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Territorial Troops

In 1994 reserve forces numbered approximately 289,500 members with military service in the previous five years. In 2009 Belarus had a defense budget of $611 million, which financed an active force of 72,940 and a paramilitary force of 110,000. These forces are organized under the Decree of the President of the Republic of Belarus dated November 8, 2001 ?637 "The confirmation of the Concept of territorial defense of the Republic of Belarus". The Belarusian territorial army is organized into battalions; some sources report that the reservists are to be convened annually to two-month exercises. But it is not clear that these forces are in fact exercised with any frequency. Reflecting an apparent unfamiliarity with the fact of the existence of these Troops, one observer reported in November 2011 that "Following military manoeuvres in the south of Belarus last Friday, the Belarusian ruler put forth a completely new idea for developing public administration. He ordered the formation of a new army called the territorial defence troops."

A new army will be created in Belarus. It will heavily rely on territorial defense troops, said President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko as he presented general shoulder straps to heads of oblast administrations and the city of Minsk on 04 November 2011. Alexander Lukashenko said: “It should have been done a long time ago. You will be governors general not for the sake of window dressing. HR policy with regard to people that will be put in charge of territorial defense troops will change. We are creating a new army in Belarus if you wish and you will command it”. Alexander Lukashenko said the new army will have 120,000 people.

The Belarusian leader gave lieutenant generals' insignia to previously civilian governors of all six Belarusian regions. The President said that along with dealing with economic and social matters the heads of the oblast administrations and the city of Minsk will be in charge of organizing the military component. “Our governors are military people, responsible people therefore military security is part of your life as of today. You will hold territorial defense exercises and should work with the general staff to develop the legal base,” said Alexander Lukashenko. “Specific people should be assigned to every assault rifle, every pistol, every grenade launcher. I am not kidding, these measures are very serious. Not because the situation around us is complicated indeed, but because we are creating a new army,” remarked the President. He added that territorial troops should smoothly interact with the regular army.

“Some people complain it is not the time to hold an exercise, complain about budget costs. As if they bore the burden of budget costs. It is not their business, it is I who have made the decision. Whoever doesn’t learn now will reap the fruit of our inactivity. But no money should be spared for it,” said the head of state. The President remarked that the present exercise is a command post one and does not require a lot of money. “But if we have to, we will spend money. It is my answer to everyone who is complaining about budget costs,” he said.

The head of state also elaborated the previous day’s remark about engaging businessmen in territorial defense. “They have more to lose than anyone else in this country. A place should be found for them,” said the President. In his words, a private individual will always find personal reserves. “If we ever have to be at war, we are men, we have to protect our homes, families, our land. It is our duty,” said the President.

“Everything we do is not for the sake of window dressing. We don’t need window dressing,” stressed the head of state. Territorial defense troops are the most effective instrument of defense, said President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko as he visited a stationary control post of the territorial defense headquarters in Minsk on 03 November 2011. Alexander Lukashenko reminded about the Great Patriotic War when the attackers went through entire Belarus virtually within weeks. Lessons must be learned, it should be remembered, stressed the President.

In his words, territorial defense troops are the most effective instrument of defense to repulse an external aggression. The approach also allows minimizing financial costs. The head of state remarked that the country cannot maintain a large army that needs to be clothed, fed, and so on. “We cannot and don’t need to but we should train the population so that it could perform its functions when necessary. It will be the most effective defense of our country,” believes the Belarusian head of state.

“We need to preserve our country. If everyone sees that we do it seriously, they will never attack us,” said the President. Addressing the reservists, who have been recruited for territorial defense troops for the duration of the exercise, Alexander Lukashenko said that each and every one of them is responsible for defending the country. “Some may not like it, it may be inconvenient for some, but it is necessary,” said the head of state.

Alexander Lukashenko believes it is necessary to more widely advertise the idea of territorial defense, to make people aware of it and why the country needs it. The President urged to avoid formalistic approaches in training territorial defense troops and organizing territorial defense. “It is a very serious matter and not because we are afraid of something. We have to ensure the security of our country,” stressed the President.” He also mentioned the negative experience of Soviet times when national defense matters were taken care of on paper only.

