Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon dear comrades!
Our customary meeting is devoted to summarising the results of military training exercises and analysing current and future problems linked to modernising the Armed Forces.
The themes that you are discussing have repercussions far beyond the department. The condition of the Army and the Navy represents a fundamental issue with respect to ensuring Russia’s national interests and defending Russia’s sovereignty. External security is the precondition for successfully resolving social, economic, demographic and political problems. Without ensuring Russia’s external security, none of these tasks can effectively be accomplished.
And it is not by chance that such a large portion of this year’s Address [to the Federal Assembly], that outlined Russia’s long-term national interests, was devoted precisely to modernising the military.
The period of merely putting out fires and ensuring elementary survival has ended. The Army and the Navy have once again found power, strength and self-confidence. And the most important thing is that people in the Armed Forces once again understand their importance and usefulness for the nation. Accordingly, their perception of work and service is undergoing qualitative changes for the better.
Today the Armed Forces are fully able to ensure strategic deterrence and to actively carry out peace-making activities.
Operative and strategic training exercises as well as long-range sea campaigns are becoming the rule rather than the exception. Therefore Southern Shield exercises became the most important ones in post-Soviet history.
But I draw your attention to the fact that engaging such a large amount of resources and means must produce an adequate result and qualitative improvements in troops’ levels of preparedness.
In practice, we have completed forming the regional command East. This represents a serious step towards establishing multipurpose regional groups of forces in major strategic areas. I ask that you continue to consistently work towards introducing a modern structure and management system in the Armed Forces.
The Army and Navy have already entered the crucially important stage of technological reequipment. In this year alone we spent one and a half more times on purchasing weapons than we did last year. In connection with this I will note that we are seeing progress with respect to establishing a unified system of rear maintenance. It should ensure that the financial resources that the state has allocated for reequipment will be judiciously spent.
One month ago I approved a National Weapons Programme calculated until 2015. Almost five trillion rubles are allocated for the implementation of this project. Along with this I shall put special emphasis on the fact that around 80 percent of these funds will be used precisely for modernizing the Armed Forces and for buying modern types of weapons and technical equipment.
The closest attention should be given to promising research, especially in the area of strategic weapons, aviation, investigation systems and air space control.
I am convinced that we need to allocate more resources for the Army and the Navy’s technological development. We must literally saturate these organisations with precision weapons, modern communication facilities and radioelectronic controls.
And troops themselves must increasingly be able to work with new generations of technical equipment and weapons. When taking into consideration the reduction of the conscription service term, I consider that this issue is especially topical.
As of 1 January 2008, service time will be reduced to 12 months. This will ensure that young people are not removed from civil life for a long time.
But this compressed period should be used as productively as possible. And therefore it is important to correctly plan and carry out military studies in a modern way.
This year an additional 19 formations and military units were transferred to a new contract-based staffing principle. By 2008 already 70 percent of servicemen, including officers and chief master seargeants, will serve under contract. And we are well aware of how important it is to create worthy social and material guarantees for them.