Case Studies
How Aggression Against Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina Was Prepared or the Transformation of the JNA into a Serbian Imperial Force
(Volume 1, Number 1, Spring 2000.)
18 tra 2000 06:13:00

Admiral Davor Domazet - Lošo



The most significant changes in the JNA and the way they were carried out so that it could become a Serbian imperial force are identified and explained. The following is emphasized for its significance: (1) reorganization of the "ideological equality" type military; (2) the characteristics and the purpose of the reorganization that had been put into effect before the idea of creating "Greater Serbia" was made public; (3) war plans and the role of military strategy and its theoretical, organizational and trial foundation; (4) the implementation of such strategy in the aggression against Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Download this article as PDF file

Within the aforementioned, the Serbian strategic idea is explained, i.e. "...that in a low intensity conflict, including the prevention and elimination of extraordinary events, and counterstrikes from distance, the enemy be decisively defeated and Yugoslavia protected," which makes up the operational plan for the employment of JNA.

Regarding the implementation of the plan in the aggression against Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, the segment that is invisible, not always recognizable, in a word covert, but crucial for making own strategic decisions, is explained. The covert nature of the plan is always a good basis for debate, in which the exchange of ideas and views is a continuos process, and the result questionable. Therefore, it is essayed in this work to bring to light this other, less visible side.

The First Stage in the Transformation of the JNA (Yugoslav People's Army) into a Serbian Imperial Force

Any systematic analysis of the plans, preparations and role of the JNA in the aggression against Croatia should provide an answer not only as to how it was planned, but also an insight into the characteristics of the military, which became an instrument of aggressive politics.

A number of contemporary authors have written about the peculiarities of military organizations and professions. In this particular case, one must delve into the "nature" of the military and its dependence on the prevailing social system; that is, an insight should be gained from a sociological point of view.1 Different models of the fundamental social relationship (domination as opposed to equality) and their variations produce different types of military organizations, in regard both to the political role of the military factor, as well as their external aspect, the type of management and the mechanisms of achieving unity - i.e. the object of identification of the military personnel.

Theoretician M.D. Feld has based his "typology of military organizations" on the differences in the political environments in which armed forces are formed and used.2 There is no doubt that the JNA belonged to the "ideological equality - all-embracing" type organization. What are the characteristics of that particular type and other similar militaries?

In a socialist (communist) structure - as is also the case in the structures of non-socialist totalitarian societies which are characterized by ideological equality, the party is perceived as a synthesizer and the supreme overseer of both the state and society. The distribution of power, including between the military and society, is determined by the expressions of individual affiliation to the programmatic objectives of the ruling party. The political, fundamental structure of ideological equality as a whole, including the military, can indeed be seen as an all-embracing society. The society demands of all its members a full commitment to social transformation, and organizations and individuals that refuse to comply are treated as potential or actual enemies.

The significance of individual judgement and decision-making abilities is negated in a specific manner. An individual insight, even if it might result in a direct benefit, is denigrated as an inferior level of knowledge. The most valued insight is the one which is derived from the party program objectives. An obvious consequence of this is that "rank is the official measure of conviction" and that there must be a total correspondence between the structures of the military, the party and the state. The political role of an army founded on the principles of ideological equality is primarily to promote the ruling ideology.3 Hence, the army protects those who adhere to the idea and is suspicious of, or overtly hostile toward, those who do not.

The image emanating from the management within such a system comes in the form of charisma. A military official is a "natural" leader and represents the embodiment of conviction.4 As the embodiment of a common will, he represents an omnipotent figure, a person who has no right to make a mistake. His control is based upon the principle of seniority - embodied in the personality - and the creation of balance and harmony among his subordinates. Success and failure are the product of repeated development of prior actions and affirmation of the core issues and their significance as long-term goals.

The social model of the military is that, aside from obvious differences in duties and responsibilities, it is an open and equal community of all those who promote common goals. Obviously, the equality is not and cannot be absolute ("some are more equal than others"), but there are no nonfunctional differences in status among different categories of members. Such an army is proclaimed to be and perceived as the People's Army.

Members of the military are bound to military and social goals at the level of larger formations.5 The identification is not only with the unit, but with commanders as well. This creates feelings of rivalry, so it is in the best interest of an individual that the authority of their superiors increase. Charisma assumes a practical application, as an individual's promotion becomes conditional upon the ability of his superiors to ensure promotion for their subordinates, irrespective of their actual performance.

The distribution of power and decision-making mechanisms is most certainly the most important aspect of the relationship between the military and society. Regardless of the nature of social organization, the type of political doctrine or even the level of economic development, the modern world agrees that this power, in principle, should be distributed in favor of society, not only during peacetime, but also during time of war. The differences emerge from attempts to determine an optimum model of control.6

Socialism (communism) is characterized by the so-called subjective control over the structure of national defense. The armed forces are a constitutive element of society, "the armed people", the segment which is not allowed a great deal of specialization and hence separation and isolation from the community. Every citizen has an equal duty to contribute to his own defense. At the same time, officers do not differ in terms of their social status and psychological profile from other society members and they share with them all the prevailing values. Under such circumstances, the military structure tends to spread across society. High military officials think within political frameworks, and high government officials, in turn, do not hesitate to resolve military issues.7 In societies of ideological equality, which are characterized by subjective control, the defense function is exercised through direct means. The basis for the realization of military unity is a combination of national interests and the political program of the society.


Transformation of the JNA from an "Ideological Equality-Type" Military into a Serbian Imperial Force

Given the fact that the JNA had all the characteristics of an "ideological equality - type" army, its transformation into a Serbian imperial force was a long and systematic process which took place at the following levels: (a) language; (b) national composition; (c) administrative and officer corps; and (d) war doctrine.

In a multinational community as was former Yugoslavia, the equality of peoples was guaranteed at the formal legal level. The armed forces were no exception to this (per the Service in Armed Forces Act and other regulations). A significant violation appeared in the area of the official language, which has a strategic significance from the ethnic point of view. The official language of the armed forces was "Serbo-Croatian", which could be rationalized by the need for uniformity of command and the fact that the language was spoken and understood by the majority of the population of former Yugoslavia. In essence, however, this constituted a complete and systematic "Serbianization" of all the non-Serb members of the armed forces.

In addition to the language, another obvious example of inequality was the ethnic composition of the JNA officer corps. The percentages were as follows: Serbs 63.2%, Montenegrins 6.2%, Macedonians 6.3%, Croats 12.6%, Slovenes 2.8%, Muslims 2.4%, Yugoslavs 3.6%, Albanians 0.6%, Hungarians 0.7% and others 1.6%. The issue of ethnic structure of the Army and Territorial Defense (TO) officer corps in a multiethnic state, as was Yugoslavia, called for a proportional representation of the various nationalities. It is obvious that the representation was not only disproportional, but also that this was an intentional act to deprive entire nationalities, particularly the Croats, of just representation. This deprivation would reach its peak between 1986 and 1990, i.e. after the SANU Memorandum and the reorganization of the armed forces, when the percentage of Serbs in the total JNA officer corps surpassed 70%.

This long-term, intentional deprivation was evident both at the management and commanding levels of majors, brigadiers and generals. There was a continuous ideological, political and social homogenization of the officer corps as well, which strove for pro-Yugoslav (pro-Serbian) socialization and was carried out in a planned and subtle manner. This socialization consisted of a long-term service away from the person's own cultural, civilizational and national environment, which is the only obvious explanation for the "consistent" need for transfers and active service far from one's home area. This resulted in the penetration of Serbs into areas where it was felt the national structure of the population had to be changed. The Greater-Serbian orientation of the highest-ranking officers was achieved not only by giving precedence to those of Serbian (or Montenegrin) nationality, but also in terms of their education. Military academies regularly emphasized Serbian history and glorified the heroic achievements of the Serbian Army. An integral part of this plan was the principle by which the majority of conscripts served outside their respective republics, the idea being to create new potential Yugoslavs whose mission would be to defend "every nook and cranny" of Yugoslavia.

At the level of war doctrine (strategy), a Copernican revolution took place in the 80s with the appearance of a new player on the world scene: information. However, it seems that as far as the JNA was concerned, military operations such as Eagle Claw, Prairie Fire, El Dorado Canyon, Peace for Galilee, Corporate and, finally, Desert Storm, had never taken place. The fundamental strategic postulate continued to be that "the peace-time army is equivalent to the army at war."8 This viewpoint reveals the nature of the JNA and the role it was to play in the attainment of the Greater-Serbian goals. In addition to its ponderousness and its obsolescence in technological, organizational and doctrinal aspects, it was the conservatism of the JNA which exerted the most influence on the form that the active military cadre assumed. The process was twofold - the creation of a massive army with an outdated organization and doctrine was largely driven by the psychological, sociological and educational profile of the active military cadre. Within such a military organization, anti-intellectualism was very prominent.9 This would have a major impact on the operational capabilities, since there existed no well-defined doctrine or training program. This situation was further exacerbated by the firm traditionalism of the military. A continuing strong bond with the revolutionary accomplishments of the NOB (National Liberation War), and the focus on ideological and political work, were among the main reasons for the dogmatic approach with regard to the operational doctrine and the tactical use of formations.

Final Stage in the Transformation of the Yugoslav People's Army into the Serbian Imperial Force

The early 80s saw the final stage of the transformation of the JNA into the Greater Serbian imperial armed force. This was shaped by two fundamental factors:

  1. The reorganization of the armed forces in late 1986 and early 1987. Armies, divisions and regiments were abolished and replaced by military regions, corps and brigades.
  2. The issuing of the Strategy of the Total National Defense and Social Self-Protection of SFRJ, which was adopted by the State Presidency on May 20, 1987.

Characteristics and Purpose of the Reorganization of Armed Forces (OS) (Comprising the Yugoslav People's Army - JNA and Territorial Defense - TO)

Although the reorganization of the armed forces took place during 1987, its beginnings and trial implementation took place between the years 1981 (the Kosovo events) and 1985, when the decision on the reorganization of the SFRJ Armed Forces was made. During this 5-year period, the functioning of the Corps structure, in this case the 52nd Corps formed in 1981, was systematically tested within the territory of Kosovo. The principal mission of this unit was area pacification. The conclusion reached about this "laboratory test" was that: if the pacification mission proved successful in a territory with a 90% non-Serbian population, then there was no reason whatsoever why it should fail in places where circumstances were much more favorable (Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina).

This successful test was followed by the abandonment of the previous military structure which corresponded to the territories of the Republics, the only exception being Croatia, which was split between the 5th and the 7th Armies. It should be noted that such a division of the military, including the Territorial Defense,10 adhered to the "republic" principle (Figure 1). At the strategic and operational levels, the organization of the JNA for the most part respected the borders of the Republics and Autonomous Provinces. Thus, every Republic had "its own" Army, and every Autonomous Province had "its own" respective Corps. The commanders of the armies, i.e. corps, were usually nationals of the respective Republic.11 That practice had to be discontinued. Therefore, as early as 1981 the plan was conceived, drawn up in 1985, and subsequently implemented by reorganizing the chain of command and establishment of OS SFRJ (the JNA and TO). Veljko Kadijević would remark that the essence of this resolution was that there were now three military regions in place of six armies (Fig 2.) Their territorial division completely ignored the "administrative12" borders of the Republics and Autonomous Provinces (the Territorial Defense HQs of the Republics and Autonomous Provinces were operationally under the direct chain of command of the regional armies' HQs instead of the "Supreme Command"13 and regional headquarters of Territorial Defense were under command of the JNA corps.). Since the General did not want to delve into the details of other strategic and operational considerations which influenced such a decision, the following question should be asked: What was the hidden agenda? The hidden agenda was as follows: (1) operational development of readily available forces according to plans of deployment under extraordinary conditions; (2) ensuring that those officers who displayed an open commitment to the idea of a Greater Serbia were in positions of authority; and (3) training units in line with the deployment strategies envisaged by the new "battle in space" doctrine.

