Military Service in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

Military Service in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics


a type of state service consisting of the performance by citizens of military duties in units and institutions of the armed forces. Military service is an honorable duty of Soviet citizens (USSR Constitution, art. 133). The manner of enlistment, the tour, and the length of military service are regulated by the Law on Universal Military Obligation of Oct. 12, 1967, and by other legal documents.

Military service consists of active duty—that is, duty in military units, ship crews, and institutions and at installations of the armed forces of the USSR—and reserve service, which involves periodic attendance at short-term training and testing meetings. Persons who are on active military duty are called military servicemen (voennosluzhashchie), whereas persons who are in the reserve are called reservists (voennoobiazannye).

On the basis of the legal foundations of enlistment for military service, its term, and the legal position of servicemen, the following forms of active duty military service are distinguished: regular-term service of soldiers, seamen, sergeants, and warrant officers during the periods of time established by law; extended service of soldiers, seamen, sergeants, and warrant officers who have expressed a desire to remain on active duty beyond the time periods established by law; the service of reserve officers from the number of individuals not older than 30 years of age who are drafted for two to three years of active duty for employment in officer positions; and the service of officers, generals, and admirals, who have voluntarily selected military service as their occupation. During peacetime women (unmarried women and childless women between the ages of 19 and 25 and physically fit) may be accepted on a volunteer basis for two years to substitute for soldiers, seamen, sergeants, and warrant officers in certain auxiliary positions.

Extended service is an additional source for supplying the armed forces with sergeants, warrant officers, and rankand-file specialists; servicemen and reservists are accepted for extended service if they are flawlessly disciplined and have a perfect knowledge of their specialization.

Enlistment for extended service is done voluntarily by signed statement or contract for periods of two, four, or six years. Those enlisted for extended service by contract include regular-term soldiers, seamen, sergeants, and warrant officers who have served in the armed forces for at least half of the period of active (regular) duty established by law and who have given a promise to serve in specialist positions for at least four additional years after the day that their contemporaries who have served out their regular term of active duty are discharged into the reserve. Officers, generals, and admirals are on active military service until they reach the maximum age established by law for their rank. Where necessary some of them may remain on active military duty for an additional period of up to five years.

All military servicemen have military ranks; relationships of subordination and seniority and the rights of servicemen to various types of allowances, to state support, and to privileges are established on the basis of these ranks and the functions corresponding to them.


Osnovy sovetskogo voennogo zakonodatel’stva. Moscow, 1966.
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