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  Monday, December 9, 2019
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Russia's transition to a professional army is still on schedule
Russia's transition to a professional army is still on schedule, the defense minister said Monday. Sergei Ivanov told a government meeting with President Vladimir Putin that a federal program to man high-alert units with contract troops was proceeding in strict compliance with the timeframe and that a total of 42 units with more than 60,000 men had so far moved to contract-based service. "The program has been 57% fulfilled," said Ivanov, who is also deputy prime minister. "So far, there have been no delays in the program." He said another 20 units, totaling 25,000 soldiers and sergeants, would turn professional in 2006. The remaining 16% will make the change in 2007, Ivanov said, adding that the plan involved land troops, the air force and marines. A total 145,000 troops will be switched to contract service within four years, including 132,000 in the army and all remaining personnel in the border guard service and the interior troops. Ivanov said the federal program aimed to raise the quality and the combat efficiency of high-alert units, and reduce the conscription term from 24 to 12 months. The minister said 70% of personnel in the Russian army would be professional soldiers by the end of 2007, and added that efforts were being taken to provide incentives for enlistment, including the offer of education and housing benefits after the signing of a soldier's second contract. Ivanov also said that contract pay in the North Caucasus was three to four times higher than the average wage. The Russian army has been beset by problems since the collapse of the Soviet Union, including low pay for officers, outdated armaments and hazing among soldiers. The reform of the army is designed to increase money allowance for officers, raise the combat efficiency of troops and provide the army with modern hardware.
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