Soviet Union Table of Contents
The armed forces had a very low percentage of noncommissioned officers (NCOs) compared with other armies of the world and even fewer career NCOs. Soviet NCOs were essentially conscripts. At the time of induction, each voenkomat selected a few recruits to become NCOs. After training for from several weeks to six months, these new NCOs were assigned to units, but their authority over other conscripts was limited by their youth and inexperience. Moreover, because only 5 percent of Soviet military personnel were NCOs, junior commissioned officers had to perform many tasks assigned to sergeants in other countries' armies. The armed forces have made an effort to build a career NCO corps in order to retain needed skills, improve small unit leadership, and make a military career more attractive to conscripts. For example, in 1972 the Ministry of Defense instituted the NCO rank of warrant officer between the ranks of sergeant and junior officer. NCOs could also attend a six- to nine-month specialist course to become platoon commanders and company technicians.
Data as of May 1989