Another European country looks set to join the “draft comeback” as Romania’s defence minister Angel Tîlvăr announced he wants to expand the nation’s military.
The country has been struggling to attract new soldiers, leading experts to predict the reintroduction of the draft.
In Spring 2023, Romania’s then-prime minister Nicolae Ciucă spoke out in favour of reintroducing the draft.
Tîlvăr’s comments follow a recent announcement by Serbia’s military to do the same, where the defence minister in Belgrade has been pushing for a return of mandatory military service.
There, the draft idea comes as tensions grow in the Western Balkans region, particularly in Bosnia and Kosovo, where Serbia was militarily involved until recently.
Serbia’s defence minister Miloš Vučević has denied that a re-introduction of the draft will raise tensions in the Balkans. https://t.co/Ejvj9SXRMd
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) January 5, 2024
“We want to increase the forces of the Romanian Army from 80,000 to 100,000,” said Tîlvăr.
That might be difficult; it was reported that Romania’s defence ministry recorded just over 72,000 positions had been filled last year.
It is believed that number is now even lower, as resignations continue.
Romania finds itself on the frontline of NATO and EU defence policy, geographically close to the war in Ukraine and reported instability in Moldova.
Speaking to Romanian outlet Stirile BZI, military analyst Aurel Cazacu said he “did not rule out the reintroduction of compulsory military service”.
“More and more NATO countries are thinking about it and some have even opted for this,” he added.
The core issue, experts say, is that the pay and conditions for those in the Romanian military are not good enough to keep the soldiers it has, much less attract new recruits.
While the Government wishes to increase the manpower of its army, navy and air force, there are questions as to how many personnel it currently has.
Cazacu said that conditions of work and wages are largely to blame. With the exception of the some military bases shared with US and other NATO soldiers, most barracks in Romania have not been upgraded since the Soviet era.
The current salary for a Romanian non-commissioned officer (such as sergeant, or corporal) is between €459 and €994 per month.
The country borders Ukraine, where the Russian invasion has caused disruption in Romania and other Eastern European nations.
When the July 2022 Black Sea Grain Initiative between Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations collapsed last year, Ukraine sought to re-route much of its grain shipments through the Danube River.
That led to Russian drone strikes on Ukrainian shipping in the vicinity of the Danube Delta, shared between Ukraine and Romania, some of which landed in Romanian territory, it is claimed.
The war in Ukraine has also led to calls for military conscription in some of the European Union’s more traditionally pacifist nations.
In November, Colonel André Wüstner, the President of the German Armed Forces Association, said the draft was “necessary to improve personnel recruitment for the Bundeswehr [armed forces]”.
Germany should reintroduce conscription to strengthen its military, says the president of the German Armed Forces Association. https://t.co/dWTtuKdMHf
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) November 6, 2023