The Muslim-Croat Civil War in Central Bosnia: A Military History, 1992-1994

By Charles R. Shrader | Go to book overview

2 Organization of the Opposing Forces

The Muslim-Croat conflict in central Bosnia in 1992–94 was fought by two newly formed militia armies, neither of which had appropriate experience; sufficient training; sound organization; effective command, control, and communications (C3); established doctrine; or adequate logistical support. Both armies were primarily light infantry forces with minimal combat support (artillery, air defense, engineers, signal). Both had only rudimentary combat service support (logistical) systems that were barely a step above living off the land. Transportation and medical services were barely adequate, and neither side could boast of air support or aerial transport worthy of the name. Both the Croatian Defense Council forces and the forces of the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina evolved from the Territorial Defense (TO) organization of the former Yugoslavian National Army (JNA). They thus shared elements of a common defense policy, strategic and tactical doctrine, organizational structures, administrative methods, and other holdovers from the JNA. To the degree that any of their officers had formal military training or experience, it had been obtained in the JNA, usually in the form of brief active duty training followed by service in the TO forces. On the whole, there were few officers in either the HVO or the ABiH who had risen much beyond captain first class in the JNA, although each army had a sprinkling of career JNA officers in its ranks. Formal military training of any kind was at a premium at all levels. When open conflict broke out between Croat and Muslim forces in central Bosnia in January, 1993, neither the HVO nor the ABiH had been in existence as a separate entity for a full year. Armies take time to work out organizational and administrative problems, to develop an effective combat style and competency, and to develop and impose rules and regulations. That time was not available either to the HVO or to the ABiH, and the consequences were all too obvious.


Comparative Manpower

The surviving public documentation for determining the comparative strength of HVO and ABiH forces in central Bosnia during the MuslimCroat conflict between November, 1992, and March, 1994, is sparse and unreliable. Equally hard to find is documentation concerning the deployment of those forces with respect to the front lines against Bosnian Serb aggression. In late February, 1993, the European Community Monitoring Mission (ECMM) estimated the HVO’s overall strength in Bosnia

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