Armed Forces Overview: Romania has 97,200 military personnel, organized in the army (66,000, including 18,500 conscripts), navy (7,200), and air force (14,000, including 3,800 conscripts), as well as some centrally controlled units (10,000). In preparation for accession to the European Union (EU) in 2007, Romania’s military is undertaking changes to bring it in line with EU standards for member states. In addition, in order to join North Atlantic Treaty Organization (which it did in 2004), Romania committed to a minimum expenditure of 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense spending. Nonetheless, Romania’s military currently is constrained by outdated equipment and broader domestic economic shortfalls.
Foreign Military Relations: The United States began training the Romanian military through the International Military Education and Training program in 1993. As noted earlier, Romania joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 2004. Romania’s military currently is serving abroad on a number of United Nations- and United States-led missions in locations including Afghanistan, Bosnia, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia/Eritrea, Iraq, Liberia, and Serbia and Montenegro.
External Threat: Despite occasional tensions with neighboring Hungary, as of early 2005, the risk of armed conflict in and around Romania is low.
Defense Budget: Defense spending in Romania declined significantly after the fall of the Ceauşescu regime in 1989 but has grown as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) since 2000. In 2003 (the most recent year for which figures are available), defense spending was approximately US$1.3 billion, or around 2.4 percent of GDP. In 2004 the defense budget was expected to reach US$1.5 billion.
Major Military Units: The Romanian army has one joint operations command (corps), two operations commands (divisions), one land forces headquarters, and two territorial corps commands with 10 active brigades (one tank, three mechanized, one mountain, one airborne, one artillery, one antiaircraft, one engineering, and one logistical) and 14 territorial brigades (one tank, six mechanized, two mountain, two artillery, two antiaircraft, and one engineering). The navy has a naval headquarters with one naval operational command (fleet level) and one Danube-based riverine flotilla. The air force has a headquarters with one air operational command, one air division, six air bases, and one training base.
Major Military Equipment: According to some estimates, more than half of Romania’s military hardware is more than two decades old. Budget constraints make a rapid upgrade of military equipment to Western standards unlikely. As of early 2005, the Romanian army had 1,258 main battle tanks, 84 assault guns, 4 reconnaissance vehicles, 177 armored infantry fighting vehicles, 1,583 armored personnel carriers, 1,238 pieces of artillery, 9 surface-to-surface missile launchers, 127 antitank guided missiles, 849 antitank guns, 663 air defense guns, 64 surface-to-air missiles, 10 surveillance vehicles, and 6 unmanned aerial vehicles. The navy had 7 principal surface combatants, 1 frigate, 6 corvettes, 6 missile craft, 12 torpedo craft, 20 patrol craft, 2 minelayers, 2 mine countermeasure craft, 13 support and miscellaneous craft, and 3 armored personnel carriers. The air force had 81 MiG-21A, 13 MiG-21B, 25 MiG-21C, 12 transport aircraft, 12 transport helicopters, 3 survey aircraft, 62 combat helicopters, 44 training helicopters, and 42 surface-to-air missiles.
Military Service: As of early 2005, Romania required 12 months of compulsory military service for males. Compulsory service begins at 20 years of age; volunteers may serve starting at 18 years of age. Conscription is slated to end by 2007.
Paramilitary Forces: Romania has a paramilitary force of 79,900 under the control of the Ministry of Interior. Of those forces, 22,900 are border guards, and around 57,000 are gendarmerie.
Military Forces Abroad: Romania has 418 soldiers serving as part of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, including one infantry brigade and one nuclear, biological, and chemical company; as well as around 730 soldiers serving in Iraq in a peace support role (including one mechanized infantry brigade). In addition, Romanian troops participate in the following United Nations missions: Afghanistan (33), Bosnia (106), Côte d’Ivoire (6), Democratic Republic of Congo (27), Ethiopia/Eritrea (8), Liberia (3), and Serbia and Montenegro (226, including 2 infantry companies).
Police: See paramilitary forces.
Internal Threat and Terrorism: Although post-Ceauşescu Romania has had periods of civil unrest (often related to disputes over political reforms and budget cuts), there is no evidence of terrorism or other internal threats.
Human Rights: The government of Romania generally respects the rights of its citizens. Nonetheless, there were reports in 2003 and 2004 of police brutality and concerns raised about the failure of the government to fully investigate and prosecute alleged cases of police brutality. Additionally, the government has been accused at times of restricting freedom of the press. Journalists who wrote reports critical of government policies and actions have claimed they were targets for harassment and intimidation. Religious minorities have complained of discriminatory treatment by the government. Societal harassment of ethnic and sexual minorities remains a problem, as do violence and discrimination against women. Major cities continue to have large populations of homeless children. The government is beginning to address the problem of trafficking in women and girls for the purposes of prostitution. Discrimination and violence against the Roma minority remain problems, as is the apparent reticence of the government to investigate and punish such discrimination. Child labor abuses have been reported, as well as government interference in trade union activities.