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Romania Table of Contents


Military Personnel

In 1989 virtually all men who were eighteen years of age or older had to serve in the armed forces or Ministry of Interior units to maintain them at full strength. The terms of service in the armed forces were sixteen months in the ground forces and air force and two years in the navy and in the Border Guards. The armed units of the Ministry of Interior, the security troops and the militia (police), also served two years (see Ministry of Interior and Security Forces , this ch.). They were selected during the same annual induction cycle as were those called to serve in the armed forces. Students accepted into civilian universities were required to serve nine months on active duty prior to matriculation or to take instruction from the military faculty and become reserve officers after graduation. The demographic strain of universal male military conscription on the national labor pool, however, forced the Ceausescu regime to cut the armed forces by 10,000 soldiers in 1987. Also because of demographic trends, by 1989 women had achieved a small, but increasingly visible, role in the armed forces.

According to Article 36 of the 1965 Constitution, defense of the country is the duty of all citizens, and military service is obligatory, but only men were subject to induction into the armed forces. Young men generally accepted compulsory military service as a reality of life in Romania. There were no provisions for conscientious objection and no alternatives to military service. Conscientious objectors had traditionally been subject to harsh treatment by political authorities. Seventh Day Adventists who refused to serve in the army during the 1930s were imprisoned. During World War II, citizens who refused military service were charged with treason and summarily executed. In the late 1960s, small numbers of Nazarenes were arrested for objecting to compulsory military service. In 1989, however, authorities granted limited numbers of deferments from service in extreme cases of family hardship or illness and granted, as well, some educational exemptions. Still Romania lacked the organized movement of youths opposing military service that had developed in several non-Soviet Warsaw Pact countries in the 1980s.

Data as of July 1989