Security & defense briefing of Montenegro
Montenegro is experiencing a surge of investments mainly from Russia and the UK in its real estate and tourism sectors, as well as, in offshore banking that may well see this small country being placed on par with Cyprus within the coming years.
In the security sector, Podgoritsa is influenced by the existence of well formed organized crime groups and the nucleus of Islamic extremists that are in contact with those in Bosnia and Kosovo.
Already there are estimations that any sudden upturn in Bosnia, Kosovo and even Sanjak in Serbia may lead to civil strife within the state. Montenegro’s politicians in order to calm down the extremist circles are gradually expanding the role of "Moderate" Muslims, therefore assisting in the appearance of a very strong Islamic political influence within the state.
In December 2007, local reports mentioned around the existence of some 100 extremists residing mostly in the North-Eastern parts of the country that are connected with the various Wahhabi cells habituating in the Balkans.
A very interesting aspect would be the correlation between the Islamists and organized crime groups that cannot be excluded as past experience in the other Balkan regions has shown.
On a military level, Montenegro has the least forces in the Balkans and is not under conflict with any other neighboring state. The government has also relayed plans of minimizing the Army's strength and from today's 7,700 to a maximum of 2,400 and abolishing the obligatory service. Lastly, Montenegro's armed forces maintain close links with NATO countries and in particular American trainers.
Breakdown of Montenegro's armed forces
Land Forces: 4.400
Interior Ministry: 6,000
Special police: 4,100
Armored vehicles: 27 (BOV, BTR types)
Artillery: 30 (30, M-46, D-30 types)
Rocket launchers: 18 (M-63 type)
Antiaircraft systems: 17 (BOV-3 type)
Helicopters: 21 (Soko & Mi-8 types)
Frigates: 2 (Kotor type)
Submarine: 6 (Una, Sava, SDV types)
Patrol boats: 5 (OSA I, Koncar, Mima types)
Marine forces: 36 anti-vessel artillery units; 1 land defense brigade 2 motorized battalions
The Montenegro armed forces are characterized by the use of mostly Yugoslav-era weaponry, the existence of a substantial marine force and the absence of air force.
Moreover the most important facet of their capabilities is the strong position of their paramilitary forces which number more than the conventional forces and constitute 1.5% of the total population of the country one of the largest percentages in the world.
Lastly there are many reliable estimations that Montenegro’s Navy which is quite developed for a country this size; would be diminished to a few patrol boats the rest being either sold or scrapped.
It is safe to assume that with the imminent reduction of the rest of the Army, the police and interior forces will become the undisputable "Force de fer" of Montenegro, thus any analysis regarding the political balance of the country should take into account the potential change of guards in these forces.