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Romanian Land Forces
Forţele Terestre Române
Stema Statului Major al Fortelor Terestre.JPG 1 2 SMFT steag.jpg
The coat of arms and the identification flag
Founded 1860 - present
Country Romania
Branch Infantry, Mountain hunters, Artillery, Cavalry, Paratroopers, NBC
Part of Romanian Armed Forces
Command HQ Statul Major al Forţelor Terestre - Bucharest
Commander-in-Chief of the Land Forces Staff Major General Dan Ghica Radu
Marshal Constantin Prezan, Marshal Alexandru Averescu, Marshal Ion Antonescu
Roundel Roundel of the Romanian Air Force.svg
Military colors Battle flag of Romania (Land Forces model).png

The Romanian Land Forces (Romanian: Forţele Terestre Române) is the army of Romania, and part of the overall Romanian Armed Forces. Having completely overhauled their equipment, today they are well-equipped, and one of the most important new members of NATO.[1]

The Romanian Land Forces participated in World War I, together with the Russian Empire forces in actions against the Central Powers and, despite initial setbacks, won the decisive battles of Mărăşti and Mărăşeşti. During most of World War II (until August 23, 1944) Romanian forces supported the Axis powers, fighting against the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front. From August 1944 until the end of the war, Romania fought against Germany under the control of the Soviet Union. When the communists seized power after the Second World War, the army underwent reorganization and sovietization.

Following the 1989 revolution, due to shortage of funds, many units were disbanded and much equipment was phased out. Likewise, Romanian military capability declined because of a lack of fuel as well as training. However, since the late 1990s, a number of positive changes have come about and the level of combat readiness is growing greatly; since 1996, the military budget has grown more than four times - rising from 636 million dollars to 2.8 billion dollars in 2007. Conscription has been abolished and professionalisation of units is now taking place. The full modernization of equipment ended at the end of 2007.[2][3]



  • The Land Forces represent the most important component of the Romanian Armed Forces and they are destinated for execution of various military actions, with terrestrial or aeromobile character, in any zone or direction.[4]
  • The Land Forces must, independently or together with other Romanian military branches, conduct operations and defensive or offensive battles, for capture, or destruction of the invading enemy, being part of national, or multinational military structures.[4]
  • A part of the units which compose the current operational structure of the Land Forces, must be able to conduct military operations outside the national territory, together with the international military forces.[4]




King Carol I leading his troops during the Battle of Smârdan

The first attempt to create an independent Romanian army was made by Gheorghe Magheru during the 1848 Wallachian Revolution, and it was based at Râureni (now part of Râmnicu Vâlcea). However, Magheru rapidly ordered his troops to disband when the Ottoman forces swept into Bucharest to stop the revolution.[5]

Romanian troops taking Grivica Strongpoint

The current Romanian Land Forces were formed in 1859, immediately after the unification of Wallachia with Moldavia, and were commanded by Alexandru Ioan Cuza, Domnitor of Romania until his abdication in 1866. In 1877, at the request of Nikolai Konstantinovich, Grand Duke of Russia[6] the Romanian army fused with the Russian forces, and led by King Carol I, fought in the Romanian War of Independence. They participated in the Siege of Plevna and other major battles. The Romanians won the war, but suffered about 10,000 casualties. Until World War I, the Romanian army didn't face any other serious actions.

World War I

On August 27, 1916, Romania declared war on Germany and Austria-Hungary, following the initial success of the Brusilov Offensive (a major Russian offensive against the armies of the Central Powers on the Eastern Front). The Romanian armies entered Transylvania (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire), together with Russian forces. However, German forces under the command of General Erich von Falkenhayn repulsed the attack in November, 1916, and drove back the Romanians. The Germans drove deep into Romania and conquered the south of the country (Wallachia, including Bucharest) by the end of 1916. The Romanian forces, led by Marshal Constantin Prezan, retreated into the north-east part of Romania (Moldavia).

Romanian front during WWI

In July and August 1917, Prezan, aided by the future Marshal, General Ion Antonescu, successfully stopped the German invasion led by Field Marshal August von Mackensen.[7] General Alexandru Averescu led the Second Army in the victories of the Battle of Mărăşti (July 22 to August 1, 1917) and the Battle of Mărăşeşti (August 6 to September 8, 1917). As a result to the Russian Revolution, Romania was unable to continue the war on its own, and forced to sign the Treaty of Bucharest with Germany.[8] Later on, in 1919, Germany agrees in the Treaty of Versailles Article 259, to renounce to all the benefits provided by the Treaty of Bucharest in 1918. After the successful offensive on the Thessaloniki front which put Bulgaria out of the war, Romania re-entered the war on November 10, 1918, a day before its end in the West.[9]

World War II

Bucharesters greet the Red Army entering the city on August 31, 1944.