According to Kadijević, those new organizational solutions, at least to a certain extent, impaired the well-established control by the Republics and Autonomous Provinces over "their" respective Territorial Defense forces and, for the most part diminished "their" already legalized influence over the JNA. However controversial this statement may have been, it proves the extent of the political independence of the military establishment and the length to which it would go to destroy the fundamental principle of the JNA as the armed forces of all the nationalities and ethnic minorities.14 That was the beginning of its planned transformation into the Serbian imperial armed forces, long before the dissolution of Yugoslavia occurred.

Since the political agenda determined that the western border of a "Greater Serbia" would be drawn along the line connecting Virovitica, Karlovac and Karlobag, the new military territories were devised in line with this concept.

1. VO + 3. VO + 1/3 3. VO + 2/3 VPO = a Greater Serbia (1)

This pseudo-mathematical equation translates into a strategy to appropriate the Danube from Croatia and two-thirds of the Adriatic.

Strategy of Territorial Defense (ONO) and Self-Protection (DSZ) of SFRJ - Military and Political Foundation for the Realization Of Greater-Serbian Political Goals

Unlike the 1983 "armed conflict strategy"15 (which was not formally invalidated by the new strategy), the strategy of ONO and DSZ was devised as a general military approach to dealing with defense issues.

Its very title, particularly the section referring to the self-protection of the people by the people, makes clear that it was a military and political platform which not only elaborated all the variations by which the sovereignty and territorial integrity of SFRJ could be "jeopardized," but emphasized any form of destabilization of the prevailing social and political structure and economic system. According to that strategy, the JNA, in its capacity as an armed force for the protection of territorial integrity, was transformed into a military for the protection of the oligarchic socialist (communist) system. Very significant in this respect was Chapter 4, entitled "extraordinary circumstances," which analyzed the possibility of the SFRJ's social system being destabilized and how to prevent this from occurring. The definition of "extraordinary circumstances" read as follows: these are such social circumstances which arise in a smaller or larger area (bolded by author) or in the entire territory of Yugoslavia when an internal enemy, independently or jointly with external enemy forces, using the contradictions of social development, objective difficulties, subjective weaknesses and international circumstances, increases its subversive activities within the framework of special war or plans to undertake extensive armed and other types of activities by which it would directly threaten the country's independence, its sovereignty, territorial integrity and its social organization as established by the Constitution of SFRJ.

According to this definition, the employment of the JNA forces could be effectuated in two ways:

(1) Demonstrate force and threaten its use in the foci of hostile activities;
(2) Direct participation of parts of the JNA in the elimination of "extraordinary circumstances" and their direct consequences.16

There would subsequently be a number of discussions and "expert" opinions regarding the extraordinary circumstances, particularly in the JNA G.S. Bulletin. A textbook would be commissioned for the Military Academy curriculum. General Blagoje Adžia enumerated the tasks, the purpose of which was to prepare the Armed Forces for any such conditions, all within the legal framework on the use of the Armed Forces of the SFRJ. Those tasks were "education and training, particularly of the units engaged in the elimination of extraordinary circumstances, according to the plans for extraordinary circumstances."17

What can be concluded from such a "military strategy" which is in fact no strategy at all? First, that the military, rather than the police, which would make much more sense, would be called upon to intervene in any such extraordinary situation. Second, if such an extraordinary situation did not arise, then the strategy would have lost its meaning. In order to render the strategy meaningful, an extraordinary situation had to be made up, instigated, created, fuelled and subsequently, the military had to be employed in reaction to such a "deterministic chaos," based upon a meticulously elaborated plan which relied on well-trained, tested and prepared forces. Therefore, already between 1986-1987, there was a well-disposed, fully "Serbianized" structure of commissioned officers, the action strategy was well in place, and the military forces favorably restructured. Those factors would have steered the already transformed JNA toward the Greater Serbian nationalist idea even before Miloševia entered the political scene as the direct executor of that idea. The change of borders, even internal ones within the federal structure, was not possible without the use of military force. Realization of this objective could follow only when the military was in place (military regions) and when it had adopted a clear ideological and political orientation (the SANU Memorandum). How did it unfold?

War Plans and Preparations for the Attainment of the Greater Serbian Political Goal

A top-secret war plan existed that envisaged two variants of "aggression" against Yugoslavia. Those were the East and West variants, under the code names S-1 and S-2. After 1985 (i.e. the year when the decision on the restructuring of the armed forces had been made) the East variant (S-1) was no longer considered an option and the focus was placed on the West variant. From a strategic point of view, this implied an entirely different combat-ready deployment of formations, and also, special attention had to be paid to the deployment of strategic reserves and the construction of new infrastructure facilities.

Military strategy played a crucial role in the realization of the "Greater Serbia" project, which contained the following elements:

(1) theoretical;
(2) organizational;
(3) trial.

Theoretical Fundamentals

At the beginning of the 1980s, conventional weapons became much more lethal as a direct result of the third technological revolution, a lethality which resulted from their substantially greater targeting distance and accuracy. Analysts referred to them as "intelligent weapons". In addition to these, there were also more advanced intelligence gathering instruments (satellites, planes, unmanned aircraft, electronic and optical-electronic reconnaissance instruments etc.), and computer-assisted analyses of data enabled control in real time. This led to the concept of an integrated and extended battlefield, where information became the key to the solution and where combat armament was used sparsely, to the extent required to destroy a target with a given probability of not less than 95%. The echo effect of any such military action was reinforced by political and diplomatic means as well as through the media. Serbian military circles (the JNA GS) unable or not wanting to fathom the essence of the new phenomena of war doctrine, developed the notion of "distance blast." Such a "blast" was impossible to oppose, as there was no way to overcome the distance. Such an approach was used to draw up a war plan based upon circumstances of total aggression by NATO forces against Yugoslavia.18 The totality was needed to provide the rationale for a secret operational development of the restructured JNA forces over the entire territory of Yugoslavia. However, that was not done in order to resist the NATO forces, but was to be used according to the well-elaborated plan for area pacification (the Kosovo model) in order to create a Greater Serbia. So that the restructured JNA forces could develop operationally, a new concept "battle in space"19 was implemented. The battle and the space, as understood by the author, actually meant connecting the resistance points (read Serbian enclaves) by roads controlled by maneuver troops (read the JNA) in order to occupy a particular territory.

Organizational Fundamentals

The already mentioned reorganization of the JNA was the organizational foundation which was built, tested and adapted over a period of five years. New infrastructure, primarily barracks to garrison the mobile, permanently ready forces, were required to carry out the operational development of the newly reorganized forces. In addition to those already in existence, new facilities were built either in suburbs or at city entrances, in major hubs which formed the connecting tissue between cities and Serbian "enclaves" deep in the territory of Croatia (Bosnia-Herzegovina). The sheer number of cities involved - Osijek, Vukovar, Vinkovci, Bjelovar, Petrinja, Karlovac, Gospia, Zadar, Šibenik and Split - indicates clearly what was to be the purpose of those facilities: to exert control over main roads, to project the military power into the urban centers and to create a funnel through which the Serb rebel force would flow directly to the western border of a Greater Serbia.

Trial Fundamentals

War Plan S-2, the western variant of radical aggression against Yugoslavia, was systematically tested by the annual training plan for both the command and units. The highest form of command education, according to the JNA methodology, was the "Command and Staff War Game" (CSWG). The Joint Chiefs of Staff worked out the basic idea for those maneuvers and fundamental tasks for different formations - military regions, Navy and Air Force, and by "pure coincidence", the name of the maneuvers was the name of a mountain near Sarajevo, "Romanija" - 86, 87, 88, 89, 90.

An analysis of the Command and Staff War Game, carried out by the Navy, will best illustrate how the JNA prepared and trained the command and units for future aggression against Croatia.20

The fundamental premise was that the overall aggression in the Adriatic Sea naval theater would be carried out by armed forces of the USA, Italy, and the United Kingdom, from the Italian operational base, and using the territory of Albania, with the participation of parts of its military (9th Corps). In the northwest (Slovenia, Croatia), Italian forces would be seconded by German and Austrian (a neutral state) operational groups. During the second phase, they would be joined by Hungarian forces (a member of the Warsaw Pact). The assault on the southeastern Yugoslavian territory would be carried out via Macedonia by the USA and Greece, to be joined subsequently by Bulgarian (a Warsaw Pact member) forces.

During the mid 1980s, such a combination of forces was impossible, not only due to their different bloc affiliation, but also because it would have been impossible to reconcile their respective national goals and to create a willingness to jointly embark on a mission to destroy a country by military action solely in order to change its social system, as was stated among the reasons for aggression against Yugoslavia. In other words, it would have been an action conducted on sheer whim. The absurdity of this strategic assumption is best illustrated by Kadijević's remarks. He claimed that the USA would formally hand Yugoslavia over to the European Community, which Germany would take advantage of in all possible spheres - political, economic and military - in order to totally conquer the Balkans in a direct German expansion and gain access to the Adriatic Sea as the crucial intercontinental hub. This implied the dissolution of Yugoslavia into small states. It also implied that not only was there no chance of any form of reduced Yugoslavia, but also that the creation of a unified Serbian state embracing the entire Serbian population from the territory of Yugoslavia would not be permitted.21 The thesis that the USA, as a major superpower, would hand the ball over in such a sensitive area to the European Community only to give Germany an opportunity for economic but also for territorial expansion is extremely far-fetched. The final outcome of this equation was allegedly to prevent the formation of a Greater Serbia (a unified Serbian state). To make the equation workable, an inversion was necessary: in order to form a unified Serbian state, a pretext had to be found in a possible threat coming from the "coalition forces", which could not, and could never have had, such a political goal. Their goal was to preserve, rather than destroy, Yugoslavia.

The fundamental military-strategic idea for the forceful appropriation of two-thirds of the Adriatic dates back to the 1970s.22 According to the plan, the Croatian coastal area had to be isolated as much as possible from the offshore islands. An imaginary line beginning in Istria, continuing to Lošinj, Molat, Dugi otok, Žirje, Drvenik, Vis, Lastovo, Koreula, and then down to Mljet had to be marked by military infrastructure and connected with the respective line in the hinterland which stretched from Benkovac via Knin down to Trebinje. It took operationally developed and well-trained forces to connect the two. The task was to break into the Maslenica-Velebit and Slano-Ston areas, thus isolating the central coastal area and cutting it off from the northern part of Croatia along the line from Karlobag to Karlovac.

