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Bulgarian BMP-23 in Iraq.
Bulgarian T-72 Tank on a parade in Sofia.
Bulgarian BRDM-2.

The Bulgarian Land Forces are one of the service branches of the Bulgarian Armed Forces. Their existence is to be traced back to the establishment of the First Bulgarian Empire in 681. In more recent history the Land Forces have played an active role in the Bulgarian participation in the Balkan Wars,World War I and World War II. The Bulgarian Land Forces are scheduled to become fully professional by 1 January 2008, bringing an end to mandatory military service. The Bulgarian Air Force and Naval Forces are already fully professional.

The current Land Forces commander, who took up his post in 2006, is Major General Ivan Kirev Dobrev.



The Land Forces are functionally divided into Active and Reserve Forces. Their main functions include deterrence, defense, peace support and crisis management, humanitarian and rescue missions, as well as social functions within Bulgarian society.

The Active Forces mainly have peacekeeping and defensive duties, and are further divided into Deployment Forces, Immediate Reaction, and Main Defense Forces. The Reserve Forces consists of Enhancement Forces, Territorial Defense Forces, and Training Grounds. They deal with planning and reservist preparation, armaments and equipment storage, training of formations for active forces rotation or increase in personnel.

During peacetime the Land Forces maintain permanent combat and mobilization readiness. They become part of multinational military formations in compliance with international treaties Bulgaria is a Party of, participate in the preparation of the population, the national economy and the maintenance of wartime reserves and the infrastructure of the country for defense.

In times of crisis the Land Forces' main tasks relate to participation in operations countering terrorist activities and defense of strategic facilities (such as nuclear power plants and major industrial facilities), assisting the security forces in proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, illegal armaments traffic and international terrorism.

In case of low- and medium-intensity military conflict the Active Forces that are part of the Land Forces participate in carrying out the initial tasks for the defense of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country.

In case of a military conflict of high intensity the Land Forces, together with the Air Force and the Navy, form the defense group of the Bulgarian Army aiming at countering aggression and protection of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country.


Traditionally, the Bulgarian Army has relied on large numbers of well-trained infantry. During the Cold War the armed forces were expanded to a number of more than 200 000 men, supported by a very large Air Force, thousands of artillery pieces and anti-tank missiles, tactical ballistic missiles, hundreds of SAMs and AA cannons, and more than 1 500 tanks. All that was needed as a deterrence against its large southern NATO-member neighbour - Turkey, and to a lesser degree, Greece. In case of a conflict with NATO, Bulgaria was to use its anti-aircraft missiles and ATGMs to effectively destroy most of the enemy armor and aircraft, while the tanks and jet fighters were to combat the enemy units until back-up forces from the USSR arrived. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union Bulgaria's army has been reduced significantly in terms of numbers, but the number of defensive equipment (ATGMs and SAMs) has not been reduced drastically.


The Land Forces in peacetime used to consist of an HQ, Operational Forces Command, two Commands (East and West), Special Operations Forces Command and directly subordinate to the HQ units and formations.

  • Operational Forces Command comprised of two (2) mechanized, one (1) light infantry and two (2) separate mechanized infantry batallions; an artillery regiment, a logistics and material regiment and combat support units. Its predecesor was 3rd Bulgarian army, later 3rd Army corps.
  • West and East Commands comprised mobilization bases, centers and training ranges.In wartime the mobilization bases and centers deploy mechanized and artillery brigades and regiments. Their predecesors were 1st and 2nd Bulgarian armies, later 1st and 2nd Army corpses respectively.
  • Special Operations Forces Command comprised special operations brigade with one Special Forces batallion, one Special Forces Paratroopers batallion and one Alpine batallion as well as a separate Psychological Operations battalion.

All these commands were deactivated in 2006.


Major units

  • 9th Brigade Staff with two mechanized infantry battalions - Gorna Banya, Blagoevgrad
  • 13th Armored Training Center - Sliven
  • 5th "Shipchenska" Mechanized Brigade - Pleven
  • 61st "Stryamska" Mechanized Brigade - Karlovo
  • 2nd "Tundzhanska" Light Infantry Brigade (despite its name a Mechanised Brigade) - Stara Zagora
  • 68th Special Forces Brigade - Plovdiv with:

- 1st Special Forces Battalion „Spetznaz“ - Plovdiv
- 2nd Special Forces Battalion „Para-Recon“ - Sliven
- 3rd Special Forces Training Battalion
- 101st Alpine Bаttalion - Smolyan

  • Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment - Svoboda
  • 4th Artillery Regiment - Asenovgrad
  • 55th Engineer Regiment - Belene
  • 110th Logistic and Material Regiment - Plovdiv
  • 38th NBC Regiment - Musatchevo
  • 78th Staff Battalion - Gorna Banja


Structure in 1983 1st Army/MD (HQ Sofia)[1]

1st Gds. Trg. MRD (Sofia)
28th MRD          (Blagoevgrad)
9th Tank Bde      (Knayzhevo)
?th Scud Bde      (Samokov)

2nd Army/MD (HQ Plovdiv)

17th MRD          (Khaskovo)
2nd MRD           (Stara Zagora)
19th Trg. RD      (Pazardzhik)
5th Tank Bde      (Kazanluk)
11th Tank Bde     (Karlovo)
?th Scud Missile Bde  (Karlovo)

3rd Army/MD (HQ Sliven)

3rd MRD           (Burgas)
7th MRD           (Yambol)
18th Trg. RD      (Shumen)
13th Tank Bde     (Sliven)
24th Tank Bde     (Aytos)
?th Scud Missile Bde (Yambol)
?th Airborne Regt (Burgas)

Miltech 1989-90 said the Land Forces had 8 Motor Rifle Divisions (3 reserve/cadre); 3 Tank Brigades; 1 Independent Airborne Regt (manned by Air Force personnel); 7 Artillery Regts (4 "bdes" with/SCUD SS-1 SSM); and 4 anti-aircraft regiments (3 arty, 1 SAM).

Inventory of the Bulgarian armed forces

Armored vehicles and gunships on an exercise
Bulgarian army paratroopers with 5.56x45 AR-M2F rifle
Three T-72 Main Battle Tanks move forward to attack the OPFOR during a movement to contact during joint exercise Immediate Response at Novo Selo Training Area
T-72M2 tank on a parade.

Note: This table represents active equipment only; there are large numbers of equipment in reserve status. They are not listed here.

Personnel 29,000
Main Battle Tanks 160 T-72M1
Infantry fighting vehicles 114 BMP-23/A; 100 BMP-1P[2]
APC 150 BTR-60PB-MD1 8x8, MT-LB (tracked)
Armored patrol vehicles 7 M1117 4x4, 12 BRDM-2 4x4
M1114 Humvees 52
G-class armored jeeps 600
Artillery pieces over 100 mm (excl. mortar) 192
SAMs 208
AAA ca. 300
SS-21 18

See also

  • SOBT - Bulgarian special forces - Although not part of the Armed Forces the operators of that Ministry of Interior unit have enhanced close quarters combat, firing, driving (including APCs), parachute skills. The primary Counter-Terror asset of the Republic of Bulgaria, the unit is directly subordinated to the minister. Operatives are called unofficially "The Berets" because of their specific caps - berets. Unit is supported by the special forces of the Gendarmery National Service.


  1. ^ John Keegan, World Armies, Second Edition, 1983
  2. ^ Bulgarian army

External links


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