Streetwise Professor

April 20, 2011

No Time For Sergeants

Filed under: Military,Russia — The Professor @ 9:03 pm

A lot of stories today about the Russian military’s chronic–and arguably fatal–software problem.

From the Wall Street Journal, a not surprising (if you’re a regular here) glimpse of the dysfunctional Russian army, and its Potemkin effort to create a “volunteer” army of kontraktniki. Watch the video at the link, especially the part at the end where the advocate for the volunteer force is interviewed.  He argues that Russia’s bane–corruption–has wreaked havoc with the reform effort.  He specifically claims that there are elements in Russia, including senior officers, who profit from the conscription system by taking bribes to facilitate draft avoidance.  The soldier who is the central character in the article itself claims that officers stole 1/3 of contract soldiers’ pay.

Who says that Russians don’t believe in the market system?  After all, everything is for sale.

This piece in Eurasia Daily Monitor argues that the highly touted campaign to create a real NCO corps in Russia is just another exercise in Potemkinism.

And this MT article claims that dedovshchina (barracks hazing) is driven by ethnic divisions.  I have no doubt that there are ethnic problems in the Russian military, but I am skeptical at claims that dedovshchina is predominately an ethnic phenomenon.  It is more likely that commanders are blaming North Caucasians because they are widely reviled in Russia, and hence they are ready scapegoats.  It’s easier to blame them than to address the fundamental rot that pervades the entire establishment.

I say again.  What is the point of spending hundreds of billions of dollars to buy hardware when the software that runs it is dysfunctional?  Other than the corruption possibilities, that is.

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  1. And this MT article claims that dedovshchina (barracks hazing) is driven by ethnic divisions.

    I’d be doubtful about that too. From what I’ve read, the ethnic minorities fared better against bullying/abuse in the Gulags, Afghanistan, and in the post-Soviet Russian army, mainly because they would join together in a group. The main victims were ethnic Russians who, and I noticed this myself in Dubai and Russia, have very few instincts to get to know, much less form a group with, other ethnic Russians.

    Comment by Tim Newman — April 20, 2011 @ 11:33 pm

  2. Russians in the West completely assimilate within a generation.

    Comment by So? — April 20, 2011 @ 11:49 pm

  3. Russians in the West completely assimilate within a generation.

    That’s probably the flip side of the same coin.

    Comment by Tim Newman — April 21, 2011 @ 1:57 am

  4. Must have skipped you then So? Not to mention Gostapo.

    Russians in most countries I have been to do not assimilate well at all.

    Comment by Andrew — April 21, 2011 @ 3:58 am

  5. In 2010, NOBODY was drafted into the US Army.

    In 2010, virtually nobody entering the Russian Army WAS NOT drafted.

    EVERYBODY in the US Army is there because he/she wants to be.

    VIRTUALLY NOBODY in the Russian Army can say the same. Nobody volunteers for the Russian Army. It’s that kind of country.

    Comment by La Russophobe — May 1, 2011 @ 8:13 am

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