How was this provided for by the postulates of the CSWG? First, the NATO operational forces were incorporated in the "Jadran" Operative Group. This Operative Group was comprised of the following: (1) complete Italian Armed Forces; (2) two MEBs23, two naval assault groups, two aircraft carrier groups, 101st and 82nd Airborne divisions from the United States; and (3) one airborne assault landing brigade and a marine expeditionary unit from the United Kingdom, and Albanian 9th Corps. Airborne support and isolation of the military region was to be performed by the 5th ATAF, i.e. the total NATO air-force operating on the Southern European front (the original idea of the "Romania" CSWG).

The forces incorporated into the "Jadran" operational group were classified into TG (tactical group) "Trieste", TG "Ancona", 10th Albanian Corps, Marine Landing Unit of the United Kingdom, the US airborne forces, the marine landing unit of the United Kingdom and four naval battle groups. Although it was emphasized that the coalition forces would apply the principles of air-land battle and deep penetration in the execution of the operation order, these principles were not applied in the simulation. The emphasis on the classical 2-D warfare, and the especially overemphasized role of the army, was not only due to a 5:1 ratio in favor of the sea, but to the hidden intentions of the JNA to realize the Greater Serbian idea. The projection of power was primarily aimed at depriving Croatia of its water surfaces. The equation (1) was thus extended and read:

1 + 3 + 1/3 (5) + 2/3 (VPO) = a Greater Serbia (2)

The implementation of the plan dating from the 70s, and its final operationalization during the 80s, illustrated the fact that the forceful appropriation of two-thirds of the Adriatic was strategically the most important point, i.e. it was the domino which had to fall first. Eastern and a part of Central Croatia would follow, as would Bosnia, which would "fall silently."

Summarized Plan of "Aggressors'" (NATO) Activities

Since Maslenica-Velebit and Slano-Ston were two key points (in Figure 2 marked "K"), the structure and the utilization of the "Jadran" Operational Group had to be adapted accordingly. How was this conceived? First, on day "D" (the beginning of the "aggression") until D+2, sea and parachute landing operations were undertaken on Lošinj, Molat Isles, Vis, Lastovo, Mljet and in the region around Slano. During the second stage of the first part of the operation, when control over all islands and the broader region of Slano had been gained, the second operational formation was introduced, landing was performed in Ravni Kotari, the 10th Corps was transported by sea into the widened bridge-head near Slano, and force penetration inland continued toward (1) Ravni Kotari-Sinj-Livno-Kupres, (2) Slano-Mostar-the Neretva Valley-Sarajevo.

The Activities of the "Reds" (The JNA)

The plan: Prevent (slow down) penetration into the Ravni Kotari and Slano regions, and then engage the 9th Corps (Knin Corps), parts of the 7th K (Sarajevo Corps) and the 9th Boka Naval Region, counterattack toward Knin-Benkovac-Ravni Kotari-Zadar, Mostar-Eaplina-Slano and Trebinje-Konavli-Dubrovnik, liberate the area and assume the defense24. What counterattacking and assuming the defense in these two directions meant was illustrated by the events of 1991. If the idea of the "Jadran" Operational Group Maneuver, as an integral part of the "Romanija" CSWG, is compared with the actual situation in 1991, (Figure 3), any further explanation is unnecessary. It is more than clear to the reader.

This strategic plan (dating from 1986 on) is implemented each year on day D (the beginning of the attack), over D+7, D+15, D+35 to D+101, when the NATO forces break onto the Una-Virovitica line. This "occupied" western part of former Yugoslavia is then "liberated" by strategic assault operations, using forces from the rear, i.e. from Serbia.25 The well-prepared and systematic plan, which had a theoretical, organizational and experimental basis, could not be applied in the classical manner of a coup d'etat, due to prevailing internal and external circumstances. The other possibility would be an open attack on Croatia, in which case the JNA and Serbia would have been considered aggressors,26 and the repercussions upon the two would have been much more significant than if they were shown to be the "defenders". The essence of the entire plan was to create an aggressor which would transform the JNA into the defender.

Therefore, the JNA, as a tool of Serbia's hegemonistic intentions, did not act directly. They applied a wearing-down strategy, a conflict of low rather than medium intensity, which was intended to reinforce the impression that it was a spontaneous resistance by the "unarmed Serbian people" who were defending their lives and "centuries-old hearths and homes", and that the JNA was present only for their protection. Actually, the fundamental characteristic of such a strategy was its vagueness, with the military armed forces being used in small increments, between meetings, sessions, agreements, negotiations and diplomatic notes. It all appeared aimless, and still the objective was well defined, according to a well-elaborated and tested plan: the gradual occupation of the largest possible portion of Croatian territory. This particular use of the military could be appropriately referred to as a "crawling strategy".

Strategy is not a doctrine (science) but a way of thinking, even if abstract, which enables the alignment and arrangement of the sequence of events. Within the crawling strategy, the most important goal during the first stage of the war was to transform Croatia from a defender into an aggressor. A trap had to be set to achieve that goal, and Croatia was expected to fall into the trap without thinking twice. The trap was the attack on garrisons,27 or more accurately, the attack against the JNA.28

The Application of Strategy in Aggression Against Croatia

Between March 12 - 15, 1991, "the Joint Chiefs of Staff", i.e. the Greater-Serbian military establishment, asked the Presidency of SFRJ to proclaim a state of emergency29 throughout Yugoslavia and to deploy the JNA. When this was denied, the JNA decided on the implementation of the contingency plan, which was the emergency plan "on the protection of the Serbian people and assisting them in their defense," mentioned by General Blagoje Adžia.

The strategy was implemented in two steps. The first step implied the conquering of key points: Karlovac, Zadar, Dubrovnik, Sisak, Pakrac, Osijek and Vukovar. The JNA's task was to time the attacks on the main roads by combining infantry and tank assaults, assisted by mortar fire, to destroy civilian objects and infrastructure along the entire territory of Croatia. The Navy was to implement a naval blockade, and the Air Force an air blockade.

The goal, the idea and the plan of the JNA departed from the reformed role of the JNA with regard to its role as established by the Constitution of the SFRJ. During this stage of armed conflict (read aggression), the JNA "protected" Serbs in Croatia from the attacks by "Croatian armed formations," and at the same time enabled them to organize themselves for "defense", but in actuality for attack. The JNA was prepared for a war against Croatia as soon as Croatia launched the "war against the JNA." The mission was to be carried out within the framework of "preventing conflicts among the nations" as was put forth by the Presidency of SFRJ in its decree. The G. S. would reinforce the JNA formations in Croatia and around Croatia in order to implement the set mission. A number of armored mechanized formations, ranging from company to division, would be placed as close as feasible to the possible venues of conflict so that they would be able to intervene at very short notice. An adequate number of armored mechanized brigades would be deployed on the axis points (gravity centers) in and around Croatia so they could be used for major interventions.

Here we can see the strategic postulate of the operational deployment of units which the JNA G. S. delineated, and General Radinovia scientifically elaborated in his general's thesis as a "battle in space."

According to the JNA G. S. point of view, the JNA succeeded in attaining the objectives of the first stage of the war: it "protected" the Serbian population, it helped them and enabled them to prepare, in military and political terms, for the events which were to follow, and, according to Kadijević, that is exactly what the Serbs did. Croatia failed to gain full control over its whole territory because of the role played by the JNA. And not only that. "Croatia realized that this is the goal it would never attain as long as the JNA was there."30

During the second stage of the war, as conceived by the overall concept on the use of the JNA forces in Croatia "for the defense of Serbs" in Croatia, the model of "preventing conflicts among nations" could no longer be applied. There had to be an "open Croatian attack", which would be obvious and which would clearly show who was the attacker and who the defender, who was imposing the war, and only then strike back.

The basic idea which served for the elaboration of the use of the JNA between 1986 and 1990 throughout Yugoslav territory was the following: total defeat of the Croatian Army, if the situation so permitted, but at least to the extent which would enable the attainment of set goals. For the JNA, those goals were to attain full collaboration with Serbian rebels and enable the completion of the retreat of the remainder of the JNA forces from Slovenia; in doing that, special attention had to be paid to the fact that the "role of the Serbs in Bosnia-Herzegovina would be crucial for the future of the entire Serbian nation." The new disposition of the JNA forces had to be adapted accordingly.31

The strategic plan of the occupation of Croatia was covertly prepared over a number of years. It was tested over a period of five years, and was announced in 1993 by its implementer, General Veljko Kadijević, who, before he actually started implementing it, disarmed Croatia by appropriating the arms from its Territorial Defense. On the eve of the realization and launching of the plan, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (G.S.) of the Armed Forces of SFRJ issued the "Instruction on the use of strategic groups" by which it would determine how they were to execute operations.32

The actual operationalized plan (strategic operation) read as follows:33 strategic mission to be carried out in two stages. During the first stage, primary use of counterattacks of tactical significance, in several directions, until Croatia becomes more heavily involved (attacked barracks), with reinforced organization and preparation of Serbian rebels; during the second stage, a coordinated strategic attack operation to defeat the Croatian Army and complete the mission. The goal of the force maneuvers:

  1. Total blockade of Croatia from air and sea;
  2. Connecting attacks by major forces as closely as possible with the "liberation" of the Serb regions in Croatia and the JNA garrisons deep within the territory of Croatia. To this end, intersectng Croatia along the lines of Gradiška-Virovitica, Bihać-Karlovac-Zagreb, Knin-Zadar, Mostar-Split. Use of most powerful armored units to occupy Eastern Slavonia, which would thereafter proceed quickly towards the west to join forces in Western Slavonia, and continue on towards Zagreb and Varaždin, i.e. onto the Slovenian border.34 At the same time, use of strong force from the region of Herceg Novi - Trebinje, blockade of Dubrovnik from the mainland, and introduction of units into the Neretva Valley to join forces coming from the direction Mostar-Split;
  3. Upon reaching designated objects (decision points), ensure and hold the "border of Srpska Krajina" in Croatia, pull out the remaining JNA units from Slovenia and then withdraw the JNA from Croatia;
  4. Mobilization and preparation of mobilized and supplemented troops, and their transport to the planned directions of deployment, should take 10 to 15 days, depending on the level of combat preparedness of the units and their distance from the direction of deployment.

Based on the Serbian calculations, the main tasks of the transformed operation plan were attained:

  1. One-third of Croatia, with a predominantly Serb population, "was liberated";
  2. "Krajina" formed its own army, which the JNA equipped with the appropriate weapons and battle technology;
  3. The JNA withdrew its main combat forces from Croatia and deployed them for future tasks. (Author's note: Bosnia-Herzegovina).

These conclusions are realistic, except for the evaluation that Croatia adopted the Vance Plan because it had lost the war. Croatia did not lose the war. On the contrary, Croatia won the war. Strategy is not merciful. It simply dictates that the winner of a war is he who prevents the enemy from attaining its set strategic goal. The set strategic goal for the JNA was to defeat the Croatian Army and arrive at the Slovenian border. Neither of the two goals was achieved.

Croatian Response to the Applied Strategy

Further warfare gives advantage to the side which better utilizes the suspension time. The Croatian strategy proved very successful in this regard, as Croatia was able to wait and to deliver the decisive blow at the right moment (the final operations of the Croatian Army in 1995).

