Annual Conference of the Minister of Defence on Key Results of the Work in 2019

Sunday, 29.12.2019 | News
The year that is almost behind us has been a dynamic and tough year, in which we faced numerous challenges; a year in which the armed forces significantly enhanced theirs combat readiness, their capabilities, equipment, financial status of their members, but it was also a year in which the armed forces demonstrated their readiness and capabilities to protect their country and their people — Minister of Defence Aleksandar Vulin emphasised presenting the results of work of the Ministry of Defence and Serbian Armed Forces in 2019, at a press conference attended by Chief of General Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces General Milan Mojsilović and other members of the Minister’s Board.

— In difficult moments, when we were on the verge of a conflict with Shiptar terrorists in the North of Kosovo and Metohija, the Serbian Armed Forces on several occasions, and in accordance with orders of their Supreme Commander, raised combat readiness to the highest level, demonstrated absolute readiness and capability to execute such orders, and more importantly, they demonstrated willingness, desire, high morale, technical preparedness and, above all, they demonstrated readiness and resolve to protect and defend their people, wherever and whenever it was threatened — Minister Vulin said at today’s conference in the Central Military Club.
He underscored that the salaries of all members had been increased by more than 18 per cent in January and November, and that “it was done in one calendar year, which was a year with almost non-existent inflation”. Emoluments were also increased by more than 18 per cent to all soldiers, school pupils and cadets, individuals on professional advancement, which was not been the practice until now.
Comparing the salaries of members of the Ministry of Defence and Serbian Armed Forces in 2008 and 2009, Minister Vulin stressed that officers had on average received 567 Euros, and that presently they received 768 Euros per month. Previously, non-commissioned officers’ salaries were 361 on average, while today the salaries are 542 Euros, while soldiers earned 273 Euros then, while today they receive 400 Euros on average.
— We enabled an increase of basic salary by three per cent for professional servicemen who receive 95 and more points at physical fitness check. That means that those who are the best will receive a three per cent salary increase. For the first time, through the zeal of the General Staff, and zeal of the Armed Forces, and zeal of the Ministry of Defence, the best are being rewarded — Minister Vulin underlined and added that the ones who receive a negative evaluation will have a salary reduction, because “a soldier, officer cannot receive a negative evaluation if he is healthy and physically fit”. He must be and is a role model, and no other way”.
Also, Minister Vulin stated that corrective coefficients had been defined for pilots and flight crewmen, and that the salaries of pilots and flight crewman of the Serbian Armed Forces had been equalised with those of the pilots and flight crewmen in the Ministry of Interior Affairs.
— This has never been done until now. That was the reason why we constantly had transfers and dissatisfaction, and now the pilots from the MI and armed forces have the same salaries for the job they perform. That is a source of pride and satisfaction of our members, and satisfaction of the members of MI as well, since, naturally, they wish that our members are satisfied. Aviation is a complex work. Being a pilot and flight crewman is by no means simple, or easy, and those people have to be protected — Vulin pointed out saying that when we were equipped by the stat-of-the-art assets, we had to maintain the people capable of using them.
At today’s conference, the minister of defence assessed that the essential and maybe one of the most complex blows that the Serbian Armed Forces had suffered in the past, had not been just the reduction of their strength or reduction of their equipment. The strongest blow to the Serbian Armed Forces was the abolition of a system that took care of the members of the Serbian Armed Forces.
— The planned destruction of that system left the military without state care and without the care of society, and that was the most severe strike against the Serbian Armed Forces. That was the most severe strike against their members. You will buy materiel, and you will buy equipment, but this is something that is the most difficult to restore and that is the hardest to implement. We are trying to restore that system that takes care of members of the military from the moment when they enter our education system until their retirement and after that. They should know that they and their families are taken care of every day — the minister of defence stressed.
Another example of increased care for the men is that for the first time, all employees of the Ministry of Defence and Serbian Armed Forces are insured 24 hours seven days a week.
— To some it may look as a small deal, but to the members of the armed forces, after long, long time, decades it means a lot, since that did not exist even at the time of the JNA. The things are changing, and they are changing for the better, since we want our members to be protected at all times, both at the workplace and out of the workplace. For us, they are at all times members of the armed forces, and there are no working ours for members of the military, since they can always receive a telephone call from their superior officer informing them about an emergency or some other reason why the assistance of the armed forces is needed and they always answer. If that is the case, then it is appropriate to tell them that we protect them even in their free time, when they are not performing their work obligations — Minister Vulin stated and instanced other forms of care for the men.
In 2019, we had a high budget of 101.3 billion dinars, and 99.8 per cent has been realised, which is almost unrecorded by many ministries. That demonstrates that you are capable of planning, and capable of truly doing and implementing everything that you have planned — the minister of defence underscored and announced a very high budget for the following year, which seems nominally less, but is in reality higher, since the Ministry of Finances upon an initiative of the Ministry of Defence abolished mandatory payment of VAT for import of special purpose goods.
The Strategy of National Security of the Republic of Serbia and Strategy of Defence of the Republic of Serbia were adopted after 10 years — stated Minister Vulin stressing that the world had changed, but more importantly, Serbia had changed as well.
— Today, Serbia is a country that possesses economic, diplomatic and military power. Serbia is a country which has strength to take care of itself, to assess its environment and preserve peace in the entire Balkans — Vulin highlighted.
Amendments to the Law on the Serbian Armed Forces have been adopted and that maybe does not mean a lot to our citizens, but to the members of the Serbian Armed Forces, that means a lot — Vulin said and clarified that it enabled reintroducing the rank of the captain first class and Sergeant First Class, and that the age limit was raised for the admission to professional military service for the officers of up to 45 years of age, for non-commissioned officers of up to 40 years of age, and our members were equalised with civil servants in terms of days of holiday, and that it enabled further development of military education through a possibility of introducing NCO education and possibility to promote pupils after completed high military school into NCO ranks, and it enabled faster promotion of non-commissioned officers from the status of professional soldiers, and admission of more people from civilian life in a quicker, more immediate and simpler way.

