The Slovenia Times

Army preparedness unchanged despite progress in some areas

President Nataša Pirc Musar inspects a guard of honour at the Vipava army barracks. Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

The Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) have made some headway over the past year, but the level of preparedness remains the same as last year, according to the annual report presented to President Nataša Pirc Musar as the commander in chief.

"The majority of the indicators have not changed substantially, but we have detected improvements in some areas," Lieutenant General Robert Glavaš, the chief of the general staff, told reporters at the presentation at the Vipava army barracks.

Pirc Musar expressed confidence that the SAF are capable of defending Slovenia's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

After a slump due to deep defence spending cuts in the aftermath of the financial crisis, the level of the SAF preparedness has been improving gradually since 2019.

Last year the army's training and exercises were significantly affected by the August floods, and some other tasks the army performed.

"We are trained and qualified to operate in the most challenging conditions, so we are always available in crises. Even though the Slovenian army is not the first in line to respond in such events, we have always come to the rescue," Glavaš said.

In training for armed combat, individual training, collective training and exercises for peacekeeping units have been stepped up. A lot of attention has also been paid to the contract reserve, for which the training plan has been overhauled and the reserve has been included in exercises, operational tasks and even peacekeeping operations, the chief of the general staff said.

The SAF has also started the process of preparing war-time formations, updating the mobilisation documents and adapting to the requirements of the new NATO strategic concept.

"All the efforts we are making in the SAF today and tomorrow are leading to the goal we have set. This is a complete, equipped and well-trained SAF," the chief of the general staff said.

Defence Minister Marjan Šarec said the key word in the last couple of years had been modernisation. "Modernisation of equipment, modernisation of the approach to finding new staff, and above all modernisation of the mindset. These are the three components that take us forward," he said.

He noted a significant increase in investment funding. The figure has risen to €250 million from only €3 million in 2016. But this is still "less than what we would like to spend in order to reach the goal of having defence spending amount to 2% of GDP by 2030".

The measures to address the lack of staff are showing results. Last year, 325 new recruits were hired, the first time since 2010 that the number topped 300.

The number of participants in boot camps for youths has also increased significantly since the number of participants is no longer restricted. "Last year we had 700 young people at the camps," Šarec said.

The officials agreed compulsory conscription is not required at this stage. "We are talking about how to promote the military profession more, how to convince more boys and girls to come for at least three months of training," Pirc Musar said. Šarec also believes that soft approaches to army recruitment are yielding very good results.


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