Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Facing the crisis of an oversized, bloated, inefficient, grossly underpaid, irrelevent, cold-war oriented military that has effectively lost its last 3 wars, and hundreds of soldiers to suicide each year, what does Russia do? Slash the number of troops by half, as recommended by military experts, to create a small, professional, well-paid, effective military commensurate in size to modern threats? Bring the corrupt, top-heavy officer corps into line? Provide a modicum of education and health services to the desperately poor and illiterate soldiers that fill the military ranks?

Um, nyet.

Instead, Russia's Duma just approved a plan for compulsory military training for high school students, so that every graduate can disassemble and assemble a Kalashnikov in under a minute. This was a hallmark of Soviet-era training that has been unnaturally resurrected into the post-Cold War era.

Russia's inability to respond to the new contours of national security continue to amaze. In the wars ahead, as this editorial notes, a small professional army that isn't an utter ruin would serve Russia's security interests far better than a pack of "kalashnikov-toting teenagers." And yes, I do know how cool that sounds to you boys.


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