PERMANENT

The Thracians are the oldest and most numerous population that has inhabited the Balkan lands since 4th millennium BC. Militant and brave, they wield to perfection the art of war and are known as superb warriors. Wanted allies to many neighbours of the antiquity, they give the world Orpheus and the great leader of the oppressed slaves- Spartacus. In 5th c. BC the Thracians found the kingdom of the Odrysai. The mutual contacts of the Thracian material culture with the Greek classics and the epoch of Roman emperors leave exceptional masterpieces which now are part of our national treasure.

In 7th c. AD the mobile cavalry of the proto-Bulgarians, headed by Khan Asparuh, unites in battle alliance with the infantry of the Slav tribes, settled permanently in the lands over Danube River. Thus is founded Bulgaria – one of the first states in Europe in the Middle Ages. The successful wars with the Byzantine Empire, Arabs, Avars and other invaders, enlarge the state borders and turn Bulgaria into one of the states of primary importance in the South-East Europe. The Bulgarian rulers Khan Krum, Tsar Simeon the Great, Tsar Samuil are wise statesmen and superb military leaders. The battle of Varbishki Pass in 811, the defeat of the Byzantines in 917 near Achelous River, the inimitable strategic idea and realization of the campaign in 986 are steps forward in the European art of war.

The Tarnovo uprising of 1185 - 1187, headed by the bolyars (Bulgarian noblemen) Asen and Petar restores the Bulgarian state and sets the beginning of political and military upsurge. New fortifications are built. The Bulgarian troops have at disposal all kinds of troops, typical for the epoch – light and heavy cavalry and infantry, servicemen for the siege machines and fleet. The offensive becomes a basic strategic action. Borders of the Bulgarian state reach three seas – the Cherno More (Eng. - Black Sea), the Aegean and the Adriatic ones.

In the battle of Adrianople in 1205 Tsar Kaloyan defeats the unconquered untill that time army of the knights-crusaders. After the victory over Epirus despot Theodore Comnenus in 1230, the Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Asen II proudly proclaims himself “Tsar of Bulgarians and Byzantines”.

The armed resistance of the Bulgarian and other Balkan peoples at the end of 14th c. plays a decisive role for restraining the Ottoman invasion to Europe.

After semi-centennial period of resistance against the Ottomans, in 1396 they finally conquered Bulgarian lands. Bulgarians did not accept the their own status of people, deprived of rights, which is proved by never-ending rebellions and uprisings. After the unsuccessful uprising of the Heirs apparent to the throne Konstantin and Fruzhin in 1408, Bulgarians support the troops of Polish-Hungarian King Vladislav III Yagello (Varnenchik) and Transylvanian voivode Yanosh Hunyadi during their marches in Bulgaria in 1443 and 1444 and take part in the decisive battle of Varna on November 10th, 1444.

Within a century three uprisings burst out: First Tarnovo uprising (1598), Second Tarnovo uprising (1686) and Chiprovo uprising (1688). As early as in the first decades of the foreign oppression arouses the hajduk struggle - an original form of permanent resistance against violating personal, religious and national honor and dignity. In 1860s the long-time-gained experience in the struggles is reflected meaningfully in ideological, military-tactical and political sense.The transition from spontaneous political struggle to organized national liberation movement is related to the name and activities of Georgi Sava Rakovski. Created by him First Bulgarian Legion (1862) took part in the siege and fights for taking over Belgrade Fortress.

By their armament, accoutrements, clothing and tactical skills, the cheta armed detachments of Panayot Hitov, Filip Totyu, Hadzhi Dimitar, Stefan Karadzha, etc. (created with regard of realizing Rakovski’s views), are close to the requirements for a regular army. At the end of 1869 in Bucharest is laid the beginning of a new governing body of the Bulgarian national liberation movement – the Bulgarian Revolutionary Central Committee (BRCC), headed by Lyuben Karavelov. The most energetic in the activity of the committee is Vasil Levski. For less than three years he managed to develop a large network of revolutionary committees, known as the Internal Revolutionary Organization (IRO), which prepares people for waging struggle. In the heat of the preparation for the forthcoming uprising Vasil Levski, called by people “The Apostle of Freedom”, is captured, sentenced to death and hanged on February 19th, 1873 near Sofia. The revolutionary organization, founded by Levski, is a new stage in the development of the national liberation movement in Bulgaria.

The straining of the Eastern crisis in the summer of 1875 activates the members of BRCC and the revolutionary committees in Bulgarian lands. Bulgarian revolutionaries, among them – Stefan Stambolov, Panayot Volov, Stoyan Zaimov, Nicola Obretenov, Georgi Benkovski, etc., decide to rise an uprising in the spring of the coming 1876. The country is divided into four revolutionary regions. The uprising burst out in April 1876. At the time of the violent crushing of the uprising by the Ottoman authorities are massacred more than 30 000 innocent men, women and children; 80 towns and villages are burnt, other 200 ones- totally plundered. The international community is shocked.Written were more than 3000 articles in about 200 newspapers in support of the Bulgarian cause. Their authors are outstanding politicians, writers and scientists and scholars from all over the world, such as Victor Hugo, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Otto von Bismarck, William Gladstone, Charles Darwin, Konstantin Jrecek, Lev Tolstoy, Ivan Turgenev, Dmitri Mendeleev, etc.

