Peacekeeping Contributor Profile: Montenegro

Author: Marko Sošić, Institut Alternativa, Montenegro (

Active Armed Forces[1] Helicopters Defense Budget UN Peacekeepers UN Contribution Breakdown Other Significant Deployments
Rank: 149
Army: 1,500
Navy: 350
Air: 230
Plus 10,100 paramilitary
Multirole helicopters: 7
Transport helicopters: 1 (med)
2012: US$52m (1.2% of GDP)
2013: US$54m (1.17% of GDP)
2014: n/a

World Ranking (2016): 121

(0 female)
(31 August 2014)
Ranking: 107th
UNFICYP 4 police ISAF (25) (Sept. 2014)
Defense spending/troop: US$26,000 (compared to global average of approx. $70,000)


Part 1: Recent Trends

After regaining independence in 2006, Montenegro has tried to present itself as a reliable partner in the realm of international peace operations. It has adopted new laws, strategic documents and policies, and deployed soldiers and police officers to international peace operations. The main drive for Montenegro’s provision of peacekeepers is its desired goal of NATO membership. Between 2006 and 2014, Montenegro took part in several missions under UN, NATO and EU auspices, almost exclusively through deployment of Army personnel. The Army is currently participating in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) off the coast of Somalia, known as Operation Atalanta. Two military observers served in the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) since 2006, but they withdrew in mid-2014.




In 2009, acting upon a proposal of the Council for Security and Defense and with the ascent of the Committee for Security and Defense, the Parliament of Montenegro approved deployment of troops to three missions: up to 40 soldiers to ISAF (which was increased to 45 in 2011), up to 2 observers to UNMIL, and up to 3 sailors to EU NAVFOR Operation Atalanta. During 2014, Montenegrin troops will start participating in two more peace support operations: 1 officer to the EU Training Mission in Mali (EUTM) and 1 officer to the EU Force in the Central African Republic. Of these, ISAF is the most significant contribution of Montenegrin troops to date.


As well as the Army, the police have also started participating in missions abroad, although in significantly fewer numbers. Four police officers deployed to the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) since 2009, while 2 police officers were also engaged in ISAF.


Part 2: Decision-Making Process

The Constitution of Montenegro stipulates that the Army and security services are under democratic and civilian control. It also stipulates that troops and capabilities can be part of international forces. The Parliament decides upon the use of Montenegrin Army units internationally, while also performing supervision of the Army and security services.


The Law on participation of military troops and members of civil defense, police and public administration employees in peacekeeping  missions and other activities abroad was adopted in 2008 and has not been changed or amended since. This Law regulates participation in peace support missions, deployment procedures as well as the rights and obligations of persons that are participating in missions abroad. The Law allows representatives of civil protection, police and civil servants to participate in peace support missions and other activities abroad. Apart from police, the civil protection and civil servants may only carry out activities that do not require the use of weapons. Sending units to missions abroad to fight a war or when there is a state of emergency in Montenegro is . The Law does not permit Montenegrin nationals outside the public administration and security forces to be deployed to international missions.


When it comes to deploying the Army to peace operations, the Defense and Security Council has the role of initiating proposals. It is a constitutionally established body, comprised of the President of Montenegro, Speaker of the Parliament and the Prime Minister. The final decision is then adopted by the Parliament, acting upon a proposal of the Defense and Security Council. Deploying units of civil protection, police, or state administration to peace support missions or other activities abroad, is the sole jurisdiction of the Government. It does so on the basis of a proposal from the head of the state administration body whose employees are to be deployed. The implementation of the decision is the responsibility of the state administration body that proposed it.


The Defense and Security Council has an obligation to report annually to the Parliament on the Army’s involvement in peace support operations. For non-military units, the heads of public administration bodies that have deployed their representatives to international missions are obliged to submit a report on their participation and activities abroad to the Government.


Part 3: Rationales for Contributing

Political Rationales: Montenegro’s current government adopts a pro-NATO policy and strives to acquire membership. As a result, it is prioritizing participation in NATO peace operations, such as ISAF, believing this will expedite the accession process. On the other hand, support for the country’s NATO membership among the public is low, and there are political parties in the Parliament that are either opposed to it altogether or have a cautious attitude towards it.[2] Therefore, participation in ISAF was not endorsed with a consensus and stirred considerable debate in Montenegro. On the contrary, Parliament has unanimously endorsed all proposals for deploying troops (with a consensus of all parties), whenever the mission at hand was under a UN or EU mandate.


