Morale: A Very, Very Happy New Year For The Red Army

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November 10, 2011: Russia is increasing pay for career troops 2.5-3 times (for retired troops 1.5-1.7 times). The new pay rates go into effect January 1st, 2012. This means most sergeants and junior officers will now be making over $2,000 a month (depending on how long they have been in the military). There's a catch, however, troops now have to pay for their uniforms. For an enlisted soldier, uniforms cost about $250 a year, while a general's uniforms (more elaborate and higher quality) cost over $1,500 a year. But such pay deductions are not unknown in the West, and take away only a small portion of the new raises. Most Russian military personnel are eagerly looking forward to 2012.

While not as high as the pay of career (volunteer) troops in the West, the new Russian pay scales are at least competitive with what people make in Russia. The cost-of-living is lower in Russia. Moreover, the Russian military also pays bonuses for dangerous duty (for submarine crews, or troops operating in a combat zone).

All this is part of yet another effort to upgrade the Russian military. After the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991, the new Russian state had lost half its population, and its armed forces were only a fifth as large as the mighty Soviet "Red Army." Worse, for over a decade, little new equipment was purchased and there was much less money for training and maintenance. The Russian armed forces today are less than a tenth of what they were (in terms of combat capability) in the late 1980s. So now Russia is buying the badly needed new equipment and building a largely volunteer force. The conscripts are still there (about a quarter of the force), but the draftees are only in service for a year and are much less important than the career troops. Thus the pay and pension increases.

 


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