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Batalionul 307 Infanterie Marina (BIM)
Marine Battalion (BIM)

 

The 307th Marine Battalion is the elite unit of the Romanian Marines. In 2001, the Romanian Marines numbered some 35,000 men. Marines in Romania are not a self-sustainable branch of the Armed Forces, but a major branch inside the Romanian Navy.
The Marines are trained in a similar way with the Green Berets and Rangers and are primarely used for on/off -shore and beach-head establishing missions, as well as fighting in Delta regions such as the Danube Delta. In fact, ever since the year 2000, the Romanian and the US marines are trained together and they also graduate the Marine infantry training school in Constanta.

USMC supreme commander, general Michael Hagee visits Romania on a reggular basis. In a statement for Romania's military press he stated that both Romanian and U.S. marine graduates are "my children".

US Equivalent: US Marine Corps MEU's elite units (Marine Recon, Marine Special Forces)

BIM

History
Characteristics
Admission
Training
Weapons
Order of Battle
Exercises
Operations
Stories

History

The history of the Marine battalion

An elite separate structure of the Romanian Marines was established in 1940, one year before World War II came to Romania.

Due to its good results, the Soviets ordered Romania to disband this structure after World War II, same as they ordered the disbandment of the Airborne structures in the military.

However, Nicolae Ceausescu's regime started to steer the country away of Soviet influence and despite the Soviets' opposition, the 307th Marine Battalion was re-established in 1971, as an elite battalion inside the Marine Brigade.

The battalion, referred to in Romania as "Batalionul de Infanterie Marina" or BIM, has been present in this form ever since.

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Characteristics

The Marine Battalion - A specialized force

BIM
Marines from the 307th Marine Battalion onboard a Zodiac, on their way for establishing a beach-head

Navy Day 2001, Constanta

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Due to the new Global challenges, after the official entry of Romania in NATO (may 2004), the Romanian Marines will have to be prepared to deploy outside of their usually assigned areas. Also, they will have to adapt their missions and capabilities to the new threats in existence today.
Therefore, the vision of colonel Vasile Romanescu, the current commander of the Marine Battalion (BIM), is to create a specialized force which could offer these capabilities to the Navy.
The members of the battalion will also have to be prepared for the new, asimetrical guerilla warfare practiced by the terrorists and rebel forces all over the world, in various climate conditions.
The battalion is already a flexible and easily adaptable force, that meets these requirements, fact proven by an exercise that took place in the Danube Delta in mid-2003. The complex exercise included conventional missions, that are assigned to any marine force, and also special operations missions, such as scouting, reconaissance, interception, escort, protection, commando and evacuation.
Aside from the classic combat environments, Marines have already started reconaissance and anti-terrorist training in mountaineous environments during winter, and will probably start jungle training sometime in the future as well.
The 307th Marine Battalion is the only structure in Romania qualified for guarding and securing harbors and dockings.

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Admission

What does it take to be a marine

The selection process for the Marine battalion focuses mostly on physical strength and team work, similar to marine units all over the world.

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Training

The 307th Marine Battalion used to be formed mostly of conscripts, with only a handful of enlisted (professional) soldiers.

In those times, the training process for professional soldiers was not public, but what was known is that conscripts had to make a 3,000 meter run with full gear each morning of their conscription in the military, they did group push-ups, swimming, martial arts and hand-to-hand combat training, as well as survival classes plus live firing sessions.

Since mid-2004 however, the battalion became a fully professional force, thus the training process had picked-up pace and now matches the ones in world famous SOF units.
Beside hand-to-hand combat, martial arts and swimming, the marines now practice survival techniques in woods, mountains, swamps, lowlands and marches. Live fire exercises (called LIVEX) often take place now in all those environments, as was the long training session with the Scouts in early 2005.

 

The pace of hiring for professional soldiers meant that some of the new enlisted men are not matching the profile for the perfect marine. The commanders' tasks now are to identify weaknesses in the new enlisted men and kicking out whoever doesn't fit in.

Since the late 90's, the Marine Battalion had a subunit training in the Danube Delta at any one time. It is the only battalion in Romania who's men are of 12 different ethnic backgrounds. Ethnic Russian, Lipovens, Tatar, Hungarian, Jews and Gypsies are enlisted in the elite battalion to uphold its multi-cultural enheritage and to provide 12 different solutions for solving a problem.

All the members have also graduated foreign military courses, and they all speak foreign languages.

Since the early 2000's the Battalion has a subunit at NATO's disposal, which can be deployed anywhere in the world within 72 hours.

The training manuals have changed, enabling the Marines to study warfare in regions that do not exist in Romania, such as jungle and deserts.

Marines
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Romanian Marines in urban warfare training

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Weapons

As standard equipment, the Romanian Marines employ the now classic Zodiac boat, combined with different camouflage schemed battle fatigues, night vision goggles, kevlar helmets and GPS handsets. The Harris communications sets are also standard issue.

