A Russian daily reported on December 17 that the country’s officer corps is aging at a "catastrophic" rate as increasing numbers of demoralized younger officers leave military service. The reports says that these younger men now comprise 80 percent of all the officers choosing voluntarily to leave the army, and that one-third of all junior command posts are currently vacant. Russia’s military academies have been unable to turn out enough officers to make up for this outflow of personnel. The shortage of younger officers is expected to worsen, moreover, as a large number of 5-year contracts signed by officers and NCO’s come up for renewal in 1997-98. Fully one-third of the affected personnel are not expected to extend their contracts, and this tendency is said to be especially widespread among younger, well-educated, and highly-regarded officers, the newspaper reported. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, December 17)
In an interview published by a Russian daily on December 16, recently "civilianized" Russian defense minister Igor Rodionov painted an equally gloomy picture, complaining that Russia’s officer corps had "never known such humiliation… in its entire history." Rodionov linked low morale to funding shortfalls, and described next year’s military budget as "absolutely unrealistic." He intimated, as he has often done in the past, that only increased defense spending can improve morale and permit the military leadership to implement meaningful defense reform.
Lukashenko’s "Pocket Parliament" Inaugurated.