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Romania Table of Contents


Evolution of Military Doctrine

Because historically its enemies had had tremendous numerical and technological superiority, Romania had succumbed to them despite occasional periods of rebellion and armed resistance. Experiences as the ally of Russia in World War I, Nazi Germany in World War II, and the Soviet Union afterward had taught Romania, however, that allowing a stronger country to dictate its political and military course could lead to ruin and loss of sovereignty. In the wake of the Warsaw Pact action against Czechoslovakia in 1968, Ceausescu deviated from standard Warsaw Pact doctrine and promulgated a distinct national military doctrine for Romania. Known as "War of the Entire People" (Lupta Intregului Popor), this doctrine was largely a reaction to the failure of Czechoslovakia to resist the Soviet-led invasion. Its basic premise was that the people would resist with all means at their disposal any "imperialist" incursion into Romania and would defend the nation's sovereignty, independence, and socialism (see Glossary). Thus, War of the Entire People implied defense not only of the nation but also of Romania's particular style of socialism and the political power of the PCR hierarchy that controls it.

War of the Entire People defined imperialism in an omnidirectional sense as the greatest threat to Romania. Any nation, whether a capitalist North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) country or an erstwhile socialist Warsaw Pact ally that sought to dominate Romania militarily, constituted an imperialist threat. Although left unstated, in the context of the time, the clearest threat was a Soviet or Warsaw Pact intervention in Romania similar to what occurred in Czechoslovakia in 1968.

The Law on National Defense of the Socialist Republic of Romania, passed by the Grand National Assembly (GNA) in 1972, codified and further elaborated War of the Entire People. The law stated that Romania would declare war only to defend itself or a Warsaw Pact ally against external aggression. The 1972 law also made acceptance of surrender, cession, or occupation of national territory an illegal act. It made GNA approval a requirement for the entry of foreign troops into Romania and declared that Romania's armed forces may respond only to orders or directives issued by the country's national command authority. These provisions were designed to prevent the Soviet Union from disrupting national resistance to an invasion of Romania or justifying an invasion by installing a compliant faction of the PCR to request and legitimize the Soviet Union's "fraternal assistance" or intervention.

War of the Entire People mandated a system of national territorial defense modeled on that of Yugoslavia and called for mobilizing all of the country's human and material resources to mount continuous resistance against any aggressor, invader, or occupier until Romania was liberated. Thus the regular armed forces ceased to be the exclusive focus of military doctrine. The Patriotic Guards were established and received great attention and considerable resources (see Reserves and Mobilization , this ch.). To explain the relationship of the regular army and the irregular Patriotic Guards, Romanian military historians began writing about the role of peasant masses in rising up to join princes, nobles, and the professional warrior caste to defend the Romanian lands against invasions during the Middle Ages.

Data as of July 1989