In the autumn of 1876 an international inquiry commission is founded in order to investigate the cruelties during the suppression of the uprising in April 1876. The attempts of the Great Powers to solve the Bulgarian question by diplomatic means failed. Russia unambiguously expressed its will to solve the question by war. Undertaken are steps to neutralize Austria-Hungary and Great Britain. Romania agrees to include into the campaign with 40 000-men-army and to cede a territory for the Russian troops to pass over.

The Russo-Turkish war is declared on April 12th, 1877 in Kishinev by manifesto signed by the Emperor Alexander II. After preliminary preparation, in the small hours of June 27th , 1877, the 14th infantry division under command of general M.I. Dragomirov, crosses over Danube River at Svishtov and steppes on Bulgarian soil.

The Russian Danube Army consists of three detachments: Front , Eastern and Western. The Front Detachment of 12 000 men, under command of Gen.Gurko, has the assignment to liberate the settlements in Central North Bulgaria and to penetrate in South Bulgaria. To strengthening it is added a formation of Bulgarian Volunteer Units , organized in 12 battalions, comprising totally 12 634 men. The formation is instituted by order №.40 /April 14th, 1877 of the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Operating army. On May 6th , 1877 volunteers sworn and are given their combat flag. Gen. Nikolai Stoletov is assigned as volunteers Commander.

After the liberation of Tarnovo and Gabrovo Gen.Gurko’s Detachment heads towards Stara Zagora. In bloody battles with the enemy, the Bulgarian Volunteers get their baptism of fire and with the cost of great sacrifice save the Samara Flag, withdrawing to the Shipka Pass. Epic battles are waged there since 9th to 11th August, 1877. Thanks to the bravery of the Bulgarians and Russians and to 16th shooting battalion of General Radetzki, who came just in time, the strategic peak is saved. This victory frustrates the uniting of the armies of Suleiman Pasha and Osman Pasha at Pleven.

The military formation of Bulgarian volunteers becomes the core of the Bulgarian Territorial Army, established by order №1 of July 15th,1878. It is organized as a regular army on the principle of conscription and has four branches: infantry, cavalry, artillery and sappers. In August 1879 are laid the grounds of the Bulgarian Navy. The Bulgarian Territorial army can not manage achieving the foreseen 84 750 men and, at the end of 1878, it amounts to 31 400 men.

For educating new officers in November 1878 in Sofia is established a Military School, where are admitted 255 Bulgarian cadets, and other 132 young men are sent for studying to military schools in Russia. In Veliko Tarnovo comes into operation a training school for non-commissioned officers (NCO). Schools in Sofia, Plovdiv, Veliko Tarnovo and Tatar Pazardzhik (today – Pazardzhik) open doors for preparing doctor’s assistants (feldshers).

On July 5th 1879 in the structure of the first Bulgarian government is constituted Ministry of War as the highest military administrative institution in Bulgaria, responsible for the state sovereignty defense, the national independence and country’s territorial integrity. On December 17th ,1879 comes into effect “The Transitory Provision Regarding the Bulgarian Army”, which plays a role of the first law for the armed forces. Every Bulgarian citizen of age 21 to 40 qualifies for induction. The general levy takes place on a territorial principle.

According to the resolutions of the Berlin Congress, the Bulgarian territory, regained in the Russo-Turkish War (1877 – 1878) and recognized by the preliminary Peace Treaty of San-Stefano, is parceled out. The units of the Bulgarian Territorial Army, dislocated on the territory of Eastern Roumelia, are separated and form an independent army. According to the Constitutional Statute of Eastern Roumelia (the Constitution), the army consists of local militia (an army) and gendarmerie (police forces). In 1879 the militia of Eastern Roumelia consists of 12 battalions (7500 men in total), and the gendarmerie consists of 12 infantry and one horse companies, and one half squadron (totally 1500 men). Through the established gymnastic shooting clubs starts a mass military training of the male population in the region.

On September 6th, 1885 the troops of Plovdiv’s garrison together with the rebels’ cheta armed detachments overthrow the Roumelia’s authorities and pronounce officially the unification of Knyazhestvo (Eng. – principality of) Bulgaria and Eastern Roumelia under the sceptre of Knyaz Alexander I. The first stage of the unification of the Bulgarian people is accomplished. Enabled are opportunities for completion of the Bulgarian unification, for cultural development and economic integration with the European states. Eliminated is the avulsion of the army to one of the Knyazhestvo Bulgaria and another one of Eastern Roumelia.

Shortly after the Unification, the young Bulgarian army has to defend it by force. On November 2nd , 1885 Serbia declared war on Bulgaria. Dislocated at the Turkish borders, the Bulgarian army in three days only, by march maneuver, crosses the whole country toward the west front. The 1st and the 4th battalions of the 1st Sofia infantry regiment, in fog and rain, for 30 hours pass 86 kilometers. The population of Slivniza cheers them with “hurray”. The 8th infantry regiment coveres 95 km for 36 hours. The 5th infantry battery of 1st artillery regiment, under command of Captain Petar Tantilov, for two days and nights of nonstop march, cover 146 kilometers. European military specialists mention that the fight of Slivniza is won by the “feet of the Bulgarian soldiers”. The heroic battle of Slivniza (November 5 - 7, 1885) leads to crushing and retreat of the main forces of the Serbian Army.

