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Sovietization of the Romanian Army

In Marx's writings, the army and police were seen as the main instruments of state power, as indicated in the brochure "Civil War in France". They had to be overcome in order for communist order to become a reality. As a worthy follower of Marx, Lenin understood that, and acted accordingly during the Bolshevik coup of 1917. In the countries occupied by the USSR after 1945, national armies were purged of the old officer corps, and new, ideologically trained officers, were put in their place. The Romanian army was no exception, and this process was put on the table right after the installation of the pro-Soviet government headed by Petru Groza on March 6, 1945. On April 12, 1945, at the meeting of the Consultative Council of the Ministry of Defence, on the agenda was the issue of how the Romanian army would organize and take part in the celebration of May 1st. That is when the idea of the reorganization of the Romanian army was also discussed, which was in fact a plan to create an instrument that would be vital to the consolidation of the future communist regime.

The first step was taken in August 1945 with the elimination of upper echelon career officers, such as generals Nicolae Macici, Ilie Steflea, Gheorghe Stavrescu, Radu Korne, Aurel Aldea, and the list could go on. The second step was taken in 1946, when 9000 officers were eliminated because they had no political engagement. The last step was taken when 5500 more officers were fired.

On August 9, 1946 they issued the list with the 9000 active duty officers that were to be sidelined. If at the purge in 1945 it was about a hand-picked corps of officers, which the Soviets considered to have a clearly anti-Soviet attitude, at the purges of 1946 they eliminated all those officers that gave no sign that they were going to accept the new regime. They were maintained in what is called 'under availability' for one year, meaning that they were at the Government's disposal, to be used in any capacity, or in any circumstances they might have been needed, to be put into reserve a year later. During that year they got paid as if we were active duty officers, and enjoyed a number of privileges that active duty staff had. However, they were barred from entering any army barracks. It was a harsh separation, because the officers that had been left on active duty were embarrassed that they were not kicked out, while some of their comrades, who had similar views as they had, had been let go.

The National Resistance Movement was an anti-Communist organisation established by Aurel Aldea. This group of Romanian officers were secretly staging a resistance movement.

The artillery, antitank, and air defense regiments of ground forces divisions provided specialized fire support that enabled motorized rifle and tank regiments to maneuver. In 1989 the artillery regiments of motorized rifle and tank divisions included two artillery battalions, one multiple rocket launcher battalion, and one surface-to-surface missile battalion. Romania's artillery units operated nearly 1,000 Soviet-designed towed artillery pieces with calibers ranging from 76 to 152 millimeters, approximately 175 SU-100 self-propelled assault guns, and more than 325 multiple rocket launchers, including the 122mm truck-mounted BM-21 and 130mm M-51. Surface-to-surface missile battalions were divided into three or four batteries, each equipped with one missile launcher. They operated thirty FROG-3 and eighteen SCUD missile launchers. The FROG-3, a tactical missile first introduced in 1960, was being replaced in other non-Soviet Warsaw Pact armies. Proven to be fairly inaccurate in combat, FROG and SCUD missiles would be ineffective weapons carrying conventional high-explosive warheads. Tipped with nuclear or chemical warheads, however, they could be devastating. According to one former Romanian official writing in 1988, Romania produced chemical agents that could be delivered by battlefield missiles.

Antitank regiments were equipped with Soviet-made 73mm, 76mm, and 82mm recoilless rifles, 57mm antitank guns, and AT-1/SNAPPER and AT-3/SAGGER antitank guided missiles (ATGM). Whereas the AT1 /SNAPPER was primarily a shoulder-fired weapon, more advanced AT3 /SAGGER ATGMs were mounted on BRDM-2 armored reconnaissance vehicles.

Air defense regiments provided motorized rifle and tank divisions with mobile protection against enemy air attack. They consisted of two antiaircraft artillery battalions and one surfaceto -air missile (SAM) battalion, each composed of several batteries. Air defense regiments were equipped with medium-range SA-6 SAM launcher vehicles, shoulder-fired short-range SA-7 missiles, and more than 500 30mm, 37mm, 57mm, 85mm, and 100mm antiaircraft guns. Romania's mountain infantry and airborne units are noteworthy. Approximately 30 percent of the country's terrain is mountainous; therefore, these units can be employed to great effect. Transported by helicopters, which Romania began manufacturing in the mid-1970s, the mountain units are highly mobile.

The first T-54 Soviet medium tanks entered the Romanian Army in 1958, probably equipping the Mechanized Division from Constanta. By 1962 this division had over 100 T-54 tanks. In order to equip the Army with military technical and materials during the period 1960-1965, the Bucharest authorities provided the sum of 6.157 million lei. From this, a variety of weapons were imported, including [by some accounts] 423 T-54 medium tanks from Poland. The model supplied by the USSR to Romania was the T-54B (which entered in Soviet Army service in late 1956), and the T-54B was out of Romanian army endowment in the 1980s.

In the years 1961-1965 entered into the service of the Romanian army other types of battle tanks, the T-55-100, the transports of amphibious armoured BTR 50 PU, tractors, tank-to-ground missiles of various kinds of carrier rockets, MMA, be-missus-step submarine ma ritime tugs, and river. Also, since 1961 the T-34 tanks had been upgraded in procurement, in order to improve performance and extend the term of service.

By 1962 the first T-55 tankss began to be delivered to the Army. The first major units which received the new T-55 tank were the Mechanized Divisions from Timisoara, Iasi and Bucuresti. The T-55 tank remained the backbone of Romanian tank forces until the 1980s, when (theoretically) it was supposed to be replaced with (theoretically) more modern romanian made tanks TR-77. Even in 1989, numerically the T-55 remained the most numerous tank.

In 1973, the Permanent Commission for defense of COMECON proposed that Romania was to import from 1976-1980 the following amounts of ammunition and combat technique: 250-320 medium tanks, 700-800 radio countermeasure facilities of radio research, 300-350 radio stations and low-power radio receivers, together with between 1,500 and antiaircraft missile, 250 "Strela-2 M" launchers along with antiaircraft missiles.

At the same time, Romania was to continue the work of modernising the T-54 and T-55 tanks, the endowment of all the armies of the Warsaw Treaty Organization. In order to avoid the purchase of tanks from the USSR during the period 1981-1990, the Bucharest authorities expressed their desire in 1973 to develop until in 1980, "studies on the possible organisation of a fabricatiei tank, in cooperation with another country which is a member in the Commission" [Czechoslovakia]. This intention was presented by General-Colonel Constantin Sandru at the 27th session of the Permanent Commission for the defense of COMECON (Czechoslovakia, 19-24 November 1973). T-55AM was a 1980's modernization of the basic T-55 tank, which added a laser rangefinder.

In the 1980s, the Mechanical Plan Mija was working on a prototype of an advanced anti-tank amphibious armoured personnel carrier (TAB-C). It was based on the 9M14M "Maliutka" anti-tank rocket, made in Romania at the end of the 1970s under Soviet license. The Prototype complex was built at Mija and tested in a polygon in 1989.

In the early 1980s, Nicolae Ceausescu ordered the cessation of imports of particular products for Romanian defense industry. This measure affected the tank programs. On 11 July 1982, General Tiberiu Urdareanu noted in his diary: "everything must take place in the country, decided the President and our Supreme Commander. Not specified whether the decision will be valid to war."

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Page last modified: 14-07-2012 18:58:29 ZULU