The Ethnic Factor in the Soviet Armed Forces

The Muslim Dimension

by Thomas S. Szayna

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Open ethnic conflict has swept the entire Soviet Union during the last few years. The Muslims already have had a powerful negative impact on the efficiency of the Soviet military. This report examines the Muslim dimension of the ongoing ethnonational ferment affecting the Soviet armed forces. In particular, it analyzes the impact of the rapidly increasing Muslim cohort on the cohesion of the Soviet military by focusing on factors affecting the ability and reliability of Muslim servicemen today. Problems such as language deficiencies, trainability, and socialization are discussed in detail, as are efforts by the military leadership to ameliorate them. The author critiques some earlier methods for dealing with the subject and considers the implications of the ethnic ferment for armed forces reform.

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