After the victory of Slivnitza the Bulgarian army drives into decisive counterattack. With fierce fighting are captured Dragoman and Tsaribrod (Transl. – today Dimitrovgrad in Sebia), and then, on November 15th ,1885 Bulgarian troops seize Pirot. Only the energetic interference of Austria-Hungary forces Bulgaria to stop its whirlwind attack.

On February 19th,1886 is signed the Peace Treaty of Bucharest, which restores the peace between Serbia and Bulgaria. The victory in the campaign costs to Bulgarian people 700 casualties and 4 500 wounded. On March 24th , 1886 is concluded the Act of Top Hane, by which the Unification of Bulgaria is recognized by the Great Powers.

The Ministry of War takes measures to accelerate enlargement and modernization of the Bulgarian Army. It starts building up mass army with divisional organization and completion system, which makes it possible to train the whole manhood of the population. Army is maintained in constant combat readiness, settled is wartime army, equivalent to the armies of the neighboring countries. In the early 20th c. the Bulgarian armed forces have at disposal for war time 300 000 well-trained men and 1 400 officers. Bulgarian Army turnes into European type army and on every way is equal to the most modern armies, but by its numbering.

The ethnic Bulgarian population that remains within the borders of the Ottoman Empire, wages on and on the struggle for its liberation. In 1903 burst out the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising. During the uprising 26 408 men fight to death against 350 000 regular Turkish Army and bashibazouk. After three months of resistance the uprising is drown in blood.

Many Bulgarian servicemen take part in preparation and fights during the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising of 1903, among them 48 officers come from the army of Bulgarian Principality: 1 general, 1 colonel, 1 lieutenant colonel, 4 captains, 20 lieutenants and 21 second lieutenants. Much larger is the number of the non-commissioned officers and soldiers, who together with the regular cheta-members of the Internal Macedonian-Odrin Revolutionary Organization (ВМОРО, оr IMORO) are the core of the rebels’ army. Tens of servicemen from the army of Principality of Bulgaria support the rebels without leaving their service and Bulgaria’s territory.

Declaring the Independence of the Bulgarian state is a result of several different factors. On the first place, it is the will of Austria-Hungary to annex Bosnia and Herzegovina, which (according to the Berlin Treaty of 1878) is occupied for thirty-year period. This is a violation of Berlin Treaty and an opportunity for Bulgaria to take advantage of such a situation on the international stage and to declare its Independence. Knyaz Ferdinand himself talks with Austria-Hungary about joint actions.

The other factor is the Bulgarian-Turkish relations, which are bounded to the power changes in the Ottoman Empire. On July 11, 1908 in Turkey breaks the so-called Young Turk Revolution that achieves a restoration of the Constitution of 1876. Their actions are not sufficiently convincing and instead of initiating governance reforms, the Young Turks switch toward the nationalism. The events that take place in Istanbul activate Bulgarian diplomacy. The Bulgarian diplomatic agent at the Turkish capital Iv. St. Geshov in a letter to the Foreign Minister of Bulgaria launches the idea of proclaiming country’s independence. At first the government does not consent to his opinion, because it believes the timing is not right and it is dangerous to Bulgaria. According to the governing circles in Bulgaria it is better to wait for the events development in Turkey and to watch closely for the Great Powers’ reaction.

Meanwhile, in Tsarigrad / Constantinople takes place the famous “Geshov incident”. On August 30th, 1908 in the capital of the Ottoman Empire is arranged a gala evening to celebrate sultan’s birthday, to which are invited all the diplomatic missions of various countries except the Bulgarian representative Ivan St. Geshov. With this action the Young Turks want to emphasize Bulgaria’s vassal status. Geshov is recalled from Constantinople, and the Sublime Porte responds by withdrawing its Commissioner from Sofia. The incident adds to the complexity of the situation in the Balkans. The Great Powers as England, France and Russia try to smooth out the differences, while Germany and Austria-Hungary are satisfied with situation’s aggravation, which would undermine Entente’s positions and will facilitate the execution of Vienna’s aggressive plans.

In the first days after the „Geshov’s incident” Bulgarian diplomacy judiciously decides to wait for the suitable moment. General St. Paprikov still considers that the independence of Bulgaria could be discussed with Turkey. Sofia understands that authorities in the Turkish capital are aware of the no-timeliness of the incident. Days later, however, the conflict deepens. In the night of September 5th to 6th, 1908 breaks a strike of the Eastern Railways’ employees, which spreads over the territory of the Principality of Bulgaria too. Their management in Bulgarian territory is taken over by the Bulgarian State Railways Department, and the strikers are replaced by Bulgarian railmen and military units. In such situation, the Prime Minister Al. Malinov finds that it is the very time to act decisively and on September 8th he wires to the prince: “Let me report to Your Royal Majesty ... the Geshov incident is an excellent occasion to raise the point on the independence ... Let's not be enticed by promises, let us act.” Malinov’s idea is to put Europe and Turkey before a fait accompli, while Ferdinand seeks support in Austro-Hungarian ruling circles. On September 10, on the occasion the 60th anniversary of Emperor Franz Joseph, to Ferdinand is given admittance to the palace in Budapest as an independent ruler.

