As part of its latest military reform and expansion, Russia will raise the draft age from 18 to 21.
I wrote in October that since Putin has decided that 18-year-old conscripts are politically undeployable it makes no sense to keep them in the army:
It is difficult to see why the draft is going ahead at all. Logically conscripts should have been committed to war from day 1, before the mobilization was even decreed. But since Putin has now decreed mobilization, but maintains that serving conscripts remain non-deployable they have become dead weight.
The capacity of any military to equip, train and integrate men is limited. Especially in short order and on a budget. Every conscript is taking up training ground capacity, instructor time, equipment, weapon, and a slot in an existing unit that could have gone to a mobik, but only one of the two is actually deployable.
If Russia is in a war (is she??), it is pointless for her to be inducting into the military masses of personnel who are a priori banned from the war. Especially when those who are deployed are short of everything.
If Putin insists that conscripts are non-deployable (an absurd stance) then they don’t have a role in the military. At least for the heavily pressured land combat arms, if they can not be part of the rotation then there is very little rationale to spend resources on them. Logic dictates that draft ought to be suspended indefinitely and the freed-up resources spent on mobiki.
Instead of abolishing mandatory military service, Moscow will make the draft kick in at 21 years of age. This will produce conscript soldiers that are politically more deployable than the current crop of 18-year-olds.
However, the vast majority of current 21-year-olds have already served when they were 18 or 19 and can’t be recalled for a 2nd term. So even in theory, this reform can’t kick in for at least 3 more years when the present unrecruited 17 and 18-year-olds turn 21.
In practice it will take even longer. RUMOD says the age will be raised gradually — because the military doesn’t want to go 3 years with zero conscripts.
For example, if each class is retained for 18 months, rather than the current 12, then each next class can be 6 months older than the previous.
So then in about 3 to 9 years, Russia will finally have a conscript corps that Putin is politically comfortable using in Ukraine.
Better late than never?
VVP has been in power for 23 years. Donbass War started 8 years ago. And the Ukraine War 1 year ago.
Some might build an army ahead of a war. Putin started an “SMO”. Waited a year. Then started the reform that will produce an army for the SMO in 3 to 9 years.
The whole idea of having 250,000 trained conscripts integrated into your armed forces but then when the war comes having the units that will go to war expel them from their ranks and leave them at home is bizarre.
It is such a bizarre idea that in February when the first reports were coming in that the Russian military had gone in without its conscript component, I disregarded them. — Something that dumb was just too insane to believe.
It’s not until March that I tackle the conscript blunder head-on:
This conscript ban (if real) is yet another way in which Putin is hamstringing the military and thinking he can wage a halfway war.
There is actually something very disturbing about that. Putin’s thesis is that a Russian-Ukrainian war is a fratricidal war between brothers, between one and the same people even. So what excuse is there for Russia to not do everything in her power to create the overmatch that puts Ukraine out of its misery quickly?
What possible excuse can there be to juggle the needs of the war against trifles such as the state breaking its word to conscripts and their mothers? (A state that lies all the time BTW, as they all do.) All this seeming high-minded stuff Putin started the war with sounds nice enough on paper, but what it does in the real world is prolong the bloodletting and ultimately drives up the price for everyone involved.
If you are truly high-minded then just don’t escalate.
But if you do escalate, then do it the correct way — going all in and giving it your all.
No willful self-delusion. No drawing up of a plan that has the theoretical potential of delivering a near bloodless resolution, but that has nearly zero chance of actually panning out. (And leaves you maldeployed when it fails.) Draw a plan that is actually going to work in the real world that limits the loss of life as much as possible within the constraints of an actually workable, realistic plan.
Now that a year into the war Ukraine has doubled the size of its armed forces, and Russia has belatedly mobilized, whether 150,00 Russian conscripts in the land combat arms are deployed or not is something of a moot point. It won’t mean much either way.
But Moscow falling upon Ukraine in February with the 200,000 it brought, or with the 350,000 it could have brought, could have made a world of difference at the time. You’re talking about the difference between sending the Russian ground army to face roughly equal numbers and sending it to face half its number.
That’s the difference between setting up an early slugfest and setting up early victories that are almost trivially easy.
Do that and you’re entering 2023 in a completely different position with Kharkov and Zaporozhye in Russian encirclement, with Russia still having a bridgehead on the right bank, and with Nikolayev and Dnipro probably likewise encircled.
“Some might build an army ahead of a war” – Point taken – but Donald Rumsfeld famously said 20 years ago: ‘you go to war with the army you have, not the army you want to have”. And that worked out pretty well – for six months or so.
Will the Russian Federation even exist three years from now? Flip a coin …