In 1989 the Frontier Guards included about 7,000 troops organized
into battalion-sized formations. Although organized strictly along
military lines, the Frontier Guards were subordinate to the Ministry
of Internal Affairs until its abolition in April 1991 when they
were subordinated to the Ministry of People's Defense. The mission
of the Frontier Guards was to protect state borders and to prevent
criminals, smugglers, or other infiltrators from crossing them.
In the process, they were also charged with stopping Albanians
from leaving the country illegally. They were effective in enforcing
its closed borders, although some Albanians still managed to escape.
During the period of Albania's greatest isolation from its neighbors,
the lack of open border crossing points simplified border control.
For example, in 1985 Albania opened its first border crossing
point with Greece, fourteen years after it had reestablished diplomatic
relations with Athens. In 1990, however the Frontier Guards were
increasingly less able to prevent illegal crossings by well-armed
citizens, who frequently sought refuge in Greece and Yugoslavia.
Personnel for the Frontier Guards generally came from the annual
conscription process for military service, but the organization
also had career personnel. The Frontier Guards training school
was established in 1953 in Tiranė, and its students, as well as
conscripted Frontier Guards, were carefully screened to ensure
their political reliability.
Data as of April 1992