On 16th September it is decided by the Council of Ministers to declare the independence of Bulgaria on September 21st, 1908. It is telegraphed to the prince that he has to return immediately to the country. This haste is dictated by the fear that the Great Powers could put the heat on the Bulgarian government and scuttle the plan. On September 21st the knyaz (Eng. – prince) arrives to Ruse, and on 22nd September in Veliko Tarnovo by manifesto he declares the country’s independence. The news is greeted with enthusiasm all over the country. In many cities are organized festive meetings. Initially, the Great Powers did not recognize the independence. Turkey is the most affected country and refuses to recognize Tarnovo act. Only upon payment of a sum of 125 million Francs it will recognize the independence. Russia intervenes the negotiations, proposing to Turkey to simplify part of its obligations from the Russo-Turkish Вar of 1877-1878. After this the High Porte gives up its claims and recognizes the independence of the Bulgarian state. After that Great Powers recognize it as well.

The modernization of the Bulgarian army at the late nineteenth and the beginnning of the twentieth century is another factor of fulfillment the Tarnovo act. Army is the armed support during the proclamation of the country’s independence. On September 22, 1908 with a solemn march, led by the military brass, 18th of Etar and 20th of Dobrudzha Infantry Regiment, staying in a garrison in the city, head through the main street to the historic church “St. 40 martyrs”. Here after the ceremonial service’s ending Knyaz Ferdinand reads the Manifesto, which declares Bulgaria, unified on September 6th, 1885 as an independent Bulgarian kingdom”. Acclaimed by the people and the army, the king and the ministers go to the church “Sveti Petar and Pavel”, where once again is served praying ritual. After it tsar Ferdinand I solemnly declares that he assumes patronage of the 18th Etar Infantry Regiment and Knyaz Kiril of Preslav is assigned a patronage over the 20th Dobrudzha Infantry Regiment. Through a lane of students and troops the official procession heads to the historic hill Tsarevets, where before the assembled audience now Prime Minister of Bulgaria Aleksandar Malinov reads the Manifesto for declaring independence, and Tsar Ferdinand I holds a speech.

Later on the Bulgarian Army plays an important role in protecting the country's independence. The performed in January 1909 mobilization of the 8th Tundzha Infantry Division demonstrates high combating alert and is beneficial for the course of negotiations between Bulgaria and Turkey, and up until the recognition of the Tarnovo act.

After the proclamation of Bulgaria’s Independence in 1908 the national union of the Bulgarian people becomes not only objectively necessary, but also becomes an important factor for its political, economic and cultural development. On February 29th , 1912 are laid the foundations of the Balkan Alliance with conclusion of a treaty between Bulgaria and Serbia, and later on – between Bulgaria, Greece and Montenegro. Most numerous and strong in the Alliance Forces is Bulgarian Army. It mobilizes 600 000 men, 370 000 of which immediately take part in the war. Serbia participates in the war with 190 000 men, Greece – with 120 000 men, and Montenegro – with 30 000 men.

Bulgarian people is eager to fight for liberating its brothers in Macedonia and Thrace. Thousands of reservists and volunteers overcrowd the recruiting stations. From the thousands of volunteering refugees are formed Macedonian-Odrin Volunteer Units, comprising 14 670 men, who are closely involved in the war.

On October 5th, 1912 starts the offensive of the allies against the Turkish army. Bulgarian Army, which campaignes at the Thracian front , the main war-theater, achieves a significant success. The Supreme High Command directs to Odrin (Eng. – today Edirne in Turkey) 2nd army commanded by General Nikola Ivanov; 1st army under command of General Vasil Kutinchev is directed to the section of Odrin and Lozengrad, and 3rd army under command of General Radko Dimitriev, which stays invisible for the Turkish Command – to Lozengrad, across the right flank of 250 000 Eastern Turkish Army of Abdullah Pasha.

In the first strategic operation of the Bulgarian Army – the encounter battle of Lozengrad, in the cruel fights over Seliolu, Gechkenli, Eskipolos, Petra and Erikler,1st and 2nd Bulgarian armies gain complete victory. Rapid in deployment and vehemence of their actions, they end their attacks with powerful “bayonet blow”. On October 11th , 1912 the fortress of Lozengrad is captured. Disorganized, the Eastern Turkish Army retreats southwards in panic.

In Lyuleburgas-Bunarhisar Operation, carried out within October 14th – 19th, 1912, for the first time in the practice of European armies is created operative formation, larger than army – a front. The operation is carried out by 1st and 3rd Bulgarian armies, comprising totally 160 360 men, 360 guns and 160 machine-guns. In the bloody combats the Bulgarian soldiers, showing mass heroism and high spirit, irresistibly defeat the Turkish army, which starts retreating disorderly. Bulgarian losses are - 20 147 casualties, wounded and missing.

Second (2nd) army tightens the ring round Odrin (now Edirne in Turkey). Under the blows of Rhodope and Kardzhali Detachments, Macedonia-Odrin Volunteer Units included, the enemy retreats southwards. The Bulgarian troops reach the Eagean Sea coast. On November 14th,1912 near Merhamla village, the Kardzhali Detachment, together with the Mixed Calvary Brigade, forces the Turkish Corps of Yaver Pasha to surrender. Captured are 9 646 soldiers and officers. At the western war theater 7th Rila infantry division, as part of 2nd Allied Army, advances successfully along Struma River valley, aiming to capture Solun (today Thessaloniki in Greece).

