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Military of Belarus
Ministry of Defense Republic of Belarus.jpg
Current form 1992
Service branches Army
Air Force
Leadership
Commander-in-Chief President Alexander Lukashenko
Minister of Defense Col. Gen. Leonid Maltsev
Manpower
Available for
military service
2,520,644 (2005 est.), age 18 years
Reaching military
age annually
males: 85,202 (2005 est.)
Expenditures
Percent of GDP 1.4% (FY2002 est.)

The Armed Forces of Belarus consist of the Army and the Air Force, all under the command of the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Belarus. Colonel General Leonid Maltsev is currently the Minister of Defense. Being a landlocked country, Belarus has no navy.

The previous Belarusian National Republic of March 1918 to 1919 did not have time to create armed forces in its brief existence, although attempts to create a military have been documented.[1]

The Republic of Belarus has conducted effective military reforms within the last decade which have reshaped its armed forces as a relatively effective force for a small state in somewhat difficult economic conditions.[2]

Contents

History

On September 20, 1991 the Supreme Soviet of Belarus passed resolution "On the formation of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus" and on January 11, 1992 resolution "On the Armed Forces deployed in the territory of the Republic of Belarus." Practical steps followed the declarative resolutions. On March 18, 1992 the parliament passed resolution "On the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus" that bound the government "to start the formation of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus as of March 20, 1992" and "to submit to the Supreme Soviet for approval the suggested structure of the Armed Forces, their size and order of their material and technical supplies".

On November 3, 1992, Belarus passed the law "On the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus" defining the status, structure and guiding principles of the Armed Forces.[3] After the introduction of presidency the law was amended twice: on September 4, 1996 and on November 9, 1999 but on the whole the law retains its initial contents.

Organization

Until 1992 the Belorussian Military District of the USSR comprised the 5th Guards Tank Army, the 7th tank army, the 28th army, the 120th Guards Motor Rifle Division, the 51st Guards aviation division, the 72nd Guards United Training Center and also logistical units and formations. In addition to these troops Belarus was the area of deployment for units subordinated directly to the USSR Defense Ministry and chief commanders of different Armed Forces services, namely the 103rd Guards air-borne division, the 38th Guards air-borne brigade, the 11th corps of the 2nd Separate Air Defense Army, the 26th Air Army and also units and formations of the Strategic Rocket Forces, Long Range Aviation, the Navy and special forces.

In May 1992 the Belorussian Military District was abolished, and on January 1, 1993 all service personnel on Belarussian soil were required to either take an oath of loyalty to Belarus, or leave. This oath however did not alleviate concerns regarding loyalty to Russia in time of crisis, especially since nearly 50% of all military personnel were ethnically Russian at the end of 1992.

Current personnel in the armed forces number 72,940 (IISS 2007), although a reduction to 60,000 is planned. Most soldiers are conscripts serving for a period 12 months (with higher education) or 18 month (without). The branches are as follows[4]:

  • Army: 29,600 soldiers (6th Guards Mechanized Brigade (Grodno), 11th Guards Mechanized Brigade (Slonim) 120th Guards Mechanized Brigade (Minsk), two mobilization brigades (mech),[5] 5th Separate Spetznaz Brigade, five artillery brigades and four regiments, two MRL regiments, 15th, 29th, 115th, 120th and 302nd SAM Brigades, two SSM brigades, two brigades and one regiment of engineers, 8th NBC independent brigade, two signals brigades, 40th independent NBC battalion. Army equipment includes 1800 MBT, 2600 AFV/APC. The weapons and equipment storage bases include the 50th (Brest), 19th, 34th & 37th (former tank divisions), 3rd, and 28th (Baranovichi). Weapons storage bases that have been disbanded include the 29th, 30th, 193rd, and the storage base that used to be the 8th Guards Tank Division at Marina Gorka.
  • Air Force and Air Defense Forces: 18,170 personnel (two fighter/interceptor bases, four FGA/reconnaissance squadrons, one transport air base, training aircraft, and attack and support helicopters, SAM units). Air Force equipment included in 2004 260 FGA/training aircraft and 80 Attack Helicopters.
  • Joint: 25,170 (Centrally controlled units (including 72nd Guards Unified Training Center?), MOD staff)
  • Internal Troops Three independent brigades and seven independent battalions (consecutively numbered)

