Military education reform in Belarus to take into account regional threats
Belarus aims to step up the training of military officers, and provide the highest possible practical insight. This will require a major reform of the entire military education system and a large-scale human resource upgrade. Own efficient power potential may become the only factor, which could help ensuring Belarus’ neutrality.
On October 19th, 2016, President Lukashenka instructed the Defence Minister and the Security Council Secretary of State to review the system of officers’ training to meet the Belarusian army’s needs.
After the regional security crisis started in 2014, Minsk made proper conclusions from the Russo-Ukrainian war and undertook steps to strengthen the national defence and security. Initially, these measures focused on combat training, improving the organisation system and technical re-equipment (as far as finances permitted). Now Belarus is talking about the basics, i.e. training of officers. The president said that the existing military education system was not adapted to the modern warfare requirements.
In particular, President Lukashenka emphasised problems with the teaching staff, implying there should be no place for teachers with no practical experience or little experience in combat units. That said, such teachers make a lion’s share of the teaching staff, if not most. In addition, the president requested to put main emphasis on practical knowledge and training of future officers, which could be applicable in a real combat situation. Achieving this without upgrading the teaching staff is impossible.
Training is the basis for any system as it lays the foundations for its efficiency. Apparently, due to the crisis of the regional security system, the Belarusian authorities are transforming the national defence organisation. The Belarusian authorities do not count on the de-escalation of the confrontation between Russia and the West and Ukraine in the near future. Moreover, such confrontation could grow into a military conflict. Minsk has repeatedly emphasised its desire to maintain equidistance from the parties to a potential conflict, should it develop. That said, having own effective power potential could become the only factor, which could ensure the neutrality of Belarus.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.