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          It must have happened that Slobodan Milošević was ousted, that Zoran Djindjić was killed, that a number of generals - including former chief of the General Staff and the head of military Security Service were arrested, in order to make the Army finally aware of the fact that real reforms are necessary. The problem is nobody is sure, even with the best will to find it out, what kind of the reforms those should be and what should be their scope. Nobody is completely sure whether the armed forces are necessary at all and, if they are, what should be their effective. Nobody knows whether this army will defend one or two states (as one or two armies) in three years. All in all, there are too many unknown variables which the new Defence Ministry is facing, trying to transform the armed forces which include more than 70 000 members into a smaller, more professional and better paid army including 50 000 members, which can be used in a better way.

          Some things have been done. After the ruling Serbian coalition had got rid of political opponents in federal administration, the new Defence Minister Boris Tadić succeeded to start the process of establishing at least a kind of parliamentary control of the army, particularly of the military security service. Honestly speaking, this control does not operate in the best way since the SCG Assembly Security Committee has not been established yet, nor have been the commissions for the control of security services. Tadić has admitted it, delivering his speech at the Faculty of Civil Defence recently. The hierarchy has not been established yet so it is not known who is responsible to whom in relations among the defence ministry, three parliaments, three governments and the courts.

          The state still does not have the national security strategy although Tadić has announced it will be adopted soon and therefore the Army still does not have its doctrine. Tadić said the Constitutional Charter does not recognise the institute of the national security strategy so the Defence Ministry will have to "ask the republic parliaments to adopt this amendment". The experts claim these documents should define the SMAF as a real defence force and as the army, which is a part of regional and European collective security complex. The combat against terrorism will, obviously, replace "the outer enemy."

          The Army is out of money. It has been so for a long time. The salaries have been raised slightly since Slobodan Milošević was ousted but the officers and, particularly, non-commissioned officers and contracted soldiers are very low paid. There are no flats and no one can say where there will be some, so officers and non-commissioned officers still live in the barracks, in cellars and in laundries. Therefore, procurement planning has been changed so the page with the ads and tenders has become one of the most interesting ones at the Army web site. Giggling maliciously, the Army has been following the imprisonment of a number of generals and colonels, due to the embezzlements in the military housing fund. Bojan Dimitrijević, Defence Minister Advisor, has recently said the status of the military property needs to be regulated since it is not so insignificant and could serve as a foundation for establishing a credit fund for solving material problems.

          However, there is no money even for the restoration of the existing equipment, let alone for buying the new one. The Army, which is selling its own warehouses, watchtowers and other premises, came, last autumn, to the point to let soldiers go home for weekends in order to make food savings. "New automatic rifle is a nice thing but it has no use if we do not have communications, vehicles and air force support," a high officer has recently said, watching the promotion of a new weapon produced by Zastava in Kragujevac. The Air Forces announced that, unless somebody finds the money, the fighter planes escadrille will have to be downed since the lifetime of the aircrafts is out and there is no money for a fundamental repair. For a long time, the Navy has been renting the training sailing boats for cruises along the Montenegrin coast (the prices are reasonable and the skippers are very kind and competent) and even training ship "Jadran" can be rented. Those who have money can buy some disused torpedo boat or some smaller watercraft. The submarine tunnel in the Boka Kotorska Bay, one of the best-protected places in the Balkans until recently, is now being rented for music festivals. Recently, in the manoeuvres field Pasuljanske Livade, a joint military-police exercise Integration 2003 took place. No competence or training was lacking but the soldiers looked like the poor relatives coming from the province, compared to the members of the Gendarmerie.

          Serbia, which is interested in financing the police, (as well as Montenegro is) gives money to the Army just because it has to and it does not do that without grumbling. Therefore, the state has no other choice but to reduce the army in order to be able to pay for it. The Army has been reducing itself since 1991, just - reflexly, since it could not endure its own size. Now it will be done with a plan, as it was announced, so the first unemployed ones are going to be the civilians in the Army, as Defence Minister has recently announced. Afterwards, all those who are close to retirement - will go. Some will leave the forces because they will rather choose to get other qualifications, but those programmes have not been established yet unless we take into account the transfer of a number of officers to the Gendarmerie or other police units. The final reduction will be performed by cutting down the number of conscripts. "We want the army which will not be a burden for the budget…" said Boris Tadić at the Faculty of Civil Defence. According to the data for 2002, the Army has received some $66 million from the federal budget to which Montenegro has not contributed at all for years. This year, the system of financing the armed forces has not been established so there is no military budget. In the meantime, only Serbia gives the money, paying the SMAF units even in Montenegro. Therefore, the Navy will probably be at the mercy of Montenegrin administration since Serbia did not express any wish to pay the price of superiority at the Adriatic Sea. On the other hand, the Montenegrins do not intend to pay for the Navy because the police forces are capable for control of the coast. Still, some of the Navy will hopefully survive.

          It has been expected that this troublesome financial construction will work better when a new system of jobs and position has been established, the General Staff included. The informed claim the phased forming of the sectors and departments will start soon since some of them have no purpose for a long time and some have been established as sinecures.

          Serbia and Montenegro have recently sent a letter of intention to join Partnership for Peace. This brings the SMAF even closer to NATO but also to peacekeeping and humanitarian operations worldwide. Joining PfP will make the Army face some other problems. The command structure will have to be adapted to the Programme’s standards, not only at the level of the General Staff, corps and the commands of the branches but also at the level of the commands of brigades and regiments. Here, the number of jobs and funds will be reduced, again.

          What is not less important, after two years of troubles and political games on the issue of loyalty and superiority, the Army was ordered what position should be taken in refer to war crimes. The armed forces obeyed this order but grumbling can be heard form different sides. This is not unexpected if we know that general Ratko Mladić had been under - formal or informal, all the same - protection of the Army of Yugoslavia and that Veselin Šljivančanin was permitted to enter military premises for some time after he had been retired. The army reform includes the reform of the mind because some people must understand that even a reasonable doubt that somebody has committed a war crime is enough to sully both uniform and the flag. In the meantime, Minister Tadić stated that the state would provide Šljivančanin with all necessary archival documents so he can prove his innocence in the Ovčara case. At the same time, Tadić said the guilt, if proven, must be individual.

          All in all, the team in charge for armed forces reforms has just started working while the international management will be formed in couple of weeks. All of them will face following problem - how to make a temporary solution which could, in case that joint state survives after the three-year period, remain as permanent. In that case only, the Serbian and Montenegrin Army could become a truly defence force which presents no burden for the region, no pressure for the society and has no problems with guilty conscience. 

        • Tags: military, reform, Serbia, Defense Ministry, smaf, armed forces, finance, national security, Partnership for Peace
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