October 16th , 1912 happens to be the “baptism of fire” day of the Bulgarian military aviation. Lieutenant Radul Milkov as a pilot , and Lieutenant Prodan Tarakchiev as an observer, for the first time fly by a biplane “Albatross”, taking off from “Mustafa Pasha” airfield (modern Svilengrad), using aircraft as a combat instrument.

The Bulgarian Navy also carries out successful military actions. On November 8th, 1912, the Bulgarian torpedo carriers “Letiashti”, ”Smeli”, “Strogi” and “Drazki”, under command of Commander II rank Dimitar Dobrev, implements decisive night torpedo attack against the Turkish cruiser “Hamidiye”. The torpedo, launched by “Drazki”, under command of midshipman Georgi Kupov, hits the head of the Turkish cruiser and pulls it out of action.

At the end of January 1913, renewing the combat actions after the first armistice, the newly established 4th Bulgarian Army successfully repulses the offensive of the Turkish Galipoli Army at Bulair. The Turkish landing troops near Sharkyoy, are forced to withdraw and board back on their ships. The attempt of the enemy to take offensive at Chataldja also failed. The plan of the Turkish Command to turn the war over also ended with failure.

The western military specialists consider Odrin Fortress (now Edirne) as one of the strongest in Europe, which could be captured only after long months of siege. It consists of front line, major defensive line (called fortress belt) and second defensive line. For its defense Commandant Mehmed Shukri Pasha has at disposal a garrison of 59 600 men, 524 guns, more than 130 000 shells, 12 million cartridges , 1 tied balloon and 10 searchlights for observing the position. Narrow- gauge railroad line connects all the defensive sectors and enables maneuvering of the spare troops. The Bulgarian Army prepares to capture the fortress by night storm in two days. In the preparation of the troops for the attack, besides the Commander of 2nd Bulgarian army, Lieutenant- General Nikola Ivanov, proved himself its main organizer, the Chief of the Eastern sector Major - General Georgi Vazov.

The Odrin (nowadays Edirne) operation is a top achievement in Bulgarian and world military art. It begins on March 11th , 1913 and continued forty- eight hours. In the first twenty-four-hour period, the 2nd army captures the front Turkish position , and in the second day and night it brakes through the major fort line. On March 13th , after irresistible bayonet attack and mass artillery fire, the strongest Turkish fortress in Eastern Thrace is captured. The fortress Commandant Mehmed Sukri Pasha is taken prisoner of war, together with the whole garrison. He says: “…there isn’t such a fortress that could withstand to your army.” The victory is won at the cost of 16 304 casualties, wounded and missing Bulgarian soldiers.

On May 17th, 1913 is signed the Peace Treaty of London. The slogan “ Balkans - to the Balkan countries” is accomplished. Liberated are the Pirin Mountain region, Rhodope area and the region of Strandzha. Bulgaria suffers the greatest losses - over 85 000 men; Serbia - 31 000 men; Montenegro - 16 000 men and Greece – 5 000 men.

In the Second Balkan War of 1913 (Balkan Interallied War 1913) that followed, the politicians and diplomats naively lose what was paid with the blood of tens of thousands Bulgarian patriots. The Bulgarian Army is forced to wage war against the former allies - Serbia , Greece and Montenegro, who disregard the previous treaties and agreements. Up from the North, pretending for territorial compensations, Romanian troops advance, and Turkish Army, unpunished, penetrates into South-Eastern Bulgaria.

In the early July of 1913, in the defensive battle over Kalimantsi village, 4th Army brakes the offensive of Serbian, Montenegrin and Greek troops and they turn to defense. The opportunity of successful counter-offensive and encirclement of the Greek Army, which penetrated into Kresna defile region, forced Serbia and Greece to agree on armistice.

The peace treaty is signed on July 28th , 1913 in Bucharest. On the battlefields for a month only die 33 000 Bulgarians, and 60 000 men are wounded. The country is plundered and parcelled out.

The World War I, which broke out in the summer of 1914, regenerates in the ruling liberal coalition and monarchial institution hopes for the national union. The state and the army, however, are not ready for new war. There is no unanimity among the political and military circles regarding taking a side in the conflict. Because of its location and capable army, Bulgaria is a wanted ally both for the Central Forces (Germany, Austria- Hungary and Turkey), and for the Entente (Russia, France and Great Britain). The temporary successful actions of the Central Forces, the failure of the Entente’s Dardanelles’ operation and the loan of 500 million levs, given to Bulgaria, predetermine pro- German orientation of the ruling circles.

On August 24th, 1915 Bulgaria signs a military convention with Germany and Austria-Hungary and also an agreement with Turkey, and on September 10th , 1915 is annunciated a total mobilization. The strength of the Bulgarian Operating Army amounts 616 680 warriors and 960 cannons, grouped in three armies.

On October 1st O.S./14th N.S., 1915 Bulgaria declares war on Serbia. The Operating Army is subordinated to the Commander of the Allied Forces Field-Marshal August von Mackensen. Its objective is to take part in the crushing of Serbian Army and to secure the connection between the allies and Turkey.

During the maneuver period of war (1915-1916) the Bulgarian troops take part in two campaigns. The campaign in Serbia and Macedonia achieves defeat of the Serbian Army and throwing back Entente’s troops beyond the Greek border. The campaign in Dobrudzha and Romania finishes with defeating of the Russian- Romanian troops and setting the North Front up at the Danube River delta and along Seret River.