On 21 December 2001, a major reorganization of the Ground Forces produced two operational-territorial commands, formed from two former corps headquarters.[6] All Belarus air and ground forces are now grouped within these two commands, the Western Operational Command at Grodno, former from the previous 28th Army Corps, the former Soviet 28th Army, and the North Western Operational Command, the former 65th Army Corps, at Borisov.

In 1995 the Military Academy of Belarus was set up on the basis of two military educational institutions - the Minsk Air Defense and Rocket School of the Air Defense Forces and the Minsk Higher Military Command School. Its 10 departments train officers of 38 specialties for practically all arms of service. Also in 1995 it was given the status of a government institution of secondary special military education for young men.

Since about 2001, territorial defense forces, which as of 2002 number around 150,000, have been forming, organized into battalions, companies, and platoons spread across Belarus.[6]

Equipment

Belarus-Transporting T-72B

The military forces of Belarus are exclusively armed with Soviet-era equipment inherited from the Soviet Union. Although large in numbers some Western experts consider some of it outdated. The MBTs are of Russian type T-72, T-62, and T-55, and AFVs are of Russian type MT-LB, BMP-2, BMP-1, and the BMD-1, and Russian type trucks are the GAZ-66 and the KAMAZ-6560. The Air Force is equipped with MiG-29, Su-27 fighters,Su-24, Su-25 bombers, as well as Mi-8, Mi-24, and the Polish built Mi-2 attack helicopters. In December 2005 Belarus bought 10 L-39 jet trainer aircraft from Ukraine, and plans were announced to buy 18 used Su-30K fighters. In 2006 four batteries ('divisions' in Russian terminology; about 6 systems each) of S-300 anti-aircraft systems were acquired from Russia to reinforce the united CIS air defense system (ru:Объединённая система ПВО СНГ)

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Light equipment

Armored Ground Vehicles

MBTs

AFVs

Artillery

Air Defense

Military doctrine

The military goals of the armed forces of Belarus are to defend the interests of the Belarusian state. This however is at times ambiguous, and is made even more complex with the various agreements that have been recently signed with Russia. Membership in the Commonwealth of Independent States, as well as the 1996 treaty on the Union of Russia and Belarus and the Treaty of the Formation of a Union State in 1999, has confirmed a close partnership with Russia. Much of the air defense system is integrated into the Russian defense network, and in 2006 the two nations signed an agreement on the creation of a unified air defense system.[7]

References

  1. ^ Selected Bibliography of works on the struggle for Belarusian Independence 1900-1921 in the Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library in London
  2. ^ Dr Steven J Main, The Belarusian Armed Forces: A Military-Political History 1991-2003, Conflict Studies Research Centre, RMA Sandhurst, 2003. This is the definitive work in English on the recent history of Belarus's armed forces.
  3. ^ Pavel Bykovsky & Alexander Vasilevich, Military Development and the Armed Forces of Belarus, Moscow Defence Brief, CAST, 2007
  4. ^ Routledge, IISS Military Balance 2007, p.158-159
  5. ^ One of the equipment storage bases is the 19th, the former 19th Guards Tank Division at Zaslonovo in the Lepiel region. On October 1, 2003 the base has strongly added in "weight". From other bases of storage of arms and techniques now we are distinguished favourably by new structure. Besides a battalion of protection, storage and service, motor-rifle and tank battalions were added. http://www8.brinkster.com/vad777/sng/belorussia%5Cbelorusia.htm
  6. ^ a b Main, 2003
  7. ^ Russia, Belarus to sign agreement on joint air defense system, GlobalSecurity.org, 2006

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