The Romanian-made B-33 Zimbru armoured amphibious vehicle is also employed by the Marines, to negociate deceiving marshes and gambling blackjack online protect the combatants from light enemy fire.

The Marines' weapon of choise is the Romanian-made AK-74, an upgraded version of the Russian 5.45mm rifle. It can come in a few versions, folded or unfolded, with magazines of 30 or 60 rounds, and it is a very effective weapon in the regions that the Marines usually deploy.

The AKM works perfectly in summer and winter, in areas with a lot of sands as well as in the swamps of the Danube Delta. It is easy to maintain and it can still fire after its been thrown around of dropped.

Plans to replace the AKM with Tavor assault rifle versions have been canceled in the late 2000s.

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Order of battle

The 307th Marine Battalion is an independent unit under the command of the Navy. Its chain of command is located in Constanta, but the main headquarters and barracks are in Babadag, a small town in the North of the Constanta district at the Southern tip of the Danube Delta, just a few miles away from the shores of the Black Sea.

The unit is the only such structure in the Romanian military.

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Exercises

The 307th Marine Battalion often participates in large and small scale exercises with the Scouting battalions, as well as with reggular forces.

After the establishment of US military bases in Dobrogea, which will be holding Brigade-size forces, possibly including Navy SEALs, Army Rangers and Special Forces, as well as US Marines, it is to be expected that the Marine battalion would be training with these forces as well, on a reggular basis.

Left photo: Romanian's national hymn is heard during the opening of the NATO/PfP exercise "Rescue Eagle 2003" in Babadag

Marines

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Operations

In the early 2000's, the Marines have become qualified to handle river traffic control operations.

Officially, the Marine Battalion did not have a combat operation outside the borders of Romania since World War II. At individual level, troops have participated to deployments to Kosovo, Bosnia-Hertegovina, Iraq and Afghanistan embeded in light infantry battalions, a regular practice in the armed forces.

The future might bring a deployment for a company of the battalion, as the Marines have been offered to NATO as a rapid deployment force.

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Stories

The Romanian military sought assistance from the U.S. Marine Corps to help set up a training school, in an effort to mass-produce non-commissioned officers. The plan is to train senior enlisted personnel to take over much of the decision-making duties and command functions.

By the end of this year, Romania will have 40,200 NCOs and warrant officers, a number that will outweigh three times the officer corps of 18,000. The total number of Romania's armed forces will be 112,000 by the end of 2003, according to government documents.

The first problem was that we had to understand how to create the fighting NCO, that also is a leader, Col. Mihai Chirita told National Defense. Chirita runs the NCO school.

The school came to life in 1999 with the help of the U.S. Marine Corps, which provided training assistance. The school trains the NCO in tactics, but also encourages them to choose a specialist track that they can use in the force or later in their civilian life.

Up to 600 students graduate from this school each year. It costs about $2,000 to put an NCO through training for one year, said Chirita.

Gunner Marius Postaliu took the drill instructor course at the U.S. Marine base in Quantico, Va. They teach you how to plan your time, how to do everything in five minutes. They taught us small details that we were not aware we could do in such little time, he said. We learned new tactics, new physical training and close combat, which we will teach here as well. They also have practiced survival in the water wearing all their equipment, something they had never done before, he said. They just throw you in, and then they ask you if you can swim. You say, 'No,' and then they tell you to make it to the other side, Postaliu said.

The NCO school is planning to incorporate martial arts training, similar to the Marine Corps' courses. In addition to that, the Romanian marines now communicate with each other thru signs, instead of words as they used to.

Competition for training at this school is fierce. There are about 10 people for one spot. The candidates are both military and civilian. About 100 women also are currently training at the center, and the first female instructor has just graduated, said Chirita.

The U.S. company Cubic Defense has a contract with the Romanian Army to advise the center.

The Marine Battalion - A specialized force
The Marines are prepared to fight in delta and swamp regions, in lagoons, also on and off shores. Their training specifically prepares them to act on both land and water. They can protect the valuable ports and main objectives located on the shores of the Black Sea, from incursions and attacks by enemy special forces.
They are also capable of counter-terrorist operations.

The anti-submarine ships from the 50th Patrol Ship Division of the Romanian Navy are under a constant training and modernization program.
Between the 10th and the 12th of june 2003, sea operations that included torpedo launches took part in the Black Sea, while between the 16th and the 20th of june, live fire with onboard artillery and depthcharges were also a part of the exercises, which were conducted exclusively in the english language.
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Fast torpedo boat during an exercise
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Kids looking at a Romanian made and internationally admired B-33 Zimbru amphibious armoured personnel carrier belonging to the Marine Battalion, Sfantu Gheorghe

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