Military preparations & war aims
Shortly after the Second Balkan War, the Bulgarian High Command accepted a plan of reformation of the Royal Army. General Pravoslav Tenev, chief of the Bulgarian General Staff who drew up the very basics of the plan, believed that in order to prevent another catastrophy like the Second Balkan War, the army has to be as swift and aggressive as possible, taking into account the harsh Balkan terrain.
26 divisions of the Bulgarian army have been divided as follows:
Dislocation of Bulgarian units in 1914:
Sofia: 1st Army (1st, 6th, 8th, 9th Infantry Divisions), 2nd Cavalry Division, 20th Reserve Infantry Division, Lom & Orahovo Fortress Divisions
Gorna Dzhmuaya: 3rd Army (2nd, 4th and 11th Infantry Divisions), 3rd Cavalry Division, 22nd Reserve Infantry Division
Haskovo: 23rd Reserve Infantry Division
Xanthi: 10th Infantry Division, 24th Reserve Infantry Division
Dedegach: Dedegach Fortress Division
Plovdiv: Shumen & Razgrad Fortress Divisions
Burgas, Varna, Ruse: Respective Fortress Divisions
Vidin: 2nd Army (3rd & 7th Infantry Divisions), 21st Reserve Infantry Division, 1st Cavalry Division
This setup was designed to exploit the greates advantage of the cavalry; its speed. Massed along the Serbian border, the three cavalry divisions were to move across mountain passes, flank the border posts and cut them off from supplies as the bulk of the army would crush them, opening the way deeper into enemy territory. Tenev's concept was to overwhelm the enemy as quick as possible, before an anti-Bulgarian coalition is mounted, as it had happened in 1913.
Following the German example of 1870, top-secret mobilisation plans have been drawn up as well, allowing the Bulgarian Army to activate its reserves and achieve complete battle readiness as soon as hostilities commence. A rushed army modernisation programme was also initiated; in less than a year, loads of foreign weaponary have been purchased, with funds mostly provided as German credits. This gave the seasoned veterans of both Balkan Wars a technological superiority over their future foes.
General Pravoslav Tenev, Bulgarian Chief of Staff prior to the First World War
Between 24th and 28th of November, the University of Sofia hosted nation-wide conference on Balkan politics and culture. Among numerous lectures, debates and exhibitions, one presentation stood out; a short lecture by professor Sava Dragutinov, renowned historian and publicist. Here is a transcript of his speech:
The current war is an event of paramount importance. Whoever emerges victorius, will recieve a unique opportunity to reshape Europe according to his will. But every such occasion has its price.
I have little doubt that this war will be a devastating one; since the Napoleonic epoch, there was no war between three or more Great Powers, except for the Crimean War, which was, however, fought on European outskirts. Now we face a completely different situation - and we must face it boldly.
In order to take part in the post-war reconstruction, we must have precise, clear goal. Objectives we must strive towards, no matter the cost. Today I shall spend those few minutes to outline my vision of war aims.
First of all, Macedonia. I am well aware of pleople underlining differences between Macedonians and Bulgarians. I would like to point out a mistake in their argumentation - a very simple one. It is true that the language spoken in Skopje is slightly different than the one spoken in Sofia. However, those differences are just like the ones between dialects spoken in Haskovo and Varna. Macedonians, Dobrudjans, citizens of Sofia - we are all parts of a single nation. A nation that deserves to live in a single, unified state, just as the Prussians, Saxons and the Bavarians deserved a unified Germany.
We must also know that Macedonia in fact consists of two parts - Skopje and classical city of Solun*. Those cities are like twins - separated, they cannot prosper and fall into disarray. Only with them under one rule, Macedonia can return to its golden age.
My wish is not to argue for a war with Greece. The Greeks' wise decision to stay out of the present conflict is commendable - but we must be prepared for unpredictable changes of the international situation. Very few people foresaw the Slesvig war of 1864 and the subsequent unification of Germany - but one can herdly deny that it did happen.
The lecture reieved applaud from the public. Newspapers widely printed its transcript in the following days, and praising Dragutinov for "a bold approach to the question" and "the most patriotic stance". Among people attending was the prime minister Radoslavov himself. He carefully noted the main points of Dragutinov's speech, planning to use them during the nearest meeting with the tsar.
On the 4th of December Radoslaviv presented a semi-official memorandum to the tsar and the General Staff. Its main points were:
-> Rapid advance into Macedonia; Skopje should be secured within 2 months from the official declaration of war.
-> Close cooperation with Austro-Hungarian military and intelligence to ensure swift elimination of Serbian resistance.
-> The city of Nish should be considered of secondary importance; although it lays in the Austrian sphere of influence, its capture may give us a favourable position during post-war negotiations with Austria.
-> Romania, Greece and Turkey should be closely observed. As soon as situation on the Serbian front is resolved, the army should regroup and relocate significant forces along the Danube and in the South, in order to prepare for a potential war with any number of neighbours or their potential configurations.
* -> Bulgarian name for Thessaloniki.