The army is an inevitable part of any country. We do not mean that a country needs to be such powerful in order to grab more the possible territories. No. We mean that a country needs to have a strong army in order to be protected. If an attacker knows that he will meet some resistance, we less desire will he have. The same here, the army is just a matter to say, “Look, it’s dangerous to attack us. It’s better not to do this.” Therefore, this structure is so important.
Slovenia has a strong army. Moreover, the country is a member of the Transatlantic Military Treaty, NATO. This means that it is highly protected, and it can expect the help of other members as well. Slovenian Military Forces have a long history and complicated structure.
Slovenian army was created only for purposes of defense. There was no situation when the Slovenian army attacked somebody. Thus, we propose deep into its structure and history a little bit in order to understand the function and its role in the region. Let’s start!
The official name of the Slovenian army is the Slovenian Armed Forces or SAF in abbreviation. Since 2003, it became a professionals only army. The Commander-in-Chief of the SAF is the President of the Republic of Slovenia. Today, it is Borut Pahor, who was the Prime Minister of Slovenia from November 2008 to February 2012, and now he is the 4th President of Slovenia.
The operational command is in the hands of the Chief of the General Staff of the Slovenian Armed Forces. Now, it is the brigadier, Robert Glavaš. Moreover, the external and internal defense policy of the country is directed by the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Slovenia. Nowadays Minister of Defense is Matej Tonin.
Slovenia joined NATO on 29 March 2004, almost at the same time as the EU. In 2003, the Slovenian government provided a referendum asking whether Slovenian citizens want to join those two organizations. The answer was positive, with 89.61% voting for EU membership and 66.02% for NATO membership. The last one has strengthened Slovenia’s security for sure. Now, Slovenian soldiers are taking part in collective defense and crisis management in the regions where necessary.
When the Yugoslav Wars happened, Slovenia declared independence in 1991. At that time, the Slovenian Territorial Defence and the Slovenian police were part of the Yugoslav People’s Army. On the other hand, the Slovenian Armed Forces were established in 1993, when the government reorganization of the Slovenia Territorial Defense Force and transformed it into SAF.
After 1993, the Slovenian army required every physically able man to serve obligatory. The training was taking 6-7 months.
However, everything changed in 2003, when the Slovenian government changed the law. From 2004, the army forces were completely reorganized in order to become the professional army lead by volunteers. The quantity of soldiers is 7,300 active troops and approximately 1,500 in reserve. Oppositely to 55,000 persons during mandatory service, but the quality raised exponentially.
Under NATO, Slovenian elite units participate in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as on Cyprus. Moreover, they are parts of the Multinational Land Force, the peacekeeping battalion with Italy, Hungary, and Croatia. Slovenian soldiers take part in Cooperative Adventure Exchange since 1998. This is the multinational disaster-preparedness camp involving almost 6,000 troops from 19 countries members of NATO. In general, the Slovenian Army Forces served in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Chad, and Lebanon under the guidance of the Transatlantic Treaty.
The Slovenian Army Forces are divided into three categories: professional soldiers (full-time soldiers), contract reserve soldiers (serve up to 30 days per year), and voluntary recruits (soldiers who have just basic training).
The order of branches is the following:
General Staff of the Slovenian Armed Forces, in Ljubljana
- Joint Operations Center
- Situation Monitoring Section
- Movement Coordination Section
- Operations Management Section
- Support Branch
- Force Command, in Vrhnika
- Forces Command Support Unit, in Vrhnika
- Military Police Unit
- Electronic Warfare Unit
- Communication and Information Systems Unit
- Combined Arms Training Center
- 1st Brigade, in Ljubljana
- 72nd Brigade, in Maribor
- Logistic Brigade, in Kranj
- Medical Unit, in Šentvid
- 15th Wing, at Cerklje ob Krki Air Base
- 16th Airspace Control and Reporting Centre, in Zgornji Brnik
- 107th Air Base, at Cerklje ob Krki Air Base
- 151st Helicopter Squadron, at Cerklje ob Krki Air Base
- 152nd Aircraft Squadron, at Cerklje ob Krki Air Base
- 153rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, at Cerklje ob Krki Air Base
- Flight School, at Cerklje ob Krki Air Base
- 430th Naval Division, in Ankaran
- Naval Operations Center
- Multirole Vessels Detachment
- Special Underwater Operations Detachment
- Explosive Ordnance Disposal Platoon
- Special Operations Unit, in Kočevska Reka
- Special Operations Company
- Combat Service Support Company
- Special Operations Training Center
- Specialized Unit of the Military Police, in Ljubljana
- Military Education Center, in Maribor
- Slovenian Army Sport Unit
Equipment and Weapons
Now, Slovenia maintains one military airport Cerklje ob Krki near the town of Brežice. Also, Ljubljana Airbase (partially military) shares the airport with Ljubljana International Airport. There is located one Bell 412 for the purposes of mountain rescue.
