It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
VOLGOGRAD, Russia—Sergei Fetisov, a 23-year-old welder, signed on for one of the most ambitious projects in Vladimir Putin's Russia: rebuilding the remains of the once-mighty Soviet Red Army.
A cornerstone of that effort was the creation of special combat-ready units staffed entirely by professional soldiers, not conscripts. Mr. Fetisov volunteered to be one of them. He enlisted for a renewable three-year stint, enticed by higher pay and the chance to learn new skills.
One of his first tasks, he recalls, was toiling past midnight shoveling snow and ice from a football-field-size parade ground. The work that followed was menial, humiliating and of little practical use, he says. Combat training consisted of two firing exercises a year, he says, and a chunk of his paycheck was routinely withheld by corrupt officers.