Russia’s miiltary overhaul

The World

In this crumbling office building in downtown Moscow, this man has received his draft notice and is fighting for the chance not to fight. Today he’s visiting the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, a committee dedicated to the rights of conscripts for advice on how to avoid the draft. He hardly looks the part of a soldier. Every year 130,000 young men are drafted into a year of service. This year some of them had a real war on their hands. This military hands says the 60,000 strong force that went into Georgia was no match for its weaker opponent. The problems are downright embarrassing for the former Soviet military giant. Commanders had to carry out communications through cell phones connected through Georgian networks and other systems broke down as well. None of this helps boost morale among the troops. One lieutenant who made a YouTube video documenting the bad conditions for Russian troops was exiled to a small town in the far east. Even Kremlin backers acknowledge the problems. There are now ambitious plans for military reform. The armed forces will be redesigned to a smaller, more responsive force. There is still rhetoric behind this change: Russia is worried about NATO expansion, for example. But all that talk belies the fact that the smaller, more responsive army Russia is aiming for is an army tailored more to fight terrorism than huge battles against the United States. This analyst says that’s why people should watch more what the army is actually doing than saying. The economic crisis and other factors may mean that this evolution in the Russian Army will take years to accomplish.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for The Top of the World, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.