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Slovak Republic - Military Spending

Slovakia made it a priority to cut its dependence on Russian military equipment during its modernization program for the country’s armed forces, Slovakian President Andrej Kiska said 03 March 2015. “The process of modernization of the Slovak armed forces has begun. And our ambition is really absolutely to reduce our dependence on Russian military equipment,” Kiska said in English during a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels.

In January 2015, Slovak Defense Minister Martin Glvac visited the Pentagon where he met with the US defense secretary at the time, Chuck Hagel. The two officials discussed strategic cooperation in modernizing Slovakia's military, with Hagel pledging his support for the Eastern European country's modernization efforts. Slovakia is committed to spending 1.6 percent of its GDP on defense by 2020, Glvac said during the meeting, adding that by 2016, the country plans to allocate 20 percent of the defense budget to modernization.

Slovakia’s defence budget for 2011 was 760 million EUR (exchange rate: 30,126 SKK/EUR). The Long Term Plan 2010 was based on the allocation of 2 percent of GDP to the Ministry of Defense budgetary chapter. This level has never been achieved, and remains unrealistic for the foreseeable future. The defense budget in 2004 reached 1.82 percent of GDP, out of which 0.03 percent was spent outside the MOD for the support of the armed forces.

Even in discussions about the budget outlook until 2008, it is not expected that the level of 1.9 percent of GDP will be exceeded. This means that Slovakia ranks among those countries that fail to deliver on commitments made repeatedly to NATO allies. The budget shortfall is also causing difficulties in fulfilling national — not NATO — military roles. The new Long Term Plan 2015, approved by parliament in 2005, includes Slovakia’s contribution to European rapid reaction forces and capabilities to deal with asymmetric threats. It addresses the flawed aspects of Model 2010, the failures of implementation, and the serious shortfalls in defense spending.

The Long Term Plan of the Development of the Ministry of Defense of the Slovak Republic with an Outlook to 2015 (also known as Model 2015) integrated the NATO Force Goals as the backbone of the organization of the Slovak Armed Forces. Slovakia’s maximum national contribution to NATO operations would be a mechanized brigade group after 2010, which was in extremis expected to ensure the long-term rotation of its battalions in international combat operations. The Defense Strategy of the Slovak Republic defines Slovakia’s political and military ambition until 2010 as building the adequate capabilities for conducting two simultaneous military operations.

Defense reform require sufficient financial resources. Model 2015 was based on an estimated 1.85 % GDP allocated for the MOD in the years 2006–2010 and 1,86 % GDP in 2011. The actual 2006 defense budget amounted to 1.65 % GDP, while the overall defense expenditures were at 1.69 % GDP. Compared to 2005, when the budget reached 1.77 % GDP, this represented a slight decline. The first state budget of the new government did allocate more resources in 2007, albeit thanks largely to the country’s high economic growth. But 1.67 % GDP further deepened the growing deficit of resources needed to spearhead the reforms and development of the armed forces. According to the national budget medium term outlook, total defense expenditures were not to exceed 1.7 % GDP until 2009.

As for budget execution, the MOD seemed to be unable to rationally plan and invest large amounts of resources in the long run. The problem was that there were alterations made to the defense budget throughout the year, which results in the non-fulfilment of priority goals. In practical terms, the execution of defense planning in Slovakia was reduced to one-year procurement cycles.

One area which needs to be addressed is the Slovak Armed Forces’ funding mechanisms for foreign operations, especially contingency funding, when expeditionary forces are deployed to intervene in an unexpected and rapidly escalating security crisis. These costs should notbe financed at the expense of other budgetary chapters of the defence budget, let alone from the modernisation accout.

Traditionally, armaments and modernization suffer the most from budget cuts and transfers; and the combat readiness of units remains directly linked to modernization of equipment, in particular, to communication and information systems. At the beginning of 2007, the Defense Ministry was faced with a critical situation. This was not just because the new government resorted to reducing the defense budget, but there had already been vast budgetary alterations in January 2006, then public procurement in the country came to a complete standstill prior to the general election.

Slovakia spent $42 million (€30.17 million) on overseas military operations in 2008, including seven missions in five countries. As of June 2009, Slovakia had just over 600 soldiers deployed worldwide, with more than one-third of the total serving in Afghanistan under NATO command. In 2008, 57% of deployed Slovak soldiers served under NATO command, 36% under the UN, and 7% under the EU. Defense spending was 1.4% of GDP in 2008.

The Dzurinda government was steadfast in its military commitments in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Balkans, and maintains peacekeepers in UN PKO's around the world. Slovakia's deployments to OIF, OEF, and KFOR underscore its commitment to the war on terror. Slovakia was contributing roughly 650 troops to military operations around the world--a number that is high in relation to the population of the country--and is now shifting away from (often reimbursable) UN peacekeeping operations towards NATO-, EU-, and U.S.-led operations. This is an expensive decision, and both the GOS and Parliament are wary of negative public reaction that any discussion of an increase in force commitments could generate.

The defence inventory of the Slovak Armed Forces is also undergoing modernisation for the country’s participation in NATO and EU missions. As a result, Slovakia had planned the following modernisation plan for 2004-2011:

  • replace MiG-29 Fulcrums with modern combat aircraft
  • replace current Aero Vodochody trainers with new jet trainers
  • modernize 10 Mi-24 combat helicopters to meet NATO standards
  • procure 18 transport helicopters
  • procure 3 tactical transport aircraft
  • procure 1 long-range and 6 short-range ground-to-air defence systems
  • purchase of the mobile communication system MOKYS for the Slovak Armed Forces
These modernisations are taking place slowly because of the limited size of the Slovak defence budget. However, the procurement of new tactical transport aircraft remains one of the top priorities of the Slovak Air Force.

In 2007, work on updating Model 2015 got underway, reflecting a stated goal of the government manifesto. While the previous Defense Review also had, besides the “revised resource framework”, broader international political implications (NATO accession, asymmetric threats9), Model 2020 would mirror one main goal: that of adjusting long-term planning to lower defense expenditures. If resources are to be freed to strengthen the expeditionary character, then the options of assets that Model 2015 kept open must be decided upon. This includes tank units, combat helicopters, and air defenses.

Exposed to the global financial and economic crisis, the Slovak Armed Forces underwent a major reorganisation as of 1 July 2009. In accordance with a military strategic development document known as Model 2020, the reform process intended to make the Armed Forces more economically viable and to retain highly qualified personnel.

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