Economic Rationales: While UN reimbursements are not an important factor in the country’s decision to contribute troops, participation in peace operations is viewed as an opportunity for individual soldiers to earn both a considerably higher income and receive certain benefits (such as additional points in the ranking for the country’s housing fund). As a result, in the early stages of participation in ISAF, there were allegations about nepotism and corruption in the selection process of soldiers. In the meantime, the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior Affairs adopted detailed bylaws that regulate criteria for selection and recruitment, preparation and training of persons to be deployed to international missions (which are valid for the Army and police).


Security Rationales: Montenegro places contributions to NATO? peace support operations at the top of its security and defense agenda. Since Montenegro’s concept of defense is based on the premise of participation in a collective security system it does not envision a need for a total national system of defense. Therefore, its participation in NATO peace operations furthers the collective security system upon which it relies. The National Security Strategy (2009) expresses commitment to be a part of a regional and international security system involving the UN, NATO, EU and OSCE. This document underlines the belief that the best way for smaller states to ensure their security is by becoming a part of a system of collective security. Foreign tasks of Montenegrin security forces (defined as Army, police and coast guard) are support to state institutions in crisis management, peacebuilding and peacekeeping in the region and the world, participation in peace support operations under the mandate of the UN, EU, OSCE and NATO, as well as participation in international military and police cooperation.


Institutional Rationales: Montenegro’s Army is undergoing a modernization process. Peace support missions are seen as a professional challenge and an opportunity to build capacities. Significant funds are being invested to facilitate such deployments and key strategic documents give great importance to participation in international forces and peace support operations.


Normative Rationalesn accordance with the identification of threats in the National Defense Strategy (2009), one of the main tasks of the Army is participation in multinational forces within UN, NATO and EU missions. All of the five main tasks of defense as well as Montenegro’s defense goals as defined in the key strategic documents, are related to participation in multinational forces. Additionally, “Contribution to peace building and peace keeping in the region and world” is one of the three key tasks of Montenegro’s Army. It is comprised of three components: participation in peace and humanitarian missions, participation in international military cooperation for the purpose of developing trust and partnerships, as well as participation in arms control.


Part 4: Barriers for Contributing

Alternative institutional preferences for crisis management: Montenegro is adamant about placing high on its agenda, regardless of available capacities. However, given Montenegro’s small budget, participation in peace support operations is viewed by some as an unnecessary luxury on the part of the state since it is not obligatory and represents a considerable expense.


Alternative political and strategic priorities: UN-mandated missions are not near the top of the policy agenda. Instead, Montenegro prioritizes contributions in NATO missions. The justification given by the authorities for participating in these missions is pragmatic and states that it represents a way of fulfilling the unwritten (implicit) criteria for joining NATO.


Finances: Montenegro’s ability to contribute to peace operations is constrained by its limited finances. Since regaining independence in 2006, Montenegro has spent considerable money funding the Army’s participation in peace support operations. Around €13 million was spent, the majority of which since 2010, when the first squads were deployed to ISAF. Around 80% of these costs are related to salaries and benefits. According to the  , during 2013 the total expenses for participating in the EU NAVFOR mission during 2013 amounted to €65,195.48 (US$85,000); UNMIL cost €78,045.00 (US$100,000), and ISAF €3,098,787.65 (US$4,000,000).[3]


Difficult domestic politics: Public support for the country’s NATO membership is low, with mixed support among political parties. As a result, the country’s participation in some peace operations, notably ISAF, was not endorsed with a consensus and has stirred considerable debate. However, the situation with UN mandated missions is different and they are often cited as an underused mode of contributing to peacekeeping which is being neglected due to Government’s unrelenting NATO-membership agenda.


