Academic journal article Connections : The Quarterly Journal

Politics and Higher Military Education in Bosnia and Herzegovina: A Missed Opportunity

Academic journal article Connections : The Quarterly Journal

Politics and Higher Military Education in Bosnia and Herzegovina: A Missed Opportunity

Article excerpt


Developing higher military education (HME) is embedded in the overall development of modern armed forces. This development normally reflects adaptation to changes in the external strategic environment, changes in military technology and doctrine, and changes in the societal environment of the armed forces.

While this is true for armed forces with an unbroken tradition, the pattern differs when a given military's development had been interrupted by historical events. This article will focus on the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH), which constitutes a unique case in itself. The particular political situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina after the break-up of Yugoslavia, the ensuing war of 1992-95 and the General Framework Agreement on Peace ("Dayton Agreement") of December 1995 had led to a rather de-centralized state structure, with two largely autonomous political "Entities" that each kept the armed forces they had established during the war, leading to the de facto military division of BiH. Thus, when the West initiated a defense reform process in BiH in 2002, it aimed first at establishing state-level control over these armed forces (2003), and then at merging them into one single military force for the nation (2005), with other issues mostly put on the back burner.1

This was also the case with regard to military education. While a coherent system for the training and education of the now joint state-level armed forces of BiH would have been a key element for completing defense reform, it has not yet been established. There have been serious attempts, but up to this point they have failed. Thus, this article will:\

* Briefly outline the political and military situation in BiH, including the lack of a coherent system of military education

* Present early initiatives within the context of defense reform as well as parallel to it

* Describe the initiatives undertaken in establishing higher military education as well as the resistance they met

* Assess the process with respect to its impact, including the causes of its failure.

The Situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina

The break-up of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) also meant the break-up of the former Yugoslav People's Army (Jugoslovenska Narodna Armija, or JNA)2 and the establishment of national armed forces by the successor states. While Serbia inherited the mostly intact military system of the JNA (including its high-quality military academy), the seceding states 3 in most cases achieved their statehood through wars of independence,4 with forces mostly derived from the JNA's territorial defense system, but at least in a coherent structure.

In Bosnia-Herzegovina, the war following the declaration of independence in April 1992 was both a war of secession from Yugoslavia but also between the three major ethnic groups in BiH (Bosniaks, or Bosnian Muslims; Serbs; and Croats),with ongoing intervention by neighboring Serbia and Croatia.5

Fighting between Bosniaks and Croats ended when the United States brokered a "Federation" between them in 1994. After Western intervention in 1995, the Serbs also accepted a cease-fire, which then led all parties involved to agree on the "General Framework Agreement on Peace" (the "Dayton Agreement," or DPA) in late 1995. The DPA established a rather decentralized state structure,6 with two highly autonomous political entities, the (Muslim-Croat) Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the (Serbdominated) "Republika Srpska."7 Furthermore, the DPA allowed the two entities to maintain their wartime forces. Thus, for ten years there were two separate armies within one state, implicitly pitched against each other, but also following different models of doctrines and education. Only in 2002 was a reform process initiated that led in stages to the creation of unified armed forces in 2006.

The Lack of a Coherent System of Military Education and its Impact on the Military Situation

During the armed conflict that lasted from 1992 to 1995, the various armies had almost no training and education systems of their own. …

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