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13.12.2001

Quality of the autumn recruiting campaign of 2000.

   

The Kharkov Union of soldiers’ mothers permanently monitors the quality of recruits from Kharkov and the Kharkov oblast. The monitoring of the autumn recruiting campaign of 2000 was conducted with the support of International fund ‘Vidrodjennia’ and National Institute of democracy.

We sent questionnaires to all military units, to which recruits from Kharkov and the oblast had been directed. The number of the officers, who answer our questionnaires, grows from year to year. From many military units we received not only filled in questionnaires, but also accompanying letters, in which the officers, commanders and their deputies in indoctrination, write about their problems. The real care of servicemen and army is felt in these letters. This testifies that commanders sympathize with our studies and find our work useful. This also shows that the armed forces by and by a structure more open for public control.

Table 1



Recruiting campaign


Number of distributed questionnaires


Number of answers


Percentage of answers


1999


44


10


22,73%


Spring 2000


77


35


45,45%


Autumn 2000


70


34


48,57%

In the military units, about which we have information, 1346 soldiers of the autumn-2000 call-up are serving, which makes about 60% of the total number of the recruits (2280 persons). To compare, we had the information about 50.57% of recruits after the spring campaign of 2000.

Table 2



1346 persons are accounted for
 


Among them:


Number


Percentage


Got into hospitals or medical units within the first month of service


115


8,5


Have chronic diseases, which got more acute in the beginning of the service


27


2,01


Have deviations in behavior, have criminal records, used narcotic drugs


68


5.05


Have suicidal inclinations


75


5,57


Recruited with the violation of laws (have the right for postponement by Article 17 of the Law ‘On military duty’)






Concealed chronic diseases from medical commission to get to the army


10


0,74


Declared their unwillingness to serve


3


0,22


Attempts of desertion


1


0,04


Suicidal attempts


1


0,074


Are essentially underweight


51


3,78



Commanders of 12 military units (15%) have no claims to the quality of recruits. During the spring campaign the corresponding number was 28.57%.

The question: ‘How many recruits from this call-up, in your opinion, are incapable of service?’ was answered by not all commanders. They preferred not general evaluations, but facts. Yet, about seven soldiers the commanders were categorical. This means that seven recruits (0.52%0 were certainly not-able-bodied. We think that this number is substantially underestimated. By analyzing the questionnaires, we conclude that most of the recruits, who got into raws 1-10 of Table 2, are nor able to be adequate soldiers. This means that the percentage of rejects is about 18%.

Let us compare these data with those of spring-2000.

Got into hospitals or medical units within the first month of service

Table 3



Campaign


Number


Percentage


Spring-2000


119


11,73


Autumn-2000


115


8,5


Dynamics


–4


–3,23



Have chronic diseases, which got more acute in the beginning of the service

Table 4



Campaign


Number


Percentage


Spring-2000


40


3,94


Autumn-2000


27


2,01


Dynamics


–13


–1,93






Have deviations in behavior, have criminal records, used narcotic drugs

Table 5



Campaign


Number


Percentage


Spring-2000


16


1,58


Autumn-2000


68


5,05


Dynamics


+52


+3,47



Have suicidal inclinations

Table 6



Campaign


Number


Percentage


Spring-2000


56


5,52


Autumn-2000


75


5,57


Dynamics


+19


+0,05



Concealed chronic diseases from medical commission to get to the army

Table 7



Campaign


Number


Percentage


Spring-2000


25


2,46


Autumn-2000


10


0,74


Dynamics


–15


–1,72



Declared their unwillingness to serve

Table 8



Campaign


Number


Percentage


Spring-2000


5


0,49


Autumn-2000


3


0,22


Dynamics


–2


–0,27



Attempts of desertion

Table 9



Campaign


Number


Percentage


Spring-2000


3


0,29


Autumn-2000


1


0,074


Dynamics


–2


–0,216

Suicidal attempts

Table 10



Campaign


Number


Percentage


Spring-2000


1


0,1


Autumn-2000


1


0,074


Dynamics


0


–0,026






The question about the underweight was not included into the spring questionnaire, so it is impossible to make the comparison. Some commanders, answering the spring questionnaire, wrote that underweight recruits couldn’t be good soldiers; that made us include the question to our next questionnaire. Is it reasonable to recruit young men with dystrophy? Some think that these men will come to the norm during the service. We disagree with this fantasy – army is not a sanitarium. Such soldiers are unable to overcome the difficulties of the military service. We insist that such boy must go through a program of rehabilitation that will unable the boys to become able-bodied. We consider that the Kharkov oblast administration and Kharkov city council could find finances to medically examine 50 boys and send them to proper sanitariums for cure and rehabilitation, and thus avoid the shame of directing dystrophic youths to the army.

In general, as one can see from the comparative tables, the choice by medical characteristics has improved, which testifies that members of the medical recruiting commissions understand that it unreasonable to send not-able-bodied recruits to the armed forces. If earlier any complaints at the state of health were estimated as an attempt to dodge the service, now most of such complaints are carefully checked. It follows from thew data that the number of recruits, who managed to conceal their diseases, has diminished, which also testifies on better examination. Lately medical commissions never refused the requests of the Union of soldiers’ mothers to additionally examine a recruit. Unfortunately, cases are known when the medical inspection was careless and dishonest. It especially concerns those, who have allergies. In some medical establishments the personnel takes money from recruits and their parents for analyses. We consider it inadmissible. In some expert medical departments and laboratories the quality of the medical equipment is inadequate. So, neurologic examinations made in city hospital No. 20 and the medical department of ‘Turboatom’ plant are often unconfirmed by additional examinations in medical establishments of higher level. TB dispensary No. 1 has no equipment for the needed biochemical inspections at all. All the listed drawbacks worsen medical examination of recruits.