During the positional period of the war (1917-1918) the Bulgarian Army wages defensive actions, defending its positions both at the North and South Fronts.

Waging the campaign in Serbia and Macedonia, the Bulgarian Army carries out three operations.

“Morava” offensive operation (1st - 27th October of 1915) is part of the strategic operation of the Group of armies “Mackensen”, aiming defeat of the Serbian Army, and is under command of Lieutenant- General Kliment Boyadzhiev. In the course of operation Bulgarian troops take over the fortified sections of Pirot and Nish and set up control over the valley of Morava River.

”Ovche pole” offensive operation (October 1st - November 12th , 1915) is prepared by the Bulgarian High Command. It is carried out by the 2nd army under command of Lieutenant- General Georgi Todorov. In seven days the Bulgarian troops take over the towns of Kumanovo and Veles and enter the Vardar River valley. The northern operative group of the army drives back Serbian conterstrike at the front of Vranya, Gnilyane, Kachanik . The southern group stopes the advancing from Solun (Thessaloniki) along the valley of Vardar River British and French troops, and follows them to the Greek border.

”Kosovo” offensive operation (October 18th - November 21st, 1915) continues “Morava” operation. After forcing of Morava River , units of the 1st army throw back the enemy, take over Prokuple town and go in pursuit , which is finished with seizure of Prishtina (today Pristina in Serbia) and Kosovo Field. Units of the north group of the 2nd army, after repulsing Serbian counterstrike at Ferizovo and Gnilyane , cross over Shar Planina Mountain and enter Prizren town. On November 16th, part of the Serbian troops surrenders and the main forces abandon their heavy machines and armored vehicles, cross over the Albanian Mountains and reach the Adriatic seacoast.

Romania’s intervening in the war on the side of Entente (August 27th, 1916) openes second front on the Balkans. “Dobrudzha” operation (September 1st, 1916 – January 3rd ,1917) is part of the strategic operation of the group of armies “Mackensen”, aiming to take Romania out of the war. The operation is accomplished by 3rd Bulgarian army under command of General Stefan Toshev.

On September 6th, 1916, after three days of fight, by decisive assault, under command of Major-General Panteley Kiselov, parts of 4th Preslav Infantry division and 1st Sofia Infantry division take over the Tutrakan Fortress – the strongest point of the Romanian defense in South Dobrudzha.

On September 7th, near Dobrich city, Varna Detachment under command of Major-General Todor Kantardzhiev, strengthened by two regiments of 6th infantry division, one Turkish regiment, together with 1st cavalry division of Major-General Ivan Kolev, crushes one Russian and one Serbian division.

Suffered a defeat on the line Tutrakan-Dobrich and in the encounter battles of Oltina- Karaomer- Mangalia, the Russian- Romanian Army withdrows back into the strengthen line Rasovo-Kubadin-Tuzla. On October 21st, 3rd army makes a decisive break through the center of Kubadin position. After seizuring Kyustendzha and Cherna Voda (On Danube River) , persuit of the enemy suspends in the narrowest part of North Dobrudzha. Part of the Bulgarian units are in the strength of the Danubian Army which forces Danube River at Svishtov-Zimnich zone and after seizuring of Bucharest follows the Romanian Army to the east till Seret River. On December 15th , 3rd army resumes the offensive in North Dobrudzha , brakes through the strengthen position between Cherna village and Danube River, and on January 3rd , 1917 takes over Machin town – the last stronghold of the Russian troops south of Danube River.

During the positional period of the war (1917-1918) decisive importance attaines the South front. From Shkumba River (to the west of Ohrid Lake) till the mouth of Struma River, the front with longitude of 354 km, is defended by 11th German Army, composed mainly of Bulgarian infantry units of 1st and 2nd Bulgarian armies. The Byalo More (Eng. - Aegean Sea) coast between Struma River and Maritsa River is defended by 4th Bulgarian army, which is formed in November 1917. To September 1918 the total strength of the Bulgarian Operating Army reaches up to 697 157 men and 1 459 cannons, and the total number of the mobilized Bulgarians increased to 857 063 men.

Overstretched on a vast front, without operative and strategic reserves, poorly supplied, the Bulgarian army almost three years holds the pressure of the growing up Entente troops. Memorable are the combats at Chervenata Stena, Zavoya na Cherna River , Dobro Pole, Yarebichna peak and Doyran.

On September 15th, 1918 starts powerful Entente offensive on the front line from Ohrid Lake to the town of Doyran. 9th infantry division under command of Major-General Vladimir Vazov, defending the Doyran section, withstands two- days’ artillery attack and 14 toxic gas attacks. In a fierce battle, which lasts 4 days and nights, it defeats two Britain and one Greek divisions. The losses of the enemy are 11 673 dead and 547 prisoners of war, and the losses of 9th division – 1728 dead and missing and 988 wounded warriors.

In the direction of the main blow the Entente Command conglomerates almost fourfold superiority, and on September 17th , 1918 the enemy breaks the front through the Bulgarian positions at Dobro Pole. Discontent among the retreating units turns into soldier’s uprising against the government and monarchy. On September 29th, 1918, on demand of the Bulgarian government is signes the Armistice of Solun (Thessaloniki). The Bulgarian troops to the west of Skopie meridian remain as hostages, but nevertheless, not a single Bulgarian combat flag is taken by the enemy.

