Peace Time: October 8, 2003


Russia is having a hard time getting, and keeping, people in its armed forces. With about 1.1 million people in uniform, it is still dependent on conscription for over half of them. The remainder are career officers and NCOs. But the best of these have been leaving, attracted by better paying, and less stressful jobs in the booming civilian economy. The housing is also a lot better than the decrepit quarters career troops are provided with.

Despite bribery (paying the conscription officials to look the other way) and desertion (currently 1800 recruits are listed as deserters), there are more than enough young men available each to year to fill the much smaller (than the Cold War days) armed forces. But those who can afford bribes (or have friends in high places to declare you exempt) are just the smart and physically fit young men the military wants. It's not getting them. Too many of the recruits are uneducated and in poor physical shape. Moreover, the Russian military is not a safe place to be, even in peace time. The non-combat death rate for Russian troops is nearly three times what it is in the American military. The Russians lost over 1200 troops last year in non-combat accidents or because of abuse. 


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