Newly independent Montenegro is in the process of determining what kind of defence force a country of 620,000 can afford to maintain.
By Antonela Arhin for Southeast European Times – 21/09/06
A group of youngsters wave Montenegro's national flags in front of the parliament building in Podgorica after the republic formally declared its independence from the state union with Serbia. [Getty Images]
Within weeks of becoming independent, Montenegro adopted a National Security Strategy and established a defence ministry. The newly independent state reaffirmed its commitment to becoming a part of the regional and global security systems, while setting forth an agenda for restructuring its defence forces.
The new Montenegrin Army will likely be based on land troops, while the amount of machinery will be drastically reduced. Currently, Montenegro has around 50 T-55 tanks and some 300 pieces of artillery of various calibers.
Due to a small military budget, Montenegro will most likely sell its entire air force, and could choose to request air protection from a neighbouring country.
The former federal navy had just over 1,000 professional soldiers. With around 620,000 citizens, Montenegro will not be able to pay for those forces alone. However, opinions differ as to how sharply the navy should be reduced.
Under one scenario, Montenegro could end up selling its battleships and reducing its navy to a coastal patrol. According to retired General Blagoje Grahovac, security adviser to the president of the Montenegrin parliament, such a patrol should suffice.
As for land forces, Serbia requires an army of 8,500-10,000 professional soldiers, while Montenegro can get by with 650-1,100, Grahovac says.
By contrast, the government's adviser for security, Radosav Martinovic, believes Montenegro needs a full-fledged navy and that a coast guard would not be enough.
According to Martinovic, the future Montenegrin army should be small in size, professional, integrated in the collective security system of the region and economically viable. It should have about 3,000 soldiers and in 2007 this number would decrease to 2,400 soldiers. The needs of this army would be met by 2% of the country's GNP. That would mean a gross sum of about 10,000 euros per soldier per year for salary, training, and scientific and technical development.
Tensions in the region have finally come to an end and there is no fear that the army could be used in a negative context, Martinovic said.