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Bulgaria Table of Contents


High Command

The high command consisted of the Ministry of National Defense and the General Staff. The minister of national defense was always a professional officer bearing the rank of army general or colonel general. In 1990, however, reformers called for a civilian defense minister to ensure civilian control over the armed forces. The military flatly rejected such demands, insisting that the minister of national defense must be a professional officer because civilians lacked the required expertise--despite evidence of able civilian administration of defense ministries in other countries.

The Ministry of National Defense was responsible for implementing the decisions of the National Security Council and the National Assembly within the armed forces. The ministry recruited, equipped, and administered the armed forces according to directives of the executive and legislative branches of government. The ministry linked the armed forces to the national economy for the purpose of procuring weapons and military equipment. The Ministry of National Defense was organized according to a Soviet model. The first deputy minister of national defense was also the chief of the General Staff, responsible for planning and directing the operational deployment of the armed forces and coordinating the actions of the three armed services in peacetime and wartime. The deputy minister's staff included a first deputy, several deputy chiefs, and a disarmament inspectorate. All military commands reported to the General Staff. The country was divided into three military districts. Daily military administration, however, was performed at the level of military regions corresponding to the eight provinces and the city of Sofia (see Local Government , ch. 4). Besides two communications brigades and the usual service and support battalions, the General Staff controlled several other organizations including a military scientific research institute, military history institute, military mapping and topography institutes, the Georgi Rakovski Military Academy, the Military Medical Academy, and the military medical infrastructure throughout the country.

The commanders of the ground, air, and naval forces were deputy ministers of national defense controlling separate service commands within the Ministry of National Defense. The service commands were concerned primarily with training and maintaining combat readiness in their units. Other deputy ministers of national defense included the chief of weapons and military equipment, the chief of the Material-Technical and Rear Support Command, and the chief of civil defense. Other elements reporting to the minister of national defense included the office of the inspector general, the departments of personnel, military education, medical services, international relations, military counterintelligence, military justice and procuracy, cultural institutions, and public information, and the radiation and chemical detection command post. The International Relations Department maintained contacts with foreign military establishments and their attaches in Bulgaria. The Cultural Institutions Department was responsible for several military museums, officers' clubs, theaters, cinema and art studios, and the BPA performing ensemble. The Public Information Department managed the press center, military publishing house, nine military newspapers and journals, and television and radio programs for the Ministry of National Defense.

In late 1990, the minister of national defense announced that reductions in the armed services would affect the command elements and administrative organizations within the Ministry of National Defense in proportion to reductions in operational forces. Some directorates with related functions reportedly were merged, but the full extent of reductions in the Ministry of National Defense was not yet evident in 1991.

Data as of June 1992