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> Romanian Army During the Cold War
BobM
Posted: November 25, 2003 10:55 pm
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Gents

I am interested in the Romanian Army during the cold war years, from the 50's to the 90's. In the west there is a tendancy to see it as a poor mans Soviet army, same organisation but worse weapons

Would anyone care to comment how the TO&E of the Romanain Army differed from that of the Russians?

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mabadesc
Posted: November 27, 2003 02:46 am
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Hmm...good question. Frankly, I'd like to learn more about it too. As a kid, I was under the impression that the communist Romanian Army was fairly strong in comparison with other Eastern bloc countries (such as Bulgaria, Hungary, etc...). However, I don't know if that was just propaganda being fed to me or whether it was real.

Given that Ceausescu was quite paranoid and nationalist, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Romania was pretty strong for a communist country of its size.
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Geto-Dacul
Posted: November 27, 2003 03:27 pm
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Yes, the Romanian Army was a strong one in the 60s and 70s, and even during the 80s. She was organized to be superior to both Hungary and Bulgaria together. The role of Romania was to be able to resist to a Hungarian-Bulgarian attack... In the 50s, the Soviets decided to reduce its size, but in the 60s with the new independent policy via Moscow, things got back to normal. Another very powerful tool was the Securitate... An army without a competent secret service can be beaten at any moment... And also, there were the "Patriotic Guards", who were deployed in critical situations... They consted of armed civilians, ready for guerilla war. Some 13 millions of those could be deployed, alongside the army.

During the Warsaw Pact intervention in Czechoslovakia, Ceausescu deployed Patriotic Guards and mobilized the entire army. And that time, we had China behind us...

At least during the 60s and the beginning of the 70s, the Romanian Army was a modern one, compatible with any Western army. With the economic crisis of the 80s (which BTW affected the entire world, not just Romania), there were less founds for modernization. But the Romanian Army was still superior to its Hungarian and Bulgarian neighbours... And it had also Tito's Yugoslavia (which had a serious army too) as ally.

Getu'
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PanzerKing
Posted: November 27, 2003 04:33 pm
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But was there a serious threat from Bulgaria & Hungary or was it just paranoia?
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mabadesc
Posted: November 27, 2003 05:18 pm
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Thanks for the info, Getu.
Panzerking, I'm inclined to say it was at least partial paranoia, because the Soviets "called the shots" in Eastern Europe anyway.

Having said that, however, there has always been a lot of tension between Romania and Hungary (I'm not trying to bash Hungary).

And there was also the issue of Soviet forces re-entering Romania and establishing military bases, which Ceausescu resisted vehemently.
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dead-cat
Posted: November 27, 2003 05:19 pm
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But was there a serious threat from Bulgaria & Hungary or was it just paranoia?

for a conspiracy theory fan, the most obvious thing in the world.
for me however, paranoia.

when things don't work you'll allways have to play the nationalistic card to keep the ppls focus from the real problems and a nationbased "us" and "them" is easily archived.
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Geto-Dacul
Posted: November 27, 2003 05:23 pm
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PanzerKing wrote :

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But was there a serious threat from Bulgaria & Hungary or was it just paranoia?


Theoretically, no. Because Hungary and Bulgaria were "socialist & friendly" nations... But reality showed something else. Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Bulgaria opened very large their doors to Gorbaciov's reforms... Those were the real Soviet satelites, not Romania, who continued to pursue its own policy. During the 80s, Hungary begun to re-formulate claims on Transylvanian Hungarians etc. In 1988, at a meeting with the Yugoslavian officials, Ceausescu was very shocked when he heard that the Yugoslavians were seeking too for some "territorial modifications" or "decentralization" of Romanian Banat... As for Bulgarians, they always remained quiet, and watched how things were going (if in their interests, they could have intervened too). Especially after the 1968 events (invasion of the Czechs by Warsaw Pact except Romania), Romania suffered a real psychological warfare.

Getu'
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mabadesc
Posted: November 27, 2003 08:13 pm
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I may be remembering things wrong, but right after the '89 revolution, weren't there some fears that Hungary might take advantage of the chaos in Romania and make a run for Transylvania? I'm thinking January, February of 1990.
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Dr_V
Posted: November 27, 2003 10:07 pm
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QUOTE
PanzerKing:

But was there a serious threat from Bulgaria & Hungary or was it just paranoia?


In my opinion it wasn't just paranoia. No actual armed conflicts started, but there was a tension, mostly with Hungary. What really prevented the real conflict was that the Soviets were pulling the strings in the area and they didn't want a conflict here.
At the Romanian Revolution it was a short period when Hungary could attack Romania, so in Transilvania county many units were kept in high allert till march '90. Fortunately the Hungarian leaders were wise enough to ignore the opinions of the Hungarian nationalists and other extremist fractions they had than.

