"There are both objective and subjective difficulties in this process," Sergei Ivanov said.
Two new infantry brigades on the border with Georgia will be formed from contract soldiers, the minister said. One brigade will be stationed in Daghestan (a republic bordering on Chechnya) and the other in the North Caucasus republic of Karachayevo-Cherkessia. Ivanov said the brigades would provide assistance to Russian border guards.
According to him, the personnel will receive special training, including alpine training.
A Thursday meeting of North Caucasus military district commanders discussed the transfer to a contract army and how officers viewed contract soldiers, Ivanov said.
Ivanov said the North Caucasus district was the country's biggest military district and had more men on constant alert than any of its counterparts. Contract soldiers will man these units as part of efforts to halve conscription by 2008, Ivanov said.