Peace Time: March 23, 2002


Russian President Vladimir Putin turned up the heat on reluctant Kremlin generals to revamp Russia's armed forces, by ordering the elite 76th Airborne Division to act as guinea pig for the transition to a volunteer army. Russia's ponderous and unpopular draft system has been heavily criticized since 1991. Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said on 5 March that the two-regiment division of 7,000 paratroopers would be converted by mid-2003, giving Russia's political leaders the concrete figures on exactly how much the transition to contract armed forces will cost. - Adam Geibel


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