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Romania Table of Contents


Chapter 5. National Security


Frieze depicting battle between Greeks and Amazons, sculpted at Constanta, ca. 250 A.D.

THE MEASURE OF ROMANIA's success in the area of national security has been its ability to achieve and maintain the status of a sovereign, independent nation-state. Thus measured, Romania has succeeded over the long term despite some major defeats along the way. In its postwar incarnation as a communist state and member of the Warsaw Treaty Organization (Warsaw Pact), Romania has enjoyed more national security than ever before.

In 1989 Romania relied on a relatively small professional military establishment and larger reserve and paramilitary forces to provide defense against external threats. The regular armed forces consisted of ground, air, and naval services as well as border guards. The Romanian Communist Party (Partidul Comunist Romān-- PCR, see Glossary) controlled the armed forces through its political apparatus within them. PCR General Secretary Nicolae Ceausescu also exercised considerable personal control over the top military leaders by using his power to appoint and dismiss them.

Because Romania's military doctrine, strategy, and policies differed from those of its Warsaw Pact allies, the country had the reputation of being the maverick of the Warsaw Pact. Its independent positions frequently brought it into conflict with the Soviet Union, the senior alliance partner. Soviet reluctance to provide Romania with up-to-date weaponry has made it the most poorly equipped Warsaw Pact member state. Yet Romania's unique stance inside the Soviet-led alliance has helped it establish diverse military contacts and relations with countries outside the Warsaw Pact.

The PCR controlled Romania's system of law and order and operated it to maintain its absolute political power in the country. Judicial officials and courts routinely promoted the requirements of party and state over the rights of individual citizens. Ceausescu provided the security and intelligence services with the resources and latitude to suppress his political opponents at home and abroad. Consequently there was little organized opposition to Ceausescu in 1989.

Romania faced few serious external threats in the late 1980s. The greatest threats to national security stemmed from internal political and economic weaknesses. Many observers surmised that a prolonged struggle between would-be successors to Ceausescu could result in political turmoil that would weaken the nation's defense posture. Likewise, economic decline and hardship could give rise to internal disorder or even open rebellion against the PCR, which would make Romania more vulnerable to external pressures.

Data as of July 1989