MOSCOW, June 1 (RIA Novosti) – The military colleges of the Russian Defense Ministry will graduate almost 12,000 young officers this year, a ministry official said on Saturday.
A total of 11,500 lieutenants will be commissioned, said Viktor Goremykin, head of the Defense Ministry’s Chief Personnel Directorate.
Some 10,000 officers will continue service in the Russian Armed Forces while the other 1,500 will join other defense, security, and law enforcement agencies, he said.
The figure of 11,500 is “an optimal yearly target,” Goremykin added.
The Defense Ministry is planning to hire 60,000 volunteers this year, a target it will have no problem meeting, he said in an interview with Ekho Moskvy radio.
“In the first quarter of 2013 we have received over 200,000 applications from people wishing to serve under contract,” he said, adding that at present about 68 percent of “contract servicemen” in the Russian military have a higher or secondary education.
Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov said in March Russia’s armed forces should expand to at least 1 million men in order for the country’s defenses to be effective. According to State Duma data, the country’s armed forces numbered only around 800,000 people last year.
The Russian forces are in the midst of a major shake-up, including a huge reequipment program, a gradual transition to fully-volunteer armed services, and organizational changes, in a bid to create forces more suitable for future challenges and less like the legacy forces left over from the Soviet era.
Part of that transition has involved large cuts to the number of servicemen. Former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov announced a plan in 2008 to cut the forces from 1.2 million to under 1 million, with the number of officers to be cut from 355,000 to 150,000. He later backtracked, and in March 2011 said President Medvedev had authorized officer numbers to rise to 220,000, according to a Congressional Research Service report.