Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Russia's April Call-Up

The Russian Bear has come out of his post-Cold War hibernation. According an article in Time Magazine, today was suppose to be the largest peace-time draft in Russia's history. However, not everyone's eager to defend the Motherland:

This story generated several comments from my on-line friends. One responded to the comment about hazing due to boys not knowing what to do with themselves:

No, hazing happens because like the rest of Russian society, they are corrupt and undisciplined. Also, their military completely lacks any sort of professional NCOs to protect the conscripts from their fellow conscripts.

Comrade Karla had this to say:

Political Culture and societal structure are key to this…go back to the late tsarist period--say 1890-1914--and you can see where the glimmer of a civil society was starting to form along side the bad old traditions--which were routinely challenged by the more centerist political parties. WWI and the Revolution changed that. No concept of civil society ever formed in Russia and only the top-down control under the Soviets "managed" the sort of thing that is going on now. The overly-rapid changes post 1991 was like opening an airlock without depressurizing the ship--stuff shot out everywhere; add to this the fact that societal and governmental structures that are supposed to prevent this sort of thing suddenly had no controls on them and its no surprise that social anarchy and a Hobbesian situation has resulted--think of all those "Ministers" of this commodity or that who suddenly became "entrepeneurs," taking entire sectors of industry along with them.So on the surface you have government bureacracy, the army and any number of theoretically responsible structures that are anything but. [A friend] probably knows this better than the rest of us, but I know from university research stories just how endemic bribery and corruption is, ranging from archivists to militia traffic cops. Add to this the Red Army's unfortunate tradition of never developing a professional NCO class (junior officers routinely do the job of a senior NCO) and the result is predictable. This makes for an interesting contrast with WWII--ranks were not inflated then as captains routinely commanded battalions and senior NCOs sometimes commanded platoons. Partly this had to do with a shortage of those suitable to officer rank, but shows what was possible. But it just wasn't an option under Stalinism…and with a huge army that turned over enlisted men every two years, the groundwork for what is happening now was well and truly laid. It'd be interesting to see what truly functional formations they have--it seems like they focus on "elite" units like VDV, SOF, etc and maybe a select number of tank and motor rifle formations. But how do they sustain it? Not only do you have this draft dodging, but the Great Russian population base is dwindling while the "alalalalalalalalalalala!" crowd are doing anything but.

And finally:

...The stories of what goes on in the Russian military behind the scenes to their own soldiers are just horrific, and it is completely understandable why everyone does everything he can to avoid being drafted. Avoiding the draft isn't the only problem they have to deal with. From the time they are first exempted from the draft until they turn 27 they are at risk every time they are stopped by the police for any reason, because the police insist on bribes to keep for turning in draft-age eligible men to the local military commisar (i.e. the snap judgement of the police and commisar can undo a "not fit for service" health exemption if they believe the guy is healthy enough, and can then immediately induct him into the military).. Basically, it is a system that ensures a steady flow of bribes to everyone.

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