You see, there are about 3 milion Hungarians in Romania, over 90% of them in Transilvania, where they make about 40% of the population. There are also more than half a milion Romanians in Hungary. You can imagine that such a population distribution does create some problems. But a very important thing to underline here is that the majority of the conflicts that happened throughout history between the 2 nations were started by external political interests or small groups of extremists that rised occasionally on one side or the other. The "historical dispute" between our 2 nations is more or less missunderstood history and propaganda.
Even now there are a few fools in both Romania and Hungary that live with this anachronic idea of nationalist conflict, but the large majority does not aprove their ideas. Maybe more than 99 of 100 ethnic Hungarians in Romania don't give a damn about those ideas and consider themselves Romanian citisen, being rather proud of that. The same is valid regarding Romanians living in Hungary. Of course, in any group of people there are some that can't live without blaming someone else for their lack of prosperity, but fortunately they have no significant influence.
Today the Romanian and the Hungarian peole try hard to create a better future for their children and the territorial dispute was left where it should be, in the dark history.
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Chandernagore
Posted: November 27, 2003 10:12 pm
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QUOTE
I may be remembering things wrong, but right after the '89 revolution, weren't there some fears that Hungary might take advantage of the chaos in Romania and make a run for Transylvania?  I'm thinking January, February of 1990.


I'm not sure that a nation of 10 millions alone has much chance again one of 50 millions. We can put any hypothesis forward, fact remains that they did not try. This a very sad legacy of the past and one that can at least potentially blow up in your face. EU or NATO membership and minority rights are probably key to defuse the bomb definitively. Look at Alsace/Lorraine : this sort of grudge can last very long :?
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Dr_V
Posted: November 27, 2003 10:57 pm
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Before '89 our armed forces were certainly in better condition that they are now, mostly because the iron courtaine and Ceausescu's independent policy. But there were not as powerfull as they were credited. It was a lot of propaganda too.

QUOTE
They consted of armed civilians, ready for guerilla war. Some 13 millions of those could be deployed, alongside the army.


What are your sources Geto? I ask because it's hard to belive that there were at any time 13 milion mature men in Romania, a country that had 24 milion inhabitants in total. Over 3 milion were under 18 y.o. and other 3 milion over 65 at any moment (medical statistics, I'm sure), and the sex distribution of our population is 55% female. Were women included in our National Guards?


As for the Army, before '89 the soldiers were in their majority civilians serving the 1 year military service. Only the officers and some of the petty-officers were "profesionals". And the enlisted civilians were poorly trained, many were used to agricultural work in their year of military training and only fiered a few shots in a shooting range once or twice. That lead to the famos confusion that ruled our Army during the Revolution. That was a rather good thing, as the victims could be more numerous if the army was more organised.

In the end I'll tell you a story that I consider significant to ilustrate the fighting value of an average Army unit at the time of the '89 Revolution. At that time I was 11 y.o. and spending my winter holydays at my grandparents in Dambovitza county. In a village 2 km. away was military base hosting an armored unit wich had 24 T34s and a motorised infantry unit, equipped with about 20 TABs (at Laculete, near Targoviste). The unit was ordered to take deffensive positions blocking the road to Sinaia in a point about 5 km. away. Their vehicles were in such a good condition that only 5 tanks could really reach the ordered position, as the 6th one that moved through the gate got stuck on the road after a few hundreed meters, loosing a track. They were joined by 12 TABs [TAB=amphibious armored infantry transport, a wheeld vehicle, armed with one heavy MG] and the rest of the unit was deployed on foot, marching to their destination. After the Revolution I've heared that only 2 tanks could actually engage in combat, as the others had major mechanical problems. What can I say, the only thing that they did was to entertain the large group of kids that I was part of at that time.
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Geto-Dacul
Posted: November 27, 2003 11:59 pm
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Chandernagore wrote :

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I'm not sure that a nation of 10 millions alone has much chance again one of 50 millions.


Romania had unfortunately not 50 millions inhabitants!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! After the last census, she has no more than 21.6 millions!
Check : www.recensamant.ro/

Dr_V wrote :

QUOTE
You see, there are about 3 milion Hungarians in Romania, over 90% of them in Transilvania, where they make about 40% of the population. There are also more than half a milion Romanians in Hungary.


I hope you're joking here... The 3 millions Hungarians idea is agitated by extremist Hungarians...
Check you too here : www.recensamant.ro/
Officially, there are some 1.4 million Magyar-Romanians.

