Madrid region, July 12 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian defense minister said Tuesday that Russia could draw on the experience of Spain when switching to a professional army.
"We are studying Spain's experience of switching to a professional army and will continue to bear it in mind," Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said at a press conference in Spain. He added that Spain's experience could be useful for Russia because both countries had similar problems with their armies.
Ivanov said that over 100,000 Spanish soldiers had been given contracts and that the Spanish army no longer had any conscripts. The minister said that he had met with Spanish generals to discuss the switch to a professional army.
"As I have understood it, problems remained even after the switch to contracts," the minister said. The problems included low salaries in comparison to the civilian sector and the shortage of specialists with advanced technical training.
"Therefore providing contracts will not solve all the army's problems," the minister said. But employing professional soldiers would still improve the armed forces, he added.
The Russian Defense Ministry plans to have about 280,000 soldiers on contracts, or 50% of personnel, by January 1, 2008.
A total of 40 units and formations, or 42,200 men, will be on contract by the end of 2005.