Professional army: motives, benefit, risks, IPN debate

A week ago, the Democratic Party of Moldova, as the party responsible for governance, took the political decision to renounce mandatory military service. The place of recruits will be taken by professional service members employed by contract. The issued press statement reveals two motives for the cardinal reform of the National Army. One is that the Army cannot offer the young recruits conditions for solid training and decent living conditions. The second is that corruption is deep rooted in the enrolment system and causes serious moral, social, deontological and other kinds of problems. These and other motives and the benefits and risks of this initiative were discussed by participants in the public debate “Professional army: motives, benefit, risks” that was staged by IPN News Agency and Radio Moldova.

ADEPT executive director Igor Botan, standing expert of IPN’s project, said the implementation of such a reform during two years is an interesting, but very difficult initiative and a series of instruments are needed for successfully implementing it, including the national security strategy that is an all-inclusive document, the national defense strategy and the military doctrine. As to the national security strategy, there are disagreements between the supreme commander of the national army, the President and the government. The President decided to renounce the strategy worked out under the aegis of his predecessors and this is worrisome.

Last year, the Government adopted the defense strategy of the Republic of Moldova, which was accompanied by a plan of action that covered a period of almost ten years. But this says nothing about the annulment of the mandatory military service. This generates concern. As to the military doctrine that was adopted in 1995, many things have changed since then. The Constitutional Court judgment of May 2, 2017 says that the Republic of Moldova has an occupied territory, but no new law that would take into account these realities was adopted since then. The principal documents weren’t adjusted and this is a problem. Also, the constitutional provisions say it clearly that the country’s defense is a duty and an obligation of every citizen and these provisions had to be taken into account. “So, there are many conflicting features, plus the article on the supreme commander that is somehow fully removed from this process,” noted Igor Botan.

Anatolie Prohnitski, chairman of the Green Ecologist Party, who is a career military man, said the Democratic Party’s initiative is late and half-populist, but is also slightly real. The political matters prevail over professionalism in defense. “We have no strategy and no concept – what we do, how we struggle and with who? It is an anachronism when we have to train an 18-year-old boy conscripted into the army and make a real defender of him during a year. This is impossible and I know it from experience. He only starts to get used and has to leave. He takes part in military exercises, but it is not known who will resist on the battlefield,” he said.

Anatolie Prohnitski also said that this initiative is half-populist because parliamentary elections are to take place towards the end of 2018. The initiative was launched, but it is not known who will win the elections and what the fate of this initiative will be. A party works out strategies, but there is no national strategy that would be obeyed and implemented by everyone. “As regards the professional army, this should have been created long ago and the actions in eastern Ukraine, the occupation by Russia of the Crimean peninsula and the presence of the Russian occupation army in the Republic of Moldova without any reason prove this,” he stated.

Ex-minister of defense Victor Gaiciuc said it is clear for everyone that the professional army implies larger costs than the mixed army or the army with mandatory military service. “On the one hand, they say there is not enough money for the current army. On the other hand, they intend to build a more expensive army. They either cheat or really want a modern, numerically optimal well-trained army that would cope with the requirements. This is now worrisome as the dangers increase. I would like to know how the reform will be financed and from what sources. Can the costs for the national army be increased from 03% of the GDP to 0.6% next year and to 1% in a year, as in all the European states?” asked the ex-minister of defense.

According to him, it is also not clear how the reserve will be formed. “As a military man, I know that the military actions imply losses. I ask myself how will these losses be filled? If it is about military actions, these require the army to be increased. There are also such aspects as financing, the reserve and that incompatibility of the legislation, the Constitution and all the laws that provide now that each citizen should defend the homeland,” stated Victor Gaiciuc, noting that the Republic of Moldova is a neutral state and Switzerland is a very good example where each citizen is obliged to do the military service.

Viorel Cibotaru, ex-minister of defense, said it is a classic example when a party that has the right to initiate political projects and reforms announces a political decision that wasn’t sufficiently discussed in society and over which no transparent feasibility study was made. “This is a populist proposal and it will not be implemented as it cannot be implemented in the way in which it was presented in an electoral year, before the election campaign. It has exactly two targets – the mothers of soldiers who are worried about the state of their sons who do the military service and those young men who do not want to serve in the National Army for various reasons and want to shirk responsibility,” he stated.

The former minister noted the pre-military training of boys who turn 16 is essential. As essential are the military registration of citizens and the formation of the reserves. It is a pre-established objective process and the attempt by some protagonists to present these aspects as reminiscences of the Soviet Union is simply hazardous as most of the countries preserved conscription. The states that faced social problems like those invoked by the PDM solved them by other ways. For example, they diversified the conscription methods.

The Secretary General of State at the Ministry of Defense Radu Burduja confirmed his participation in the debate, but in the morning of March 28 announced he cannot come for health reasons.

The public debate “Professional army: motives, benefit, risks” was the 88th installment of the series of debates “Developing political culture by public debates” that are staged with support from the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany.

  • anatolie prohnitchi despre initiativa pdm.mp3
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  • viorel cibotaru despre initiativa pdm.mp3
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