18 July 2019
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Author: Faris Kočan

Photos: Jure Eržen/Delo, Bruno Toich, Tomi Lombar/Delo

Under the leadership of the first female head of staff, Slovenian Army’s role remains crucial for preserving stability and peace in the Western Balkans.

The dynamic and rapid geopolitical changes have contributed to a new, radical and complex international security environment, in which regional instability and conflicts shake both the eastern and the southern neighbourhood. This paradigm, which can best be described as stable instability, is something that Slovenia, as part of Euro-Atlantic constellation, can’t escape. 

In the last few years, however, new threats are more sophisticated than ever. Scholars and politicians call them hybrid threats (since they encompass cybernetic risks), which is the reason why the dividing line between peace and conflict is less perceptible. In such times of uncertainty, Slovenia appointed a new army chief of staff, Alenka Ermenc, who became the first woman to assume the top military position not only in Slovenia but also in NATO.

Ermenc, who replaced Major General Alan Geder, will face challenges that arise out of a fundamentally changed contemporary security paradigm. Focusing on the region of Western Balkans, Slovenia will continue with its efforts to preserve regional peace.

Slovenia’s military tradition dates to the times of Carantania, the first Slovenian state established in the seventh century.

Slovenian popular memory still recalls the battles with Turkish invaders which raged between the end of the 14th century and the great victory over Turks near Sisak in 1593.

In the Austro-Hungarian Army, Slovenian regiments and soldiers were highly appreciated and recognised. In 1918, they constituted the base for the first army in modern Slovenian history, which was composed of approximately 12.000 men. This army defended Maribor, Slovenia’s second largest city, and its surrounding countryside, as well as the region of Eastern Carinthia (Koroška in Slovenian).

In 1919, the Slovenian army was disbanded and replaced by the Yugoslav army. During the years of German occupation between 1941 and 1945, an almost completely autonomous Slovenian partisan army was formed. It was disbanded quickly after the war.

In 1968, when the countries of the Warsaw Pact attacked Czechoslovakia, Yugoslav authorities established semi-autonomous Territorial Defence forces to protect member republics in the federation.

In October 1990, in a raid on the headquarters of the Slovenian Territorial Defence in Ljubljana, the Yugoslav People’s Army for the first time used weapons against the new Slovenian Armed Forces.

In October 1990, in a raid on the headquarters of the Slovenian Territorial Defence in Ljubljana, the Yugoslav People’s Army for the first time used weapons against the new Slovenian Armed Forces.

The next attempt to impose the will of Yugoslav People’s Army was on 23 May 1991, when it unsuccessfully tried to seize the Territorial Defence training centre in Pekre (near Maribor) and take over the conscripts.

On 25 June 1991, Slovenia declared Independence. On the same day, the Yugoslav People’s Army launched an armed attack to occupy Slovenian border crossings. The war ended on 7 July 1991 with the signing of the Brioni Declaration.

 

Battle uniform is worn by military personnel during all activities and tasks related to military training, as well as during combat assignments.

In addition to class insignia for soldiers, non-commissioned/petty officers, officers, and generals/admirals, the Slovenian Armed Forces also use class insignia for junior and senior military specialists.

The reserve component of the Slovenian Armed Forces is composed of citizens who have signed a voluntary contract with the Ministry of Defence. Since the abolition of conscription, the Slovenian Armed Forces provide citizens with a possibility of voluntary military service.

Since 29 March 2004, when Slovenia joined the North-Atlantic Alliance, Slovenian Armed Forces have taken an even more active part in supporting international peace.

With the Alliance strengthening its readiness and responsiveness, Slovenia continues to contribute to the adjustment of the Alliance command structure and assists the most vulnerable allies in the east.

In accordance with the Alliance’s unity and solidarity, 50 members of Slovenian Armed Forces are part of the multi-national battalion group in Latvia.

In October and November 2018, 250 members of the Slovenian Armed Forces participated in the largest Allied exercise after the end of the Cold War in Norway (Trident Juncture 2018).

In 2015, members of Slovenian Armed Forces participated in numerous exercises in Spain, Italy and Portugal.

In November 2018, there were 7.469 permanent members of Slovenian Armed Forces and 811 Army Reserve members. 16.5% of them are women.

In 2015, members of Slovenian Armed Forces participated in numerous exercises in Spain, Italy and Portugal.

In November 2018, there were 7.469 permanent members of Slovenian Armed Forces and 811 Army Reserve members. 16.5% of them are women.

The structure of the permanent members of Slovenian Armed Forces is as follows: soldiers (38.8%), non-commissioned officers (29.6%), officers (16.2%), military personnel (8.8%), and civilian personnel (6.6%).

Defence expenditure remains at around 1% of GDP. By 2023, the spending will increase by an average of 43 million euros to reach 679 million euros (1.11% of GDP).

By 2024, Slovenian Armed Forces plan to establish its first mid-battalion battle group.

Slovenia participates in 12 international peacekeeping missions under NATO, the EU, UN, OSCE, and other international frameworks. 350 members of Slovenian Armed Forces have participated in the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Latvia.

With more than 5% of the permanent composition of the Slovenian Armed Forces, Slovenia is among NATO allies with the highest percentage of deployed soldiers.

The most demanding missions in which the members of Slovenian Armed Forces participate are in Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali, and Lebanon.

The largest number of deployed members of the Slovenian Armed Forces are recorded in Kosovo (241), while the smallest number is in Ukraine (1) under the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission.

Adriatic Journal

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