Limited Capacities: Montenegro has rather limited military and policing capacities. The police force has started contributing to UN missions, although in very small numbers. Since police are more numerous than the Army (there are almost 5,000 police officers compared to about 1,800 soldiers), it is expected that they would expand their participation in the near future. However, the heads of the Police Administration state that their low participation in the UN peace operations is the result of the low demand for troops that they received from the UN itself


Part 5: Current Challenges and Issues

Montenegro suffers from serious capacity limitations. There are budgetary constraints that prevent authorities from expanding participation in peace operations. With a government deficit at 2.9% of GDP (2013), authorities are forced to cut back public expenditures, and this has taken its toll on the budget of the security and defense sector. As an attempt to decrease the overall costs of participating in peacekeeping operations, in 2013 the Law on Personal Income Tax was amended so as to the abolish the tax obligation regarding the fees for participation in peace support operations by the military troops and members of civil defense, police and public administration employees.


The priority of the Army in terms of language learning is English, then German, and then French as the third and least taken


Part 6: Key Champions and Opponents

Participation in UN-mandated peace operations currently has the support of all parliamentary parties in Montenegro. The same goes for EU missions. However, missions where NATO is involved face staunch opposition by most of the parliamentary minority, which is also against Montenegro’s membership in the Alliance. Due to the fact that the country is currently making progress in the process of joining NATO,[5] the attitudes of domestic actors regarding peacekeeping are hard to distinguish from their views on NATO membership of Montenegro. Therefore, the proponents of NATO membership consider peacekeeping engagements as important but particularly underline the ISAF mission. On the other hand, those who oppose NATO, tend to emphasize the importance of cooperating with the UN and EU in peacekeeping, suggesting that these are the engagements that Montenegro should be prioritizing. There are also some NGOs and small political parties that are actively campaigning for either demilitarization of Montenegro, non-alliance and neutrality, but what that means in regard to contributing to UN peacekeeping is not clear.


Part 7: Capabilities and Caveats

In preparation for participation in the ISAF mission, the Ministry of Defense conducted a survey among members of the Army, asking them whether they were interested in participating in peace operations, since their participation is solely on a voluntary basis. Around 30% answered positively, amounting to around 400 soldiers. After test procedures, 85 of them were selected to be a part of the peace unit and were subjected to training and preparations. Therefore, it can be said that a specialized roster of trained personnel within the Army has been created.

In the case of ISAF, the Army has relied on the help of other participating countries for transport and some of the logistics. It has served within the Hungarian contingent under the regional command of Germany. The Army is burdened by considerable quantities of out-of-date and expired equipment and lacking more advanced equipment, particularly with regard to helicopter units and the modernization of the Engineer Company (part of the Special Forces Brigade). As a way to circumvent the issues in financing the defense and security costs, according to the Annual Law on Budget, the Army/Ministry of Defense has the opportunity to incur revenues through selling and leasing of its property. This can then be used for capital budget (investments and procurement of equipment). There are no facilities for specialized preparatory trainings for operations in Montenegro, and both the Army and the Police use regional and international centers for this purpose.


Part 8: Further Reading

Law on deployment of the Armed Forces of Montenegro units to the international forces and participation of members of civil defence, police and public administration employees in peacekeeping missions and other activities, Official Gazette of Montenegro, 2008 (in Montenegrin).


Strategic Defence Review of Montenegro, June 2013 (in Montenegrin)


Report on the implementation of the fourth Annual National Programme (ANP) of Montenegro (2014)



[1] Data is drawn from IISS, The Military Balance 2014 (London: IISS/Routledge, 2014).

[2] Most prominent opposition parties in the Parliament are against NATO membership, such as Socialist Peoples’ Party and the New Serb Democracy (NOVA). Other opposition parties, such as Positive Montenegro and Movement for Changes are not against NATO membership, though they are not explicetly clear about wheter a referendum should be organized or should the Parliament vote on this decision.

[3] 2013 Report on the State of Affairs in the Army of Montenegro, p. 42

[4] Interview with the representative of the Ministry of Interior Affairs, 05 March 2014.

[5] Wales Summit Declaration, issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Wales, 05 September 2014, in regards to Montenegro puts the end of 2015 as the deadline for the decision on membership: “We welcome the significant progress made by Montenegro in its reforms, its constructive role in the Western Balkans region and the contribution that it makes to international security, including its contribution to our engagement in Afghanistan. In recognition of Montenegro’s progress towards NATO membership, the Alliance has agreed to open intensified and focused talks with Montenegro, and agreed that Foreign Ministers will assess Montenegro’s progress no later than by the end of 2015 with a view to deciding on whether to invite Montenegro to join the Alliance (…)”

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