chapter  10
19 Pages

Democratic soldiering in Romania: From norms through policy to reality


Romanian society has experienced a dramatic change over the last two decades. Before 1989, Romania was a member of the Warsaw Pact with one of the fiercest dictatorial regimes; it had a well-defined defence doctrine, a conscript army of about 300,000 soldiers and an integrated national defence industry. Today, Romania is a member of both NATO and the EU, and its peacekeeping troops are spread from Afghanistan to the Balkans; it has an all-volunteer army with a flexible force of 75,000 soldiers and 15,000 civilians, and its security sector has experienced a profound transformation. The pace of reform was dramatic, not only in terms of downsizing the military and setting up mechanisms for the democratic control of the armed forces but also in terms of strategic thinking and the vision of the role of the military in a democratic society. Despite the fact that the reform process originated from a domestic impulse, Western assistance, particularly NATO’s open door policy, was instrumental in encouraging and guiding efforts to build the idea of a democratically integrated military in Romania. The issue of civilian control of the military was high on the reform agenda during the transition period. Both the Western institutions that assisted the transition and domestic political forces demanded democratic norms for civil-military relations and institutions. The adoption of these was carried by public support, particularly driven by the desire to return to the country’s Western identity and get rid of a set of threats. This chapter analyses how the democratic norms of civilian control have been designed and implemented in Romania; describes the mechanisms of democratic control; and explains whether and how the norms were internalized by Romanian soldiers. The first part describes the contextual variables that explain how the democratic pattern of civil-military relations was designed and implemented, meaning the particular features of Romanian political culture and national tradition and security perception, as well as the role of external factors in the design of norms and institutions. The second part

describes the way in which the normative image of democratic soldiering has been constructed in strategic documents and the military education system, and how it is aimed at in the related institutional socialization process. The third part concentrates on the soldiers’ views. To investigate this level of the democratization process, an empirical study was carried out at a Romanian defence academy and in two fighting units.1