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Russia Military
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General

The Defence Ministry of the Russian Federation serves as the administrative body of the military. Since Soviet times, the General Staff has acted as the main commanding and supervising body of the Russian armed forces. However, currently the General Staff's role is being reduced to that of the Ministry's department of strategic planning, the Minister himself may now be gaining further executive authority over the troops. Other departments include the personnel directorate as well as the Rear Services of the Armed Forces of Russia, railroad troops and construction troops.

The Russian military is divided into the following branches: Ground Forces, Navy and Air Force. There are also three independent arms of service: Strategic Missile Troops, Military Space Forces and the Airborne Troops. The Troops of Air Defence, the former Voyska PVO, have been subordinated into the Air Force since 1998. The Armed Forces as a whole seem to be traditionally referred to as the Army (armiya), except in some cases, the Navy.

The Ground Forces are divided into six military districts: Moscow, Leningrad (not St Petersburg), North Caucausian, Privolzhsk-Ural, Siberian and Far Eastern. The name Leningrad remains for the district in the north-west of Russia in honour of the estimated 1.5 million who gave their lives during the German siege of the city in 1941-44. There is one remaining Russian military base, the 102nd Military Base, in Armenia left of the former Transcaucasus Group of Forces. It may report to the North Caucasus Military District.

The Navy consists of four fleets:

    • Baltic Fleet (HQ at Baltiysk in the enclave of Kaliningrad Oblast).
    • Pacific Fleet (HQ at Vladivostok).
    • Northern Fleet (HQ at Severomorsk).
    • Black Sea Fleet (HQ at Sevastopol, Ukraine). In 2005, the Ukrainian government agreed that Russia would be allowed to lease several base areas around Sevastopol until 2017.

There is also the Kaliningrad Special Region, under the command of the Commander Baltic Fleet, which has a HQ Ground & Coastal Forces, formerly the 11th Guards Army, with a motor rifle division and a motor rifle brigade, and a fighter aviation regiment of Sukhoi Su-27 'Flanker', as well as other forces.

Russian security bodies not under the control of the Ministry of Defence include the Border Guards, Internal Troops, the Federal Security Service, the Federal Protective Service (Russia), the Federal Communications and Information Agency, and presidential guard services.

As of 2008, some 480,000 young men are brought into the Army via conscription in two call-ups each year. Liberal legislation allows about 90% of eligible young men to avoid conscription. There are widespread problems with hazing in the Army, known as Dedovshchina, where first-year draftees are bullied by second-year draftees, a practice that started to appear in the Soviet Union after the 1950s. To combat this problem, a new decree was signed in March 2007, which cut the conscription service term from 24 to 18 months. The term was cut further to one year on January 1, 2008.

30% of Russian army personnel were contract servicemen at the end of 2005. Planning calls for volunteer servicemen to compose 70% of armed forces by 2010 with the remaining servicemen consisting of conscripts. As of November 2006, the Armed Forces had more than 60 units manned with contract personnel totaling over 78,000 contract privates and sergeants. 88 Ministry of Defence units have been designated as permanent readiness units and are expected to become all-volunteer by the end of 2007. These include most air force, naval and nuclear arms units, as well as all airborne and naval infantry units, most motorised rifle brigades, and all special forces detachments. All personnel on ships and submarines will be contract servicemen beginning in 2009. Women serve in the Russian military, though in far lesser numbers than men. More than 92,000 females serve on active duty with the Russian Armed Forces in 2007. For the foreseeable future, the Armed Forces will be a mixed contract/conscript force. The need to maintain a mobilisation reserve of various classes arises from a requirement to have manning resources capable of ensuring prompt reinforcement of the Russian Armed Forces in case the efforts made by the permanent readiness forces to deter or suppress an armed conflict fail to yield positive results.


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