|Albanian Armed Forces
Forcat e Armatosura të Republikës së Shqipërisë
Emblem of Albanian Armed Forces
|Founded||4 December 1912|
|Service branches||Albanian Land Force
Albanian Air Force
Albanian Naval Force
|Minister of Defense||Arben Imami|
|Chief of Staff||Xhemal Gjunkshi |
|Conscription||Abolished in 2010 |
|1,857,591 (2010 est.), age 15–49|
|1,571,050 (2010 est.), age 15–49|
|Deployed personnel|| Afghanistan
Bosnia and Herzegovina
|Percent of GDP||1.52% (2011)|
|History||Royal Albanian Army (1928—1939)
Albanian People's Army (1945-1991)
The Albanian Armed Forces (AAF) (Albanian: Forcat e Armatosura të Republikës së Shqipërisë (FARSH)) were formed after the declaration of independence in 1912. Today it consists of: the General Staff, the Albanian Land Force, the Albanian Air Force and the Albanian Naval Force.
The Albanian Land Force or Albanian Army consist of: the Rapid Reaction Brigade plus a Commando Regiment, and the Area Support Brigade. Part of the structure of the Albanian Commando Regiment is the Special Operations Battalion or commonly known as BOS. BOS is a special forces unit and the most elite unit in Albanian Armed Forces.
After several major re-equipment programs, in 2001 the Albanian Armed Forces launched a 10-year reform program to become technologically advanced and fully professional by 2011. The new armed forces consists of about 14,500 troops including 2,000 civilians, trained to NATO standards.
Missions and duties
According to the Albanian Constitution, the Albanian Armed Forces are charged to:
- Protect the territorial integrity of the country.
- Always be present in areas incurring menace.
- Assist the population in case of natural and industrial disasters and warn the dangers of military and non military nature.
- Protect the constitutional order as it is determined by law.
- Participate in international operations in composition of multinational forces.
Albanian participation in peacekeeping operations/missions
- Southeast European Brigade SEEBRIG – created in 1998 and consisting of Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Republic of Macedonia, Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Romania, Turkey and the United States. NATO has already declared the force fully operational.
- EU Mission "ALTHEA" in Bosnia and Herzegovina under German Command. (Completed. Albania maintains its actual presence with an EOD team of 12.
- NATO/PfP led Mission ISAF in Afghanistan under Italian and Turkish Command.
- Coalition Forces led – Iraqi Freedom under American command (Completed. Albania withdrew all its troops from Iraq on 20 December 2008).
- EU Mission MINURCAT in Chad under EU Command.
- NATO Operation in the Mediterranean "Active Endeavour".
- NATO-led KFOR mission in Kosovo.
On 4 December 1912 Albanian Prime Minister Ismail Qemali and his government formed the Albanian National Army. The Royal Albanian Army (Albanian: Ushtria Mbretërore Shqiptare) was the army of King Zogu from 1928 until 1939. Its commander-in-chief was King Zog; its commander General Xhemal Aranitasi; its Chief of Staff was General Gustav Mirdaic. The army was mainly financed by Italy.
On 7 April 1939, Italian troops invaded the country, and captured it in six days.
Post World War II history
After World War II, Albania became a Soviet-aligned country. The ranks and the structure of the Albanian Armed Forces were organized based on the Soviet concepts, thus increasing the political control of the State-Party over the Armed Forces. One of the defining characteristics of civilian-military relations during this period was the effort of the civilian leadership to ensure the loyalty of the military to the communist system's values and institutions.
Like all other branches of the state, the military was subjugated to Communist Party control. All high-ranking military officers and most of the lower and middle ranks were members of the Communist Party—and had loyalties to it. The system was re-enforced by the establishment of Party cells within the military and extensive communist political education alongside soldiers’ military training, by the Commissars. To further increase its political control, the Albanian Communist Party enlarged the conscription system, thus enlisting in the Armed Forces personnel dedicated to the military career from the Albanian rural areas.
The State and Party went even further, starting from 1 May 1966, military ranks were abolished following the example of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, heavily influenced by Maoism during the years of the Cultural Revolution, and thus adopting strategic concepts related to forms of guerilla war (Vietnam War doctrine). The military were still organized during this period into their basic structure forms, but the role of the military commander was insignificant with respect to the commanding role of the political commissars. In 1991 the rank system was reestablished under President Ramiz Alia.
During all these years, Sigurimi which was the Albanian secret service during that period and was formed upon the KGB structure, was responsible for the execution, the imprisonment and deportation of more than 600 Officers from the Armed Forces, by completely neutralizing the Armed Forces ability to start a coup d'état. Initially the communist purge concentrated on the military personnel graduated by the Western Military Academies (mainly from Italy 1927–1939), extended later on to the officers graduated in Soviet Union (after the Albanian abandon of the Warsaw Pact in 1961). As the communist regime collapsed in Albania during 1990, there was a real fear that the armed forces might intervene to halt the collapse of communism by force. In the event, the armed forces stood by as the regime of which they had been a part disintegrated. Further, during the civilian riots in 1997, the political attempts by the government to use the Armed Forces to crush the rebellion were soon demonstrated to be a failure, following a total disintegration of the Armed Forces and the looting of the military facilities by the civilian population.
