From the editor: from time to time we receive letters from readers to our address. Since they contain quite interesting questions, having accumulated a certain amount, we decided to transfer them to the jurisdiction of one of the authors of the site. Alexander Staver (domokl) was appointed as a volunteer.
At first glance, the question is simple. And the answer is also simple. In the USSR, there was no contractual recruitment system for the army. This means that there could be no contract servicemen as such.
But there were servicemen in the Soviet Army, who even then could be called contract soldiers. I mean super-conscripts and warrant officers. However, with the proliferation of the institution of warrant officers, there were almost no conscripts left in the army. Military musicians could be an exception. The sergeants remained there, but this is really an exception. So only warrant officers can be classified as contract soldiers (with a stretch).
They really did not even have a secondary specialized military education. Most often they were people with a civilian secondary technical or secondary special. Some of them didn't even have that. They graduated from the school of warrant officers in the military districts.
Extra-conscripts and warrant officers wrote reports on their enrollment in active military service for a period of 3-5 years. And after being awarded the title, they occupied the positions that were intended for them. Most often these are chiefs of warehouses, foremen of divisions, chiefs of canteens, etc. In special units, conscripts and warrant officers could be instructors in a certain type of combat training. In the future, the contract was extended.
I will allow myself to expand the topic of the article a little. A little more about ensigns. From the point of view of a Soviet officer. Purely personal opinion, without claims to general knowledge.
Warrant officers and conscripts of the Soviet Army are people of a special warehouse. A sort of layer between the army (officers) and civilians. He seems to be wearing a uniform, but something is wrong in him. A sort of army caretaker. That is why warrant officers still take the place of "Chukchi" or "Chapaev" in army jokes. Almost as popular.
The fact is that for an ensign, his rank is the ceiling. A senior warrant officer is nothing more than a reward for length of service or for some kind of merit in combat operations, or on combat duty. This title did not give any (except for a meager surcharge of 10 rubles) privileges. And only a few became officers.
And the position held by the ensign almost never changed. Places of service could change, even military districts. But the majority had their own position. The chief of the company rarely moved to the head of the warehouse. Although he dreamed of such a position. And vice versa.
In general, it seems to me that in order to become an ensign, you need to have a special character. A kind of hard worker without ambition and special ideas in his head. Involvement in army property does not allow him to "starve to death." And he doesn't need more. He proudly carries the high rank of "warrant officer" until retirement and is very reluctant to go into the reserve.
But ensign instructors are a special case. These are fans of their craft. Fanatics and masters. They even went to warrant officers for the sake of their favorite business. They don't care about titles. They don't care about anything. If only to be always in business. It is a pleasure to communicate and study with such people.
Sometimes instructors were forced to become platoon commanders for a while. More rigid commanders than this category still needed to be looked for.Fanatics demanded fanaticism from ordinary soldiers.
At the same time, the ensign is nevertheless closer to the soldier. Not like the sergeant, but still. The chief of the company, no matter how strict he may seem, is more a caring dad for a soldier than a commander. And the ensign's lack of ambition smoothes out their relationship.
And now about the question. So could a contract sergeant have fought in Afghanistan? Fight as a BMP driver? Alas, this could not be. For two reasons.
First. Paradoxical as it may sound today, the best were sent to Afghanistan. In the units and formations of the Soviet Army, there was a special selection of officers and warrant officers for service in the 40th Army. It was the ensigns who were sent to the posts of warrant officers.
And the second one. There were no training units on the territory of Afghanistan. This means that instructors were not needed there. The overwhelming majority of the soldiers who served in the 40th Army were trained in two parts. One in Termez, the other on Kushka. Driver mechanics as well.
Today, several decades after the Afghan war, people often appear who "fought" there. The same happens with the veterans of the Great Patriotic War. Unknown "heroes of the Chechen campaign" appear in the same way. I don't want to write about "disabled heroes" who ask for money at crossroads. This is the wrong side of our people's attitude to the soldier. No matter what they say about the soldier's service, no matter how they frighten the boys with the army, the attitude towards the soldier in Russia is reverent and respectful. Probably, the genetic memory of the people is triggered. And the memory of their soldier ancestors.
And the "Afghans" themselves and the veterans of other wars contribute to the appearance of these fake soldiers. What pseudo-awards have not been invented over the past time! Go to any "Voentorg". More precisely, a store selling military attributes. That is why I see ensembles of "former" ones with a bunch of "awards" on the streets. From "For Courage on Salanga" to "Order of Stalin". Sometimes it becomes just disgusting.
So, most likely, dear Nikolai, you just had to listen to the story of a not very clean person.