Stalling has an exceptional meaning in the modern concept of strategy. If the objective of a strategy is attaining the set political goals by making the most of the means available, then Croatia applied a wise and reasonable strategy and applied it to the complexity of the actual situation. Moreover, the adjustment of the Croatian strategy was influenced by the following elements of the situation: the Armed Forces of Croatia had grown in numbers, they had better weapons, and mobilization was carried out smoothly. By stalling and buying time, the Croatian leadership knew that the JNA would eventually disintegrate not only on ethnic, but on other levels as well. Croatia reacted to this "crawling strategy" with a "strategy of indirect approach." Politics and diplomacy, and later economy, played a prevailing role here, so as to enable Croatia to resist blows delivered during the first stage of the war. As already stated, these elements were important for buying time, in order to create a well equipped and trained military which would be capable of winning battles (assault operations, from tactical to strategic level). At this point, one should remember one of the postulates of the war doctrine, which states that there is a strategy for every particular situation. A certain strategy may be the best for one combination of circumstances, and absolutely useless for another.

There has been a lot of discussion as to the right timing for the attack against the military garrisons. Under the given circumstances (the beginning of the war), that operation fell into the category of strategy. A war is either won or lost at the level of strategy, and not at the level of tactics. One can lose many battles and still win the war. For a strategic move, such as the attack on barracks, timing is of the utmost importance; when to launch the action is crucial. The subsequent events confirmed that the timing was well chosen and that a trap was thereby avoided. Kadijević himself said that the attack on the garrisons was a trap, and that it would have been much better for the JNA if the attack had been launched earlier, since time was not on the JNA's side.35 By not falling into the trap which had been laid, Croatia was better prepared for the second stage of the war, from which it emerged victorious.

Simulated War

Finally, the military option of the Greater Serbian scheme (which has been outlined in this paper) cannot be fully comprehended without an analysis of the war in Slovenia and without addressing the strategic concept of "praxeology - the study of human conduct." Here, the most important principle is contained in this phrase: "It is not important what is, what can be seen, but, rather, what cannot be seen and what is aspired to."

According to the JNA, the Slovenes treated them as though they were an occupation army. The JNA, however, could not and had no desire to treat the Slovenes in the manner of an occupation army. Herein lies the answer to a never completely clarified issue: What was the real intention of the JNA during the so-called Slovenian War? The war has since been referred to by many different names. For the Slovenes, it is most certainly the greatest war they have ever waged and therefore it is for them a source of national pride. As far as the war's impact on Croatia, it can be referred to conditionally as a "simulated war". The hidden agenda was to involve Croatia. There is ample basis for this claim, as corroborated by the three possible options for the use of the JNA forces in the event of such a scenario. The first option was to defeat the Slovenian combat formations and then abandon Slovenia. The second was to use all the available Air Force units to inflict damage on the Slovenian infrastructure and thus force it to comply with the decisions of the federal institutions. The third, which was subsequently adopted, was to attain political goals by the combined use of political means and military threat (JNA). In practice, threats would be carried out incrementally, based upon the reactions of the Slovenian side. The controversy and absurdity of the first two options lie not only in the fact that they both proposed a terrorist use of the military force, but also in their objectives: to wage war (paying a high price) and then withdraw. There would be no support for strategic goals of this nature. Only an unbalanced military mind could promote such an adventure.

The third option was the most realistic, not only because it represented the lowest cost for the JNA, but also because it was instrumental in carrying out the hidden agenda, which was to involve an unprepared Croatia in the war. On July 18, 1991, a decision was passed that the JNA formations were to be moved from Slovenia. The move was arranged by "the Supreme Command" in such a way that it served as a preparation for aggression against Croatia. Kadijević would write that "this was the opportunity we had counted on and we had a response ready and waiting." The response was a strategic operation intended to lead to the attainment of all the goals the JNA had set for Croatia, and which are outlined in this paper.


The JNA belonged to an ideological, all-embracing type of military organization, which served as the overseer of state and society, and devalued individual abilities. Military officers representated the embodiment of conviction, identification with officers (charisma) and politicization.

Thus, the JNA could easily be transformed into a Serbian military force in both of its components. Ideologically, this was accomplished when the JNA adopted the Greater Serbian idea or the "creation of a unified Serbian state, which would embrace the entire Serbian nation within the territory of Yugoslavia." In broader terms, the transformation was carried out in the areas of language, officer corps, reorganization and the use of strategic groups, all based upon the strategic postulate of a "nation in arms" - but only the Serbian nation. The long and systematic process of transforming the JNA into a Serbian imperial force was achieved by a sequence of events: (1) a very sophisticated staffing policy was applied to transform the military into a Serbian and not a people's military; (2) military infrastructure was adapted to suit deployment and use as foreseen in the plan to breaking onto the Western Serbian border; (3) military forces were adapted to suit the tactical needs of area pacification and this was tested under "laboratory conditions" even before the Serbian political goals were publicly announced; (4) the operational use of the military forces was tested for functioning under conditions of "extraordinary events" and the entire exercise was camouflaged using the cover of a possible total aggression by the NATO forces (the syndrome of constant threat); (5) during the implementation of the plan, the Yugoslav option was stressed and clearly displayed to the world and then the "international enemy - destroyer" was awaited, so that when he made a move and launched the first attack, he could be defeated; (6) under war conditions, during the final stage of the process, the JNA was finally transformed into a number of Serbian armies, and the main concern was to protect the "threatened" Serbian people.

These reflections on the implementation of the Serbian aggression and the forms it assumed represent an attempt to understand the time and events and hence to eliminate any doubts as to when and how the JNA became an instrument of the Greater Serbian idea. This can best be seen in the words of its creators: "The JNA represents the foundation from which three Serbian armies were created. This was done in response to given internal and international circumstances and in a very structured manner," (V. Kadijević, 1993).

If the purpose of a strategy is to attain political goals by the best utilization of available means, if it is a "compilation" of information enriched by every subsequent generation, if it is not just a repetition of what has been learned, independent of coincidental experience, then it should not have come as a surprise that Croatia found a way to meet the challenge, and to successfully oppose Greater Serbian plans as well as the role which the JNA had assumed in such plans.

Aggression Against Bosnia-Herzegovina

At the overall involvement level, the role of the JNA in the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina was the same as in Croatia. Likewise, the idea of occupation was part and parcel of the whole plan. This paper puts forth not only the fundamental idea which developed on the grounds of the S-2 war plan (the total "aggression" of NATO against former Yugoslavia), but also its modifications and the reorganization (adaptation) of the JNA in order to create "new Serbian armies".

In this overview, the author also proposes an explanation as to when and where the JNA, as the Serbian military, reached its strategic peak. The appearance of this term recently in analytical reviews, especially in the western world, implies that the war upon the territory of former Yugoslavia is no longer being regarded based upon individual military operations and their consequences, the strength and capabilities of the armies, the number of casualties, the level and value of destroyed infrastructure and facilities, but rather at the level of strategic considerations which attempt to determine a "place" for every state.

An analysis of the wars in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina cannot be based upon word games or impressions. It must be derived from the set goals of the aggression, from the means and especially the manner in which the means were applied. In such strategic analytical reviews, the point of departure should always be that the JNA armed forces acted as the instrument of aggression. The intention of this review is to illustrate the role of the JNA in the Bosnia-Herzegovina War.

Introductory Remarks

During the war in Croatia, the JNA failed to attain its set strategic goal, which was to defeat the Croatian Army and move towards the Slovenian border, hence, in keeping with the Memorandum ideas, to extend the "the western borders of Serbia" and construct it along the line from Virovitica via Karlovac down to Karlobag. It was therefore necessary and draw Bosnia-Herzegovina into the strategic game. Bosnia-Herzegovina was essential for the realization of the idea of Greater Serbia. Kadijević had stated that the basic criterion was the survival of the Serbian people in Bosnia-Herzegovina. According to him, the Serbian people, by their geographical location and number, were the cornerstone for the constitution of a common state of the entire Serbian nation, either in some new Yugoslavia, or in an exclusively Serb state. He went on to say that "without Yugoslavia, there will be no state of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Therefore, everybody has to be firmly and unconditionally supportive of Yugoslavia, irrespective of personal inclinations."36

Such an a priori claim leads to an obvious question: What was the role of the JNA in Bosnia-Herzegovina? Unlike the war in Croatia, which occupied a significant position in Kadijević's book and was afforded an analytical review, the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina was totally ignored, covered in approximately two pages37 and was given no analytical review.

Theoretical, Organizational and Trial Foundations of the Aggression Plan

Comprehensiveness of the Strategic Plan

It is understandable that, at the level of comprehensiveness, the role of the JNA in Bosnia-Herzegovina was equivalent to its role in Croatia, since it was derived from the same strategic idea of the creation of a "Greater Serbia". The comprehensiveness implies a long-lasting and systematic transformation of the JNA into a Serbian imperial force, per a structural, organizational, operational and implementation plan based upon a unified idea which is temporarily adjusted to the prevailing internal and external circumstances, but always under the catch phrase of "protecting the Serbian people and assisting them to defend themselves" and "preventing conflicts among nationalities."38

The operational plan for the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina was also based upon the premise of a radical Western "aggression" against Yugoslavia (war plan S-2), and it contained the same structural elements: theoretical, organizational and trial elements.39 The theoretical and organizational elements were the same as for the war in Croatia, but the trial elements continued and expanded to include the areas of Southwest, South and Central Bosnia.

The Summarized Plan of Action of the "Blue" - NATO Aggressor in the Territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina

The plan of action of NATO forces in a scenario of total aggression against Yugoslavia was comprised of the following sequence of events upon the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina:

After airborne and amphibious landing operations on Adriatic islands (D-D+2), the operative forces of NATO join up with the "Jadran" operational group on D+6, hit the beach in Ravni Kotari, that is, Slano. After that, the landing groups were to be joined on D+15 by TG "ANCONA" and the 10th Army Corps (AC). Together they were to continue penetrating deep into Bosnia-Herzegovian territory (Figure 4).

Forces of the 10th AK would advance along the Neretva valley towards Sarajevo until joining forces with 101st Airborne Division (US Army Forces), which on D+17 would land on Ravna Romanija (to the West of Pale). Skirting Knin, the TG "ANCONA" troops would move on towards Sinj, Livno, Kupres and Bugojno, approaching Sarajevo from the west and acting on the left wing together with the 10th AC forces. To speed up the rate of attack, tactical landing operations were to be undertaken at Vaganj Pass (Kamešnica) and Aržano.

Actions of the "Red" (JNA)

This then was the "aggressor's" plan. The "Red" (JNA) could react in one way only: by forming three groups (Figure 5) to achieve the following goal:

1. First operational group (OG Mostar)40, acting in the region of Mostar and Eastern Herzegovina, was tasked to prevent penetration along the Neretva Valley and stop "Blue" south of Mostar. This was the fall-back position. After that, they would begin a counter-attack, move on to the coast and organize their defensive positions there;

2. The mission of the second operational group (OG Kupres), located in the region of the Kupres Plateau and Western Bosnia, was to launch lateral blasts against the forces of TG Ancona in the direction of the Livno and Sinj Plateau, and extend their actions further down towards Split, acting jointly with the forces which were engaged in counter-attack operations in Neretva Valley;

3. Third group (OG Sarajevo), acting along the semi-circular axis of Central and Eastern Bosnia, were to perform rectifying circular blasts against landing operations over Romanija, and to "remove the blockade" from Sarajevo, which was to be defended by circular defense.