After General (later Marshal) Ion Antonescu took power in September 1940, Romania signed the Tripartite Pact with the Axis Powers and subsequently took part in Operation Barbarossa in 1941. An expeditionary force composed of the Third and Fourth Armies (the latter later downsized to form the Fourth Army Corps) invaded the Soviet Union in Basarabia and southern Ukraine, alongside the German Wehrmacht. This enabled Romania to annex territory immediately east of the Dnister. The Romanian Armies saw their first major battles at Odessa and Sevastopol, and in 1942 advanced with other Axis forces deeper into Soviet territory during Operation Blue.

Romanian Army tanks entering Chişinău in 1941

The greatest disaster for the Romanian expeditionary force on the Eastern Front came at Stalingrad, where, during the Soviet counter-offensive of November 1942, the thinly spread forces of the Third Army (deployed north of Stalingrad) and of the Fourth Army (deployed south of Stalingrad) were attacked by vastly superior Soviet forces and suffered combined losses of some 100,000 personnel.

During April–May 1944 the Romanian forces led by General Mihai Racoviţǎ, together with elements of the German Eighth Army were responsible for defending Northern Romania during the Soviet First Jassy-Kishinev Offensive, and took part in the Battles of Târgu Frumos. In late August 1944, the Red Army entered eastern Romania. On August 23, 1944, a coup led by King Michael I of Romania deposed Marshal Antonescu and set up a pro-Soviet government. It has been estimated that the royal coup shortened the war for Romania by six months.[10] Romania soon declared war on Nazi Germany, and the First and Fourth Armies were pressed into action. After the expelling of the last Wehrmacht remnants from Romania, the Romanian Armies took part in the Siege of Budapest and the Prague Offensive of May 1945.

Cold War

The Soviet occupation of Romania led to a complete reorganization of the Romanian Army under the supervision of the Red Army. At the onset, pro-German elements were purged from the Romanian armed forces. In 1944–45, two divisions were formed out of Romanian volunteers—ex-prisoners of war, trained and indoctrinated in the Soviet Union during the war, but also of many Communist activists. One was the Tudor Vladimirescu First Volunteer Division, under the command of Colonel Nicolae Cambrea, and the other the Horia, Cloşca şi Crişan Division, under the command of General Mihail Lascăr (who later served as Minister of Defense from 1946 to 1947). These two units formed the nucleus of the new Romanian Army under Soviet control. Once the Romanian Communist Party was in charge, 30% of officers and noncommissioned officers (mostly experienced soldiers, and a potential source of opposition to the sovietization of the Army) were purged from the military.[11]

Structural graphic of a Romanian Motor Rifle Division during the Cold War.

After the Romanian Communist Party seized political power, the sovietization of the army commenced, under the supervision of the new Minister of Defense, Emil Bodnăraş. This involved copying the Soviet model of military and political organization, and changing the military doctrine of combat and defense, also in the context of Romania's integration in the strategic system of the Soviets, at the beginning of the Cold War.[12]

In the early 1950s the RLF reached a level of 12 rifle, one mechanised, and one tank division. Between 1960 and 1964 the rifle and mechanised divisions were converted to motor rifle divisions, and reductions in strength began; force size dropped to six motor rifle and two tank divisions by 1970. From 1970 to 1976, three more motor rifle divisions were formed, but one was deactivated in 1977, and the eight motor rifle and three tank division figure remained that way for the rest of the Cold War.[13]

During the 1980s, the land forces numbered 140,000 personnel, of whom two thirds were conscripts, and the country was divided into three major military regions: Cluj, Bacău, and Bucharest in the west, east, and south, respectively.[14] In wartime the land forces in each military region would become an army corps with their headquarters in Cluj-Napoca, Iaşi, and Bucharest. The land forces consisted of eight motorized rifle (infantry) divisions (1st, Bucharest, 2nd, Craiova, 9th, Constanta, 10th, Iasi, 11th, Oradea, 18th, Timisoara, and 81st, Tirgu Mures) the 4th Tank Division at Bucharest and the 6th Tank Division at either Dej or Tirgu Mures, four mountain infantry brigades, and three airborne brigades.[15] Motorized rifle divisions were organized along the Soviet model with three motorized rifle regiments, one tank regiment, and a full complement of 12,000 infantry soldiers. The artillery, antitank, and air defense regiments of land forces divisions provided specialized fire support that enabled motorized rifle and tank regiments to maneuver. The air defense regiments consisted of two anti-aircraft artillery battalions and one surface-to-air missile (SAM) battalion, each composed of several batteries. In late 1980s the artillery regiments of motorized rifle and tank divisions included two artillery battalions, one multiple rocket launcher battalion, and one surface-to-surface missile battalion.