The President highly spoke of the territorial defense headquarters in Minsk and actions of the capital city mayor. “I see you are on top of the situation and know what and how to defend, how it should be done,” the head of state told Nikolai Ladutko. Alexander Lukashenko told the Minsk city defense council to carefully work on all the documents required to arrange territorial defense. If necessary, they should be adjusted to the real situation. The head of state urged to pay close attention to the quality of personnel selection and training for territorial defense troops. In his opinion, territorial defense should be nationwide and carefully elaborated.

The West is trying to loosen up the situation in Belarus for the sake of making the republic part of its sphere of influence. President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko made the statement on 04 November 2011 as he gave instructions to further develop territorial defense in the country. “The West’s goal is visible to the unaided eye: they want to stagger the situation in Belarus and cut off the country from active participation in international public and political processes. And then they will make Belarus part of its sphere of influence,” said Alexander Lukashenko.

After gaining independence Belarus became a target of behind-the-scenes politics. “The West has already brought various sanctions against Belarusian enterprises. These restrictive measures quote political reasons to prevent equal economic cooperation. Other forms of economic pressure that damage our national interests in the economic sphere are widespread, too,” stressed Alexander Lukashenko. Informational and political interference from the outside is a serious challenge to the national security. “It has gained traits of open information warfare. The Internet, radio stations, specifically organized TV channels, magazines and newspapers are used for that, with massive amounts of money spent. We are under constant pressure and are reproached for the lack of freedom of speech and pluralism,” said the Belarusian leader.

“We notice the rapid spread of NATO in Europe, the rapid build-up of military infrastructure of western and northern neighbors close to our borders,” said Alexander Lukashenko. “It is alarming that in some neighboring countries coaching sessions and special conferences are held regularly. Attending are top-ranking officials of the US Department of State and the Senate, ministers and politicians of European countries with a very provocative agenda. They discuss how to arrange a revolution in Belarus, how to change the constitutional system and other glaringly hostile topics. Such events cannot be underestimated,” said the head of state.

On 03 November 2011 Alexander Lukashenko visited the Special Enterprise of the Minsk City Executive Committee to get familiar with conditions and organization of storage of materiel used by territorial defense troops. He spoke highly of what he had seen. “If everything in the country is stored like that, no questions will be asked. Very well done,” said the head of state.

In response to statements and comments voiced by ill wishers after the territorial defense exercise and consequent statements made by the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko remarked 11 November 2011 that the territorial defense concept had been in development since 2000. “These decisions had been made long before. Many exercises had been held. At last they are awake and hear that Lukashenko is busy creating some new territorial troops, a new army,” said the President. “When I was saying that we are indeed creating a new army, I meant not only the territorial defense system and territorial troops as the foundation, the lowest part of our defense shield and what will be used in full in time of war if, god forbid, it may happen. It is not something we have devised. It is done to spend less money on the regular army. The idea that stems from the last war, the resistance movement in Belarus, the guerilla war, is that we have to be ready for it. We would like to avoid what happened in 1941 when there were people, who could fight, when people were surrounded because they lacked armaments”.

“The resistance movement, the guerilla movement in Belarus is an inalienable part of the resistance of the Belarusian people. Today we have to prepare the population for it if something happens,” believes the President. The head of state remarked that this year’s events have once again proved that some superpowers still heavily rely on military force in their politics. “It is particularly disturbing in view of the global financial crisis. Therefore, our task is obvious. We have to prevent our own military security from sliding. Now we can talk about results of the measures that have been taken in this area,” said the Belarusian leader. In his words, these measures have enabled quality training of the troops, shaping a modern image of the Belarusian army. “Not everything is smooth certainly but we can deal with it,” the head of state is convinced.

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Page last modified: 24-09-2012 19:14:10 ZULU