Peace Time: June 2, 2003

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Although the pay for professional soldiers in the Russian army is about average for Russian  workers ($108 a month), it's still too low to attract sufficient volunteers. So the government plans to nearly double the pay and put more money into improving living conditions (housing and food.) A major problem in making volunteer units work is the lack of enthusiasm by Soviet era officers for moving away from conscription. For nearly a century, universal conscription has been used in Russia. But many younger officers look at the success of all-volunteer armed forces in the West and are convinced that this is the way to go. Senior officers now in power began their military careers in the 1970s and 80s, when the Soviet Union lavished money and praise on the Red Army. These "Soviet" generals are literally living in the past. President Putin has been replacing senior officers who seem too "Soviet" with those who are more open to new ideas. But this process is hampered by the fact that many of the sharpest officers have left the service in the last decade to make a better living using their talents in the civilian economy.

 


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