Post 1991 history
Politically, since the fall of the communism in Albania in 1991, the country has played a constructive role in resolving several of the inter-ethnic conflicts in Southern East Europe, promoting peaceful dispute resolution and discouraging ethnic Albanian extremists. Albania sheltered many thousands of Kosovar refugees during the 1999 conflict, and provided through a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Operational HQ in Durrës (operational until 2006, see NATO Headquarter Tirana), logistical assistance for Kosovo Force (KFOR) troops. Albania was part of the International Stabilization Force (SFOR) serving in Bosnia (then EU mission ALTHEA), and Albanian peacekeepers are part of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, ISAF and the international stabilization force in Iraq. Albania has been a steadfast supporter of U.S. policy in Iraq, and one of only four nations to contribute troops to the combat phase of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Since 1999, Albania has spent approximately $108 million annually on military expenditures, roughly 1.35% of its GDP. One of the most important conditions to fulfill due to NATO integration, was the increasing of the military budget. According to Government of Albania plans, military expenditure will reach 2% of GDP in 2008 (already approved by the parliament in the 2008 budget - 2.01% of GDP).
On December 2006, the AAF adopted a new structure based on the Joint concept. It had three main Commands: the Joint Forces Command, the Joint Support Command and the Training and Doctrine Command. The Albanian Joint Forces Command (AJFC) consists of the Rapid Reaction Brigade, the Commando Regiment, the Navy Brigade, the Air Brigade and the Area Support Brigade. The Albanian Joint Support Command provides support and logistical functions to all AAF units. The Albanian Training and Doctrine Command is the main educational and training provider for the Albanian Armed Forces. The final number of personnel will be 13,800 (including 2,000 civilians). However this new structure lasted a little more than 3 years and on April 2010 returned to its classic and current form.
The Albanian Navy performs mainly Coast Guard duties, and recently the Albanian parliament has approved some amendments to the articles of the actual Law on the Coast Guard in Albania, in order to improve the necessary legal framework due to efforts at European Union-NATO integration. Since February 2008, Albania participates officially in NATO's Operation Active Endeavor in the Mediterranean.
Albania became a full member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on 1 April 2009.
Albania hosts an international fair on security and defense called Albanian Military Exhibition (ALMEX) where different security industries can present their products and services for the regional market.
In 2002, the Albanian armed forces, launched a 10-year reform program sponsored and supervised by the U.S. Defense Department in order to trim down and thoroughly modernize the standing force of the time of more than 30,000 troops. The same radical reform is being implemented on surplus equipment, including airplanes, tanks, helicopters, artillery equipment, navy vessels, SALW and ammunition. Albania started an ambitious destruction program. However, Albania is still dealing with a huge amount of surplus and obsolete ammunition, a direct result of the country's long isolation and ethnic tensions in the area. The Albanian Ministry of Defense estimates such quantity up to 85,000 tons, but it is expected to increase up to 104,000 tons due to the on-going downsizing process of the AAF. In March 2008 the problem of massive amounts of excess ammunition stockpiled in Albania became known to the public through the tragic consequences of the explosion of an ammunition depot (the 2008 Tirana explosions). It is worth noting that Albania's notoriously fractious politics have not obstructed any of the reforms undertaken by the Armed Forces.
In May 2003, Albania, Croatia, and the Republic of Macedonia with the direct support of the United States, created the Adriatic Charter, modeled on the Baltic Charter, as a mechanism for promoting regional cooperation to advance each country's NATO candidacy. In spite of strong European Union (EU) objections, Albania also signed in May 2003 a bilateral agreement with the U.S. on non-extradition of US citizens to the EU, based on Article 98 of the statute of International Criminal Court. In 2004 US President George W. Bush authorized the use of Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program funds for projects in Albania, marking the first time such funds are used outside the former Soviet Union. With this funding the US assisted the Government of Albania with the destruction of a stockpile chemical warfare agents left over from the communist regime (Category 1, Total amount 16.7 tons). The final cost of the project was US$48 million and was officially completed on 10 July 2007.
On April 3, 2006, the final contract for the delivery of 12 Bölkow-Blom MBB BO-105 lightweight twin-engine multi-role helicopters to the Republic of Albania was signed in Tirana between the Albanian Ministry of Defense and Eurocopter Deutschland GmbH. According to the Albanian Government, six of the BO-105 helicopters are designated for the Albanian Air Brigade, four for the Ministry of Interior and the remaining two for the Albanian Ministry of Health.
Albania has recently acquired 2 Eurocopter AS532 Cougar helicopters and has 3 more on order. Also, since 2008 three Damen Stan 4207 patrol vessels have been commissioned in the Navy and one more is expected on 2013.
|Country||Current Mission||Organization||Nr. of personnel|
|Côte d'Ivoire||UNOCI||United Nations|
- HISTORIKU I FORCAVE TE ARMATOSURA TE RSH, Shtabi i Përgjithshëm i Forcave të Armatosura të Republikës së Shqipërisë (in Albanian)
- "Merr detyrën kreu i ri i Forcave të Armatosura". top-channel.tv.
- "Albanian military expenditure as % of GDP". World Bank.
- "MEICO official website".
- Koci, Jonilda. "Albania to abolish conscription by 2010". SETimes. Retrieved 4 September 2010.
- NATO, Operation Active Endeavour[dead link]
- "Kosovo Force (KFOR) Troop contributions". NATO. 25 June 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- Miranda Vickers. The Albanians: A Modern History. New York: I.B. Tauris, 2000. p. 224.
- UNDP Albania
- United States Department of State, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs/May 2007.
- Kondi, Luan (25 April 2010). "Forcat e Armatosura, struktura e re pa Komandën e Bashkuar". Shqip. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
- "NATO Official website". Retrieved 25 May 2013.
- "ALMEX". Albanian Military Exhibition.
- The Canadian Press: Albanian army ammunition depot explodes, killing 5 and injuring 215[dead link]
- Germany will supply Albania with 12 BO-105 Helicopters
- Albanian Ministry of Defence (official site)
- Albanian Armed Forces (official site)
- Arms of Albanian army
- BBC article about the Albanian Bunker System
- Albanian military forum
Ranks and insignia
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