Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 98

Gromov’s remarks notwithstanding, some Russian commentators have opined that Yeltsin’s military decrees may in fact be little more than electioneering. Pavel Felgengauer, the respected defense analyst for the daily Segodnya, suggested that Russian military leaders will acquiesce to Yeltsin because they remember that "in the heat of political struggles, Yeltsin has often signed edicts that were never implemented." After the election, he continued, military reform may be conveniently "forgotten." Felgengauer also noted — and the army’s experiment with contract service in 1994 seemed to prove — that the military leadership is unable or unwilling to effect the wide-ranging overhaul of the armed forces necessary to construct a viable all-volunteer force. (Segodnya, May 17)

Indeed, indications that the military leadership was caught unawares by Yeltsin’s decrees suggest a callous or superficial approach to a complex issue on Yeltsin’s part, and do not bode well for the future success of military reform. One Russian daily reported that the General Staff’s Main Organization-Mobilization Directorate (which will presumably oversee the transition to a volunteer force) was completely surprised by the decrees. Officers there were described as incredulous at the prospect of moving so quickly to an all-volunteer force. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, May 18) Another commentator, who lauded Yeltsin for standing up to the military leadership on the eve of the upcoming elections, nevertheless observed that the news of Yeltsin’s decrees "all but produced a bombshell effect in the Defense Ministry." Officers there reportedly refused to believe