This year housing issue was resolved for 553 members of the Ministry of Defence and Serbian Armed Forces, and SOVO Fund gave 16 flats and 116 housing credits for to users of military pensions.
Speaking about equipment with new assets of arms and military equipment Minister Vulin emphasised that the year would be remembered for accelerated and intensive equipment.
— Today, our Air Force is undoubtedly on of the strongest in the region. Apart from MiG-29 planes of which we are immensely proud, after 25 years, we have acquired new assets; four attack helicopters Mi-35M. We have never had them in our Aviation, and in our Air Force and Air Defence, and he have never had such helicopters, but now we do have them — Minister of Defence pointed out and stressed that new attack-transport helicopters Mi-17 also had arrived in the course of the year, along with two new ones that we had had from before.
— Furthermore, five multipurpose Airbus helicopters H-145M, the best in their class also arrived. Our pilots are very satisfied with their performances, just like there are very proud of Mi-35 and Mi-17. In the framework of military-technical assistance from Belarus, we have taken over the ownership of four MiG-29 planes, whose overhaul and modernisation is in progress. We have refurbished resources for 10 “Orao” planes in total, and the number is going to continue to grow. Modernisation of MiG-29 and “Orao” and G4 planes is currently in progress — the minister of defence stated and added that 10 BRDM-2MS vehicles had arrived until that moment out of the total number of 30 vehicles donated by the Russian Federation, and that delivery of 30 tanks T-72B12 was also expected from a donation of the Russian Federation. We have received 40 heavy engineering and other special purpose vehicles delivered in the framework of a donation from the PR China. We will continue equipping infantry units with new equipment generation in accordance with the Project 1500+, which includes protective ballistic equipment, small arms and sighting, surveillance optoelectronic assets.
As the minister of defence highlighted, in the course of the year a record was established in terms of introducing new assets as organic weapons and he congratulated on that to the employees of the Sector for Material Resources, Military Technical Institute and Serbian defence industry.
— They fielded 49 new assets of arms and military equipment that are nationally developed. The Military Technical Institute produced 25, Serbian defence industry 12, with 12 products whose zero series have already been produced. You wonder if those numbers are relevant. If the MTI, which was almost devastated and facing closure several years ago, can provide the greatest number of new assets which are result of its own development and its own intelligence, then it supports the fact that we are on the path of development and advancement of that most significant military technical establishment. If I am not mistaken, in 2006 the Military Technical Institute was faced with nights when they received orders from the Ministry of Defence to lay off overnight 400 engineers out of 800 or 900 of them. We have never recovered from that. The engineers who were thrown out on the street have created an entire private industry and everything that is private that you see, is created by the engineers from the MTI, or they have gone abroad. Last year, we hired some 70 engineers, and in 2006, 400 of them were laid off. Our road of recovery is long and it will not go that easy. The money is no longer a problem since we have ensured money both to stimulate the engineers, for scholarships of some future engineers and experts, put the people are the problem — the competition on the market. Now the entire world competes against you and it is ready to pay as much as you want for the knowledge and intelligence of our engineers — Minister Vulin explained.
According to him, focal tasks also include modernisation of tank M-84, fighting infantry vehicle M80, howitzer “Gvozdik” 122mm, “Oganj” system and helicopter “Gazelle”. He stressed that a lot of attention had been paid that every professional member of the Serbian Armed Forces had three uniform kits — two M10 and one M93, and new summer and winter boots, which had never been the case until then.
Minister Vulin stated that reestablishment of the 63rd Parachute Brigade and 72nd Special Operations Brigade, disbanded in 2006, was very important event for the Serbian Armed Forces.
— We have raised these two glorious, heroic, war units from battalion rank to the level of Brigade, which is the level from which they should have never been moved and degraded. Their glorious wartime past should never have been a reason to punish and discharge them — Minister Vulin stated adding that those units of the Serbian Armed Forces were reinstated to brigade level not only for the reason of righting the historical injustice towards them, but because, in accordance with the strategy of the Serbian Armed Forces and strategies of national security and defence, we need strong, powerful, trained, equipped and highly mobile units.
Manning those units to the level of brigade cannot happen overnight — the minister said, but their full reorganisation could be expected by 2020.
The Serbian Armed Forces are again returning to their borders and protect their territory in the greatest possible level — minister Vulin stated, announcing reestablishment of units of the Serbian Armed Forces in Loznica and Priboj, as well as an increase in deployment level of the unit in Kuršumlija.
Speaking of the damage done trhough incessant centralisation, abolishing and reducing commanding authority, Minister Vulin stated that it would be repaired by giving greater authority to arms’ and brigades commanders to autonomously decide on admission of civilians in their units and on provision of services within the purview of their responsibilities.
Strengthening operational capability of the Serbian Armed Forces is one of the primary tasks – stresses Minister Vulin. In 2019, 144 exercises were carried out for commands and units at battalion level or higher, and training was conducted for 1071 soldiers serving voluntary military service, 66 stationary campings of Serbian Armed Forces units were held with participation of more than 8000 members of the Serbian Armed Forces and numerous courses and training were held.
— We have conducted training and courses for 4500 members of the reserve in commands and units of the Serbian Armed Forces, and for 704 individuals over the age of 30. The response was 96%. You will remember that it is the reserve which was so much attacked, and I was a part of that reserve, which consists of individuals over 30 years of age who have not served military service. We enabled them, and me among them, to prepare to serve their country in the time of need. After all the campaign, derision, insults, depreciation, 96% of the men answered the call, left their families and work and came in that moment to learn something that they did not learn in previous years. I am proud of those men, just like I am proud of the fact that more than 70% of the summoned individuals always answer the call of the military to join the reserve or participate in an exercise — Minister Vulin stated.

