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Military Development under Alexandru Ioan Cuza

Colonel Alexandru Ioan Cuza, a hero of 1848 who became prince of the United Principalities of Moldavia and Walachia in 1859, emphasized the establishment of a large, modern army on the level of the major powers of Europe. He believed that the viability of the first autonomous Romanian state depended on strong armed forces, under national control, that were capable of deterring would-be invaders. He formed a Ministry of War and a general staff to administer and train the army of the United Principalities.

Cuza established a working military relationship with France, which had a tremendous influence on the development of the modern Romanian army. In 1859 the French emperor, Napoleon III, sent a ten-year military mission of instructors and specialists to the United Principalities. They trained the first Romanian army and directed the construction of factories and foundries to manufacture arms, equipment, ordnance, and other war matériel. Napoleon III accepted Moldavian and Walachian officers into French military academies at St. Cyr, Metz, Brest, and Saumur. Cuza also established programs of military cooperation with Belgium and Serbia, and these programs supplied the United Principalities with several types of armaments. Cuza sent military attachés to observe combat around the world, including the battles of the American Civil War.

The Law on the Organization of the Army, drafted by Cuza and passed by the parliament of the United Principalities in 1864, established three major divisions at Bucharest, Iasi, and Craiova; set up a regular standing army of 20,000 soldiers and territorial defense units with 25,000 reserves; and formed the first Romanian officer training college. Cuza's successor, a German prince, who ruled as Carol I (1866-1914), had served as an officer in the Prussian Army and experienced combat in Denmark in 1864. Carol I continued the military development initiated by Cuza; the army built by Cuza and Carol I played a decisive role in achieving full independence and sovereignty for Romania.

Data as of July 1989