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Bulgaria Military


The military of Bulgaria consists of three services:

• the Bulgarian Land Forces,
• the Bulgarian Navy, and
• the Bulgarian Air Force.

The armed forces have as their patron saint Sveti Georgi (St. George), and Bulgarians celebrate his feast day, 6 May nationally as Valour and Army Day. Despite active participation in all major European wars since the end of the nineteenth century, Bulgarian forces have never lost a flag.

Bulgaria first became a major military power in Europe under Khan Krum and Tsar Simeon I, in a series of wars with the Byzantine Empire for control of the Balkan Peninsula, in the late ninth century. By the use of approximately 12,000 heavy cavalry in tactics resembling those of feudal knights, Simeon I's forces reached as far as the Byzantine capital, Constantinople, in AD 896. A formal peace treaty lasted until 912, when both sides became engaged in a war which ended with several major defeats of the Byzantines, including one of the bloodiest battles in the Middle Ages at Anchialus in AD 917. Bulgaria again became a significant military power under the rule of the Asen dynasty in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. During the rule of Tsar Kaloyan (1197-1207) Bulgaria became the first European country to defeat the Crusader knights.

Since gaining total independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1878, Bulgaria has functioned as a minor European power, frequently included in plans and wars of the Great Powers. In 1912, the Bulgarian forces invented the world's first aircraft dropped bombs and soon after became the first military in the world to utilise aviation bombardment, in the siege of Odrin. Thus Bulgaria's airforce is not only one of the oldest in the world, but also an early innovator in aviation military technology and 'air-to-surface' attack strategies/tactics.

Following a series of reductions beginning in 1989, the active troops of Bulgaria's army number as many as 68,450 today. Reserve forces include 303,000 soldiers and officers. "PLAN 2004", an effort to modernise Bulgaria's armed forces, aims to better meet the military needs of NATO and the European Union.

Bulgarian military personnel have participated in international missions in Cambodia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. Starting in 2008, Bulgaria will completely abolish compulsory military service. Bulgaria's naval and air forces became fully professional in 2006, with the land-forces scheduled to follow suit in 2008. Bulgaria's Special Forces have conducted missions with the SAS, Delta Force, KSK, and the Spetsnaz of Russia.

In April 2006 Bulgaria and the United States of America signed a defence-cooperation agreement providing for the development of the Bulgarian air bases at Bezmer (near Yambol) and Graf Ignatievo (near Plovdiv), the Novo Selo training-range (near Sliven), and a logistics centre in Aytos as joint US-Bulgarian military facilities. Bulgaria's navy comprises mainly Soviet-era ships, and two submarines. With only 354 kilometres (220 mi) of coastline, Bulgaria does not regard assault by sea as a major risk. In the course of recent modernisation efforts, Bulgaria purchased a new frigate from Belgium, and the navy seems likely to acquire four Gowind corvettes from the French company DCN. Bulgaria's air forces also use a large amount of Soviet equipment. Plans to acquire transport and attack helicopters are underway, in addition to a major overhaul on old Soviet weapon systems. Military spending accounts for nearly 2.6% of Bulgaria's GDP.


Military branches :
Bulgarian Armed Forces: Ground Forces, Naval Forces, Bulgarian Air Forces (Bulgarski Voennovazdyshni Sily, BVVS) (2008)

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