The Serbian Armed Forces will prepare, get stronger, because it is only when Serbia is strong and when it has strong armed forces, the peace in the Balkans is long-lasting and certain — the minister of defence said and reminded of some of the most significant exercises executed by the armed forces in 2019, including demonstration of capabilities “Freedom 2019” and “Freedom Defence”, joint tactical live firing exercise “Begej 2019” and a computer supported simulation experimental exercise “Pionir 2019”.
Among 43 international military exercises, the minister singled out exercises “Slavic Shield 2019”, “Slavic Brotherhood 2019”, “Platinum Wolf 2019”, exercise in the Western military district in the Russian Federation and “Platinum Lion 2019” in the Republic of Bulgaria.
In the framework of international military cooperation 1187 activities have been conducted. Apart from the donations from the Russian Federation and Belarus, additional eight donations have been agreed in the total value of 79,731,000 USD, out of which the People’s Republic of China will donate 75,000,000 USD, USA will donate 4,531,000 USD, and the Republic of Korea will donate 200,000 USD.
— We are trying to cooperate with everyone, and we are entirely open for any cooperation and everything which is in the interest of the Serbian Armed Forces is good and acceptable for us. I met three times the minister of defence of the Russian Federation, twice with the minister of defence of China, six times with Belarus minister of defence, and ministers of Czech Republic, Hungary, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, France, United Arab Emirates, Norway, Iran, and Uganda. I had two meetings with Vice-Chairman of Central Military Commission of the People’s Republic of China, once when General Zhang visited our country, which was the highest military visit in the history of our military-to-military relations. We had 33 meetings with high delegations from abroad and 23 meetings with ambassadors and head of presidencies of various international organisations — Vulin stated.
— We have always paid attention to the fact that Serbian policy is the policy of military neutrality. In 2019 we had two exercises with the CSTO, three exercises with NATO, six military exercises with the Russian Federation and another six military exercises with the USA. We pay attention to the military neutrality, but we also take care to learn from whom we have and can learn something and that is why I am proud that next year we will for the first time conduct an exercise with special units of the People’s Liberation Army of China — the minister of defence said.
He reminded that in the course of 2019, 589 members of the Ministry of Defence and Serbian Armed Forces were deployed to nine multinational operations, five of them under the command of the United Nations and four led by the European Union.
Speaking about investments in infrastructure and protection of material assets possessed by the Serbian Armed Forces, Minister Vulin stated that a hangar had been constructed after 20 years at the airfield in Niš, equipped with power generator station for helicopters. The state-of-the-art conditions, such as those in Niš, are also going to be provided at military-civilian airport “Morava” near Kraljevo, as well as for the accommodation of members of the Special Brigade in Pančevo – Minister Vulin announced and added that a hangar for housing aircraft was going to be constructed in the airfield in Batajnica, and a building for signal assets and electronic equipment overhaul in the TOF “Čačak” as well as a building for accommodation of cadets at the Military Academy.

