The National Interest (USA): why Russia imposed a limit on the number of military awards a soldier can wear

During the cold war, the Russians loved to joke about the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, the main form which just “languishing” from the weight of 114 awards and medals, which he had either been awarded, or awarded himself:

You have heard that Brezhnev will soon be done surgery? He will expand the chest, to have room for new awards.

What if Brezhnev is eaten by a crocodile? The crocodile will be two weeks to spoil orders.

And the Soviet generals were not very modesty on the part of the awards. The chest of the Marshal during the Second world war, Georgy Zhukov was, in fact, hidden behind the Shine of metal, although, unlike Brezhnev, this legendary military leader awards were earned.

Today, the Russian commanders behave more modestly in relation to the awards. However, as reported by Russian media, some officers wear so many medals that the soldiers jokingly called their “iconography”, like the walls in the Orthodox Church, decorated with icons and other images.

Therefore, in 2019, the Soviet military introduced a new rule: on dress uniforms can be worn more than 10 awards.

“The soldiers will be able to place two bars on the left side of his jacket, only ten state awards and medals, as well as other departmental heraldic signs, — reported the Russian newspaper “Izvestia”. — Wearing the dress uniform civilian awards and symbols of public associations shall be prohibited. This innovation will become a way of dealing with the “iconostasis” as they jokingly referred to as soldiers. A large number of unknown awards have given rise to skepticism about their owners, that is not the best way affects the image of the Armed forces.”

The newspaper “news” drew attention to a more modest uniform of the Minister of defence Sergei Shoigu: “the defense Minister is the holder of several dozen decorations and medals he had received for his years of work in high places, and he gave a personal example for their subordinates. On may 9 parade Sergei Shoigu appeared in his tunic, on which there were only two of a number of the most important awards and medals. In addition to “Gold Star” of Hero of Russia on his dress uniform was the Order of Alexander Nevsky, the order “For personal courage” and other high awards”.

It is much smaller collection of awards on his chest Brezhnev, who was assigned to the awards of the Second world war his son-in-law, who was only five years old at the time when it was possible to earn (Brezhnev himself was a Commissioner during the Second world war). Samararatne that the late Soviet leader was so glaring that in 1989, seven years after the death of Leonid Brezhnev, the Soviet government stripped him of his order of “Victory”, the highest military award of the Soviet Union.

You can compare this with Robert Howard (Robert Lewis Howard), a veteran of the Vietnam war and a soldier that has the highest number of awards. The chest of Howard, who retired with the rank of Colonel and died in 2010, was also decorated with lots of medals from him, to be precise, there were 88 awards, including “Medal of Honor” (Medal of Honor), as well as an amazing number of medals Purple heart (Purple Heart) — eight. In fact, Howard could get six more medals “Purple heart” for combat wounds, but “he told his superiors that the six wounds were not serious enough and don’t deserve medals,” and therefore, as stated in one news report, “he refused these awards.”

Michael peck is a regular contributor to the magazine National Interest.