18 November 2018

The military leadership- Military Staff of Defence on celebration day

Stefan Danila

Image source: Mediafax

The armed forces of a state are defending its independency, sovereignty and territorial integrity, they are representing the guarantee of its existence and of its future. The history of Romanian Armed Forces proves their importance and their role. Building the national armed forces went before creating the state itself, made possible the country’s recognition, then its independency, they were the guarantor of national security and allowed the extension of its borders to complement the Romanian nation inside the space of its own identity. General Military Staff/Military Staff of Defence’s role is essential for armed forces’ leading, planning Romania’s defence and its participation at collective defence.

The beginnings of Military Staff of Defence

The regional context from the immediate period after the Crimean War, between 1853-1856, was a favorable one for the Romanian states. Initially occupied in 1853, after the moment when, in 1812, Russia occupied Bessarabia, the Romanian Principalities were saved by the western coalition made by Emperor Napoleon III to support, this time, the Ottoman Empire against Czarist Empire’s extension. The Peace Treaty from Paris (1856) destroyed Russia’s protectorate over Danubian Principalities and passed it under the collective border of the seven European powers- Ottoman Empire (suzerain power), Russia, Austria, France, Prussia, Great Britain and Sardinia. Across this treaty it is envisaged, for the first time, “Principalities to have a national armed force, organized to upkeep the internal security and borders’ assurance. No obstacle will trip the extraordinary defence measures, that, accordingly with the Sublime Porte, Principalities would have to take in order to avoid any foreign aggression.” Ulterior, in Paris’s Convention (7/19th of August 1958), although a political union was not allowed, it was agreed a union under the name “The United Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia”, with two elected Ruling Princes in two legislative assembles, two armed forces to work following the same rules. For its establishment it was approved the creation of a Central Commission, with its head office in Focsani, which had the right to elaborate some common laws. Actually, the Principalities which were under Ottoman suzerainty were allowed to organize militias with identical organization, but, if needed, the Principalities would have been able to form a unique army, with a unique commander, alternatively assigned.

Electing one Ruling Prince only, in both Principalities, on 5th and 24th of January 1859 led to the emergence of union`s process and the creation of a single Romanian state. Assembling Principalities’ two armies was “the first step towards the definitive union of the countries with the same origins”. This action was materialized by assigning Alexandru Ioan Cuza as Supreme Commander of Romanian Armed Forces, placed in the common Camp from Floresti (Prahova), on 11th of October 19959.

United Principalities General Military Staff Corp’s foundation as distinct entity, through Law no.83 from 12th of November 1859, was the starting point for Romanian Armed Forces, because its main goal was to create a single military conception and organization structure for the entire army. Founding the War Ministries from Iasi and Bucharest, as “the biggest authority in army domain after the chief of state”, was followed by the decision for the administration and the quartermaster to be reunited in a single administration, under War Minister’s order from Bucharest. On 30th of May 1860, through Law no.98, brigade general Ion Emanoil Florescu, from Wallachia was assigned as Chief of the General Staff, and one month later he was leader of both War Ministries from Iasi and Bucharest. Hence, the first minister of the new state, was the War Minister.

In November 1861, the Guarantor Powers are recognizing the administrative and political union of the two Principalities. On 20th of November, the Ottoman government is publishing “The administrative organization order of Moldavia and Wallachia”, recognizing the administrative and political union of the two states, with the mention that it was only a temporary situation, which would have lasted only during Cuza’s ruling time. On 24th of January 1862, Ruler Alexandru Ioan Cuza declared the definitive Union of Principalities, with capital in Bucharest, at the inauguration of country’s first reunited Parliament and the creation of the first unitary government of United Principalities.

In the buildup and modernization process have alternated the methods and rules originated in French or Prussian army, as it happened in the majority of new formed states in the middle of the 19 centuries, accordingly with the results of direct confrontations between the two states. Obviously, state’s leaders’ direction differences, pro-French for Cuza, had an important role as it took advantage on French mission’s presence for the administration, led by petty quartermaster Gustave Le Clerc and the French military mission, under the command of Military Staff’s Mayor, Eugene Lamy.

After 1870, military staff’s training and thinking model was directed to Prussia, not just because of Carol prince origins, but as a consequence of Prussia’s defeat against France from 1879 and the emergence of the German Empire, as national state, through the unification of German principalities around Bismarck’s Prussia. The astonishing victory accomplished by general Helmuth von Moltke (the biggest general in Prussia’s history), in Sedan, showed how important is army’s endowment with new technique, and how important is the use of new technologies for a “total war”. Although the creation of some modern armed forces could not be made, the war school was modernized, and military staff officers’ corps was reshaped across General Military Staff.

General Military Staff’s role for independency and national sovereignty’s defence

Once the recognition of Principalities’ independency has been made, after the Peace from San Stefano from 19th of February 1878, reconfirmed with the Peace Congress from Berlin from 1st of July 1878, the army’s role became more important, as state’s independency and sovereignty had to be defended. Taking over Dobrogea meant also mission’s extension, from those regarding land’s defence, also with littoral and Black Sea’s ports’ defence.

