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East Germany

Conditions of Service

The NVA may be a people's army, but in early 1987 it was not a classless army. It had a precise classification by rank group, and a superior-subordinate or senior-junior relationship that would be familiar to those experienced with the distribution of authority in Western armies. Basically, service personnel were broken down into soldiers, NCOs, warrant officers, officers, and generals.

Service in the NVA is defined as conscript service, term service, or career service. Conscripts are draftee privates who serve eighteen months. Term privates and NCOs usually enlist for three years but may choose to serve for up to ten years. Term enlisted personnel can be promoted to the rank of sergeant or its equivalent. Term officers serve at the pleasure of the Ministry of Defense and can be promoted to the grade of captain or its equivalent. Career NCOs serve at least ten years or until they reach the age of retirement. Warrant officers serve for at least fifteen years; career officers, for a minimum of twenty-five years.

The pay scale in the NVA is according to rank. Special bonuses are given for outstanding performance, and additional pay is given for certain functions and for those serving in the Border Troops or airspace security work. There was a 25 percent increase in military pay in 1982. Military pay is exempt from income taxes or social security requirements. Additionally, upon completion of service, career service personnel are guaranteed a position in the civilian sector with pay that at least equals that received in the NVA.

The average daily ration prescribes 4,200 calories per day. Border Troops receive a supplemental ration, as do flight personnel and personnel at sea. In all, there are ten different ration scales. As in the Soviet Army, mess personnel procure much of the ration from the local economy, and units often supplement the ration by cultivating gardens.

Most basic training is conducted within the unit to which the soldier is assigned. The Border Troops and certain naval personnel are taught in centralized special training units. An extensive network of educational institutions exists for improving the technical specialties of NCOs and officers, and with only a few exceptions, those of senior rank are sent to schools in the Soviet Union.

The training program in the NVA focuses upon two goals: political reliability and technical competence. The remainder of the training effort emphasizes developing technical skills to employ, maintain, or repair equipment. Particularly within the Air Force, Air Defense Force, and the People's Navy, officers must become proficient in the Russian language. The NVA training program not only serves the traditional function of improving the performance of units and individuals but also is an important tool for disciplining the people and teaching citizenship. In this way, the NVA fulfills its role as a "school of socialism."

The NVA takes seriously its responsibilities for regulating and disciplining military personnel. In 1982, following passage of the new Military Service Law, these responsibilities were increased. The new law expressly stated that disciplined behavior was the duty of all military personnel. As before, the commander was held responsible for maintaining discipline among his subordinates. Commanding officers from the level of division commander up were given the right to reduce a subordinate in rank, and the already extensive system of reward and punishment was enlarged further. New disciplinary units were instituted, where those being punished typically spend one to three months. This extreme penalty was intended for enlisted personnel and NCOs who did not respond to less stringent disciplinary measures.

Data as of July 1987