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Romania Table of Contents


Border Guards

In 1989 the Border Guards were a separate, smaller armed service equal in standing to the other three services and also subordinate to the Ministry of National Defense. With a force of 20,000 soldiers, the Border Guards had the mission of defending Romania's nearly 3,200-kilometer border with Bulgaria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and the Soviet Union and preventing Romanians from leaving the country illegally.

The Border Guards were organized into twelve brigades and were equipped essentially in the same way as the motorized infantry troops. These brigades were responsible for thirty-two-kilometer- wide border sectors of varying lengths depending on the difficulty of the terrain in their area of operation. They staffed watch towers, patrolled fences and well-lit border strips, and maintained electronic sensors and surveillance systems along the border. Approximately 600 Romanian Navy sailors functioned as the maritime component of the Border Guards. They operated several Shanghai IIclass fast attack craft (gun) as riverine patrol boats on the Danube borders with Bulgaria and Yugoslavia.

In the 1980s, the Border Guards reportedly used lethal force to prevent illegal emigration to Romania's more liberal neighbors, Hungary and Yugoslavia. Consequently, the borders with Yugoslavia and Hungary were more heavily guarded than were those with Bulgaria and the Soviet Union. The latter were ordinarily guarded only at major highway and railroad-crossing points. The Border Guards also helped to enforce customs and export laws by controlling the flow of goods across Romania's borders.

The Border Guards were the first line of Romania's defense in wartime. They had the mission of preventing an invader's special forces units from infiltrating to sabotage, disrupt, or disorganize military mobilization. In the event of an invasion or attack, the Border Guards would offer initial resistance, use delaying tactics, and try to impede the enemy's advance until the ground forces and Patriotic Guards units could mobilize and reinforce them.

Data as of July 1989