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Officers leave the army. How could we stop them?

Author : Olena Holubeva

Presenting the draft state budget 2019, the Cabinet promised to increase the material procuring of servicemen by 24.1 billion UAH, up to 108.3 billion UAH. The press service of President Petro Poroshenko announced that from January 1, 2019 the Ukrainian soldier will receive at least 10 thousand UAH per month. Previously, Poroshenko said that since 2019 the salary of servicemen will increase by at least 30%.
22:56, 19 September 2018

president.gov.ua

The first large-scale increase in wages for Ukrainian servicemen occurred in January 2016. Then the amount of money provided to servicemen increased by an average of 1.5-2 times. In 2017, the amount for certain categories of servicemen (sergeants, servicemen on the contract, servicemen of the Highly Mobile Airborne Forces and the Marine Corps of the Navy) was increased. In particular, this happened due to the increase in the size of the monthly bonuses, reported the press service of the Ministry of Defense: "Now the amount of money for the sergeant and sergeant-major of the military service is not less than 7,3 thousand UAH per month (without taking into account payments for participation in Joint Operation in Donbas)".

Since 2014, the fees for direct participation in JFO were 100% of the monthly cash supply, but not less than 3 thousand UAH per month. Rewards were paid in proportion to the number of days of participation in the Joint Forces Operation. Also since 2015, additional remuneration has been established. So, for the successful performance of a combat mission, money is paid to a separate military unit in the amount of 61 to 365 thousand UAH. For direct participation in hostilities - 1 thousand UAH per day of fighting with the enemy. Remuneration for the destruction (capture) of enemy combat equipment is paid to the unit, crew or individual in the amount of 12 to 243 thousand UAH, depending on the type of destroyed equipment.

In 2016, the amount of remuneration for direct participation in the JFO was raised to UAH 4,200 per month on the battle collision line and UAH 1.2 thousand - in other locations within a certain area of the operation.

Since January 1, 2017, payments have been raised to 6 thousand UAH and 2,4 thousand UAH per month, respectively. From April 1, 2017 - up to 7,5 thousand UAH and 3,5 thousand UAH per month, and from August 1, 2017 and up to date, the fee for participation in the ATO (JFO in Donbas) is 10 thousand UAH per month in lines of combat collision and 4,5 thousand UAH in other locations.

But if at the beginning of 2016 the minimum level of financial support for the serviceman averaged 7 thousand UAH (excluding bonuses and awards) and was equal to 5 minimum wages and almost 1.6 average monthly wages in the country. After raising social standards from January 1, 2017, it declined. In particular, it became equal to only 2.2 of the minimum wage. "This led to a decrease in the competitiveness of salaries for servicemen compared to the civilian sector," the press service of the Defense Ministry said.

To increase the motivation for entering the military service, the social and legal protection of servicemen was strengthened, the age of stay in the reserve was increased, as well as the age limit for admission to higher military educational institutions (up to 30 years). In addition, it became possible to conclude perpetual and short-term contracts for up to 6 months, told the press service of the Defense Ministry: "An important motivational factor for entering the contract was the preservation of the place of work and average wages for the period until the termination of the untimely contract (special period.) Also there is the retention of a pension for a period for persons who were accepted for military service on contract during a crisis situation. "

Among other things, from 2018, a one-time monetary reward was introduced for the conclusion of the first contract in such amounts: soldiers - 8 subsistence minimums (14.1 thousand UAH), sergeants - 9 subsistence minimums (15.8 thousand UAH), officers - 10 subsistence minimums (17.6 thousand UAH). The size of the minimums is determined by the corresponding subsistence minimum for the working population, the Ministry of Defense press service specified.

Officers leave the army

Despite all the measures taken, regular personnel officers are leaving the army, including due to insufficient money supply. Early in the summer, in a letter to the Cabinet published in the media, the Minister of Defense Stepan Poltorak said that from January to June 11,000 officers and contract soldiers with combat experience left the army (they had the right to discharge from military service), and by the end of the year the dismissal of another 18 thousand is possible. According to the results of the survey of those who plan to resign, a third can do so due to insufficient money supply. The situation could be corrected by the increase of the minimum cash supply from October 1, 2018, as was said in the text of the letter.

The Ministry of Defense did not confirm the authenticity of the letter published in the media, but it was not denied either. In response to the request of 112.ua, the press service of the Ministry of Defense reported: "Studies conducted in the Armed Forces demonstrate that the provision of money for servicemen must ensure competitiveness in the labor market, taking into account the workload, the risk to life and other factors that occur during the military service, and it should also increase while social standards in the state are increased, thereby encouraging military men to conclude contracts for military service," the press service of the Ministry of Defense said.

The figure, cited with a reference to the letter of the Ministry of Defense, gave reason to Internet bloggers to talk about this problem. According to them, officers of particular relevance represent the carriers of actual knowledge and have real combat experience. Officers who for a long time go to the reserve quickly lose their qualifications, for example, as a doctor who changed the job, does not attend training seminars, does not get acquainted with information about new medicines and methods of treatment (for the military this is possession of weapons, special skills, methods of conducting fighting and so on).

Donbas conflict participants recall that officers called up from the reserve in 2014, used to have much less experience and knowledge than those who for a few months really fought. Naturally, this did not add either credibility or trust. There were problems with coordination in military divisions. The loss of every officer with combat experience is a serious problem.

It should be noted that the Ministry of Defense denies that the problem with the dismissal of contract officers is large. "The indicators of the admission of Ukrainian citizens to military service on a contract basis (officers) make it possible to compensate for the retirement of officers from the service. The main problem is that military personnel who have combat experience are being fired," stated the press service of the Defense Ministry.

Separately, the press service noted that "the main sources of completion of officer positions are graduates of higher military educational institutions and military educational units of universities." But there are other sources -  particular, for the purpose of promptly completing officer positions in 2014-2016. six stages of partial mobilization were conducted. Now an operational reserve has been formed and prepared with a total number of more than 160,000 servicemen from among those who have combat experience. "The manning of officer posts in the Armed Forces, including in the area of Donbas, is kept at the level ensuring the fulfillment of assignments and meeting the numbers indicated by Ukrainian legislation. The dismissal of officers from military service is carried out in regular intervals for all types of troops (forces) in proportion of their number, "112.ua was assured in the press service of the Defense Ministry.

As of September 2018, 20.5 thousand people were accepted for military service under the contract for the posts of soldiers and sergeants, including 2.5 thousand people. - after passing the military service. In general, the trend corresponds to 2017, the press service of the Defense Ministry noted.

The opposite point of view is shared by some deputies and experts. "The problem of the outflow of officers is quite large, it is a direct consequence of insufficient money supply, and it is also necessary to increase the provision of military personnel in Donbas that are in the high-risk zone," confirmed the secretary of the Committee for National Security and Defense Ivan Vynnyk. He refused to tell the exact number of officers who intend to resign from the army, noting: "If we do not raise the salaries of servicemen, this will pose a threat to national security."

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