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Bulgaria: Officer Education
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > Military Personnel > Officer Education


The level of education of Bulgarian officers rose in the 1970s and 1980s. In the early 1970s, only 40 percent had degrees from higher military or civilian schools, but this figure rose to nearly two-thirds of the entire officer corps by 1980. Cadet programs in several higher military schools provided officers for the armed forces. These programs were equivalent to a civilian university curriculum. Applicants were required to have a secondary school education and to be single, in excellent physical condition, and under twenty-four years of age. Many applicants had completed their compulsory military service as conscripts and decided to pursue a professional military career. The ground forces had three higher military schools for training combined arms officers, artillery officers, and reserve officers. The air and air defense forces had one Higher Aviation School that provided firsthand experience with aircraft besides its classroom training. The Higher Aviation School had three flight training regiments with supporting aviation engineering, communications, and radio-technical (radar) support battalions. The naval forces had a Higher Naval School to train officers for the service. Cadets in training to be line officers had four-year courses of study; those preparing for technical specialties such as artillery, aviation, and communications had five-year courses of study. Cadets received their commissions immediately after they graduated.

Selected officers could obtain advanced academic training. Midgrade officers could apply for acceptance in the Georgi Rakovski Military Academy in Sofia. Graduation from the academy, which was similar to a Western war college or command and staff course, was a prerequisite for advancement into the senior officer ranks. Approximately one-third of all career officers completed that course. Most active-duty officers studied in one of several Soviet military academies. Completion of a two-year program in the Soviet Union and fluency in Russian were requirements for field-grade officers. In 1991 the minister of national defense raised the possibility of sending officers to study in Western military academies but cited the language barrier and the country's financial difficulties as obstacles. The General Staff had several other specialized academic institutes for the study of military science and history. It also operated the Military Medical Academy, which was established as a training and research center in the military aspects of the medical sciences, to upgrade training of military physicians, and to provide medical services for the armed forces.

A professional military career was considered relatively prestigious in Bulgaria, although prestige began to wane in the post-Zhivkov era. Depending on whether nonmonetary benefits like housing and food were considered, an officer's pay was generally 25 to 50 percent higher than that offered in civilian positions with comparable responsibilities. Only in 1990 did the defense establishment begin to address problems familiar to military officers in all countries, however. For example, spouses frequently were unable to find work in the vicinity of military posts. In 1991 a special cash allowance to military families was being considered to cover these instances. Day-care and school accommodations often were scarce, and adequate housing unavailable. The quasi-official Georgi Rakovski Officer Legion was established in 1990 to promote a broad range of professional interests and address issues such as living standards within the Ministry of National Defense.

In the early 1990s, tenure became a vital concern to officers. In 1991 the minister of national defense announced that reductions in the armed forces would reduce the officer corps by nearly 15 percent. A military affiliate of the Podkrepa labor federation was founded in 1991 by a group of junior officers and NCOs. As an independent organization, it was seen as a more formidable adversary to the Ministry of National Defense than the Georgi Rakovski Officer Legion. Some of the Podkrepa affiliate's founders were dismissed from the service, apparently in retaliation for their activities.

Data as of June 1992

Last Updated: June 1992

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Bulgaria was first published in 1992. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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