The Bulgarian Land Forces in the Cold War


  • Colin Robinson, Ph.D African Research Institute, Obuda University, Budapest



Bulgarian Land Forces, Warsaw Pact, Southwestern Theatre of Military Operations, Soviet Ground Forces, offensive plan, war plans, motor rifle division, military historiography


During the Cold War, information in Western open sources about Bulgarian Land Forces’ war plans, organisation, and order of battle was absent or very general, until the last years of the 1980s. Yet there is much more information now available after 30 years, and this is a very valid topic for research. Bulgaria was drawn into Soviet war planning for the elimination of capitalism. Bulgaria’s planned part in this was helping to seize the Turkish Straits, either with or without the use of tactical nuclear weapons. It now appears that there would have been two Fronts advancing in this area, one predominantly Soviet Odessa Military District forces to seize the Turkish Straits, and the other more heavily Bulgarian in composition attacking towards central Greece. Both would have been supported by tactical air forces and, if the circumstances dictated, nuclear weapons. Later, with the commitment of strategic reserves, it was hoped to develop the offensive in depth towards the Syrian border. The forces formed to carry this mission out were reorganized repeatedly from 1945-55, as the Communist Party tightened its control over the country. The organisation of the Land Forces was much more settled after the early 1960s. Bulgarian history will be better served by more open debate over these issues.

Author Biography

Colin Robinson, Ph.D, African Research Institute, Obuda University, Budapest

Dr Colin D. Robinson is a Researcher for the African Research Institute, Obuda University, Budapest. He has a wide range of research interests spanning much of war studies, and has previously written three articles on the Soviet and Russian Ground Forces.
  He sits on the editorial boards of Defence and Security Analysis and the Journal of Central and Eastern European African Studies. From 2018-2020 he was the Military Expert on an EU-funded project focusing on Somalia at Sahan Research in Nairobi, Kenya, and he retains a particular interest in Somali military developments. He spent much of 2020-22 as an Adjunct Instructor for the eSchool of Professional Military Education, USAF Air University, teaching on military decisions and strategy. He previously worked for the United Nations in Georgia, Liberia, and New York. He completed his doctorate in 2012, worked for the University of Liberia 2016-17, and was a Visiting Lecturer at the Centre for Defence and Security Studies, Massey University in 2018. He has also worked for the New Zealand defence establishment in 1999; 2005-07, and 2012-2015. He was granted his Master's degree by King's College London in 2000, and awarded First Class Honours in International Relations by Victoria University of Wellington in 1998.


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How to Cite

Robinson, Ph.D, C. . (2023). The Bulgarian Land Forces in the Cold War. BULLETIN OF "CAROL I" NATIONAL DEFENCE UNIVERSITY, 12(3), 73–94.