Since 1998, Slovakia has gone from being what Madeleine Albright termed "the black hole of Europe" to the "Tatra Tiger." [The Tatra name comes from the Tatra High Mountains, some of the higher peaks of the Carpathian mountain range] The year 1998 was the turning point in the history of independent Slovakia. By the parliamentary revolution, opposition parties made possible the change in government. This is event is believed as the starting point of color revolutions in post-communist area. After the "OK 98" campaign, a coalition government came to power and democratization started. NATO and EU membership were the focal points of the Slovak government and people and the locomotive of reform, and they engaged in a remarkable sprint (with U.S. and other donor support) that reached both those goals in the spring of 2004.
In the realm of defense, Slovakia faced difficulties not encountered by any of the other former Warsaw Pact states, since it had to set up its military almost from scratch. During the Warsaw Pact era, Czechoslovak armed forces were stationed almost exclusively in the Czech lands. The deployment made sense from the Soviet point of view. The deployment meant no major problems for the Czech armed forces after the breakup of Czechoslovakia. However, the limited military infrastructure in Slovakia caused substantial difficulties for the Slovak armed forces. The viability of Slovak air defense was especially questionable.
The armed forces are among the most respected national institutions according to national opinion polls. The armed forces of the Slovak Republic number about 14,000 uniformed personnel and are made up of Ground Forces, Air Forces (which includes air defense forces), and a Joint Training and Doctrine Command. Slovakia is land-locked, and has no Navy.
The Slovak military is moving from the concept of large armed forces capable of conducting operations in a global conflict between world powers to smaller ones, which are more effective, ready to defend the country, its citizens and its interests, also beyond the boundaries of Slovakia. In the same manner as the reform of the Slovak Armed Forces and Model 2015 are implemented, the military is making changes in the scope of service activities. The Defence Ministry and the Slovak Armed Forces will only address those areas of activity that are, pursuant to current legislation, directly connected to the main tasks of the Armed Forces.
Land forces consist of two mechanized infantry brigades, one with two mechanized battalions (BMP-1), a tank battalion (T-72), and a combined artillery battalion. The other brigade has three mechanized battalions (BMP-2). Each maneuver brigade is or is planned to be task organized with combat support units, such as an artillery battalion, an engineer battalion, a logistics support battalion, and an air defense battery. Other land forces include a separate NBC battalion, engineer battalion, ISTAR company, signal battalion, and command support battalion.
Air and Air Defense Forces are comprised of a fighter wing of MiG-29s, a wing of Mi-24 attack and Mi-17 utility helicopters, and a SAM brigade. Military police are under the command of the Ministry of Defense and a special operations regiment falls under the Land Forces Command.
The Slovak Republic, from the political and security perspective, constitutes an integral part of the North Atlantic space. Individually or with the allies and international organisations, it will protect and defend the security and human rights, sovereignty, freedom, democracy, and law and order.
By joining NATO, the Slovak Republic became part of collective defence but also a joint guarantor of allies' security. Being admitted as a member of the EU, it obtained further guarantees of political and economic stability and the possibility of active participation in the formation and implementation of the European security and defence policy. The defence and enforcement of Slovak Republic's security interests continues to be implemented in a broader geopolitical context.
Thanks largely to its feasible defence budget, the MoD has extended its offer of units to be earmarked for NATO and EU crisis management operations from three to eight, while reassuring that its previously declared commitments will be honored. As of January 1, 2008 the Slovak Armed Forces had available a mechanized battalion group, a chemical, biological and radiological protection battalion, a transfer control team, an Mi 17 helicopter flight, a military police platoon, and an EOD team. In 2009 they added a transport company and, after 2010, a rapidly deployable preventive medicine team. These units will be deployed within NATO’s NRF and EU battle groups in compliance with the requirements, and their deployment will be subject to a prior national decision. By the end of 2010, Slovakia’s commitment is to prepare a mechanized brigade with complete combat support and combat service support, plus two units at company level.
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list