As for the 500.000 Romanians of Hungary... Hmmm... I heard that today they are not more than 20.000. In the Géographie Universelle Larousse Tome Premier 1958, page 247, Romanians were mentionned to be 400.000. And in 1930, they were 800.000... Romanians were assimilated.

QUOTE
What are your sources Geto? I ask because it's hard to belive that there were at any time 13 milion mature men in Romania, a country that had 24 milion inhabitants in total. Over 3 milion were under 18 y.o. and other 3 milion over 65 at any moment (medical statistics, I'm sure), and the sex distribution of our population is 55% female. Were women included in our National Guards?


Unfortunately, I do not have the exact source, but I know that women too could be enlisted. My mother too did a kind of military training for this.

Regards,

Getu'
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Chandernagore
Posted: November 28, 2003 12:03 am
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QUOTE
Romania had unfortunately not 50 millions inhabitants


Bah, I was only 30 millions away :lol:
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Dr_V
Posted: November 28, 2003 12:52 am
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For Getu

The numbers I used are not official. But you must remember that at the last population count the nationality was declared by all as they wanted to. There were many Hungarians that declared themselves as Romanians to escape for good from the ages-long dispute that involves them. Those were mainly the men that anyway felt that they belong to the Romanian nation and wanted their children not to feel different in the country they live.
I've got the aproximate number from a friend who is a sociologyst and an ethnic Hungarian. He declared himself as Romanian and is very proud of that.

In Hungary there are only 20.000 or so Romanians if you consider the Hungarian official count. I believe you agree it's not accurate. In the last cople of yeras more than 100.000 Romanians emigrated in Hungary and many were not ethnic Hungarians. But the majority of the ethnic Romanians in Hungary prefered to be registered as Hungarians, maybe for the same reasons that ethnic Hungarians in Romania consider themselves Romanians. And many otheres were officially registered as Hungarians even if they don't agree with that, it seams that in our neighboring country the politics dictate that there must be restered as few Romanians as possible. You know that in my oppinion this is a childish attitude, but bad habbits die hard.


QUOTE
Unfortunately, I do not have the exact source, but I know that women too could be enlisted. My mother too did a kind of military training for this.


That was true untill 1980 or so. Funny, owr "beloved" leader probably did believed that those women that made 3 months of "training" were able to fight in a war. It's one of the many absurde ideas that governed that period. Hmmm...maybe they did thaught they could mobilise 13 milion fighters :lol:

My mother also made that PtAP training and as she was a colledge graduate she received a reserve officer rank that was upgraded according to her progress in the medical rank. Now she's a proffesor in internal medicine and was promoted to Major in her reserve military rank. :lol: Sometimes she makes fun of my father who is still a Lieutenant, as he refused to attend to a suplementary military stage that would have granted his rank of Major when he became a doctor in medicine (only men have to do that suplementary stage of 2 months).
At the military stage my father harvested corn and my mother grapes on the famos IAS communist farms. They saw the first tank at the Revolution. My mother has even a "sniper" diploma (they were shooting with compressed-air guns at training), but she can't tell a rifle from a shotgun. :lol:
Oh, the funnyest thing is that even now they're both registered as reserve officers, thaugh they're civilian doctors. They make a lot of fun on that when they meet with some friends that are active Army officers.
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inahurry
Posted: November 28, 2003 05:00 am
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1.6-1.7 million Hungarians, including Hungarian speaking gypsies and the Secuii/Szekely (who practically disappeared into the Hungarian minority). Not even close to 40% in Transylvania ( less than 25%) and about 7% from the entire Romania’s population.

But I think the initial post’s question was a bit more specific. The man would like to know about forces, organization, weapons, armaments industry.

Briefly, we weren’t the poor country version of Russia and this can be easily proved with the military industry. Russians were better, no doubt, but Romania achieved a lot in a short time and its ambitions were important. The technical designs copied sometimes or at the beginning the Russian models but this was often a logical path. Nevertheless, a major goal was to be independent if possible so even the copies after Russian armament included not only improvements but retro-engineering where the Russians didn’t give enough information, not unlike the way was modernized the Mig-21. It turned we wanted to be more ambitious than we could afford but the financing of military build-up (partial) through exports of weapons offered a rather stable way for further development.

There was no paranoia and Ceausescu wasn’t the one deciding in technical matters, that is pure propaganda.

As for what happened in December 1989 and after, culminating with March 1990 and the (little known) army intervention at Tirgu Mures without explicit order from the political leaders, I think, like it or not, we’ll be forced to wait for more relaxed times to sort it out.
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