http://edition.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/europe/03/04/offbeat.russia.beauty.reut/ MOSCOW, Russia (Reuters) -- Russian women soldiers strutted in uniform and took questions on army life Tuesday as they vied for the title of "Miss Epaulettes 2003," a beauty contest aimed at boosting the appeal of Russia's cash-strapped army. A Defense Ministry spokesman said 16 finalists, chosen from 90,000 female engineers, liaison officers and medical staff, had to show their military aptitude. "The aim is to make service in the armed forces more attractive," Colonel Vadim Tarasov of the Defense Ministry said. "We hope to promote the defense of the fatherland and to raise the prestige of army service." The winner will be announced on the eve of March 8, International Women's Day and a public holiday in Russia. Once the pride of the Soviet Union, Russia's million-strong army is chronically under-funded and plagued by desertions and reports of bullying among conscripts. Women, unlike men, are not subject to the military draft in Russia but can volunteer for service, though not for combat. I'm all for it..... When can we have a British Army Beauty Contest?