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9 Jan, 2010 02:03

New Ryazan Airborne School - for those ready to take the jump

Training of professional sergeants becomes one of the main priorities as Russia is reforming its army. A new airborne school welcomes young men who come here after a very tough competition to become one of the best.

Even the heavy frost doesn't stop parachute training at the new Ryazan Airborne School. Future professional sergeants practice landing, falling and altitude recognition for hours, even in minus 25 °C. The young cadets know what military discipline is – they've already served in the Army.

Stanislav Chaika is a cadet whose grandfather was a squadron command officer, so even as a child he knew he'd follow in these footsteps.

“Look around you – what could you possibly dislike here? New emotions, all extreme. Pure adrenaline!” Chaika said.

The new school is well equipped; the modern laser simulators are almost as real as field training. The only difference is that the ammunition is electronic, although these cadets knew how to handle real ammo before coming here.

Lieutenant Roman Ermakov claims it’s easier to work with cadets who've already been in the Army.

“Their level is higher,” Ermakov siad. “They have an army soldier's command of theory, and here they'll learn much more.”

With Russia's military reform in full swing, the focus is shifting to raising the number of professional sergeants. Experienced career sergeants will be able to quickly and effectively train contract soldiers and conscripts.

Igor Ivanov, the Training Center Director, asserts there is no problem with employment for those who finish the institution.

“After finishing this school, cadets will get the rank of junior sergeants and will be able to work in different divisions of the Russian Army,” Ivanov stated. “After 2 months of training, most of them already know where they'll serve.”

8 hours of classes daily – the future young sergeants will not only have to train conscripts, but also understand them. To do this, they learn the basics of psychology. Other theoretical subjects include tactics, mathematics and foreign languages. And there's a strong incentive to be the best. The salary, higher than in other Russian military schools, will be performance-based.

All 248 cadets studying here are contract soldiers. The competition to get in this first year was extremely high. Only one out of 35 young men who applied to this school had the chance to study here.

After three years of training and study, their contract obliges them to serve in the army as junior sergeants for another 3 years.

They are then free to plan their career as they wish. But it's a poor soldier who never wants to become a general, and many are already thinking about higher education.

“I studied in a technical college before I was called up. Afterwards, I realized I wanted to become a military professional,” Cadet Vyacheslav Bogdanov told RT. He dreams of becoming an officer.

“If this doesn't happen, I will continue working as a contract sergeant,” the cadet added.