The operational deployment of "Red" forces, as in the aggression against Croatia, was systematically tested by the annual training plan, as formulated in the "Romanija" Command and Staff War Game.

The postulates of the direction of attacks of the "aggressor" and the operational deployment of the "defender-red," show clearly that at a strategic level, the JNA Joint Chiefs of Staff, determined that the following constituted the critical points of pacification (read occupation) of Bosnia-Herzegovina: (1) south-western part, i.e. Herzegovina; and (2) Sarajevo - the capital.

The successful defense of the south-western part of Bosnia-Herzegovina would save not only Bosnia-Herzegovina, but all of southern Croatia as well.

The Implementation of Strategy in the Aggression Against Bosnia-Herzegovina

The desirable goal was for Bosnia to "fall silently". However, when the JNA efforts (threats and selective use of military force) did not yield the desired results, especially with the Croatian people, who managed to organize their army, the JNA shifted to the concrete realization of the pacification of Bosnia-Herzegovina, adopting the model used in Croatia. The only difference here, however, was the fact that the vacillation of the Moslems in the Government of Bosnia-Herzegovina reinforced the impression within the JNA that the war would be over quickly.

It should be noted that the general plan regarding the creation of "Greater Serbia" and a move onto the western Serbian border was not changed; rather, it was adapted to suit the prevailing political and military situation. The major element of this adaptation was devising the means for maintaining control of occupied Croatian territories - with the "assistance" of international forces - while Bosnia-Herzegovina was being occupied. Then, once it was occupied, a plan for annexing nearly one third of the occupied territory of Croatia and attaining the set goal of creating a Greater Serbia was needed. Such a "Greater Serbia" would have failed in establishing its western borders along the Karlobag-Karlovac-Virovitica line, but the border would still not have been far away and it would have followed the line Starigrad Paklenica-Karlovac-Pakrac-Nova Gradiška-Sava River-Osijek.

Reaching a Strategic Peak

The war in Bosnia-Herzegovina broke out after the first stage of the war in Croatia. In regard to the war in Croatia, i.e. the first stage in that war, there are various "doubts", and even some understated hypotheses, as to who was the winner and who was the loser, whether or not the ceasefire agreement should have been signed, whether international forces (UNPROFOR) should have been allowed in, whether and what type of internationalization of the conflict should have taken place.

Interestingly enough, a theory has recently appeared which attempts to "prove" that Serbia reached its strategic peak towards the end of 1991,41 with the occupation of Vukovar. Such a hypothesis serves as "proof" that the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina could have been avoided and that, ultimately, the military actions Flash and Storm would not have been necessary at all.42

What answer could a strategic evaluation provide to such a hypothesis? There are no doubt strategic peaks in every war. However, doubts arise as to exactly when they are attained. Strategy teaches us that during a war the aggressor finds it very difficult to determine its strategic peaks, which would then tell them when to stop.43 The defenders' task is even more difficult, since they require time to regroup, train and equip their armed forces in order to move from strategic defense to strategic attack. This is especially true of emerging armed forces, as was the Croatian Army. In the case of Croatia, this valuable time had to be gained, since the enemy would have never granted it freely.

The combat power, i.e. the projection of military force, does not consist just in the number of people armed with patriotism and combat morale, which Croatia undoubtedly had at the time. It is rather a combination of equipment, training, operational mobility and development, the ability of operational control, and response to sudden and unpredictable (unexpected) enemy actions: in short, in the persuasiveness of the military force. When it comes to assault operations, even at the lowest tactical level, not to mention the strategic level, there is always the question of what would be the price to pay, especially in manpower. The worst strategy is one which pays the price in human lives, especially when the resource is very scarce, such as in the case of Croatia (with a population of 4,700,000 people).

Having won the first stage of the war44, Croatia needed a pause for two reasons. The first was to avoid further destruction and to regroup the Army, which implied that numbers had to be replaced by quality, and to increase the mobility of the forces and develop the possibility of transferring the decision points as a condicio sine qua non for a successful assault operation. The second was that it was irrational and impossible to wage wars on two separate fronts when the main operational roads (Zagreb-Karlovac-Rijeka; Zagreb-Karlovac-Zadar-Split-Dubrovnik; and Zagreb-Nova Gradiška-Vinkovci-Osijek) were under constant threat.

The important fact is that the beginning of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina was determined exclusively by Serbian political and military leaders according to a well elaborated plan. Having attained a reduced strategic goal (the occupation of nearly one third of Croatia, but failing to break onto the Western Serbian border), the JNA and Serbia realized that continuing meant a further waste of troops, and therefore became irrational, due to losses, the upswing of operations, and the internationalization of the conflict. The JNA and Serbia had been clearly marked as aggressors. Therefore, this was not about the strategic peak having been attained. The military force was thus redirected and projected onto those territories which, under the given circumstances, would yield the best results. At that moment, the thinking of the JNA and Serbia was as follows: if they managed to resolve the issue of Bosnia-Herzegovina as soon as possible, they would be able to again concentrate on Croatia, under different, extremely favorable conditions.

But there remains an open-ended question: When would the JNA and Serbia, and even more importantly, where (underlined by the author) would they reach their strategic peak? The geo-strategic position of Croatia, but also the Greater Serbia objective, clearly indicated that this peak could only be reached in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in its western part. Strategic peaks are not determined by only one or two factors of a war doctrine, but by all the factors joined together in a mutual relationship. Space plays a crucial role, since wars are actually waged to gain control over a certain area. In addition to time and the strength of the forces, the peak must also be placed in space.

To corroborate this postulate, the best answer is to look at the organization and operational development of JNA forces and Serbian rebels in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which were carried out during the first stage of the war in Croatia, and ended at the beginning of 1992 (January-April).

Operationalization and Adaptation of Plan During Aggression

Organization and Operational Development of JNA Forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina between January and April 1992

To better understand the strategic relationships within the territory of former Yugoslavia in 1992, one must return to previously mentioned postulates of the "Romanija" CSWG. Three operational groups of the JNA were in charge of defending the area of Western Bosnia-Herzegovina from NATO, by implementing the circular defense of the city of Sarajevo and moving to a counter-attack, directed towards Mostar and the Neretva Valley, i.e. Livno and Split. This type of defense and subsequent counter-attack clearly show, first, the complete overlapping of JNA maneuvers within CSWG Romanija and the JNA operations for the occupation of Bosnia-Herzegovina during 1992 (Figure 6) and, second, that the defense of the lines Kupres-Livno-Split and Mostar-Ploče constituted the defense of Bosnia-Herzegovina, but also of entire southern Croatia.

The strategic dilemma for Croatia was whether to launch an attack operation to liberate the occupied territories with an army ill-equipped for such military actions, to pay a very high price and then possibly fail to achieve the set goal, which would mean a strategic defeat, or to gain time, regroup the army, preserve the depth of their operations, not only in Western Bosnia-Herzegovina, but also in Southern Croatia, and at the same time, attempt to prevent the Serbs from realizing their transformed goal.

The second option, which was eventually adopted, was absolutely correct, as subsequent events would show. Why? In strategy there is one essential principle: the principle of opposition, which implies that the interest of one side is in opposition to the interest of the other side. War activities have two forms: assault and defense, which are very different and unequal in strength. If one side wishes to postpone an outcome, the other must work for the outcome to happen as quickly as possible, and vice versa. If a certain moment is good for one side, but it is too weak and not ready for an attack, it still will not lose its chance to wage a successful defense. It simply must wait for a more favorable moment in the future when it is certain to have accumulated a convincing and measurable military power.45 The supremacy of defense, as Clausewitz would write, is very substantial, much more substantial than its face value, and his words are especially revelant during periods when there is a suspension of war activities, which occurs often during a war.46 The crucial question in this respect is which side is going to better utilize the suspension and waiting time in order to prepare itself for a final attack?

There is another cause for a suspension in the war: incomplete understanding of the situation, which is due either to the overestimation of the enemy or oneself or the underestimation of the enemy or oneself. Any attempt at a strategic analysis requires a strict adherence to the principle which argues that the slower a war activity evolves, and the more frequent and longer the suspensions are, the sooner it will be possible to correct possible fallacies. Strategy does not forgive fallacies. The biggest fallacy during a war is to attack at the wrong time. A strategic assault mission for the liberation of the occupied territories of Croatia in late 1991 and early 1992 would have been an attack at the wrong time, since the strategic principle of opposition and waiting had not been satisfied, i.e. the creation of forces which would move from strategic defense into a strategic attack.

After an explanation of these strategic dilemmas, it might be instructive to examine how the JNA and the Serbian political leadership prepared for the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

War Preparations

As Kadijević described it, the cooperation with Serb representatives in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Serbian population as a whole was very good during war preparations, and it enabled the goal of a new Yugoslavia to be pursued. This was ensured during the war in Croatia by a timely maneuver and the shift of the JNA forces across Bosnia-Herzegovina, which was of the utmost importance for the JNA. It was emphasized often that the maneuvers and movements encountered difficulties and were sometimes even obstructed, but never completely obstructed. This permitted a successful mobilization in the "Serbian part" of Bosnia-Herzegovina. In addition, it alleviated the burden of mobilization in Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia.

This opinion affirms that the JNA, i.e. Serbian forces, were not exhausted, and also that they had not by any means reached their strategic peak, and that this second reorganization of the entire Serbian military forces served a completely different purpose.

The purpose of the well-organized, equipped and armed Serbian forces in the occupied territories of Croatia was to act as the frontline task force and carry out defense operations, and the second, strategically stronger task force was used to occupy Bosnia-Herzegovina and thus indirectly attain the set Greater Serbian goal.

It should be noted that the JNA were forced to direct towards Croatia a portion of the second body of strategic troops. As Kadijević himself said, it had been their judgement that after one of the Serbian armies had been formed ("the Serbian Krajina Army - SVK"), strong JNA forces needed to be deployed in the occupied territories of Bosnia-Herzegovina. According to the viewpoint of the Serbian military establishment, this would address every possible political option in the development of events in Bosnia-Herzegovina, as well as the need for having ready-trained and strong forces on the border with RSK as a guarantee that Croatia would respect the Vance Plan. In addition to that, the following statement indicates how justified they felt their decision was to shift the second strategic task force towards the occupied part of the Republic of Croatia: "The constant aggression of Croatia against RSK shows how right we were in having done this."47

In operational terms, Croatia found itself at that moment in a much more favorable position. Although the JNA forces which were committed to aggression against its territory still remained deployed, they were no longer positioned across the entire depth of its state territory, but outside of it. In this way, the projection of the military power of these forces on to Croatia had decreased in strength, and at the same time, the troops could not be used across the entire territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina. In strategy, such a situation is referred to as a double binding of forces.

Operational Deployment and Maneuver of JNA Forces for the War in Bosnia-Herzegovina

At the moment the Vance agreement was signed, forces equaling 49 brigades (including the blocked formations of the 32nd, 13th and 10th Corps48) were engaged in the aggression against the Republic of Croatia. There were three armored brigades, six mechanized, 14 infantry, 18 Territorial Defense (Partisan) brigades, 12 territorial defense squadrons, various formations of mortar and missile support, air defense, engineer corps and other special units.