The participation of Bulgaria in the World War I is the heaviest military effort in the Bulgarian history, it have led to excessive mobilization tension and to exhaustion of the country’s economic resources. The military operations of great intensity and continuity cost to Bulgaria 101 224 dead and missing and 155 026 wounded.

The Peace Treaty of Neuilly (November 27th,1919) partitions once again the Bulgarian nation , hinders its economic and cultural development and harms the state sovereignty. Its military clauses do not allow keeping of a modern mass army. The staff of the Armed Forces is reduced to 30 000, including the gendarmerie and the border troops. The Air Force and the Navy are liquidated. The conscript system is abolished and substituted with the voluntary system for completion of the army instead.

In the middle of 1930s becomes possible the gradual modernization and improvement of the material and technical supplies of the Bulgarian Army to be provided from abroad. Formed are Motorized, Armored, Tank, Air Force and Navy units. This process is speeded up significantly after the Agreement of Solun (Eng. –Thessaloniki) on July 31st ,1938, which cancelled the military clauses of the Peace Treaty of Neuilly.

The army maneuvers are a supreme moment in the headquarters and troops preparation in the period of reorganization and rearmament of the Bulgarian Army. The Great Tsar’s Maneuvers, carried out in 1937 near Popovo town and the Tsar’s Shooting Maneuvers, carried out in 1938 in the Lyuben Village – Krasnovo Village area, Plovdiv region, demonstrate the dynamic development of the Bulgarian Army and its approach to the moderately developed European armies.

In 1939 the world is on the threshold of a new world war. Bulgaria hardly is able to keep aside of the coming military conflict, in spite of the policy of neutrality it had pronounced. On the war’s eve the armed forces of Bulgaria consist of four single armies, with ten infantry divisions, two cavalry divisions, Navy and air Force, with total staff amounting 72 250 soldiers, officers and non- commissioned officers. In July 1939 is formed a Covering Army, concentrated at the southeastern border.

After breaking out of the war, on September 1st , 1939 started mobilization and strategic deployment of the Bulgarian Army and its providing with modern arms and armored vehicles. For the first time the armed forces were divided in kinds of troops – Land Forces, Air forces and the Navy.

Bulgaria maintains neutrality till March 1st, 1941, when it signs the Tripartite Pact together with Germany, Italy and Japan and enters the World War II. In all kinds of troops and branches of the army are carried out organizational and structural transformations. In the Land Forces are established new operative formations – a separated 5th Army and two corps. In the Air Force are organized flying, airfield and parachute troops and anti-aircraft defense. In the Navy are included the Danubian Fleet , Cherno More (Eng. - Black Sea) and Byalo More (Eng. - Aegean Sea) Fleets.

In the course of war, through the mediation of Germany and USSR, on September 7th , 1940 in the city of Craiova, Bulgaria and Romania sign an agreement for returning South Dobrudzha. Thus the rights of Bulgaria on this age-old territory, unjustly taken away from Bulgaria by the force of the Peace Treaty of Bucharest (1913) and of the Peace Treaty of Neuilly (1919), are restored. The population of Dobrudzha welcomes troops of the 3rd Army under command of Lieutenant- General Georgi Popov with “hoorays” and tears in their eyes.

Fifth and Second Bulgarian armies take over by stages Macedonia and Belomorska Trakia (Eng. - Aegean Thrace). The Bulgarian population in these lands accepts this act as its national liberation, as a step to the unification of the Bulgarian nation. The losses of Germany at the Eastern Front and the menace of possible British-American landing at the Byalo More (Eng. - Aegean Sea) coast make it necessary forming two corps. In January 1942 the First Bulgarian Corps takes over parts of southeastern Serbia, its headquarters locating in the town of Nish, and, in November 1943 three infantry divisions are united in Second Bulgarian Corps with headquarters in Drama town. These corps carry out guardian, defensive and maneuvering tasks. Both corps are disbanded in September 1944.

On December 12th, 1941, Bulgaria declares war on the USA and Great Britain. The so-called “Symbolic War” later becomes a reality with tragic consequences. At the end of 1943 and early 1944 the air raids above Bulgaria become more intensive and with heavy damages. Bombed were 168 towns and villages, ruined are 12 000 buildings, the losses amount to 1 828 casualties and 2 372 wounded. The pilots, who defend the sky of Bulgaria, show bravery and are glorious. The names of Dimitar Spisrevski, Nedelcho Bonchev, Asen Kovachev, Petar Bochev, Stoyan Stoyanov and many others remain in Bulgarian military aviation’s history as symbols of heroism and self-sacrifice.

After the successful Yash-Kishinev operation the troops of Third Ukrainian Front reach the Bulgarian borderline. On September 5th , 1944 the USSR declares war on Bulgaria, and, on September 8th the government of Konstantin Moraviev brakes off the alliance with Germany and joins the anti-Hitler coalition. In the night before September 9th, 1944, in the country is taking place a state-political take-over. On October 28th, 1944 in Moscow is signed an armistice between Bulgaria, on the one hand , and the USSR, Great Britain and USA, on the other hand. In that way are created conditions to put Bulgaria into operations in the final stage of the World War 2 allied with the countries of anti- Hitler coalition.

