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          Vice president of the Democratic Party Boris Tadić came to the key position in the Serbian and Montenegrin Defence Ministry in a very difficult moment for Serbia. The assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić, key person in the political life, has made the political situation more complicated, with the consequences that still cannot be foreseen. Contrary to some expectations, during the state of emergency, the government succeeded to win the battle against the organised crime and the most dangerous groups, which recruited their members from the state security system, a part of political opposition and public life. The echo of these activities is being transferred to the Defence Ministry, step by step: a very strong message has been sent that the armed forces reform should be started and the ten-year period, in which the top leader of the Defence Ministry "did not interfere with his own affairs", has been finished. The static and archaic concept is being replaced by a dynamic and open one and Defence Minister himself is leading this process.

          Joining Partnership for Peace is the most important goal of the Ministry and government at the moment, gaining also a significant public support. In his addressing the NATO Council in Brussels on May 7th, Minister Tadić stated PfP is not only a goal but also the process, promotion and respecting the same values. Certainly, joining Partnership for Peace will mean verification of the reform course taken by Belgrade government but it will also "colour" one "white spot" in the system of Euro Atlantic security. International support to this new course is almost unanimous at the moment, strengthening significantly the credibility of new ministry. Yet, the real challenges are still to be faced.

          At this moment, no one can seriously claim there is a strict plan of the reform in the defence system of Serbia and Montenegro. First of all, several problems slow down the reform in the security system: economic (in) capacities, exercising processes in the newly formed state union as well as the fact that several previously created plans and estimations of the reform exist. Apart from these circumstances, Defence Minister’s team also faces the processes which are being daily mixed and keeps the constant communication with the financial sector of the state union.

          One of the most important request is to complete the legal basis for the reform, meaning creating and verification of the national security strategy, i.e. defence strategy and then the military doctrine and other relevant documents in refer to defence, as well as the White Book. This necessary move is expected to be made within the next six months. It is important to mention that there is an expectation in the Army that these documents will regulate the size and the goals of the Army itself, even to the details. On the contrary, these documents will have more influence on the legitimating the new reform course, making the most important goal to change the opinion that this country should defend itself according to the elements of the Cold War doctrine. Namely, these documents must confirm the opinion that the defence of the country is now understood as a part of collective defence of the whole region and promote the understanding that there are no regional alliances oriented against one side. The starting phases in this project are to identify those thesis and ideas, which cannot be doubted, and later the documents will be created, compatible and recognised as a relevant component of our reformed understanding of defence.

          The reforms, which were accomplished in the Army in the period 2000-2002, were, first of all, reduction and not reorganisation. Even before, the Army tried itself to get free of its burdens. Now this concept must be changed, approaching the comprehensive reform of the defence system, having in mind - first of all - the limited financial possibilities.

          Speaking about the personnel changes in the military top, which are necessary for the reforms, the greatest problem Minister Tadić has is to identify which higher officers are capable and competent to carry out the reform. Since the Democratic Party, as a political opposition to Slobodan Milošević, did not have supporters in the military top, the process of finding competent people is difficult and possibly long lasting one. Having in mind that it is not necessary to replace "only generals" who will change their direction of loyalty but to make structural changes in the team which is willing to go ahead and which must do that, we get a clear idea how serious this problem is. These experts should carry out the reform but also the process of approaching the international integrations.

          Certainly, a new concept of reforms includes also planning further organisational changes in the defence system, starting from the Defence Ministry: phased reduction of the existing military effective (some 78000) to the number which can be adequately financed (50000-?), regulating the status of military property which can be a good basis to found a credit fund, aimed also for solving social problems, more than necessary modernisation of our forces. What has been done so far and what is the time plan for further reorganisation?

          In April 2003, it was ordered that the intelligence and security services should be transferred from the General Staff to the Defence Ministry, while necessary intelligence and military police departments were formed in the General Staff. The day before Minister Tadić visited NATO Council, the Supreme Defence Council ordered transfer of the General Staff into the Defence Ministry. Therefore, after a decade of parallel existing and direct responsibility of this institution to the state top, it has been included into the Defence Ministry as it functional part. Minister Tadić held the first meeting of the Defence Ministry Collegium on May 12th, where the chief of the General Staff General Branko Krga also attended. It is expected that the transfer and phased forming of different sectors, sections and department will be done in the next period.

          By the end of the year, the General Staff should be released of the jurisdiction, which is to be transferred to the Defence Ministry. First of all, this includes the transfer of particular elements of logistics such as long-term planning and security, procurement, reconstruction factories, experimental centres, etc. Furthermore, there follows the bringing together organisational units with the same jurisdiction such as legal, informational, construction and other doubled departments, dividing a number of artificially made units, which sometimes were established just to solve personnel problems and did not have justified purpose.

          In the course of 2004, the sectors (departments) of the branches should be transformed into commands with the branch elements, namely: the command of the Army (active and reserve), which would absorb now existing departments of the branches within the Army Sector, then the unique corps or command of the Air Force and Air Defence Sector and, finally, the command or a brigade of the Navy. The last step implies reduction but survival of the single command of navy forces. It is completely possible that - if the republics get divided after the referendum in 2006 - Montengro solves this issue in its own way.

          In the same year, further reorganisation of the corps should take place, according to the national security or defence strategy, so the number of the army corps could be reduced, forming two active forces corps in Serbia: one, oriented to the South and the other, oriented to the North. The rest of the non-active units could be included in one corps of the reserve (territorial) forces. The forces in Montenegro, due to the specific characteristics of the state union but also to the strategic double orientation, can stay organised as one corps, reinforced by the forces taken from the Navy.

          Redefinition of the military duty will also be important since decisions must be made: whether the soldiers will serve the whole time in the educational centre, leaving for home (reserve) afterwards or the military duty will stay divided to training and serving at active unit as it is today. According to this solution, the length of the military service should also be determined (shortened) while all the details in refer to the choice of the republic and way of serving (with or without arms) should be regulated.

          In 2005, adaptation of the organisational scheme of commands to NATO-PfP structure (J-1 to J-7) could be completed, started with the General Staff and continuing with the corps or the commands of the branches and lower levels of brigades-regiment-bases. It can be noticed that in some countries entering Partnership for Peace this change has been done only at the top, and has been neglected in the lower units.

          The referendum in 2006 would mean not only a test for the survival of the state union but also a probe for the security concept and it would mark the end of the first phase of its reform. All reform activities must be adapted to the prerequisite that possible dividing of the republics must not cause security problems for either of the republics or the region. It is one of the main ideas of present reforms. 

           

        • Tags: smaf, armed forces, Serbia, military, Defense Ministry, Defence minister, Partnership for Peace, reform
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