Patriotic Guard (Romania)

Country: Romania
Details of Formation: The PGM was formed in 1968 following Ceausescu’s refusal to take part in the invasion of Czechoslovakia. His armed forces were subsequently separated from the Warsaw Pact and pro-Moscow officers were retired, resulting in the de-professionalisation of the regular armed forces. After this, paramilitary groups were formed in every factory and compulsory military training was introduced.
Details of Termination: The group was probably terminated in 1990, with evidence in 1993 suggesting that it should be re-established.
Purpose: The group was intended to defend the country against external invasions and later to repress the population. Other tasks were security-related, particularly in times of peace, and included civil policing and fire-fighting. During war, the group was supposed to provide security and protect densely populated areas and infrastructurally important locations, support forces on the ground and conduct special operations, act as a guerilla group, and generally defend the country against attacks. The PGM was also supposed to serve as a check on the regular armed forces to diminish their threat to Ceausescu.
Organisation: The group was an addition to the regular armed forces, which it was supposed to keep in check. It was under the command of the Romanian Communist Party (PCR) and the Union of Communist Youth (UTC, youth organisation of the PCR) and worked with the Defence Ministry, under whose jurisdiction it was placed in 1990. On the local level, the PGM was organised into company- and platoon-sized units.
Weapons and Training: Training was compulsory for all citizens, including young people. Basic training was provided on the use of small arms, mortars and grenade launchers, as well as small-unit tactics. It is reported that the government wanted to provide equipment to the group and that members carried grenade launchers and machine guns.
Size: In 1989, the PGM had approximately 700,000 members.
Reason for Membership: Reports suggest that nationalist appeals mobilised members initially, although they later appear to have sided with protesters against the president due to dissatisfaction.
Treatment of Civilians: Although the group was supposed to defend the population and provide security, there is no evidence indicating how effective it was at fulfilling this task. It is reported that it was also used to repress popular opposition, although many members did not comply with these orders.
Other Information: The group was also known as Workers’ Guards and is last mentioned in February 1990, with calls in 1993 for it to be re-established. During the Romanian Revolution in 1989 many members joined the protests against the head of state, Nicolae Ceausescu, instead of protecting him.
References: Information was taken from news sources listed in the PGMD.

Wikipedia. “Patriotic Guards (Romania)”