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Romania Table of Contents


Party Control of the Military

Of all national institutions, in 1989 only the armed forces were potentially strong and organized enough to challenge PCR rule. For that reason, the Ceausescu regime tightly controlled the military establishment by maintaining a PCR apparatus within it, co-opting the highest-ranking officers, manipulating promotions and appointments, and allowing the internal security service to operate within the armed forces. Ceausescu and the PCR exerted their control over the military through the Higher Political Council of the Army, the party's military branch. Ceausescu himself was given general officer rank and served as the highest party representative in the armed forces when he headed the Higher Political Council of the Army's forerunner between 1950 and 1954.

The Higher Political Council of the Army conducted political education within the military, supervised a huge network of political officers from the highest command echelon to companysized units, reviewed promotions and other personnel matters, and monitored and reported on the political reliability and loyalty of military personnel to the Ceausescu regime. Its political indoctrination program was founded on socialist and nationalist ideologies and emphasized the leading role of Ceausescu and the PCR in society and the economy. It conspicuously lacked the proSoviet sentiment and "socialist internationalism" characteristic of indoctrination in the other Warsaw Pact countries. In 1989 approximately 90 percent of all soldiers and sailors were PCR or UTC members. Virtually all officers were PCR members, and usually only PCR members were eligible for promotions to higher ranks. Officers were subject to party discipline outside the military chain of command. Thus the PCR had the power to remove officers of all ranks on political grounds.

In addition to using formal party mechanisms, Ceausescu exercised other means of control over the armed forces. Many highranking officers were fully integrated into party and state policymaking bodies and enjoyed considerable privilege and status because of their positions. In 1989 three general officers, Ion Dinca, Ion Coman, and former Minister of National Defense Constantin Olteanu were full or alternate members of the PCR Political Executive Committee (Polexco). Dinca was also one of three first deputy prime ministers. Coman was the PCR Central Committee secretary for military and security affairs. The minister of national defense was usually a full PCR Central Committee member when he occupied his post and then received a promotion to the Polexco. Olteanu became minister of national defense in 1980 and a Polexco member in 1983. Vasile Milea became minister of national defense in 1985 but had not achieved Polexco membership as of mid-1989. During the 1980s, military representation in the PCR Central Committee dropped from more than 4 percent of the membership to about 2 percent. In addition to the minister of national defense, the chief of the general staff, the chief of the Higher Political Council of the Army, and the commanders of the armed services and army corps were also Central Committee members.

The domestic security service, the Department of State Security (Departamentul Securitatii Statului--Securitate), thoroughly penetrated the country's armed forces and had informants in place at all levels to monitor the loyalty of military personnel to the PCR and to Ceausescu personally. One of its directorates had responsibility for counterespionage within the armed forces. The Ceausescu regime's major concern was the degree of Soviet influence within the professional officer corps. The Soviets reportedly had tried to exploit their traditionally strong ties with the officer corps to pressure Ceausescu. Some observers believed that the Soviet Union might lend its support to a military coup d'état in the expectation that Romania would become a more compliant ally under different leadership.

Data as of July 1989