Leadership: March 26, 2005

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The quality of officers in the Russian armed forces has been falling sharply for over a decade. Being an officer used to attract the best and the brightest. But after the Soviet Union disintegrated, the best and the brightest bailed out. Attempts were made to stem the brain drain, but there was not enough money to provide sufficient raises, or investments in housing and other quality of life items. Thus, currently about a third of all Russian officers (commissioned and warrant) have family incomes that put them below the official poverty line. Part of this is due to the many Russian military bases in out-of-the-way places, where there are few, if any, opportunities for a spouse to get a job, or an officer to get a second job. All of this poverty has caused most of the really able officers to head for civilian life, and more remunerative careers. Many of the officers who stay are inept and incompetent. While much attention is paid to establishing a professional, all-volunteer force, and how much money will be required, the loss of officer quality is often  overlooked. Eliminating conscription will not do a lot of good if the quality of officers is not improved. That will take money, and a decade of effort. Until the rebuilding process begins, dont expect any great efforts by the Russian military.

 


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