The total strength of forces was: 90-95 thousand soldiers, 850-900 tanks, 700-750 armored personnel carriers, 1,200 artillery pieces of every caliber, including ground-to-ground rockets R-65 "Luna" and anti-aircraft defense missiles, 24 naval vessels (Vis and Lastovo). A total of 350 aircraft of all types were engaged in combat.

The JNA system of management and command adapted to the different given situations - Slovenia, Croatia and finally Bosnia-Herzegovina. When the Chiefs-of-Staff of the 5th Military Region (Zagreb) and the Naval Region (Split) were unable to perform their command duties, the tasks were taken over and carried out by the SFRJ Joint Chiefs of Staff, which had direct command over parts of the 1st Military Region, i.e. the Novi Sad, Tuzla and Banja Luka corps, and especially over the temporarily constituted OG-1 and 2 which were deployed during the aggression against Croatia.

Such conditions would prevail until December 1991, when the JNA embarked on the reorganization of the chain of command. The major reorganization of the JNA was finished by December 30, when the Serbian Federal President issued consent for the dissolution and dismissal of the 5th Military Region and Naval Region, headquartered respectively in Zagreb and Split. Having mentioned this development, one must bear in mind the broader circumstances of the situation, which "forced" the JNA to act under unfavorable conditions and prepare for the "battle for the preservation of Yugoslavia", i.e. for the occupation of Bosnia-Herzegovina. One of the unfavorable aspects of that situation was the recognition of Croatia as an independent and sovereign state and the mounting international condemnation of the dirty war waged by the JNA and Serbia.

Spatiality and Organization of New Military Regions

The ultimate goal of the JNA's reorganization was to achieve a dominant position in Bosnia-Herzegovina. There is no doubt that the JNA considered Bosnia-Herzegovina an integral part of Serbia, i.e. Montenegro. The Eastern part of Bosnia, east of the river Bosna, was assigned to the 1st Military Region, the southern part was subordinated to the recently formed 4th Military Region, and the remainder, predominantly western and central parts of Bosnia, fell under the authority of the 2nd Military Region.

For the purpose of waging war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the JNA established the 2nd and 4th Military Regions (between December 1991 and January 1992) with the respective headquarters in Sarajevo and Podgorica. In March of the same year, under the retreat of the JNA from Macedonia, the Headquarters of the 3rd Military Region was moved from Skopje to Niš. With the already existing reduced 1st Military Region, the JNA Army forces were organized into four military regions, as groups at the strategic level. Their staffs were in charge of the preparations, organization and harmonization of the combat use of JNA in parts of the territory of former Yugoslavia.

The division - delineation (Figure 7) was comprised as follows: 1st Military Region (Belgrade) - Vojvodina and Northern Serbia to the line between Kragujevac and Užice, including Kragujevac and excluding Užice and the northwestern part of Bosnia-Herzegovina49; 3rd Military Region (Niš) southern part of Serbia and Kosovo50; 2nd Military Region (Sarajevo), western, northern and central parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina to the line connecting Foča-Kalinovik-Mostar51; and 4th Military Region (Podgorica), south of that line, Montenegro and south-western part of Serbia.52

The military regions preserved the former structure, which was based on corps of different power and composition, as the operational level group, deployed in the directions of planned use. Moreover, there were 1-2 combined artillery brigades, combined anti-tank brigade, engineer brigade, security motorized regiment (for the protection of military region staffs, consisting of a military police battalion, commando unit and a motorized battalion), signals regiment, NBC defense regiment and a number of logistics bases, as special components under the direct chain of command of military region commanders. The 1st and the 3rd Military Regions also each had an independent armored or mechanized brigade.

The total power of the JNA (2nd MR, part of the 4th and 1st MR) deployed at the beginning of 1992 in Bosnia-Herzegovina was: 83,000 men, 460-500 tanks, 400-420 armored vehicles and 950-1, 000 mortars.

The officer corps of the thus reorganized JNA (the officer corps) consisted of 92.6% Serbs, 7% Montenegrins and 0.4% others.

The system of control and force subordination was such that the MODs of SAO in the Republic of Croatia and in Bosnia-Herzegovina were under the direct chain of command of the Ministry of Defense of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which "coordinated the execution of defense plans" and whose common goal was the "protection of external borders and their incorporation into the system of Yugoslavia."

The Joint Chiefs of Staff were in charge of the operational command over all the units of "VJ", "VRS" and "SVK".

The capabilities of particular corps or their units were less than optimal. This could be seen from the characteristics of the combat activities in the war against Croatia, especially during the first stage of the war against Bosnia-Herzegovina. There were many indications that the JNA had difficulties in maintaining full composition structure of the brigades, primarily due to problems with unit replenishment based upon the required numbers and qualifications of recruits. As the war continued, this problem escalated. For that reason it became increasingly more common for the Army to relocate soldiers from different formations, and to use them as tactical ad hoc groups of different strengths and purposes.53

The Purpose of Military and Territorial Division

The military and territorial division, as well as the organization of forces, illustrate the fact that the 2nd and 4th Military Regions, as the first strategic echelon in the occupation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, were tasked to achieve area pacification, based upon the already tested Croatian model. They were to connect Serbian enclaves, cleanse the area of Croats and Bosnian Muslims, and project their military power onto the southern part of Croatia, as well as to assist Serbian forces in the occupied territories of Croatia. The second strategic echelon, the 1st and 3rd Military Regions, served as strategic reserves. They were also to provide some of their troops to reinforce the 2nd and 4th Military Regions and to be the vehicle to project force onto the eastern part of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

At the moment when the territory of Eastern Bosnia-Herzegovina fell under the direct chain of command of the 1st Military Region, Serbia's territory crossed onto the western bank of the Drina. Likewise, by extending the authority of the 4th MR over the south-western part of Serbia, its short operational depth was extended.

The demarcation line between the military regions showed clearly that Belgrade wished not only to resolve the issue of Bosnia-Herzegovina, but also to indirectly provide for the appropriation of the occupied territories from Croatia, since the 2nd and 4th military regions had "natural" access to the sea, with the demarcation line being drawn form Vrlika to the Dalmatinska Ploča Cape (Figure 8).

Realization of the First Stage of the Operational Plan

The JNA already controlled a part of Herzegovina (Ravno, Popovo Polje). In April, 1992, with the operationally developed forces of the first strategic echelon (2nd and 4th Military Regions), and part of the forces of the second strategic echelon (1st and 3rd Military Regions), it embarked on the realization of the operational plan of the occupation of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

During the first stage of the operation, a coordinated tong-shaped attack and maneuver in two separate directions, one from Grahovo-Glamoč-Kupres and the other from Trebinje-Bileća-Mostar, were used to break the defense lines and penetrate into the area of Central Dalmatia via Livno and Aržano, putting pressure on the city of Split. Part of the forces were supposed to continue the attack and reach the right bank of the Neretva, i.e. via Stolovo, subdue the left bank of the Neretva, access the Adriatic Sea in the region of Neum-Ploee and unite with the occupation forces in the region of Bistrina-Doli. If that operational plan had worked, Bosnia would have been in a squeeze. The second and the easiest stage of the operation then would follow, directed towards Sarajevo and possible minor points of resistance within Bosnia-Herzegovina, which would have consumed little time.

The first stage of the operation failed to achieve the goal, since on April 23, 1992, defenders managed to halt both penetrations, in Livanjsko Polje on the Rujani-Čelebić-Korićina line, as well as in Stolovi in the Neretva Valley. Bosnia remained "unclamped".

As a result, the operational bases in southern Croatia and Western Bosnia-Herzegovina were defended. This spatial basis had a strong strategic significance, which would become clear during the further course of the war, and especially during the final actions for the liberation of the occupied territories of the Republic of Croatia and the assault operations in Western and Central Bosnia-Herzegovina during the autumn of 1995. The integrity of the strategic approach points to the fact that this area had the best and the strongest projection of power during the war. It was also the area where in early spring of 1992, the JNA and Serbia reached their strategic peak. This was the crown of the parabola from which the descending curve of the Serbian Army would move more and more towards the east.

New Restructuring and Second Operation Stage

After the failed attempt to clamp down Western Bosnia-Herzegovina and to totally occupy Sarajevo, the plan had to be adjusted and the JNA further restructured.54 The command over both the JNA and Serbian forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina would be given to General Ratko Mladić on 10 May.55 He was placed in charge of the entire 2nd Military Region and smaller parts of the 1st and 4th Military Regions, which would eventually form the Army of the Republika Srpska. The forces of the 1st, 3rd and 4th Military Regions, deployed in the territories of Serbia and Montenegro, would enter into the system of the "Army of Yugoslavia" as the military of the "new state."56

Upon taking over the duties of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army of the Republika Srpska, General Mladić immediately embarked on the reorganization of his forces. The 5th Corps was transformed into 1st Krajina Corps, the 9th and 10th Corps were transformed into 2nd Krajina Corps, the 17th Corps became the East-Bosnian Corps, the 4th Corps was renamed the Sarajevo and Romanija Corps and the 13th Corps became the Herzegovina Corps. From May 19, 1992 on, the G.S. acted as the supreme command in the Army of the Republika Srpska, which monitored the formation of other units and offices. (Operational array of new corps - Figure 9.).

In the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina, there were six corps, consisting of 135,000 men, 550 tanks, over 1,300 atillery pieces and 430 armored vehicles during the first part of 1992. These forces also controlled a substantial portion of strategic armament reserves, ammunition and other equipment important for independent combat actions over a long period of time. At the same time, the first strategic echelon of the "Yugoslav Army" was operationally developed and deployed on the left and right banks of the Drina.

After the reorganization of the JNA into two Serbian armies (the Army of the Republika Srpska and the Army of Yugoslavia), there was a new action aimed at appropriating as much territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina as possible. According to the plan, western Bosnia was to be connected with eastern Bosnia via Posavina, Sarajevo was to be occupied and the Neretva Valley penetrated. The entire 1st Krajina Corps and the Corps of Eastern Bosnia, a smaller portion of the 2nd Krajina Corps and reinforcing forces - special units of the Serbian Police, the SAO Krajina Militia, Valjevo Mechanized Brigade (2,500 men and 50 tanks), as well as volunteer formations from Serbia - were all deployed in furtherance of the goal of conquering Posavina, as a decision point within the second stage of the strategic operation. Air cover was provided from airbases in Batajnica (Belgrade) and Banja Luka.

During the operation, which commenced on July 15, 1992, Serbian troops, having learned their lessons from the war in Croatia and the first stage of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, took advantage of their superiority in equipment. Using all sorts of support (artillery fire, rockets, close air support) and the readjusted organization (combat and operational groups), implementing a realistically conceived plan, they succeeded in gaining control over Bosanska Posavina, minus the broader region of Orašje. The aggressor's overwhelming victory was most probably facilitated by the weaknesses of the defenders of Bosanska Posavina, primarily in terms of the organization of defense, the coordination of activities, the training and equipment of units and the commanders' abilities in planning and implementation of combat actions.

