The Warsaw Pact Organization united the military-political and ideological allies of the USSR in Eastern Europe. But, despite the entry into the bloc of a number of countries led by the Soviet Union, it also had weak points.
What place did the Bulgarian People’s Army occupy in the Department of Internal Affairs
It should be noted right away that it is very conditional to talk about the weakness or strength of certain armies of the Warsaw Pact, especially if we are not talking about the obvious leaders of the bloc like the armies of Poland or the GDR, but about “secondary” armies. As you know, the National People’s Army of the GDR was the most efficient in terms of training and armament, and in terms of morale among all the armies of the Internal Affairs Directorate after the Soviet one. The Polish People’s Army was in second place in terms of numbers after the Soviet Army, but in terms of combat effectiveness it was still inferior to the NNA of the GDR.
This was followed by the Czechoslovak People’s Army and the Hungarian People’s Army, also well armed and trained. But the number of the PNA was almost twice as large as the PNA. The armies of the southern countries of the bloc did not differ in special combat effectiveness, while Bulgaria was inferior to Romania in terms of the number and equipment of its armed forces. At the same time, the Bulgarians had an advantage over the Hungarians in that they had access to the sea and their own navy.
The Bulgarian army was not given much attention in the Warsaw Pact. This was due to the remoteness of Bulgaria from the supposed main theater of military operations in Germany. In the event of a conflict with NATO, the Bulgarian troops should have fought on the territory of Greece and the European part of Turkey. Accordingly, the potential opponents of the BNA were the Greek and Turkish armed forces (and the latter did not have their main part).
As a matter of fact, the weakness of the Bulgarian armed forces was traditional in the twentieth century: at first Bulgaria was the weakest ally in the four Germany – Austria-Hungary – Ottoman Empire – Bulgaria in the First World War, then – the weakest satellite of the Third Reich. However, in Bulgaria itself there was a completely different opinion about its military capabilities: for example, in some articles of Bulgarian historians it is emphasized that, allegedly, in the reports of the US CIA, the Bulgarian People’s Army was listed as the most combat-ready in the Warsaw Pact after the Soviet Army. Nobody has ever seen these summaries in the public domain …
What was the Bulgarian People’s Army of the 1950s – 1980s?
The armed forces of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria in the 1950s – 1980s included the ground forces, the air force, the navy, as well as construction troops, logistic services, civil defense, and military educational institutions. The Bulgarian army was most reminiscent of the Soviet one in its structure, and the uniforms, insignia, military ranks were almost completely copied from the Soviet ones, if we compare the armies of Bulgaria and, for example, the GDR, Czechoslovakia or Poland.
The BNA ground forces included 8 mechanized divisions and 5 tank brigades with approximately 1,900 tanks as the main force. However, with such an impressive number of tanks, most of them by the standards of the 1970s – 1980s. was already obsolete. But Bulgaria had a fairly combat-ready air defense, which included 26 S-200 divisions, 10 S-300 mobile units, 20 SA-75 Volkhov and Sa-75 Dvina, 20 2K12 KUB complexes, 1 2K11 anti-aircraft missile brigade. Circle “, 24 mobile anti-aircraft missile systems” Osa “.
The Bulgarian Air Force was armed with about 300 aircraft and helicopters, mainly – MiG-21, MiG-23, Mi-24 helicopters. The Bulgarian Navy included 2 destroyers, 3 patrol ships, 1 frigate, 1 missile corvette, 6 missile boats, 6 torpedo boats, etc. There were even 4 submarines in the Navy. In addition, the Navy included coastal artillery, naval aviation, and a battalion of marines.
In addition to the army itself, Bulgaria also had the Border Troops, which were part of the structure of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, but from 1962 to 1972. related to the Ministry of Defense of Bulgaria; Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs; Troops of the Committee for Postal Communications (government communications); Troops of the Ministry of Transport (railway, construction parts). The aggregate of all the troops and armed formations of the NRB by 1989 amounted to 325 thousand people.
It should be noted that, along with Poland and Germany, Bulgaria was among the three countries of the Warsaw Pact, where the number of power structures that are not part of the Ministry of Defense exceeded the actual size of the army. So, an important task of the border troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Bulgaria was to protect the state border of the country with Greece and Turkey, and in fact – to protect the borders of the socialist bloc from NATO countries.
Interestingly, the existing balance of power has been preserved in our days: Bulgaria can hardly be called a militarily strong NATO country, even if we compare it with other Eastern European states. It is not the last in the line of NATO armies in Eastern Europe only because of the collapse of Yugoslavia and the appearance of dwarf armies of the newly formed states. Of course, the modern Bulgarian army is stronger than the Macedonian or Slovenian, but it cannot be compared with the armed forces of the same Poland or Hungary.