Surface-to-surface missile battalions were divided into three or four batteries, each equipped with one missile launcher. They operated thirty FROG-3 and eighteen SCUD missile launchers. The FROG-3, a tactical missile first introduced in 1960, was being replaced in other non-Soviet Warsaw Pact armies. Proven to be fairly inaccurate in combat, FROG and SCUD missiles would be ineffective weapons carrying conventional high-explosive warheads. Tipped with nuclear or chemical warheads, however, they could be devastating. According to one former Romanian official writing in 1988, Romania produced chemical agents that could be delivered by battlefield missiles.

Post-communist era

During the early 1990s, some major units were disbanded and a lot of equipment was phased out or scrapped due to a severe shortage of funds. The whole land forces structure was reorganized from armies into territorial corps, and from regiments into battalions. In mid-1990s, the situation of the land forces was critical: the military budget was three times lower than in 1989 (636 million dollars), 50% of the equipment was older than 30 years, and 60% of the armoured vehicles and 85% of the missile units were non-operational. Due to lack of fuel and training, the level of combat readiness and military capability was extremely low (only about 30% of the entire land forces were operational). However, after 1996 the government took serious action; the military budget was increased greatly, and modernization of equipment commenced.[16]

Present organisation


Humvees during a military parade in Bucharest
Gepard air-defense system.
Paratroopers belonging to the 60th Battalion.
Larom's during a firing exercise
Troops during training
Patrol mission in Afghanistan

In 2005, eight combat, four combat support and two logistic brigades comprised the military of Romania, while ten combat, five combat support and two logistic brigades could be further mobilized in case of crisis. Many of these units have been restructured, however, as part of the 2007 Force Plan. [4]

Currently, about 75,000 military personnel and 15,000 civilians comprise the armed forces, for a total of 90,000 men and women. Out of these 75,000, about 45,800 are in the Land Forces.[4]


The Romanian military is undergoing a three-stage restructuring. As of 2007, the first short-term stage was completed (reorganization of the command system, implementation of the voluntary military service). The year 2015 marks the end of the second stage (operational integration in NATO and EU), while 2025 is the date when the long-term stage is to be completed (full technical integration in NATO and EU). The stages aim at modernizing the structure of the armed forces, reducing the personnel as well as acquiring newer and improved technology that is compatible with NATO standards.[17]

Romania abolished compulsory military service on October 23, 2006.[18] This came about due to a 2003 constitutional amendment which allowed the parliament to make military service optional. The Romanian Parliament voted to abolish conscription in October 2005, with the vote formalising one of many military modernisation and reform programmes that Romania agreed to when it joined NATO in March 2004.[19]


The current Romanian Land Forces are organized into two Infantry Divisions, the Bucharest Garrison, the Honor Regiment, and a few independent supporting battalions as well as a series of instruction centers. In peacetime, the commander of the land forces is the minister of defense, while in wartime, the president becomes the supreme commander of the army.[4]

The main two Romanian units are the 1st Infantry Division Dacica and the 4th Infantry Division Gemina. Before June 2008, these units were known as the 1st Territorial Army Corps and the 4th Territorial Army Corps and in turn they used to be called the 1st Army and 4th Army prior to the year 2000. However, due to restructuring, their personnel have been reduced considerably in order to reach compatibility with NATO standards.

The current chief of the Romanian Land Forces Staff is Major General Dan Ghica Radu, succeeding Lieutenant General Teodor Frunzeti on 17 March 2009. The Land Forces official day is celebrated each year, on April 23.[20]

The current structure is as follows:[21][22][23]

Stema Statului Major al Fortelor Terestre.jpg General Headquarters - Bucharest

Romanian Land Forces Structure


A TR-85M1 company belonging to the 282nd Mechanized Brigade in an exercise.