To illustrate, we shall list several examples. Private Ya., called by Moskovskiy district recruiting commission (DRC) of Kharkov, spent his first months of service in hospital: painful osteochondritis of the rib-case, scoliosis. Private P. came to his military unit without completing his treatment of acute pneumonia; private T. Came to the place of service on 20 December 2000 with the remaining phenomena of the cerebral brain trauma that he got on 23 November 2000. They both had to stay at a hospital to rehabilitate. Could the commission wait a little until the boys got healthy, and they call them to the army?

It is also disturbing that some boys (about 8%) turned to medics at once after arrival in their units. They complained at catching cold and disordered stomach, which testifies of improper conditions either at assembly points or during the transportation. All this requires additional studies.

The sick may not be called to the army. They cannot serve properly, they become objects of dedovshchina, they desert of commit suicides. The call of mentally abnormal youths is especially dangerous: the danger threatens not only them personally, bit also people near them. That is why the data from tables 5 and 6 cause alarm. For example, private S., called by Kharkovskiy DRC, suffers from schizophrenia, privates S. (Leninskiy DRC) and B. (Dergachevskiy DRC) have suicidal attempts in the anamnesis, private V. (Vovchanskiy DRC) suffers from enuresis. Viacheslav S. was demobilized from the army according to Article 14б ‘Psychotic and non-psychotic psychic disorders caused by organic damage of the cerebral brain accompanied by moderate psychic disturbances’.

Many respondents of ours note that the number of recruits, who have not finished secondary schools, is growing. Some of the recruits have not finished even middle grades, have criminal records, take or took narcotic drugs. ‘The work of the commission of studying moral and working features, professional and physiological selection showed that 36% of young soldiers have 4 group of neuro-psychic stability, 22% are related to the ‘risk group’ since they have suicidal inclinations, 8% have criminal records... Servicemen having behavioral deviations and related to the risk group undergo individual psychological work, the control over their activities is increased...’ – writes the commander of a military unit. How easier the work of officers would have been, if only physically and psychically healthy recruits had got to the army! The officers could have concentrated their efforts on the proper military training of the subordinates.

One of the letters from officers we want to quote almost fully: ‘... 161 recruits from Kharkov and the Kharkov oblast were sent to our unit. Upon the whole, we are satisfied with them. Most of them are able to fulfil fully their service duties; moral and physical conditions of recruits-Kharkovites make them adjustable for the military profession and joining the collective. However the social and economic problems of our society are characteristic of these recruits too. More than 40 recruits grew in incomplete families, 10 – in unfavorable families, 15 – tasted narcotic drags before the army. They had problems with their elementary military training at schools and other educational establishments. These and other problems mentioned in the questionnaire must be taken into account by recruiting commissions’. Some other letters also note the low level of the recruits’ calisthenics and the level of pre-army training.

We have received encouraging answers too, as in the previous poll. For example, the officer from a training military unit wrote: ‘The fact that 80% of Kharkov recruits could pass the test of their moral and physical features and can fulfil their duties in serving with arms is a proof of the high-quality preparation to military service and positive motivation for mastering military arts. Recruits from Kharkov serving in our unit showed the best result compared to recruits from other regions of Ukraine’.

On the one hand, it is pleasing to know that recruits from Kharkov and the Kharkov oblast are somewhat better prepared for army than youths for other regions, but, on the other hand, why to call to the army people, who may not be entrusted weapons? After the previous polls we came to the conclusion that 18-20% of recruits are unable fulfil fully their military duties. This one fifth does make the risk group, which serves as nutrient medium for dedovshchina, suicides and desertions. The fact that the state in other regions is even worse does not console us. One must not refer to ‘social and economic problems’. Yes, we have difficulties, but they will not disappear if 800-100 persons per year are excluded from the economic life and sent to the army, where they are useless at best, or dangerous at worst. In general, the dedovshchina in the army reflects in civil life and then returns back to the army. This chain reaction should be broken, for which bot the army and the society as a whole should be invigorated.

We believe that our previous report that was sent to the Ministry of defense, Kharkov oblast recruiting commission and Kharkov city council was accepted by the corresponding authorities with comprehension. The Kharkov city council held a session, at which the participants listened to the report ‘On the state of training of youth of pre-army and army age of Kharkov for the service in the armed forces of Ukraine’ and approved the decision about the improvement of such training. Kharkov city educational department distributed in schools the brochures for future recruits and their parents. The brochure was compiled the Kharkov Union of soldiers’ mothers. Representatives of our NGO were included into recruiting commissions with the right to advise. All this confirms that the Kharkov authorities’ attitude to the recruiting problems is responsible, and that they are ready to cooperate with NGOs.

Almost every family is connected with army problems in this way or another, so such problems worry the whole society. So it is not surprising the Union of soldiers’ mothers is a rather important organization in Ukraine.

The Kharkov oblast Union of soldiers’ mothers insists on the creation of the professional army in Ukraine. Yet, while the common military duty exists, we shall insist on the proper choice of recruits: only physically and mentally healthy and properly trained youths must get to the armed forces.
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