Overview - DEFENCE MANAGEMENT JOURNAL, Issue 36
Strategic defence in Romania
Sorin Frunza×verde, Minister of Defence, assesses what the underpinning new strategic environment poses for Romanian policy.
In defining our security and defence policy, we rely on the principles of collective, co-operative and indivisible security. In the current evolving security environment, subject to unforeseeable developments, national security cannot be exclusively ensured by domestic endeavours. We place a premium on dialogue, close co-operation and joint action at the regional and international level.
Thus, our double status as a NATO and an EU member is seen as being interconnected with the need to strengthen the bilateral relations and regional assistance, focusing on spreading stability in the region.
The Romanian status as fully-fledged NATO member and part of the Alliance's collective defence and security system has become a fundamental pillar of the national security and defence system.
The integration into NATO is also based on a new set of obligations in the defence sector. The key requirements of our contribution within the Alliance are as follows: fulfilling the commitments assumed within the allied defence planning process; supporting the initiatives aimed at developing the Allied Forces and capabilities; participating in the full spectrum of Allied operations, enhancing the interoperability and capacity for action within a multinational framework.
In this context, at the MOD level, a new stage of the military transformation process has been initiated, starting from a new set of priorities that put special emphasis on force restructuring and full operational integration in the NATO system.
With regard to the support and participation in the NATO initiatives aiming to transform the Alliance, Romania has a pragmatic approach and a proactive involvement. We place special emphasis on the NATO Response Force and strategic airlift, initiatives that are contributing to the development of the NATO rapid reaction capabilities and driving the transformation process of our national forces.
Romania also participates in Allied operations. We are committed to providing forces and capabilities for the initial phase of NATO operations launched in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Balkans and the Mediterranean. At present, Romania contributes about 1,100 troops to five NATO operations.
Romania is currently engaged in one of the major developments in the theatre of operations – the extension of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) throughout Afghanistan. We maintain our pledge to help make ISAF a success story, and consider that, given the complex challenges NATO have been facing in Afghanistan, it is essential that the Allies show solidarity and cohesion, also in terms of policy, defence and funding.
As far as the NATO operation in Kosovo is concerned, Romania's contribution is to be maintained at the same level. We uphold that the Allied presence should remain robust, including in the post-settlement phase.
We continue to stay engaged in Iraq, contributing to the equipping and training of the Iraqi Security Forces, both in Iraq and Romania. Moreover, we will maintain our contribution to Operation Active Endeavour, also endorsing the policies designed to increase co-ordination at the regional level and building upon co-operative approaches within the framework of international organisations.
The fight against terror is at the top of our agenda and the contribution to Operation Active Endeavour is a good case in point. The acquisition of two T-22 frigates as part of the Naval Forces' modernisation process made it possible for our forces to embark upon the first NATO collective defence operation. Our participation in 2005 with the 'Regele Ferdinand' Frigate, and in 2006 with the 'Regina Maria' Frigate helped us gain expertise and operational skills. The warships conducted surveillance operations, patrolling, hailing, compliant boarding, as well as escorting non-military vessels. This range of missions has contributed to an enhanced Mediterranean and, by extension, Black Sea maritime security by exhibiting a deterrent posture towards any terrorist action – prone perpetrator.
In order to contribute to regional and global security, and strengthen its status as NATO member, Romania will continue to provide support for Allied endeavours, gradually making available forces and capabilities for missions assumed within the framework of the Alliance.
Enhancing our participation in the EU military initiatives is another priority of our defence policy. Romania's involvement in the process of developing the EU defence capabilities is focused on our contribution to rendering the rapid reaction capabilities operational, especially the EU Battlegroups (BGs). In this respect, Romania is engaged in establishing two such structures: one BG alongside Greece, Bulgaria and Cyprus, to be in stand-by in the 1st semester of 2007, and one with Italy and Turkey – in stand-by in the 2nd semester of 2010.
From an operational viewpoint, Romania identifies itself as a steady presence in the crisis management operations led by the European Union, especially in the Balkans, making its contribution of both military and civil capabilities1.
Romania promotes a proactive regional policy, meant to contribute to the stability and security of South Eastern Europe, especially the Balkans and the Black Sea area, by enhancing the bilateral military co-operation and political/military dialogue, developing regional multinational co-operation initiatives, as well as of defence reform assistance programmes.
As an EU border state and NATO member, Romania has built upon its new status in order to facilitate by means of the Allied policies and mechanisms, the advancement of democratic reforms and stability in its southern and eastern neighbourhood, by means of the Allied policies and mechanisms. Romania's experience in the process of transformation and reform, for integration purposes, has become a central topic in the relationships at all levels with our neighbours who aspire to membership or an enhanced partnership status. So far we have developed a good association with Georgia in the area of defence planning; Moldova, Azerbaijan and Serbia have also showed interest in co-operating in this field.
Romania's NATO membership and EU integration opens new partnership opportunities in the Black Sea area. The increase of the Black Sea strategic importance requires a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach to regional security, with a view to countering asymmetric risks and settling frozen conflicts through national, regional and international organisations' efforts. Our approach to the area is based on the principles of transparency and co-operation.
At the Defence Ministry level, we attach paramount importance to the development of the Navy in order to increase its competitiveness in the Black Sea area. Our priorities are underpinned by modernisation programmes, as well as training and regional assistance.
The acquisition of the two T-22 frigates is part of the Naval Forces' modernisation programme, aimed at providing the Navy with modern ships and advanced capabilities. Further replacement and capability upgrade projects will be implemented, for instance, the Romanian Navy is going to set up a new sea surveillance system connected to NATO commands and acquire new capabilities such as mine hunters, corvettes, and a logistic ship.
Our forces take part in all South Eastern regional initiatives intended to increase confidence and co-operation, and are engaged in regular exercises, based on crisis management and civil emergency planning scenarios. It is worth mentioning our participation in the South Eastern Europe Defence Ministerial (SEDM) process which developed two significant initiatives. Firstly, the South Eastern Europe Brigade (SEEBRIG) deployed last February in Afghanistan, under NATO command, for a period of six months. Secondly, the South Eastern Europe Simulation Network Exercise (SEESIM), supported by computer-assisted simulation, designed to test and improve communication and co-ordination of nations in crisis situations (including natural disasters and terrorist attacks). Last but not least, I would like to mention our participation in BLACKSEAFOR, an 'on call' force meant to develop the co-operation and interoperability of littoral States' Naval Forces for specific missions (search and rescue, humanitarian aid, environmental protection operations, mine countermeasures).
To conclude, Romania's security and defence policy is underpinned by the evaluation of the new strategic environment that poses both challenges to Romania, by the complex security risks and threats, as well as opportunities, such as NATO and EU membership, and enhanced bilateral and regional co-operation.
1 We participate in the Operation EUFOR Althea, which must be added to our previous military and civil contributions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Romania also participates with civil personnel in EUBAM Rafah – the EU border assistance mission at the Rafah crossing point, in the Palestinian territories, between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. Furthermore, in the context of the EU endeavours to consolidate the African crisis management capabilities, Romania contributed to the Peacekeeping School in Koulikoro/Mali, where their trained military observers from the African states participate in the African Union Mission AMIS II in Darfur/Sudan.