GENERALS DEMAND BGN12 MN SAVED UP AFTER IRAQI MISSION
The General Staff has already allocated all the BGN12 million which would remain unspent after Bulgarian's contingent withdrawal from Iraq. The High Command wants to use the money for funding the country's foreign missions and to purchase new equipment for rangers who participate in peacekeeping operations under NATO and EU's aegis. The bold intentions for the fast spending were promulgated during the week in Plovdiv by General Staff vice-president, General Galimir Pehlivanov. The idea is good but it may not come into being. Finance Minister Plamen Oresharski should give his consent in order the funds to be adopted. If he should not agree on the decision the money would be brought back to the state budget. Despite this potential danger, though, the General Staff has already ordered the purchase of 10 thermovision cameras. The cameras will be provided to Bulgarian military men who guard the Kandahar airport. They will also receive brand new equipment until the end of this week.
According to General Pehlivanov, BGN90 million envisaged in Defence Ministry's 2009 budget would be well enough for Bulgaria to meet its international agreements. In fact, the amount of money is identical to that provided for foreign operations in 2008. It was obvious that they proved insufficient during the current year. The purchase of M-1111 armoured vehicles has additionally burdened the budget and thus redirecting of funds from other allocations has been needed. The General Staff officials confessed that a real possibility of augmenting our presence in Afghanistan and Kosovo exists but this would be realized after an expert evaluation had been provided by our allies. And this will also eat up money.
On the other hand, the number of our foreign contingents will remain unchanged. The preparation on the Bulgarian squad rotation in Afghanistan has just finished. The new squad will be officially dispatched at the beginning of December in Pleven, Valentin Burov, colonel commandant of Fifth Mechanized Brigade, announced. All the 42 Bulgarian rangers have passed rifle, tactical, medical and psychological training over a three-month period. A squad training at the brigade's establishment in Vratsa is also scheduled.
And while the organization and pursuing of our foreign policy priorities in the field of collective security are explicit it is hard to say the same about the state of our army. In accordance with the new Defence Act, the Defence Ministry and the High Staff will merge. The latter is concerned that problems with the operating management of the armies' types and branches will set in afterwards as their commanders will be laid off and the coordination will be carried out by the Defence Ministry. But yet the High Command hopes that the future laying off of military men will not be at the expense of the army's staff. General Pehlivanov demanded that laid offs be redirected to other brigades and military establishments in order to meet NATO standards and requirements.
And while the generals suffer torments about their future the regular army will enjoy a remuneration increase as of the beginning of 2009. Still in January their remunerations will jump by 10%, to be followed by a further 10%-increase in July 2009. Moreover, the military men will be provided free accommodations whose running costs will be covered by the Defence Ministry.