The Romanian Land Forces has completely overhauled its equipment in the past few years replacing it with a more modern one. [3] The TR-85 M1 main battle tank and the MLI-84"Jder" infantry fighting vehicle, comprises the most modern native made equipment of the Romanian Land Forces. Also 43 ex-German Gepard anti-aircraft systems were commissioned in late-2004.[25]

The Land Forces ordered about 100 US Army Humvees; the first eight were delivered to the military police in December 2006. 31 Piranha III armoured vehicles (LAV III variant) and 60 URO VAMTAC high mobility vehicles were also ordered and will be required for deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007. [26][27]

Equipment Summary[28]

Equipment Numbers
Main Battle Tanks ~350
Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicles ~450
Armoured Personnel Carriers 1600+
Towed Artillery ~800
Self Propelled Artillery about 200
Multiple Rocket Launchers about 20
Self-Propelled Surface to Air Missiles about 150

Special Forces

Soldiers from the 1st Special Ops. Battalion boarding a IAR 330 helicopter
Special Ops in a communications exercise

The Romanian Land Forces contributes with three of the five special forces battalions of the Romanian Armed Forces.

The most famous and well trained unit is the 1st Special Operations Battalion (nicknamed "The Eagles"), which was legally created in late 2005,[29] after several batches of graduates had already been selected. Members of the special forces battalion have benefitted from courses abroad, such as the US Army Special Forces (Green Berets) course, the United States Marine Corps Force Recon course, as well as other courses. [29] The Special Forces battalion became fully operational during 2007, after a company had already been commissioned in early-2006.[30]

The current Romanian reconnaissance battalions (the 528th and the 317th) are considered special forces units, and were formed in the 1960s during the communist regime. After the revolution, the recon battalions suffered from a lack of funds which resulted in the disbandment of the 313th battalion. However, their equipment was completely overhauled in the past few years and the combat readiness and capabilities have regained full strength.[31]

DIR, Rapid Intervention Squad of the Romanian Ministry of Defense is an elite special operations unit of the currently belonging to the Romanian Military Police. It is a special unit inside the military, formed of highly-skilled individuals, a very large percentage of its members are champions in martial arts, kickboxing, athletic disciplines and so on. DIR was, until December 2003, top secret.

International missions

Romanian troops in Afghanistan

The following troops are deployed abroad:[32]


After the Revolution, many firing ranges and training areas were closed and abandoned due to lack of funds. Currently, the military schools and training units of the Romanian Land Forces are directly subordinated to the central headquarters. There are 3 military high schools (Câmpulung Moldovenesc, Alba Iulia and Breaza), one military academy (Sibiu), one officers school (Piteşti), 3 training schools (Sibiu, Piteşti, Buzău) and 9 training battalions. [21]

In the past few years, lots of training exercises took place in Romania with other Balkan or Allied countries. Most of these exercises took place at Babadag, which is one of the largest and most modern training firing ranges and military facilities in Europe, with a total surface area of 270 square kilometres. It was announced on December 6, 2006 that 1,500 U.S. troops stationed at Mihail Kogălniceanu, which in time will form Joint Task Force East, will be using Babadag as a training base.[34]

Ranks and insignia

The Romanian Land Forces distinguishes three career paths: officers (Ofiţeri), warrant officers (Maiştrii militari) and enlisted men (subofiţeri). The Marshal rank can be given only in wartime by the President of Romania;[35] in fact, Romania had only three marshals coming from the officers` rank in its history: Ion Antonescu, Alexandru Averescu and Constantin Prezan. Kings Ferdinand I, Carol II and Mihai I also held the rank of Marshal of Romania. King Carol I held simultaneous ranks as Russian Marshal and German Field-marshal.


