22 December 2009

Surge in Afghanistan? Send in the Bulgarians!

Looks like Bulgaria will be beefing up their military presence in Afghanistan.

The Bulgarian contingent in Afghanistan is likely to be reinforced by 30 additional personnel at the beginning of 2010, which may be followed by a further deployment of 70 more personnel by the end of the year, Bulgarian Defence Minister Nikolai Mladenov was quoted as saying by the Bulgarian news agency (BTA) on December 18 2009.

Mladenov said that these are issues which still need to be discussed by the Bulgarian Cabinet.

Currently, Bulgaria has a 610-strong detachment in Afghanistan. Its main task is securing the airport of the southern Afghan town of Kandahar and military installations in the capital Kabul. The southern city of Kandahar is a Taliban stronghold and terrorist attacks in the region are commonplace. This is where the Bulgarian forces have deployed a mechanised infantry battalion.

"We wish to find a solution whereby we can assist the effort in Afghanistan from here. One such solution would be to have Afghan National Army (ANA) officers be trained at the Novo Selo military base in Bulgaria, Mladenov said.

According to Mladenov, the details surrounding the exact capacity of future Bulgarian reinforcements in Afghanistan will be made available following the conference in London set for January 2010. Bulgaria is contemplating the option of sending a fully equipped field hospital staffed with 20 to 30 medical staff.

Bulgaria's defence budget for 2010 amounts to 1.3 billion leva, of which 100 million leva will be reserved for international deployments.

Some visual info on the Bulgarian Army
Bulgarian land forcesat Wikipedia.

By: Brant

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