World’s wars were tough challenges for Military Staff’s officers, because planning and operations’ leadership mistakes, along with scarce endowment and superficial training led to huge loses. The end of World War I brought a new favorable circumstance for the Romanian nation, which lead to the unification of all regions inhabited by Romanians.  But a new challenge emerged, defending the unitary state and its entire territory. A tremendous difficult mission, considering that the economy did not have sufficient support force, and the poor education, ageing mentalities, corruption and superficiality were the main vulnerabilities.

Hence, Wien’s Diktate found us unprepared for an armed fightback. The coalition with Germany against the Soviets, after reoccupying Bessarabia was the political option Romania used to enter the World War II, whereat the Military Staff had a substantial role. Operation’s initial conception, which was supposed to end on Dniester disposition, was changed by the allies, and our troops were, many times, on the first line of Odessa and Stalingrad’s fights.    

The insurrection from 23th of August 1944 involved also changing the planes, and the ulterior military actions proved that Romanian military staff’s officers had the capacity to plan operations. The fights with the Nazi army were extremely difficult, and Romanian territory’s liberation, occupied after the Diktate on 25th of October, on king’s birthday, proves that the ones who actually led this operation were Romanian officers, as the Russians would have never accepted to dedicate this victory to King Mihai.

The communist period asked for a new reorganization of the Military Staff, following Bolshevik principles, wherein one-party’s state role was decisive. Changing the officer’s corps meant huge loses. Yet, after Soviet commissars left, at the end of the 50’, the national feeling contributed to a larger detachment from Moscow and to “Nation’s War” concept development. The national defence doctrine, approved by Law 14 from 1972, was envisaging that we must defend ourselves against any enemy. It was a reaction which was coming after Czechoslovakia’s invasion by the states across the Warsaw Treaty from 1968, when Romania refused to join the other communist states, which were under Soviet’s direction. That was the moment when our own defence industry was founded, when there were created Patriotic Guards and strategic defence plans for all the geographical directions.

From the communist block to North-Atlantic Treaty

Democracy’s bounce-back, after 1990, meant also a new process for the armed forces. Its redirection towards West brought major changes, from operations’ plans, to regulations, procedures and mentalities. The decision regarding the partnership and then the accession to NATO was an extremely complex reform and transformation process. A new generation of military staff officers, capable to work in a multinational environment, according to some common standards, with new tactics and procedures, urged to be created in a very difficult context. Along these challenges there was also a lack of political vision, which diminished the already insufficient budget for the accomplishment of military objectives, politically assumed.

The training and officers’ career course faced major changes during time, from access to important positions based on their own title or wealth, to cherishing and rewarding individual values and merits. Normative acts and ideas have emerged and developed, which created career’s evolution criteria, whereabout it is often talked.

On the other hand, besides the specialization in weaponry, other types of specializations appeared: personnel officer (or human resources), operations officer, logistic officer and, especially, commander. Straight or “specialized” careers which have a certain specialization, but limits the better understanding of the institution, of the structure which, at some point, they must lead. The great advantage is the possibility to use the gained experience in international operations, in Alliance’s commissions or agencies, yet this opportunity is not enough fructified. The future belongs to those who are training, developing in international environments, to those who are understanding the strictness’, but also the advantages of team work.

The General Military Staff was, after some time, renamed as  Military Staff of Defence.

According to Law no. 346 from 21th of July 2006 (art. 12), with the ulterior changes, its responsibilities are forces’ governance, planning and operationalization, the gradual increase of fight capacities and army’s mobilization, the governance of assembled operations, commissions and troops’ training, the basic and specialized training of military personnel in activity and in reserve, individual career’s management of military personnel, weaponry’s planning, the normalization in military domain, the implementation of command, control, communication, computer, intelligence, informatics, monitoring, reconnaissance, logistic and infrastructure system, the development of international military relations, religious assistance in National Defence Minister and making technical agreements with other states’ armies, promoting values which are specific to military culture and civic education.

With all the efforts made by its personnel, its role across the minister is not the one that it should have. There are still overlaps with different political departments, as well as responsibilities the Military Staff did not transferred yet to Operational Commission.  A huge accomplishment is that you no longer find someone, across the General Military Staff (of Defence), to boast about working for 10-15 years only in operations or only in training.

The future of international security and, especially, of the regional one, brings new challenges and it is difficult to be predicted. In order to have the capacity to plan future operations, to think about the following armed forces structure capable to accomplish the revertible asks, the Military Staff of Defence needs well-trained personnel, intelligent, flexible to changes, but also motivated to evaluate and to reach performances. On this institution’s quality depends Romania’s entire defence capacity and this should be noticed in the social hierarchy too, as it is in some more or less unitary laws.