The navy includes two underwater vessels: one of them is being remote-controlled, whereas the second is man operated.
Furthermore, the Slovenian Military Forces own 84 battle tanks and universal tanks, 314 mechanized infantry combat vehicles and armored personnel carriers, and 240+ artillery pieces. Frankly speaking, this is a decent quantity for such a small country like Slovenia.
Slovenian soldiers are equipped with Italian handguns, Beretta 92FS, while officers and special forces have Swiss and Slovenian prototypes. Slovenian Military Police and special units use German MP5, the submachine guns. There are also Italian shotguns Benelli M4 available. Assault rifles from Yugoslavia, Zastava M70, are used only by reserve soldiers.
On the other side, current professional soldiers have FNs from Belgium certified by NATO. Snipers use Austrian Steyr SSG 69 and three different types of French PGM: Ultima Ratio, Hecate One, and Hecate Two. In addition, the Slovenian Military Forces own grenade launchers from Belgium and Germany, anti-tank warfare from Sweden, Germany, and Israel, as well as man-portable air-defense systems from Russia.
Special Police Unit (Specialna Enota Policije) is the special military police tactical unit, specialized in Counter-Terrorism issues. It was created in 1972 as a response to several terrorist attacks in Yugoslavia and the hostage crisis at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. After the break of Yugoslavia, the local unit became the national one.
Their tasks include anti-terrorist tasks, the arrest of dangerous criminals, VIP guarding, securing locations, co-operation with other police units, and their training.
The selection for this unit if highly competitive. A candidate must be in service at least six and a half years. They had to have some special habits like martial arts, shooting, skiing and so on. The candidates are medically examined as well as are asked to pass various psychological and physical tests in order to be prepared to push their physical and psychological limits.
The weaponry of this unit is wider, and it includes sniper rifles and light machineguns besides the pistols and assault rifles. Moreover, they have special armored vehicles for crisis regulation.
The unit is organized in three sections: the Command, the Operational Activity Section, the Operational Support Section (logistical and expert support), and the Bomb Disposal Section.
Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum (If You Want Peace, Get Ready for War)
The army is very important for the existence of any country. Of course, today, we are living in the 21st century, where warfare is not so common. However, the negative examples of Ukraine or Georgia show that we need to be prepared for anything, even for an attack from close friends.
The perfect example of the best army situation is the Swiss army. They still have obligatory military service, and their army is considered as decently powerful. Moreover, people there did not want to cancel the service. They had a referendum and voted for the decision to leave the obligatory military service.
Another situation is regarding the countries members of NATO. This Transatlantic Treaty is a really powerful deal that proclaims common defense of all the members. Therefore, when one member is attacked, other members are obliged to send troops, equipment, arms, nutrition, and so on to the place of the fight.
Slovenia is one of such countries. It was a wise decision to cancel obligatory service and switch to a professional type of army. Today, NATO units can mobilize in half a day into any point in the EU. This means that there is no reason to spend a lot of money into making everyone the soldier but to spend this budget in order to pay people whose profession is to be a military. Moreover, Slovenia has a nice strategic position, it is protected by mountains. So, it will be the last country to experience invasions. And at the very end of this article, we would like to remain an old expression. Make peace, not war!