Russian Soldiers Still Unfit – Shoigu

File Photo of Russian Military Conscripts Boarding Train with Gear

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, June 3, 2013) ­ The physical fitness of Russia’s soldiers remains inadequate due to the poor state of recruits and shoddy training, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Monday.

The Defense Ministry has tried recently to improve physical training in the Russian army and navy, with more time allocated to physical exercise, Shoigu said at a ministry conference call. It has also introduced the post of physical training instructor and created a system for selecting and deploying the necessary specialists, and is also offering additional pay for high physical fitness, he added.

“However, despite these measures that are being taken, its level [physical fitness] remains insufficient,” Shoigu said, adding the problem was due to the weak physical condition of draftees and obsolete infrastructure for physical exercises.

The Russian armed forces must improve sports infrastructure, change their approach to financing the physical training system and sports as a whole, improve physical training instruction, and develop and introduce applied military sports like army biathlon, military orienting, mountain triathlon and special rapid shooting, he said.

The forces should also hold annual mass competitions among servicemen in professionally significant sports, he said.

He also called on the participants at Monday’s meeting to devise measures “to improve the system that makes servicemen physically ready for the accomplishment of combat and other missions.”