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Bulgaria's Naval Infantry (Morska pehota)

The authoritative "Jane's Amphibious and Special Forces" does not contain an entry for Bulgaria, and other reference sources make no mention of a 21st Century Bulgarian Naval Infantry.

By the end of the Cold War the naval infantry force consisted of three companies of 100 troops each. The Naval Infantry was, at least on paper, battalion size. Their small size limited them to guard duty and ground defense of important coastal installations against commando raids and other assault forces. They also trained for amphibious operations alongside Soviet troops during exercises.

The Bulgarian Navy had a significant short-range amphibious lift capability, consisting by the end of the Cold War of 23 Soviet Vydra-class medium landing craft, each of which could carry 100 troops or 3 tanks, or 200-250 tons of equipment on their open tank decks. The inventory also included two Polish-built Polnocny-class medium landing ships. These amphibious ships each could transport and land six tanks and 150 troops. Total lift capacity was thus 5,750 tons of equipment, between a dozen and over eighty tanks, or at least 300 and as many as 2,600 troops.

By 1979 the Soviets had some 6,000 men in their Naval Infantry forces opposite NATO. The basic unit was the naval rifle regiment, totaling about 1,900 men in three infantry battalions, a tank battalion, and supporting units. Three regiments had been identified by 1979, one in each western fleet area. The Naval Infantry depended heavily on its tanks and armored vehicles, but was constituted primarily for mobility rather than for firepower. Its tasks were to spearhead amphibious assaults against mainland and island beachheads and to attack in the rear of enemy formations, in both cases in support of the ground campaign. In some cases, Naval Infantry units would be immediately reinforced from the sea by ground forces trained for follow-up amphibious landings.

The amphibious elements of Non-Soviet Warsaw Pact [NSWP] countries would be available to augment the Soviet Naval Infantry forces. In the Black Sea area, the combined strength of the Soviet, Bulgarian, and Romanian forces totaled 4,400 men. However, the Bulgarian and Romanian elements were not nearly as well trained as their Soviet counterparts and did not have sufficient lift capacity to carry all of their men and equipment in a single assault operation. These countries did not usually engage in combined exercises with the Soviets.







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