From the point of view of operational skills, the cause of the occupation of Posavina lay in the disproportional balance of power favoring the aggressor. This disproportion was primarily in terms of equipment, which was even more significant in the operational base from which the military power was projected, rather than in a willingness to defend or not defend this historical Croatian region. It was very important that the Serbs projected their military power from a center, either by targeted dispersion or centering, without having to negotiate major obstacles. The defender was forced to do the opposite - a targeted maneuver across a major obstacle, the river Sava, and an elongated canalized road through the valleys of the Neretva and Bosna. The major causes of the occupation of Bosanska Posavina lay in this fact.

The siege of Sarajevo transformed itself into an utter decadence of the classical war doctrine (the medieval siege of a fortified city), but was also to become a testing ground for the uncompromising use of terroristic military force before the very eyes of the international community.

The penetration along the Neretva Valley representated yet another failure for the Serbian forces. The counterattack by the defenders liberated the left bank of the river in its middle and lower course.

The further development of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina took place under the strong influence of international factors. Unfortunately, each and every one of them would either disguise their interests, or, if the interests were revealed, would fail to properly coordinate them. The resolution of the Bosnia-Herzegovina crisis would have to be "on hold" for the final operations of the Croatian Armed Forces. Under very complex international and national conditions, Croatia was ready, after systematically creating its Armed Forces, to meet the challenges posed in the mid-nineties, and contribute to the establishment of peace (the Dayton Accord) as a factor of strategic balance in the region.

Concluding Remarks

When it comes to the attainment of the Greater Serbian goals in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbian analysts will claim that the JNA assisted greatly in the establishment of the army of the Bosnia-Herzegovian Serbs, which it helped to "put on its feet", and that the latter, in turn, "liberated Serbian territories" and "protected the Serb people." By stating that both in Croatia and in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the JNA fought for the right of the Serb people to determine their own future, the analysts reveal its true nature and role as an imperial force in the service of a political idea. In accordance with that concept, the Croatian and Bosnia-Herzegovian territories represented a whole which had to be conquered for the project of Greater Serbia, in keeping with the international circumstances and the internal concurrence of events.

The military strategic operational plan for the occupation of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina was implemented by the JNA in increments, without revealing its true intentions, but maintaining its overall domination with a sufficient degree of adaptability. The operations were carried out on only one strategic front. Other theaters were left to a "new Serbian army", which was put in place to safeguard what had been occupied. Benefiting from the initial advantage in equipment, the JNA could easily adapt its plan, determining the place and time of attack and the duration of suspension. It could also shift its decision point, but it could not exert any influence on the waste of combat potential (men and equipment), which was very much dependent on the efficiency of the defense.

By reaching its strategic peak in the region of western Bosnia-Herzegovina in spring of 1992, the JNA was transformed into three "Serbian armies" under a unified command. It continued the aggression, carrying out attacks of low and partly medium intensity. Such a condition could be interrupted by one or more attack operations which would defeat not so much the Serbian Army(ies), as much as their strategic idea. Having realized that they had lost strategic supremacy after the final operations by Croatian forces, and that the strategic balance had moved in space to the line of the Danube-Bosna-Neretva - and that this was between 50 to 300 kilometers east of the "western Serbian border" - the Serbian political and military establishments signed the agreements.

And finally, at the end of these strategic deliberations and reviews, one would do well to remember Clausewitz and his position that nobody starts a war, or better still - nobody in their right mind should start one - before having a clear idea about what they intend to achieve by the war and how they intend to wage it.

Aggressors tend to be "peace lovers". They always want to appropriate or occupy foreign lands if possible without any resistance. In order to prevent them, one must be prepared to wage war, both in its initial or final stages. Croatia had only one choice. During the initial stage, due to the lack of arms, the choice was a strategic defense. During the final stages, the only choice was a strategic attack which resulted in a change - the establishment of a balance of power and coordination of its capabilities against the enemy's defensive power.

Only an integral approach at the level of strategic considerations can provide an answer as to what, when and why something had to be done. It cannot be obtained by the analysis of separate events, since this would inevitably lead to simplification. A war is not and cannot be a simplification, subject to one's own point of view, or worse still, to a temporary political interest. Although aggression is an act of abruptness, war does not arise abruptly, and its outcome is not the result of an isolated moment. That is why every analysis of the Homeland War must contain a judgement on what was done and with what result, rather than what, strictly speaking, should have happened or should have been done.

The Greater Serbian imperial idea was doomed to end in aggression. The main domino in this idea, the one which had to fall, was Croatia. This implies that the war was imposed on Croatia, and that Croatia emerged from the war victorious, attained its independence, and confirmed the power of strategy.



AK - Army Corps
ATAF - Air Task Force
D - Day 1 of Operation
GSOS - Joint Chiefs of Staff of Combat Forces
inž. puk. - Engineer Regiment
JIG - Southeastern Group
JNA - Yugoslav People's Army
K - Corps
lap - Light Artillery Regiment
lap PTO - Light Artillery Regiment of Anti-Tank Defence
lap PZO - Light Artillery Regiment of Ground Air Defence
lbr - Light Brigade
lpbr - Light Infantry Brigade
map - Combined Artillery Anti-tank Brigade
mpoabr - Mixed Artillery Anti-tank Brigade
mtbr - Motorized Tank Brigade
OG - Operational Group
okbr - Armored Brigade
OS - Armed Forces
OT - Armored Vehicle
pad br - Parachute Brigade
partbr - Guerilla Brigade
PZO - Air Defense
RZ - Air Force
SANU - Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences
SZG - Northwest Group
TG - Tactical Group
TO - Territorial Defense
UG - Action Group
VO - Military Region
VPO - Naval Region
ZK - Air Force Corps
zpokd - Airborne Division


1 The most respectable theoretical postulates on the dependence of the army and social systems based on such a methodological approach are those of M.D.Feld (The Structure of Violence: Armed Force as Social Systems, Sage Publications, Beverly Hills, London, 1997).

2 Feld makes a distinction between five different types of military organisations: (a) external subjugation - imperial army; (b) internal subjugation - feudal army; (c) closed equality - national army; (d) ideological equality - all-embracing army; (e) open equality - representative army

3 An important role in the JNA was played by the political bodies which were under direct influence of the SKJ (Communist Party of Yugoslavia). They had a special political responsibility and cohesion role within the Armed Forces. Other specialized parts of the Supreme Command were in charge of political activities based on the following specific tasks: monitoring and estimating the moral and political state of units and proposing measures for their reinforcement; organisation of social and political education of the enlisted personnel and recruits based on the Marxist paradigm; shaping and organisation of cultural, educational and leisure activities within the units; informing the domestic and international public about the work and life in the armed forces; encouraging the military personnel to take an active part in the political and social life of their respective communities; monitoring the propaganda and psychological activities by potential adversaries and proposing counter measures. Moreover, in addition to a well developed political structure within the Yugoslav Armed Forces, there was also a well developed party mechanism which could pursue its basic function only in very close cooperation with other political segments.

4 In an "open equality - representative army" type military (developed democracy) promotion is granted to technical experts and managers, i.e. executives who know how to derive the most from the human and material resources in their charge. In such a system, an officer is not considered to have "the proprietorship" of his command, or the consciousness of society. He is considered to be an operator within the national defence mechanism.

5 Lower level units "are overwhelmed" by the mass (high numbers). In such a system, NCOs bear no significance and officers take over their functions, thus disturbing the military hierarchy.

6 In developed democracies, this is emphasized as the "civilian supervision over the military".

7 The attitude of a military factor towards state authority within an "open-equality type army" (developed democracy) is entirely different. Military command is responsible only for combat readiness, but it has no say as to when and against whom the military force is going to be used.

8 This postulate has been taken from the "Eastern School of Thought", where military power is projected by the quantity, rather than quality of units. The notion used is "masirovanije sili."

9 Although scientific research was carried out, and although during the 80s there was an opportunity for the army personnel to obtain academic degrees (masters and doctoral degrees) in military doctrine, those individuals were not appointed to managerial and command positions. Therefore, they could neither significantly influence the doctrine nor change the well-established postulates on the use of the armed forces.

10 Formations, headquarters units and institutions formed the Territorial Defence. Hence, this was a military organisational form which secured the massive numbers and extended duration in the conduct of the war. The 1974 Constitution for the first time provided the consititutional and legal framework for the Territorial Defence. Subsequently, all the Republics (except for Serbia) passed their respective national defence acts. Hitherto, such a territorial defence gave the Republics a certain degree of independence in the defense area. This, in turn, reinforced the degree of their respective statehood and that is why the Territorial Defense was the first to be targeted by the proponents of "Great Serbian" idea.

11 Veljko Kadijević: "My Views on Dissolution", Belgrade, 1993, p. 75

12 The term "administrative borders" used by General Veljko Kadijević illustrates that the JNA had already adopted the "Greater Serbian" political platform that the borders of the republics were not state borders. This was an indirect negation of the federalism of Yugoslavia, and ultimately of Yugoslavia as a state.

13 This case is a blatant example of the disruption of the chain of command that took place at the highest strategic level. Military Region commanders become absolutely independent of the Supreme Command and reported directly only to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces of the SFRJ.

14 The intentions are summed up by the following quotations: "The resolution on the dissolution of the Territorial Defence of Kosovo was passed and enforced on the grounds that it has been predominantly composed of separatist forces. After its dissolution, a new Territorial Defence Organisation of Kosovo was set up, on a much smaller scale and composed of pro-Yugoslavia oriented people."

"Significant effort was invested in the final agreement on the dissolution of the Committees on National Defence and Social Protection. This eliminated the risk factor which had created confusion in the national defence management and the armed forces command".

"One of the most significant measures which was applied in order to paralyse the perilous constitutional concept of armed forces was the decision to seize weapons from the Territorial Defence and place them under JNA control".

15 The very term "strategy of an armed battle" is questionable from the point of view of war theory and practical activity. If a state adopts its military strategy and makes it public, this military strategy cannot be reduced to an armed battle only, since there are a number of other ways to deal with a conflict situation. Why then such an approach and what does it imply? Only that all conflicts are to be resolved by armed force. For the armed forces this implies that they are the ones who will be empowered to determine when, against whom and how they are to act. Such armed forces assume the position of an out of control political factor.

16 Strategija ONO i DSZ (ND and TD Strategy), p. 151, SSNO, 1987.

17 People Management and Training for Extraordinary Circumstances and Under War Conditions, JNA HIGH Political School, p. 45, Belgrade, 1989.

18 Kadijević himself provided an answer to the question of how convincing this scenario of the geo-strategic relationship was at the time, by saying: "In military terms, Yugoslavia was not under the protection of an umbrella of the military power of any bloc. However, it was protected by the umbrella of balance, i.e. the leverage of powers between the blocs." On a hypothetical note, had there been a scenario of military aggression, it would certainly not have remained neutral in such a geo-strategically sensitive area.

19 The term was coined by Professor Radovan Radinović, Ph.D., a Lieutenant General whose general's thesis (a coincidence?), defended in 1985, bore the same title: "Battle in Space". The topic was suggested by Admiral Branko Mamula, the then Federal Secretary of National Defence. The controversy of such a title lies in the fact that nothing can physically exist if not in a space, especially not a battle (author's note.).

20 This was the first time that anybody proposed a plan conceived by a strategic group whose task was to seize two-thirds of the Adriatic from Croatia.