In 2019, Serbian Defence Industry achieved export of arms and military equipment in the amount of some 430 million USD and 14 million Euros of its own investments in production capacities. The overall number of the employees and engaged workers in defence industry is 12,069, which is by 34 per cent higher than in 2012 — Minister Vulin underscored.
Minister Vulin stressed that military health made an important segment of the system, which took care not only of military personnel, and that military health establishments conducted more than a million of medical examinations, out of which 824,000 of military and 282,000 examinations of civilian individuals. Some 30,000 people received hospital treatment in military health establishments out of which 11,904 were military and 18,800 civilian individuals.
Permanently placed were 406 individuals, which is something that has not happened since the establishment of the Military Medical Academy. He confirmed that the Military Medical Academy was continuously advanced and that it introduced new treatment methods each year.
At the Conference, Minister Vulin spoke about military education as well, and he stated that we were “giving the armed forces back to the armed forces”.
— We will change curriculum and syllabus, the instruction is being changed and the titles, hence, what the cadets learn is going to change as well. Those who complete the Military Academy are not going to be “defence managers” – they are going to be officers again. We are not preparing our cadets to leave the armed forces one day and work as civilians, but we prepare them to spend their life as officers – which is what they are and what they chose to be — Minister Vulin said.
The minister of defence underlined that 90% of high schools had already realised plans to train pupils for defence of the country.
The minister of defence reminded that the Serbian Armed Forces had been engaged wherever and whenever it was required to provide assistance to civilian authorities and local population to eliminate consequences of natural disasters, just like now, members of the Military Police and Search and Rescue Team are engaged in the action of searching for the kidnaped girl and her abductor.
The minister of defence stated that in the course of that year we had celebrated with a range of activities the 20th anniversary of defence against NATO aggression against the Federative Republic of Yugoslavia. On that occasion a multimedia exhibition “Defence 78” has been organised.
— We wanted to show how we defended ourselves and how we suffered; and for you to shed a tear when you enter the children room, where you can see photographs, names and hear laughter of our killed children — the minister of defence said and confirmed that many foreigners had toured the exhibition and they had been stricken by profound pain and sorrow.
Minister Aleksandar Vulin reminded that documentary-feature films about the battles of Košare and Paštrik in 1999 had been filmed and presented in cooperation with the Radio-Television Serbia.
— Today we all know about Košare and Paštrik. But did we all know about it four, five or seven years ago? What happened on Košare and Paštrik and what it really meant? We gave our best and we were successful, so Serbia got to know its heroes, just like it learnt about the fights and battles, and what had truly happened there. Eight and half million viewers watched it — the minister of defence said and added that until that moment, 12 books of the edition “Warrior” in which the most significant commanders and participants of combat actions during NATO aggression gave their viewpoints on those events.
The minister of defence also underscored the importance of sports in the armed forces and that a Sport unit was established as an encouragement in that field.

— At World military championship in China three bronze medals were won and eight records of the Ministry of Defence and Serbian Armed Forces were broken. However, the number of the medals won is not so important, it is important to defeat yourself, to break your own personal record and the record of the Ministry of Defence and Serbian Armed Forces an, which means that you have given your best — the minister of defence concluded speaking about the results of work of the Ministry of Defence and Serbian Armed Forces at today’s press conference.

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