Bulgaria Table of Contents
The assigned mission of the BPA under the Warsaw Pact was to defend the southwestern border of the alliance. In practice, this mission was considerably more oriented to offensive operations than official pronouncements implied. Located within what the Soviet General Staff called the Southwest Theater of Military Operations, Bulgaria would have confronted Turkey in case of a Warsaw Pact conflict with NATO. As indicated by several joint amphibious landing exercises undertaken with the Soviet Union, Bulgaria's principal objectives would have been to control Thrace and to help Soviet forces seize and hold the critical straits at the Bosporus and the Dardanelles.
In the new geopolitical climate of 1991, military spokespersons emphasized different sources of military doctrine, including the constitution, resolutions passed by the National Assembly (Subranie), the United Nations Charter, international law, and declarations of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE--see Glossary). Military spokespersons cited active efforts to pursue mutual security and trust with Turkey and Greece as well as good relations with Yugoslavia, Romania, and other European nations. The military denied all territorial claims against neighboring countries and stressed that participation in the CSCE process indicated their respect for the inviolability of European borders. They publicly rejected the threat or use of force against any country except in legitimate self-defense of territorial integrity, national independence, and sovereignty. Arms control was an important element of military doctrine before and after the overthrow of Zhivkov. Bulgaria had long advocated, without success, the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in the Balkans. In the mid-1980s, the Zhivkov government arranged several unproductive meetings of the Balkan countries on nuclear disarmament. The primary aim of this effort was elimination of NATO nuclear weapons in Turkey. A signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty of 1968, Bulgaria regularly pledged not to possess or produce nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction. In 1990 the country was embarrassed, however, by the revelation that it possessed eight Soviet-made SS-23 missile launchers eliminated from the Soviet inventory under the terms of the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate- and Shorter-Range Nuclear Missiles in 1987. While acknowledging receipt of SS-23 missiles and launchers in 1986, Bulgaria categorically denied having any nuclear capability associated with them. It offered to dismantle the systems in accordance with the treaty. Similar allegations about the presence of intermediate-range Soviet SS-20 missile launchers in Bulgaria had appeared in the foreign press in 1984 but were never substantiated. Zhivkov called for a ban on chemical weapons in the Balkans in 1985 at the same time as the United States accused Bulgaria of storing chemical weapons on its territory.
The CFE was a contentious issue within the Warsaw Pact in 1990. The treaty committed Bulgaria to limiting its ground and air forces to a percentage of the Warsaw Pact's combined ceiling of 20,000 tanks, 30,000 armored combat vehicles, 20,000 artillery pieces, 6,800 combat aircraft, and 4,000 attack helicopters. However, the Warsaw Pact divided its overall ceilings so that the Soviet Union received most of the apportionment and the other former Warsaw Pact countries were limited to smaller quotas. Bulgaria's quotas were 1,475 tanks, 2,000 armored combat vehicles, 1,750 artillery pieces, 235 combat aircraft, and 67 attack helicopters. In 1990 the minister of national defense disclosed that the Warsaw Pact debate over weapons allocation had been acrimonious because each member tried to maximize its quota, hence its security, before the alliance's military organization dissolved.
In 1991 Bulgaria did not have a formal law on national defense, and its military doctrine was still largely defined by Warsaw Pact declarations and documents. The Warsaw Pact's Political Consultative Committee had formally adopted a defense doctrine and the principle of reasonable sufficiency during its May 1987 meeting in Berlin. Closely following this doctrine and the Soviet example, Bulgaria then implemented a new national defensive doctrine calling for reasonable sufficiency. In the inexact and halting process of quantifying this term, military leaders basically agreed on the need to ensure national security at the lowest possible level of armaments. But the levels required to deter potential enemies or defend the country against them proved to be more debatable. By 1990 some clear steps had been taken toward reducing offensive weapons systems in favor of defensive ones (see Armed Services , this ch.).
Like professional military officers in other countries, the Bulgarian general staff viewed doctrine less from its political and diplomatic aspect than from its strictly technical military aspect. The technical side of doctrine focused on planning for a number of likely military contingencies and scenarios threatening national security. Although Bulgaria's political stance was based on a lack of enemies, the technical or worst-case military planning aspect of doctrine was dictated by the country's geopolitical position, the decline of the Warsaw Pact, and the possibility of instability in the Balkans.
Data as of June 1992
Bulgaria Table of Contents