as a functional objective of the Agency (it also applies to a majority of other Russian agencies). No wonder, in the past few days one could see rather strange discrepancies in the statistical data of different origin as regards defense issues.


The most curious thing took place at the expanded meeting of the Collegium of the Ministry of Defense on December 10 when with a half-hour interval the President of the RF and the Minister of Defense gave different figures (205,100 persons and "about 220,000 persons", respectively) of the total number of contract soldiers and sergeants. As was to be expected, the data of the Minister of Defense turned out to be more accurate than that which was available to the Administration of the President and as early as two days later in the Message to the Federal Assembly the President used the version "up to 220,000 persons". Also, the President mentioned that "about two million people work in branches of the defense-industrial complex. Together with members of their families it is almost seven million people", while according to the data of A Zhuravlev, Member of the State Duma Defense Committee less than 900,000 people work at enterprises of the military-industrial complex and another 440,000 people, at defense research institutes. In such a situation, it is difficult to lay a claim to anyone as regards the quality of planning of the state armament program (SAP) and the state defense order (SDO), because on one side everything is classified, while on the other side due to discrepancies in the initial data the results may differ several-fold.


Also, the existing practice of public administration without reliance on the open official statistics creates plentiful opportunities that officials may be tempted to use. In the most peaceful scenario which is not in conflict with the Criminal Code, it appears as follows: speaking a month ago (on November 20) at the round table -- Fulfillment of Measures of the 2013 State Defense Order – Yu. Borisov, Deputy Minister of Defense said that by the end of the year the forecast estimate of equipment with modern armament and military equipment would amount to 42% in the Air Force (AF); to "just over 50%" in the Navy; to "over 17%" in the Army; to "over 57%" in the Aerospace Defense Force and to "about 40%" in the Strategic Nuclear Forces. Nearly three weeks after, in the report of S. Shoigu, Minister of Defense at the above mentioned meeting of the Collegium of the Ministry of Defense held on December 10 most estimates were specified (except for the Air Force wh ere the estimate of 42% was left unchanged); it is to be noted that all the changes were revised upward: 52% in the Navy, 21% in the Army, 62% in the Aerospace Defense Force and 45% in the Strategic Nuclear Forces. Three days later, on December 13, speaking before foreign military attaches V. Gerasimov, General of the Army and Chief of the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation said that the share of modern samples in the Strategic Nuclear Forces may amount to 62% (the data of the Joint Staff). Undoubtedly, rapid growth in the above index (by over 50% within three weeks) should be regarded as a result of a mistake, lapse or slip of pen, but nevertheless during the week that followed the publication no specification or denial was made either by the Joint Staff or editors of the departmental mass media.


So, within a month the key target indices of fulfillment of the SAP and the SDO rose by 2 p.p. to 12 p.p. having exceeded as a result in most branches of the armed forces the indices of equipment with modern military equipment of armed forces of the world's leading countries; as was stated repeatedly by the Ministry of Defense in 2011 those indices were in the range of 30% to 50%. Due to the above, further build-up of volumes of SAP envisaged by the federal budget for the 2014–2016 period signed on December 2 appears to be pointless.


Sooner or later, the Ministry of Defense will have to switch over to quality, research-based and open statistics and it is in everybody's interests that it takes place as soon as possible.


В.V. Zatsepin, PhD (Military Science), Head of the Economics of the Military-Industrial Sector Department