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To fill up its draft numbers, the Soviet ministry of defense is willing to enlist alcoholics, the unhealthy, and drug addicts.
The ministry is "desperate," according to the Times of London. Their stats are dropping, alarmingly so. The Russian army is in big time trouble.
To resurrect a sort of militia, the Soviet central agency is looking at former Soviet republics for male bodies. The Russians promise high pay (?), free education, and the status symbol of a Russian citizenship paper.
As the army disintegrates daily, realism dictates that up to 50,000 conscripts desert each year. Thousands more "dodge the call-up." Part of the fear is the knowledge that they will be bullied into pulp as well as living in poverty conditions.
And so it is that the Russians are content to take on heroin addicts, drunks, and those with known illnesses.
Sergie Ivanov, the Defense Minister, expects that the Commonwealth of Independent States — that loose-hanging network of former republics — will come up with a better soldier who, for exemplary behavior, will receive Russian citizenship after three years' commitment.
Now that the three-week win war is over in Iraq, the Russian generals are frankly "in shock" due to witnessing the military expertise of the United States and its coalition partners. In other words, Russians have been quite impressed. No wonder Putin thereby puts on his snoot act lately; cover-up persona of sorts?
Russian military leaders hope that they will come upon five million troops arriving from Ukraine, Moldova, and Armenia as well as Tajikistan. This should, they say, equip the Russians with what they are advertising as "the very best."
Time will tell.
At present, conscripts realize that they will be subjected to bullying in the well-known dedovshchina system. And what is that? It is the program to demolish a soldier's self-esteem by humiliating him to the nth degree — all for the end purpose of forcing him into mannequin obedience.
It is known fact that Russian youths will go to any length to avoid the dedovshchina. One fellow even feigned mental illness, was committed, and endured intolerable conditions - all with the intent of not having to serve as a solider in the Russian machine.
In the two Chechen conflicts of the past ten years, thousands upon thousands simply walked into the firing line with practically no training. Presently 80 % of the troops there are on contract; however, not all believe in the contracts' reliabilities.
Dmitri Mitrofinov, a Duma deputy told the media, "You cannot make a contract soldier obey orders. If there is another Chernobyl and we have to send in the army, do you think contract soldiers will agree to do it? No, we must keep the draft system, but think of ways to make it more attractive, so the young take pride in their country."
In the meantime, any out there who wish to sail abroad, sign up, and do your bit for the Russian brigade?
- J. Grant Swank, Jr.