SEATTLE — Bulgaria is a mountainous Balkan country on the Black Sea that has a distinct heritage rooted in Greek, Slavic, Ottoman and Persian cultures. With Bulgaria being a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union (EU) and its proximity to Russia, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Bulgaria.
In 1998, Bulgaria and the United States signed an agreement highlighting various economic and technical concerns in response to the imbalances Bulgaria was seeing within their military sector, mostly related to how their visions for the future did not coincide with their meager resources.
In February 2010, Bulgaria began the Force Structure Review, a review that relied heavily on United States funding, and it quickly proved to be vital in analyzing and actualizing the structure, size, roles and tasks of Bulgaria’s Armed Forces.
Additionally, this review took into account existing and foreseeable resources that would fit the context of NATO’s collective defense system and the EU’s Common Security and Defense Policy — both organizations that could make sure the United States benefited from providing foreign aid to Bulgaria.
Without the security assistance programs of the United States government, it would be extremely difficult for Bulgaria to achieve the level of success they anticipated upon the completion of the FSR.
The United States has been providing Bulgaria with foreign assistance since 2006, and most of this funding has been allocated towards peace and security, a very important aspect that would ensure the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Bulgaria.
In recent years, the United States’ most prominent national security concern has been centered around Russian aggression. In fact, many politicians say the current relationship between the United States and Russia is the most dangerous it has been since the Cold War.
For example, Sir Tony Brenton, a British diplomat who has spent 30 years working in the field, pointed out in July 2017 that Russia is largely looking for an excuse to go to war, his example being when the U.S. joint chiefs made it clear to Congress that they could have “no-fly zones” in Syria if they were willing to go to war with Russia, Russia responded by putting nuclear-tip-able rockets on display in Kaliningrad to show the Americans where their decision could take them. This is only one example of the recent tensions between Russia and the United States.
In order to ensure that the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Bulgaria, it has become clear they need to focus on investing in peace and security as well as military forces.
In 2017, the United States spent $1.65 million on Bulgarian peace and security as well as humanitarian assistance. The fiscal year request was designed to support more training and an in-depth modernization of Bulgaria’s military.
With this funding, the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense is developing their defense system from a static, large force to a more active one that focuses on making their military capable of assisting their NATO partners, especially as new security challenges continue to rise throughout the 21st century. On January 10, 2018, at the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Chief of Defense Lieutenant General Andrey Botsev backed up these claims.
In 2018, the United States has planned $1.8 million in funding for Bulgaria’s stabilization operations and security sector reform. In addition to military and paramilitary improvement, this money will also go towards law enforcement, border security and maritime security. Because of the United States continuing to pay dividends by initiating a more efficient, NATO-friendly force in Bulgaria, more doors are opening in terms of building units that are able to work alongside with United States forces.
– Alexandra Dennis