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Starting from February 1, the Russian armed forces will start training
Starting from February 1, the Russian armed forces will start training professional sergeants with a secondary education.

The armed forces, due to be reduced to a million officers and men by 2016, will require 250,000 sergeants. Local military colleges will annually graduate 15,000 sergeants primarily specializing in hi-tech areas.

During training, prospective sergeants will be actively involved in troop drill and headquarters exercises, and will undergo regular advanced training at military units.

They will spend 70% of their training time at firing ranges and operate military equipment at testing sites. Theoretical studies will make up for the remaining 30% of their curricula.

A number of organizational issues will have to be settled in order to implement this revolutionary reform.

At present, three military departments and their affiliated agencies train sergeants, sergeant-majors and petty officers for the army and the navy.

Until now, sergeants were rotated every six or twelve months, and this system did not lead to inconsistencies. But since the national armed forces consisting of contract soldiers and conscripts will soon have 100,000 more sergeants than officers, the Russian Defense Ministry will have to establish a special department for supervising sergeant-training programs and for tackling the relevant military service and social problems.

However, the Defense Ministry is only beginning to assess this important issue.

The U.S., British, Canadian and French armed forces have long discarded the conscription system in favor of professional volunteers selected in line with preset criteria.

Foe example, the Kazakh army has an effective sergeant-training program.

In Kazakhstan, all prospective sergeants are selected from among high-school students. The strongest and smartest young men with a penchant for leadership have an opportunity to receive secondary specialized education after training for three to four years at local military colleges.

They are subsequently placed in charge of squads, crews and even platoons.

Kazakh sergeants train all conscripts and even contract soldiers, while officers work out combat-training methods, oversee the training process and tactical exercises and tackle other problems.

However, Kazakh officers do not spend more than seven to eight hours at military units, while their Russian counterparts often have to deal with soldiers round the clock without much success.

The Lithuanian army, which is tailored according to NATO standards, also offers interesting sergeant-training methods.

Lithuanian sergeants deal with all aspects of military training, while officers merely coordinate their work, if necessary.

Military personnel have to complete special courses in order to apply for the 10 sergeant positions offered by the Lithuanian army.

Although some Lithuanian sergeants earn more than captains, they have to work much more than officers do.

Russian officers still play a more important role than sergeants. But the situation may change considerably after the first professional sergeants start arriving three years from now.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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