Within September - November 1944 is carried out mobilization and a strategic deployment of the Bulgarian Army, as part of the Third Ukrainian Front. It was planned an offensive westwards, with cutting off the roads and defeating the retreating German Group of armies “Aegea”.Commander-in-Chief of the Bulgarian Army is Lieutenant-General Ivan Marinov. Carried out are four offensive operations: “Nish” and “Kosovo” operations - by 2nd Army under command of Lieutenant- general Kiril Stanchev, “Stratsin- Kumanovo” operation - by 1st Army under command of Lieutenant- General Vladimir Stoichev and “Bregalnitsa-Strumitsa” operation - by 4th Army under command of Major-General Asen Sirakov. Bulgarian soldier shows lots of acts of bravery and heroism at Nish, Stratsin and Strazhin , at Shtip and Veles. The names of thousand soldiers and commanders remain in the glorious annals of Bulgarian military history.

In the period since December 1944 to June 1945 Bulgaria participates in the final stage of the World War II with the newly formed First Bulgarian Army , comprising 130 000 men under command of Lieutenant Vladimir Stoichev. In January 1945 the Bulgarian troops march 250 km, twice are crossing over Danube River and take a defensive position on the left bank of Drava River. Carried out are “Srem”, “Drava”, “Mur” and “Chakovetz” operations. From the main forces of the army are formed 3rd and 4th Corps with commanders Major-General Todor Toshev and Lieutenant-General Stoyan Trendafilov.

The active defensive actions of the Bulgarian troops at the villages Dravasobolch, Dravachehi and Dravapolkonya are covered by the most respectable newspapers in Europe and all over the world. First Bulgarian Army finishes its combat actions at the foothills of Austrian Alps and cames back home on June 17th ,1945 with victoriously flying flags. The losses of the Bulgarian Army in The World War II number 40 450 men. Among them are 8 337 dead, 9 155 missing and 22 958 wounded.

The end of the World War II confronts the world with new global conflict. Starts the “cold war” and opposing blocks era. In 1949, for the sake of its defense, Western Europe , USA and Canada establish the North-Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). On October 20th, 1951, by order №53 of the Chief of the Headquarters of the American Armed Forces in West Germany, is formed Bulgarian national emigrant volunteer company №4093 with constant location in the American garrison in Germersheim town. Inspirer of the idea is the Chairman of the Bulgarian National Commetee Dr.G.M.Dimitrov, a Secretary-General of the Bulgarian Agricultural People’s Union in exile. This special military unit is organized after the pattern of the American infantry company. It includes 200 soldiers – Bulgarian emigrant volunteers, divided into four platoons. Commanders of the company, consecutively, are : Lieutenant St. Boydev, Captain B.Baychev and Captain D. Krastev. The company fulfills safeguarding functions at NATO objectives until its disband on June 20th, 1964.

As counterpoint to NATO, in 1955 in Eastern Europe are created the United Armed Forces of the member-countries of the Warsaw Treaty. The development of the Bulgarian People’s Army is subordinated to the military doctrine of the Warsaw Treaty. The improvement of the organization , rearmament and training of all kinds and branches of the army are in order to mainten high fighting efficiency and operational readiness in terms of a global thermonuclear conflict.

At the end of 1970s and in 1980s the organizational structures and for control and direction bodies of the rocket troops, artillery and anti-aircraft defense undergo significant development. Created are units for radio-electronic fight. Increased is the striking force and firepower of the units and formations. In 1973 is established Command of the Land Forces that include all the land troops units and formations.

The Air Force and Anti-Aircraft Defense units are united in one kind of armed forces with united command. Part of the fithing aviation, completed with interceptor fighters, are differentiated as part of Anti-Aircraft Defense. The attack aviation is replaced by fighter-bomber aviation.

The Bulgarian Navy, besides submarines and surface vessels, similarly to the Land Forces, also are divided into Army branches. At the end of 1980s the resources of the Bulgarian Army amount 167 000 men, 2 300 tanks, about 5 000 guns and grenade launchers and 160 airplanes.

The end of the “cold war”, the collapse of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe and disband of the United Armed Forces of member- countries of the Warsaw Treaty in 1991 create new political environment in Bulgaria. The country declares its will for accession to NATO. On December 21st, 1993 the Bulgarian Parliament accepts a declaration for accession of Bulgaria to NATO and West-European Union. On February 14th, 1994 our country joins the “Partnership for Peace” NATO program. Three years later Bulgaria officially proclaimes its candidacy for NATO membership. In November 2002 Bulgaria receives an invitation to initialize negotiations for accession to NATO and, on March 18th, 2004 the National Parliament ratifies the North Atlantic Treaty.

In Ministry of Defense is set up the principle of civil control, redistributed are the political and military responsibilities concerning the army. The Minister of Defense is a civil person; to him is formed a Council of Defense as an advisory organ. The General Staff of the Bulgarian Army and the Ministry of Defense are differentiated as independent institutions. Established is a new functional structure - Rapid Reaction Force, Defense Troops, Territorial Defense Troops and Reserve. The main aim of the Bulgarian Army development is establishing module, maneuverable, compact and efficient, comparatively independent and totally secured structures, able to realize country’s defense and be equivalent partner in international initiatives for peace keeping.

From 1992 Bulgarian servicemen take part in international missions for peace keeping. Bulgarian military contingents participate in peace keeping operations at Cambodia , Angola, Tajikistan, Republic of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Ethiopia and Eritrea, and Afghanistan. Bulgaria is also an active member of the international coalition, operating in Iraq.

CONTACTS

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