President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Comrades officers, comrades generals,
Our meeting today is a new opportunity to discuss the processes taking place in the Armed Forces, the existing problems and in general to prepare for the debate on the Armed Forces reform and increasing the Armed Forces combat capability.
In the past two years, our Armed Forces have been undergoing active modernisation. You know our goal: to make the Armed Forces more compact and efficient, equipped with modern weapons and modern technology. The deadline for completing the basic organisational and staffing changes involved in transforming the Armed Forces is December 2010.
In the coming years, starting this year and until 2020, the annual defence allocations will remain at 2.8 percent of the gross domestic product. That is a substantial amount.
I will be perfectly honest: in order to arrive at these figures, we had to make significant adjustments to the budget and our projections for the next few years. We had to cut or downgrade certain programmes in order to keep the funding for the Armed Forces at that level.
This will make it possible to equip the military with new technology in accordance with the current State Arms Procurement Programme and address all the social problems that exist in the military, which is an equally important and demanding task. These issues are also well known.
Above all, this includes pay indexation, which we are currently implementing, and the housing programme. The planned reform of the monetary allowances for servicemen will begin from 2012, and it will not be conducted in a fragmented or selective way; our aim is a comprehensive reform of financial compensation.
Our ultimate objective is to raise baseline salaries for military personnel threefold, while at the same time continuing and even extending to the entire Armed Forces everything we have been doing up to now in line with Order No. 400 and certain other Defence Ministry documents.
All the planned reform measures must be carefully calculated and financially viable. For this purpose, the military budget has been adjusted and spending control mechanism has been put in place. I would like to draw the attention of all the Defence Ministry officials to this: all of these processes must be completed in coordination with other government agencies, so that we have absolute clarity in this regard.
I hope the high level of funding for the Armed Forces will relieve the servicemen of non-core, non-professional activities, which is the case in the armed forces of other countries. The primary focus of the troops must be on operational and combat training; they must devote themselves entirely to these activities. Guard duty (especially, perhaps, not even guard duty but cleaning), chores and cooking must all become responsibility of civilian organisations.
According to the plan which forms the basis for staff organisation measures brigades were created as self-contained, modern, well-balanced units, capable of fulfilling their tasks in the shortest possible time and in any conditions. All the Armed Forces brigade commanders are present here today. I would like to hear your reports on the results of this initiative. I want you to speak frankly, realising that the success of the reforms currently underway depends on your information and opinion.
Organisational changes in the Armed Forces are going ahead and we saw their effectiveness during the Autumn 2009 and Vostok 2010 exercises. I attended some of those exercises. They showed that the established formations, the permanent readiness units, are on the whole professional and efficient. It would also be helpful to hear your views about the quality of reform and the organisational changes, which measures, in your opinion, have been more successful and what are some of the problems.