Security Assistance Programs: The Catalyst for Transition in the Croatian Military

Article excerpt

In general terms, the Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) and security assistance programs continue to play a vital role in advising and assisting the Croatian Ministry of Defense in their efforts to become a more professional and modem force. The Office of Defense Cooperation's marching orders are to continue to support U.S. policy objectives in Croatia and the region and vigorously pursue security assistance programs to bring Croatia in line with its stated strategic objective, full North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) membership. This will be accomplished by the following: enhancing the professionalization and democratization of the Croatian Armed Forces through the international military education and training (IMET) program; assisting Croatia with its modernization effort through foreign military sales (FMS) assisted with funding through foreign military financing (FMF), promoting direct commercial sales (DCS), providing excess defense articles (EDA) and finally by promoting good will through United States European Command (EUCOM) funded humanitarian assistance programs.

Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Program

On April 8, 1999 Croatia was eligible to use the EMS program, Croatia initiated two cases and submitted a letter of request (LOR) for JANUS and SPECTRUM combat simulation software. Letters of offer and acceptance (LOAs) were signed on November 4, 1999 making them the first FMS cases ever established within the Republic of Croatia. Croatia established two more cases, one for Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) logistics publications to assist the ministry of defense (MOD) in the transition to the NATO codification system (NCS), and a second case for aircrew items and equipment for the Croatian Air Force. Using the FMS program all four cases have been financed.

Effective October 1, 1999, Croatia became an eligible user of FMF grant funds. In fiscal year 2000, Croatia received $4.0 million and in fiscal year 2001 Coratia received $3.9 million in FMF funding. This year Croatia is expected to receive approximately $5.0 million. Croatia has committed to use fiscal year 2000 FMF funds for a Multi-Integrated Laser Engagement System 2000, combat training simulations equipment, costing approximately 2.6 million and a ITT Mercury Wideband Network Radio (RT-1812) to transmit data from newly acquired radars to recipient platforms, costing approximately $1.5 million. Being new to the FMS program, Croatia has established a few small EMS cases. The request for the MILES and RT-1812 equipment will be crucial in establishing confidence in the FMS system.

Croatian Armed Forces Modernization Effort

In April 2002, the Croatian government is planning to begin the reorganization process of their armed forces, which should reduce the current active duty force of over 40,000 personnel to 21,000 over the next five years. Simultaneously, the MoD will start a modernization process, which will probably include:

* Upgrade of communication systems with high frequency, very high frequency, ultrahigh frequency and single-channel ground air radio system (SINCGARS) tactical radios,

* Upgrade of helicopter fleet (M18 and M124),

* Upgrade of MIG-21 (contract had already been signed with Romania),

* Air Sovereignty Operations Center,

* Night vision devices,

* Engineer equipment,

* Nuclear, biological and chemical equipment,

* Air defense artillery systems, and

* Ground transportation.

Some of these programs will use the FMS and FMF programs; some will go through direct commercial sales to take advantage of possible offset arrangements. Some of the modernization efforts have already been awarded to non United States government contractors, as is the case with the current MIG-21 modernization program. For more sufficient operational management of FMS, DCS, and EDA programs, the Office of Defense Cooperation Zagreb established a small office adjacent to the Ministry of Defense Department for Acquisition and Procurement. …