After the end of the War for Independence, Romania enjoyed a period without armed conflicts. Thus, the Romanian army came to the end of a period of almost 40 years of peace. The Romanian army’s problems came to light during its participation in the second Balkan war. However, a thorough analysis of all component aspects was not carried out, and the measures introduced were far from sufficient. The rapid reorganization of the army during the day before entering the war did not have the desired results. The army was forced to pass through a ‘baptism of fire’ and was reorganized with help from the the French military mission.
The highest structure of the Romanian army during the First World War was the General Headquarters. Its job was to lead, on a strategic level, the military operations of the Romanian army. The General Headquarters was a temporary command structure, existing only during war time. It was formed at the declaration of mobilization and was dissolved at the end of the war or military campaign for which it was created.
After the end of the First World War, the Romanian state began a campaign of building mausoleums and monuments dedicated to the heroes of the three years of fighting. Those who had died for their homeland came from all social and professional classes, from generals to regular soldiers.
A few years before the beginning of the First World War, the Romanian army could be compared to a militia, not to an organism prepared for war. The reduced number of soldiers, lack of modern endowments, complacency of politicians, and the long period of peace, all contributed towards making the Romanian army an anachronistic force for the conflict which was coming.
As a predominantly agricultural country, Romania lacked technically-trained staff and industrial machinery. Thus, the manufacturing of weapons, ammunition and war materials, in sufficient quantities and to modern standards, was sadly lacking. An importer of military expertise from Germany and the Austro-Hungarian empire, Romania was kept by her allies in a form of dependence on the German and Austrian war machine. The two allies blocked the development of a military industry in Romania. All the Romanian state could do was to carry out repairs and produce military materials necessary for shooting practise.
Romania’s participation in the Second Balkan War proved that the army’s health service was almost inexistent. A cholera epidemic ravaged the soldiers, most of whom brought it back to the country.
At the beginning of the First World War, Romania had an unusual geographical shape. This meant that each of the two belligerent parties would benefit from Romania giving up its neutrality. After the defeat at Lemberg, the Austro-Hungarian empire gained land to the east, on the southern flank of the front against Russia. For the Entente, Romania’s entry into its camp would have meant a lengthening of the eastern front closer to the Balkans. Greece became a bridgehead for the English and French. Further, Romania would have attracted an easing of German pressure on the western front.
‘Hypothesis Z’ was the political-military document planning the military actions of the Romanian army, after the entry into the war on the side of the Entente. The plan laid out the general objective of the war, the plan for action and the allocation of military forces to fulfil the plan. It was drawn up by the Operations Unit of the Department of War, led by colonel Ion Rascanu, and approved by the head of the Department of War, General Vasile Zottu.
The operational plan of the Romanian army was partially conceived before Romania entered the war. Later, the evolution of events forced the Romanian command to complete, revise and completely remake this plan. It started as an offensive plan in Transylvania and ended up as a defensive plan in southern Moldova.
The Volunteer Corps from Transylvania was formed of Romanian fighters, originally from Transylvania. These men fought together with the Romanian army during the First World War. The goal was to unite Transylvania with Romania.
Two months after Romania entered the war, the French state sent a military mission into the country. This was made up of 277 infantry, cavalry and artillery officers, 88 doctors, chemists and vets, 37 pilots and look-outs, 4 navy officers and 8 special intervention officers. To these were added 1,150 soldiers of inferior grade, specialized in various jobs. Their purpose was to provide counsel, support and training to the units and leadership of the Romanian military. The mission was led by the division general, Henri Mathias Berthelot.