  1. ^ (Romanian) România, cel mai important dintre viitorii membri ai NATO ("Romania, the most important among the future NATO members"), November 20, 2002.
  2. ^ Past and future modernization stages of the Romanian Army
  3. ^ a b (Romanian) Ministry of National Defense, Strategia de transformare a Armatei României ("Strategy for the transformation of the Romanian Army").
  4. ^ a b c d e f Romanian Land Forces Military Strategy, on the official MoD site. Retrieved on June 28, 2007.
  5. ^ (Romanian) Liviu Maior, 1848-1849. Români şi unguri în revoluţie (Romanians and Hungarians in the revolution), Bucharest, Editura Enciclopedică, 1998.
  6. ^ The telegram of Nikolai to Carol I (in Romanian): "Turcii îngrãmãdind cele mai mari trupe la Plevna ne nimicesc. Rog sã faci fuziune, demonstratiune si dacã-i posibil sã treci Dunãrea cu armatã dupã cum doresti. Între Jiu si Corabia demonstratiunea aceasta este absolut necesarã pentru înlesnirea miscãrilor mele" ("The Turks massed together the greatest troop at Pleven to lay us waste. I ask you to make mergers, demonstrations and if it is possible cross the Danube with the army as you wish. Between Jiu and Corabia, the demonstration is absolutely necessary to facilitate my movements.)
  7. ^ Vincent Esposito, Atlas of American Wars, Vol 2, text for map 40
  8. ^ John Keegan, World War I, pg. 308.
  9. ^ World War I Documents, Articles 248-263. Retrieved on February 28 2008.
  10. ^ Constantiniu, Florin, O istorie sinceră a poporului român ("An Honest History of the Romanian People"), Ed. Univers Enciclopedic, Bucureşti, 1997, ISBN 973-9243-07-X.
  11. ^ "Development of the Romanian Armed Forces after World War II", from the Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook.
  12. ^ Teofil Oroian, "«Umbrela protectoare» a consilierilor sovietici. Armata Roşie în România (Prolonged and Defying Stationing of Soviet Troops in Romania)", in Dosarele Istoriei, 12/2003, pp. 22-28.
  13. ^ Gordon L. Rottman, 'Warsaw Pact Ground Forces,' Osprey Elite Series No.10, Osprey, London, 1987, p.45
  14. ^ Library of Congress Country Studies - Romanian Land Forces.
  15. ^ The U.S. Country Study, along with several other sources, listed four airborne regiments for some time, but the IISS Military Balance 1991-92, p.82, revealed that this long-held western belief was mistaken; new official Romanian information available after the end of the Cold War apparently allowed the mistake to be corrected.
  16. ^ (Romanian)A Romanian Parliament debate regarding the status of the army in 1996. Retrieved on May 30, 2007.
  17. ^ (Romanian) Adevărul, România, cel mai important dintre viitorii membri ai NATO ("Romania, the most important among the future NATO members"), November 20, 2002.
  18. ^ Romania drops compulsory military service, United Press International, 23 October 2006
  19. ^ (Romanian) Ultima încorporare obligatorie, primele recrutări de militari profesionişti ("The last conscription, the first recruitment of military professionals"), Gazeta de Vâlcea, October 23, 2006.
  20. ^ (Romanian) Official Holidays of the Romanian Army on the Minister of Defense official site. Retrieved in May 2007.
  21. ^ a b (Romanian) Romanian Land Forces structure on the Official Site. Retrieved in April 2007.
  22. ^ (Romanian) Official site of the 1st Territorial Army Corps. Retrieved on May 5, 2007.
  23. ^ (Romanian) Official Site of 4th Territorial Army Corps. Retrieved on May 5, 2007.
  24. ^ (Romanian) Romanian Military Press, February 15, 2006.
  25. ^ New Romanian Gepard System. Retrieved in May 2007.
  26. ^ "Romanian Army selection of the Piranha III". Retrieved in May 2007.
  27. ^ (Romanian) The Romanian Army acquires new armoured military vehicles, Jurnalul Naţional, January 9, 2007
  28. ^ IISS Military Balance 2006.
  29. ^ a b (Romanian) România recunoaşte că are batalioane de forţe speciale ("Romania admits it operates special forces battalions"), August 1, 2006.
  30. ^ (Romanian) Minister of Defense - briefing on Romanian DoD site, March 3, 2005.
  31. ^ (Romanian)Special forces participating at the National Day Military parade, News, November 31, 2006. Retrieved on February 27, 2008.
  32. ^ (Romanian) Misiuni internaţionale, Romanian Land Forces website. Retrieved on April 2 2007.
  33. ^ Associated Press, Romanians Securing Vital Afghan Highway, March 31, 2007
  34. ^ (Romanian) Ion Navalici, US Troops deployed in Romania, Realitatea Românească, May 2, 2007.
  35. ^ According to Law regarding the Status of Military Personnel (80/1995)

Further reading

  • Gordon L. Rottman, 'Warsaw Pact Ground Forces,' Osprey Elite Series No.10, Osprey, London, 1987

External links

Simple English

Romanian Land Forces
Forţele Terestre Române
Founded 1860 - present
Country Romania
Branch Infantry, Mountain hunters, Artillery, Cavalry, Paratroopers, NBC
Part of Romanian Armed Forces
Command HQ Statul Major al Forţelor Terestre - Bucharest
Commander-in-Chief of the Land Forces Staff Major General Dan Ghica Radu
Marshal Constantin Prezan, Marshal Alexandru Averescu, Marshal Ion Antonescu

The Romanian Land Forces is what the army of Romania is called. It is a branch of the Romanian military. Since they renewed their supply of armor and arms, they are now very well equipped today and is an important member of NATO [1].


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