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NATO Entry Boosts Bulgarian International Reserve Efforts


“Our vision is to integrate nationally and participate more internationally,” says Colonel Popov of the Union of Reserve Officers and Noncommissioned Officers of Bulgaria (RONU). The Union, really an association, has already celebrated its centennial in 2007 although it was suspended during the Soviet times from 1944 to 1989.

An important Union goal is to increase reserve officer impact on the structure of the armed forces. Increased participation in International Operations is another core goal for the Union. Today, Bulgaria is only present in Afghanistan.
“There is a sum total of 17 Reserve Officer organizations in Bulgaria. We want to integrate these better and maybe form a confederation much like the Polish ROs have done. This trend is also supported by our politicians,” says Popov.


The Union is a member of The Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers (CIOR) as of 2004 subsequent to Bulgaria’s acceptance into NATO. The first contact between CIOR and the Union was in 1999 followed by liaison through the Partnership for Peace (PfP) Initiative. With over 33.000 members from a population base of around 7.5 million people, the Union has ambitions to participate more actively in all aspects of CIOR activities at all levels.

“We hosted the CLA – CIOR Language Academy - in 2003 and 2009, and a seminar for participants in Young Reserve Officers Workshop (YROW) in 2008,” says Colonel Popov. “In 2010 we have the pleasure of hosting a PfP seminar. We are working very hard to increase our members’ participation in CIOR activities, although we already participate in all activities”.

Union activities span the whole country. RONU has a district organization of 29 local units that are active with their subordinate organizations. “although we are a non-political organization,” says Popov, many members are typically active in administration and leadership at the local level.

Bulgaria transformed from the conscript system to professional forces in 2007. There is no difference in the equipment quality and level between the full-timers and the Reserves. Reserve Officer training is handled by the national military university that has a special Reserve Officer Faculty.

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