Defense Ministry to improve conscripts’ preparedness through military lessons in schools

RIA Novosti / Igor Zarembo
Suggested amendments to the Law on Defense would make it compulsory for all Russian boys over 15 to attend “military sports” lessons, which would include shooting and knife combat.

Defense Ministry officials who prepared the bill said after the term of military service had been decreased from two years to one, officers find it more difficult to bring conscripts up to the required standards.

They suggest that physically fit kids should undergo basic military training before their conscription age (in Russia it is 18 years).

For this, they propose including “practical military sports,” in the school program, such as target and practical shooting, military pentathlon, combat with knives and karate.

The authors of the draft also noted that introducing military lessons in schools would help future soldiers to improve not only their physical fitness, but also their morale and will. Besides, pre-service training would relieve the stress applied to fresh conscripts and help decrease the number of soldiers who get injured or sick in the first months of service.

Defense Ministry research attached to the bill indicates doctors examined 270,000 conscripts between 2007 and 2014 and found that in some years up to 73 percent of them were not in a satisfactory state of health. However, officials from the Moscow city conscription office said in comments to the Izvestia daily that in the latest draft only 15 percent of conscripts were deemed unfit for service.

READ MORE: Nationalist MP wants return of military training in secondary schools

Lessons on basic military training existed in the Soviet school program and were obligatory for both boys and girls. However, these lessons were replaced with “basic life safety” in modern Russia.

In June last year, MP Roman Khudyakov of the nationalist LDPR party asked Defense and Education ministers to reinstate military training in schools, claiming that the move would increase the conscripts’ preparedness to service and counter draft dodging.

President Vladimir Putin also backed the initiative in 2010 along with the idea to bring back the DOSAAF – a nationwide system of military-technical clubs that used to give teenagers a taste of military-related professions, including aviation.