The defense, which in 2004 is based on general military
duty with an initial service of twelve months, comprises
97,000 men and is organized into ten brigades, one of which
is an air landing brigade, seven frigates/fighters, 38
patrol boats and 105 fighter aircraft. The material is
semi-modern of Soviet and domestic origin. The reserves
amount to about 100,000 men and the semi-military security
forces to about 80,000 men.
Romania applied for membership in NATO in 1997 and became
a member in 2004. During the period 1996–2001, defense costs
stood at 2.5% of GDP. Romania participates in a number of UN
peacekeeping efforts, including with 100 men in Bosnia and
Herzegovina (SFOR II) and additionally in Afghanistan with
400 men and in Iraq with 450 men. To see related acronyms about this country, please check ABBREVIATIONFINDER where you can see that ROM stands for Romania.
Romania's defense overview
Romania discharged military military duty in peacetime in
2007. The country participated in the NATO Partnership for
Peace Cooperation from 1994, and became a full member of
NATO in 2004. The country has restructured its military
forces to participate in NATO and UN operations.
Personnel and material
The strength of the Romanian armed forces is 69,300
active personnel, a reserve of 50,000 personnel, and a
semi-military gendarmerie with 57,000 personnel (2018, IISS).
For the army, the force is 36,000 active personnel. Heavy
materials include 418 tanks (260 T-55, and 158 TR-85, which
are Romanian license-produced modernized T-55 variants), 139
storm tanks and 851 armored personnel vehicles.
The Air Force has a strength of 10,300 active personnel.
Material comprising 12 fighters of a F-16, 24 fighter of a
MiG-21 Lancer (MiG-21 modernized in cooperation with
Israel), two reconnaissance, 12 transport, 32 trainers and
The Navy has a strength of 650 active personnel. The
fleet includes three fighters, four corvettes, 20 patrol
vessels, 10 minesweepers, a minelayer, and eight auxiliary
In 2018, Romania participated in NATO operations in
Afghanistan (Operation Resolute Support) with 742
personnel, in Kosovo (KFOR) with 71 personnel, and had
deployed 120 personnel in Poland (Enhanced Forward
In addition, Romania participated, among others, in the
EU operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUFOR) with 48
personnel, and in UN operations, among others, the
Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), and South Sudan (UNMISS).
Romania also participated in Operation Inherent Resolve
with 50 personnel deployed in Iraq.
policy after 1989
Romania aligned itself with Western European and Atlantic
structures after the communist regime collapsed and
democracy was introduced in 1989. The country gained
membership in NATO in 2004 and in the EU in 2007.
Relations with NATO and the EU
Although Romania was a member of the Warsaw Pact and
Comecon during the Communist era, the country had marked a
more independent position with the Soviet Union since the
1960s than was usual in the Eastern bloc.
Following the fall of the Communist regime in 1989,
Romania advocated for the fastest possible integration into
Western European and Atlantic structures. The country joined
the Council of Europe in 1993 and was the first country in
Eastern Europe to sign NATO's " Partnership for Peace "
agreement in 1994. During NATO's war against Yugoslavia
(Serbia and Montenegro) in 1999, Romania authorized NATO to
use its airspace for bombings against Yugoslavia. Romania
joined NATO in 2004.
The country has close ties to the United States and from
2002 sent soldiers to the ISAF force in Afghanistan. From
2003 to 2009, Romanian soldiers were also in Iraq. During
the Iraq war in 2003, the United States was allowed to use
Romanian bases in the Black Sea region for the replacement
of crew and equipment, and in December 2005 a formal
US-Romania agreement on US military presence in Romania was
signed. Later, a Romanian airbase in Deveselu in southern
Romania was rebuilt and expanded to form NATO's missile
shield against medium-range missiles, it was officially
opened in 2016 with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg,
among others.present. From NATO's point of view, it was
emphasized that the missile shield is not aimed at Russia,
but rather at Iran, without reassuring Russia.
In 1999, the European Commission opened to open
negotiations with Romania on EU membership. Romanian
politicians saw it as desirable for the country's economic
development and political support, but at the same time felt
that the EU, by area after area, demanded reforms or
restructuring of political and economic structures. Since
Romania and Bulgaria did not meet EU requirements on time,
the two countries did not become members in 2004, when eight
other countries from central and eastern Europe (besides
Malta and Cyprus) became members. For Romania, the EU
demanded, among other things, further reforms regarding the
independence of the judiciary, intensified fight against
corruption, and continued structural changes in business,
such as increased privatization in the energy and transport
In spring 2005, the European Parliament approved the
membership agreement between Romania and the EU. The same
happened for Bulgaria. The agreement was formally signed in
Luxembourg in April 2005. Romania joined the EU on 1 January
2007. The country held for the first time the presidency of
the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2019.
It was expected that Romania, together with Bulgaria from
2011, would join the Schengen cooperation. Romania felt that
all conditions had been met, but the Netherlands and Finland
vetoed the fall of 2011 on the grounds that Romania and
Bulgaria had not progressed far enough in fighting
corruption and organized crime, even though the technical
conditions for membership were fulfilled. Finland later
stated its opposition to including Romania and Bulgaria in
the Schengen cooperation.
Relations with neighboring countries
The relationship with Hungary has at times been somewhat
tense because of the minority issue, there is a large
Hungarian minority in Romania and a small Romanian minority
in Hungary. But both countries have endeavored to maintain
an open dialogue, and cooperation measures, including in the
military field, have been initiated. A 1996 agreement
between the two countries includes both terms for the
minorities and assurances that the borders are fixed.
Many in Romania found it unreasonable that the Republic
of Moldova and Romania were not merged into one country by
the fall of Communism, as it was before the Soviet
annexation of Bessarabia in 1940, and as it happened with
East Germany (GDR) and West Germany. But neither the
Romanian government nor the authorities of Moldova have
worked for a reunion. Romania has also emphasized expanded
cooperation with Moldova in many sectors, and sees an
approach between Moldova and the EU as an important strategy
for closer relations between Romania and Moldova.
In relation to Ukraine, there have been disagreements
about the terms of the Romanian minority in Bukovina and
southern Bessarabia, about the right of dominion over the
Snake Island with the surrounding maritime territory and
over the continental shelf in the Black Sea. The island had
to be surrendered to the Soviet Union (Ukraine) in 1948,
without being stipulated in the post-war peace treaty.
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Romania
and Ukraine left the International Court of Justice in The
Hague to settle the dispute over the Snake Island. In a
February 2009 ruling, Romania was granted the right of
domination over approximately 80 per cent of the disputed
maritime territory (the extent of the continental shelf and
exclusive economic zone). The island itself remained
The relationship with Bulgaria is good, and the countries
have cooperated on bridge projects across the Danube, which
are the boundary rivers between them.
Romania and Serbia have traditionally had a good
relationship, although Romania during NATO's 1999 war
against Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) opened its
airspace for NATO's aircraft. Romania had not yet joined
NATO, but wanted membership. Romania is also one of the EU
countries that has not recognized Kosovo as an independent
state. In the Banat area, which is located in both
countries, there are minorities of Serbs on the Romanian
side of the border and Romanians on the Serbian side, none
of them are particularly large.
In relation to Russia, hidden Russian support for the
Transnistria separatists (the easternmost part of Moldova)
has been a problem, but also Russian unrest over some of
Romania's US-friendly commitments, not least Romania's 2016
participation in NATO's missile shield through the military
base in Deveselu.