The Russian military replaced its two year conscription term with a single year term in order to combat the brutalization of new recruits by more experienced soldiers, a practice called dedovshchina. This “fix,” apparently, has made things worse, not better:
The number of conscripts who suffer physical abuse at the hands of their colleagues in the Russian armed forces has grown significantly in 2010, the Vedomosti daily said on Tuesday.
Hazing – the physical and psychological torture of younger conscripts by their elders – has long been a problem in Russia and has its roots in the Soviet era.
During January-May 2010, 1,167 draftees were subjected to hazing, an increase of 150% during the same period in 2009, the paper said.
This is consistent with what I wrote a couple weeks back, namely, that hazing within a structured hierarchy is likely to be less intense than hazing within a near anarchic situation in which soldiers are struggling for the right to haze.
As I noted before, playing with the length of service will not eliminate hazing as long as survival of the fittest rules the barracks, rather than the officers or competent and experienced NCOs. But changing conscription terms only requires the passage of a law. Reforming an entire culture, including a generation of officers comfortable with the status quo, is a much harder task. A task, methinks, that is beyond the capability of Russia to perform–and one that the officer corps apparently has little interest in performing regardless.