21 "Not only did Yugoslavia have to be broken up, but its states had to be set at such variance that no agreement among them was possible either at that time or in the future. That is why they had to be pushed into a civil war over future state borders", Veljko Kadijević, ibid. p. 26.

22 The islands of Vis and Lastovo were almost completely isolated by the ban on foreign tourist visits. Despite the importance of these two islands from the military point of view, it was absolutely unnecessary to develop such a military infrastructure which would completely pacify them (the construction of apartments for the military, barracks, storage facilities, underground shelters and facilities for ships and rocket systems). As a result of that, the Croats emigrated from these islands.

23 Towards the end of the 80s, the units of MALI (Marine Assault Landing Infantry) were renamed into expedition units, so that the MALI Squadron became the Marine Expeditionary Squadron, the MALI Brigade become the Marine Expeditionary Brigade and the MALI Division became the Marine Expeditionary Division. The renaming was due to the fact that the term "expeditionary" corresponded much better to the nature, mission and activities of the US Marine Corps.

24 The 5th Banja Luka Corps and the 17th Tuzla Corps shared the same task: break the resistance on the Una and Sava rivers and launch a counter-attack towards Una-Bihać-Slunj-Ogulin and Nova Gradiška-Okučani-Pakrac-Bjelovar.

25 According to Veljko Kadijević, the two main tasks of the continental JNA armies, predominantly armored mechanized units, were as follows: (1) to "liberate" Eastern Slavonia; (2) to be the principal manoeuver force of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the penetration toward Zagreb and Varaždin (Podravina and Posavina operational directions).

26 "As regards the international level, we would have fallen right into the trap, and immediately or very quickly we would have been exposed not only to different types of sanctions but also to military interventions and attacks of all sorts. In this way, not only would Yugoslavia not have been saved, but a new Yugoslavia would have been created under much more difficult conditions than those under which it was actually created. To my mind, the subsequent chain of events provided support for our assessment of the situation at the time," Veljko Kadijević, ibid., p. 115.

27 To attack the barracks at a time (the war in Slovenia) when neither political nor military conditions were favorable would have meant falling into the strategic trap.

28 Kadijević wrote in general terms about the employment of the JNA forces: "During this stage of the war, when the JNA is unable to perform its mission, which was to defend the Serbian people in Croatia by preventing conflicts between nations, it had to wait for an open attack, which would be visible to all and which would unambiguously expose the perpetrator and the victim, and clearly show who was the one imposing the war, and only then fight back." (underlined by author) ibid., p. 133.

29 This reveals the connection between this date and the Belgrade scenario (March 9) when the JNA troops descended upon the streets of Belgrade in order to pacify the situation. If this had been done in Belgrade, then there was no reason why it could not have been done in the entire territory of former Yugoslavia. Kosovo 1981, Kosovo 1987, and Belgrade 1991 were all part of the same plan on how to create chaos, then proclaim a state of emergency and use arms. The Belgrade March events were not an attempt to overthrow Milošević, but an induced and channelled "chaos" conducive to a state of emergency and the pacification of former Yugoslavia, and subsequently to the creation of a "Greater Serbia".

30 Veljko Kadijević, Ibid., p. 128.

31 Veljko Kadijević, Ibid., p. 134.

32 The Instruction was issued in 1990 and signed by the then Joint Chiefs of Staff Secretary, General Blagoje Adžić. It was dispatched for temporary use during the period between May 1, 1990 and December 31, 1992. This most likely corresponded to the period during which a "Greater Serbia" was to be created. At the end of the approval for deployment it was stated that during 1993, the instruction would be brought in line with the new "strategy of armed combat", i.e. no longer with the "strategy of ND and SSP". SSNO, Belgrade, 1990.

33 Veljko Kadijević, Ibid., p. 135.

34 It should be noted that the plan did not contain the "liberation" of Slovenia, and for this reason, the war in Slovenia must be regarded differently, but certainly from the point of view of its impact on the war in Croatia.

35 On different occasions, Tuđman stated that he had been asked and that it had been proposed to him to attack the JNA during the armed conflict in Slovenia and that he had refused to do so. I have never commented upon these statements, but I thought then and I still think that it would have been much better for us if he had attacked at that time rather than later, as it was obvious that conflict was inevitable, and that time was not on our side. And for the reasons elaborated in detail in the section on the deployment of the JNA, we were obliged at that stage of the conflict to wait for an attack, rather than to initiate one. Veljko Kadijević, Ibid., p. 129.

36 Veljko Kadijević: "My Views of Dissolution," Belgrade, 1993, p. 146.

37 Veljko Kadijević, ibid., p. 145 - 147.

38 See: "Preparations for Aggression Against Croatia or Transformation of JNA into the Serbian Imperial Force", Hrvatski Vojnik, no. 26, August 1997.

39 Ibid., pp. 11-13.

40 The term group is conditional in order to highlight its true intention.

41 The strategic peak or the strategic culmination point is the value of the maximum military power of one side in the war at a certain point in time and in a certain area. After reaching the peak, the military power of the attacking side starts to decline, but it never reaches a value close to zero.

42 This hypothesis was presented in the paper "The End of War and the Croatian Independence War: Decision on When to Stop", Norman Cigar, ERASMVS, April 1997, pp. 37-54.

43 Clausewitz wrote the following on this subject: "The goal of an attack is to occupy the enemy territory. This implies that the advance must last until the superiority is spent. This aims at the goal, but it may also lead away from it. If we know the number of elements in the equation of powers, then it becomes clear how difficult it may be in particular cases to determine which one of the adversaries is superior. Often, it all depends on the silk thread of fantasy. All depends on being able to foresee the peak by a refined spiritual spark of assessment."

Since the joint goal of the JNA and Serbia was the occupation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, they must have provided in their war plans for the power to do that, as their plans had provided for the forces necessary for the war in Croatia. The Serbian predominance could only be used up in the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina, during one of the stages of that war. (author note).

44 Hrvatski vojnik (Croatian Soldier), no. 26, 1997, ibid. p. 16.

45 This strategic principle is often forgotten or ignored, hence the conclusion that Croatia could have carried out an assault strategic operation as early as 1991 and/or 1992.

46 "There are many wars in which the actual waging of war accounts for the lesser period of time, and the rest is suspension," Karl von Clauzewitz, "On War", p. 59, MORH, Zagreb, 1997.

47 Op. cit. Kadijević.

48 By the end of July 1991, the JNA had agreed to withdraw its formations (14th and 31st corps) from Slovenia within the following three months. The retreat was planned to be completed by the end of October 1991. Both formations were initially deployed in Western Serbia, a larger part of the 31st Maribor and a smaller part of the 14th Ljubljana Corps were incorporated in the 17th Corps, which had sustained major losses in Western Slavonia, and a larger part of the 14th Corps was incorporated in the 2nd Podgorica Corps.

At the beginning of December, the 13th Rijeka Corps was shipped to the harbour of Bar in Montenegro. A larger part of this corps was deployed in Eastern Herzegovina at the beginning of 1992, and from these forces, the Trebinje - Bileaa OG forces were then formed. The units of the 10th Zagreb Corps were initially moved to Slunj, and subsequently to Bihaa. They formed the nucleus of the newly formed Bihaa Corps, which was later renamed the 2nd Krajina Corps. Likewise, during November and December of 1991, a smaller part of the 10th Corps was incorporated in the 17th Tuzla Corps. The last JNA formation which left the territory of Croatia was the 9th Knin Corps, which was deployed in the territory of Western Bosnia: Bosansko Grahovo-Glamoe-Kupres.

49 The area consisted of four corps: 1st Belgrade, 12th Novi Sad, 17th Tuzla and 24th Kragujevac and a Guards division and the Defense of the City of Belgrade, with a total of 75,000 people.

50 After the retreat from Macedonia, the 41st and the 42nd Corps were incorporated into the 3rd Military Region and deployed in Zaječar, Knjaževac and Paraćin, and Leskovac and Valjevo respectively. The latter Corps would be transformed into a new, 20th Corps (Leskovac). The command of the 3rd Military Region was moved from Skopje to Niš. Directly reporting to this command were the 21st Niš and 52nd Priština Corps.

51 The 2nd Military Region comprised of the following: 5th Corps (Banja Luka), 10th Corps (Bihaa), 4th Corps (Sarajevo) and 9th Corps (Knin), i.e. (Grahovo-Glamoč-Kupres).

52 Within this Military Region were: 2nd Corps (Podgorica), 37th Corps ( Uzice) and 13th Corps (Mostar) and OG Trebinje-Bileca (Bileca).

53 This must have been a major challenge for the intelligence service, since it pointed to the importance of being well-informed about the specific composition of every unit in order to be able to make realistic judgements on their real combat potential. In other words, considering only the "by-the-book" composition of a particular formation may have resulted in erroneous conclusions or decision-making.

54 During the clamping operations and blockade, i.e. the attempt to conquer Sarajevo, the commanding officers of the JNA corps were as follows: the 13th (Herzegovina) Corps, Major General Momeilo Perišia, the 9th (Kupres, Glamoe, Grahovo) Corps Major General Savo Kovaeevia; the 10th (Western Bosnia) Corps, Major General, Špiro Ninkovia; the 17th (Eastern Bosnia) Corps, Lieutenant General Savo Jankovia; the 5th (Banja Luka) Corps, Major General Vladimir Vukovia; and the 4th Corps (deployed around Sarajevo and partly within the city itself), Major General Vojislav ?ur?evac.

55 The order on the structuring of the "VRS" was signed by Lieutenant General Blagoje Adžić on May 10, 1992. At the same time, General Milutin Kukanjac was detained in the Sarajevo JNA Center. The order reads: "The Joint Chiefs of Staff shall be comprised of the following members: Chairman, Lieutenant General Ratko Mladić; Chief-of-Staff, Major General Manojlo Milovanović, Assistant Chief for Morale and Information, Major General Milan Gvero; Assistant Chief for the Rear, Major General Đorđe Đukić; Chief of Security, Colonel Zdravko Tolimir; and Chief of Mobilisation, Colonel Miao Grubor."

56 Army of Yugoslavia Foundation Day was July 16, 1992. There was an attempt to use this day of the "Third Serbian Army" in the territory of former Yugoslavia in a symbolical way in order to show that the JNA was not the Serbian imperial force, but rather a natural "consequence" of the string of events relative to the protection of the Serbian people. "Military regions" were abolished and replaced by the Army as the highest strategic formation. "The Army of Yugoslavia" consisted of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Armies, divided into corps and brigades.


1. Veljko Kadijević (1993). Moje viđenje raspada. Beograd: Politika.

2. Strategija oružane borbe (1983). Beograd: SSNO, Centar za strategijska istraživanja.

3. Strategija ONO i DSZ (1987). Beograd: SSNO, Centar za strategijska istraživanja i studije.

4. Privremeno uputstvo (1990). Upotreba strategijskih grupacija. Beograd: SSNO.

5. Rukovođenje i rad s ljudima na obuci, izvanrednim prilikama i ratnim uslovima (1989). Beograd: Visoka politička škola JNA.

6. Marinko Ogorec (1997). Vojna sila bivše Jugoslavije. Zagreb.

7. Ideja manevra OG JADRAN na JPV (1986-1990). Split: VPO, KŠRV "Romanija".


Gallery / Galerija slika
Nema galerije slika / No image Gallery