The results of public polls conducted show that society supports reform of the military. The transition to a contract-based army began with the creation of experimental brigades in which every single military person must be a professional. Such brigades were created in the Air Force and the Army. The Navy will also be made up of sailors on a contract basis, for example, the crew of the Kostyantyn Olshanskiy and the marines. The headquarters of these departments and some special recruitment centers are looking for candidates for the military on a contract basis. The situation is rather complicated: more than half of the “work places” in the army given to military personnel on a contract basis are vacant. This year, the number of contract-based military personnel is even less than a year ago.
The main reason for the discontent of potential staff in the military is first and foremost the low level of financial rewards. As a rule, the salary of a contract-based soldier in our army starts at approximately 65 euro a month. The marines are under constant physical pressure throughout the entire day, can make approximately 125 euro a month. Meanwhile, a “civilian” waitress in a military cafe can make a little bit over 135 euro per month and a cook in the same cafe – around 165 euro. A young officer that just graduated from a military school can earn approximately the same amount of money.
Further, candidates for contract-based military service must first pay about 35-45 euro just to submit their documents and have them correctly processed. Military specialists say that many decide not to continue the service by not signing a new contract or they quit before the end of their term of service, because that are not satisfied with the social package, namely, poor living conditions and the absence of social benefits. In the opinion of military personnel, many problems can be resolved if the recruiting companies looking for contract-based soldiers would provide all the necessary information about the conditions of the service in advance.
The Law of Ukraine about the overall strength of the Armed Forces of Ukraine for 2006 defines that the total number of personnel serving in the Armed Forces is 221,000; among them 165,000 are military personnel and the remainder are civilians. Approximately 35,000 of military service personnel are enlisted on a contract basis. The share of contract-based military personnel continues to gradually rise.
General Vadim Hrechaninov,
President of the Atlantic Council of Ukraine:
“The Ukrainian army will become more efficient after the transition to a contract-based service. In many respects it can be explained by the fact that our society is transitioning to a market economy and our army should undergo similar transition since it is an integral part of our society. The key figures in the process of making our army professional should be professional sergeants.
The sergeant’s role in the army of western countries (such as the U.S. and others) is totally different from the Soviet army. We need to change the sergeant’s role and his place in our army and make that role contract based instead of mandatory service on a draft basis. It is commendable that the leadership of the ministry of defense and the general headquarters understand these problems and are willing (and partially have the means) to resolve them.”