A draft law on military reform has been sent to Boris Yeltsin, a Russian daily reported yesterday. The law was prepared by the Duma’s defense committee, which is chaired by Lev Rokhlin, and included input from one-time committee member and now Security Council secretary Aleksandr Lebed. As summarized by the newspaper, the law envisions a reform period lasting from 1997-2005. It calls for defense spending of at least 5 percent of anticipated GDP and not less than 25 percent of the total state budget. Law enforcement agencies should receive at least two percent of GDP and 10 percent of total state spending. During the reform period, regular military formations are to be manned by conscripts, other military units on the basis of contracts. Military units must also be staffed at full strength, no additional units are to be created, and military units are not to be assigned domestic economic tasks. Pay and benefits are to be equalized for troops serving under different ministries. (Rossiiskie vesti, July 9)
As reported, the draft law envisions — at the most — a much slower transition to an all-volunteer professional military than was called for recently by Boris Yeltsin (who made an election pledge to end conscription by the year 2000). It also appears to aim at redressing a long-developing shift of budgetary and human resources from Russia’s regular army to the country’s various domestic military and security forces. The report also hints at an effort to consolidate command over this plethora of military agencies, a goal that eluded former defense minister Pavel Grachev and that has been listed as among Aleksandr Lebed’s top priorities.
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