Route Pacman Bosnia

As thousands of Croat civilians fled the Travnik area, one group had a chance encounter with a convoy en route to the relief of Muslims in the central Bosnia area.43 With emotions in a high state of agitation, the tired, hungry, and desperate Croat refugees primarily women and children blocked the convoy's route in several places on June 10 and 11 and spontaneously looted trucks, killing several of the drivers in the process while the UNPROFOR troops stood by, unwilling to fire into the mass of...

Muslim Croat Civil War in Central Bosnia

The Muslim-Croat civil war in central Bosnia from 1992-94 arose in the immediate context of the dissolution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia following the death of Marshal Tito in 1980. The roots of ethnic, religious, economic, and ideological division were, of course, much deeper, and nowhere were such divisions so pronounced as in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the historic borderland between East and West. In an era in which the entire region was dissolving into its component parts, it...

The May Respite

The fighting between Muslims and Croats in central Bosnia died down as both sides licked their wounds and prepared for the next round. Minor cease-fire violations and even small-scale engagements between ABiH and HVO forces occurred, but for the most part the situation remained relatively calm. Typical incidents included the killing of an HVO soldier by a sniper near Pokrajcici on May 10, and small-scale fighting between units of the ABiH 306th Mountain Brigade and the HVO Frankopan Brigade on...

Armament and Logistics

Commentators on the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina have stressed the desperate straits in which the RBiH found itself as a result of the UN arms embargo and the closure of its ground links to the outside world by the BSA and the HVO. The Bosnian Serb army was by far the best equipped and supplied of the three warring factions, having taken over the bulk of the armament and equipment of JNA and TO forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina and enjoying the full support of Serbia and the rump Federal Republic of...

Vitez Busovaca Area

In September, 1993, Muslim forces made yet another strong attempt to cut the main road through the Lasva Valley. The attack began on September 5 with an assault on the village of Zabilje from the direction of Brdo. The ABiH forces succeeded in entering the village, and the HVO subsequently reported that two HVO soldiers had been killed and nine wounded, and that fifteen to twenty civilians working in the fields had been taken prisoner. The British UNPROFOR battalion at Stari Bila reported a...

Actions Elsewhere in April 1993

Ivica Zeko's predictions of March 25 as to probable Muslim actions in areas outside the main Vitez-Busovaca-Kiseljak area were remarkably accurate. Unable to mount simultaneous attacks on the HVO concentrations throughout central Bosnia, the ABiH elected to maintain the status quo with only minor actions in those Croat enclaves outside the central Vitez-Busovaca-Kiseljak-Zenica area. Tensions increased, as did the number of incidents, but there were no direct ABiH attacks in the peripheral...

The ABiH Attack in the Zenica Area

The ABiH plan for its April, 1993, offensive appears to have included the elimination of HVO military forces in the Zenica area as well as the expulsion of the Croat community from Zenica and its surrounding villages. Although HVO forces and the Croat population in the Vitez, Busovaca, and Kiseljak areas came under heavy attack and suffered greatly, it was in the Zenica area that the Bosnian Croats received the most devastating blows. The two HVO brigades in Zenica were destroyed, most of the...

The ABiH Attack on Gornji Vakuf

While the town of Gornji Vakuf usually called Uskoplje by Croats was in the Operative Zone Northwest Herzegovina rather than the OZCB, it was of vital importance to the defenders of the Croat enclaves in central Bosnia inasmuch as it was the southern terminus of the vital Novi Travnik-Gornji Vakuf supply route. Before the conflict in January, 1993, Gornji Vakuf's population included about ten thousand Croats and fourteen thousand Muslims.6 Many of the surrounding villages had a Croat majority,...

The Role of Military Police and Special Purpose Units

For the commanders of both the HVO's OZCB and the ABiH's III Corps, the most significant and direct challenge to their exercise of effective command and control was the presence in their area of responsibility of military police and special purpose units under the control of national-level authorities and thus not obliged to answer through the local chain of command. Moreover, the III Corps commander was also forced to deal with a number of quasiprivate military forces, such as the Muslim Armed...

The Fall of Fojnica

Having been stymied in their attempt to force a passage through the Kisel-jak area along the Tarcin-Toplica-Tulica-Han Ploca axis, the ABiH refo-cused their attacks to the west toward Kresevo and Fojnica.6 The HVO forces defending in the Fojnica-Kresevo area included the Ban Josip Jelacic Brigade's 2d and 3d Battalions. The brigade, commanded by Ivica Rajic, had a total strength of about twenty-five hundred men. The brigade's 1st Battalion was responsible for the northern front toward Visoko....

Preparatory Operations

The ABiH's April attack in the Lasva Valley was preceded by a number of incidents that call to mind the classic Spetsnaz operations prescribed by Soviet and JNA offensive doctrine and which serve to clarify the fact that, contrary to the usual opinion, the ABiH, not the HVO, initiated the fighting in central Bosnia on April 16, 1993. These incidents were designed to probe and fix local HVO defensive positions, gain control of terrain features critical to the success of the planned operation,...

The HVO Intelligence Estimates

Stewart later testified that he did not expect the outbreak of a major conflict between the Muslims and Croats in the Lasva Valley.1 However, the HVO authorities, having been caught flat-footed by the ABiH probing attack in January, were not surprised. The targeting of the ABiH for intelligence purposes began soon after the January 20-21 attacks, and on March 25 Ivica Zeko, the intelligence officer at HQ, OZCB, issued an intelligence estimate that accurately forecasted the nature, direction,...

Events in the Vares Area

In October and November, 1993, the focus of the Muslim-Croat conflict shifted to the mining chrome, iron, and zinc and metal-processing town of Vares, which lies in a narrow valley some twenty miles north of Sarajevo on the main road from Breza to Tuzla and was then just to the west of the Serb lines. Both the Muslim and Croat residents of Vares maintained relatively good relations with the Serbs, and there was a heavy traffic in smuggled persons and goods across the opposing lines east of...

The Role of Outside Forces

Real or imagined, the presence in central Bosnia of armed forces from outside the country also posed significant problems for both the Operative Zone Central Bosnia commander and the commander of the ABiH III Corps. Allegations of Croatian Army HV intervention in central Bosnia posed a political and public relations problem, but the presence of fundamentalist Muslim mujahideen and of other foreign mercenaries and the presence of UNPROFOR troops and both United Nations and European Community...

The Role of Paramilitary Forces

Blaz Kraljevic

Homegrown paramilitary forces also posed a significant command and control problem for both the HVO and the ABiH. Several of the Bosnian political parties sponsored their own armed forces, and there were also a number of small, private armies raised by Croat and Muslim leaders. Such groups, some of which were little more than heavily armed bandit gangs, were impossible to restrain, short of mounting an all-out campaign to annihilate them. The principal paramilitary organization posing a control...

The ABiH Attacks at Kacuni and Busovaca

The two principal objectives of the Muslim probing attacks launched from the villages of Merdani, Lasva, and Dusina in January, 1993, were the village of Kacuni on the important Busovaca-Kiseljak road and the town of Busovaca itself. The intent of the ABiH attackers was to seize Kacuni and thus sever the connection between Kiseljak and the rest of the Croat enclave in central Bosnia. Busovaca was a key Croat political center and controlled the road net west to Vitez and Travnik, east to the...

Organization of the Army of Bosnia Herzegovina

Roundhead Cavalry Diagram

The Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina began its existence in March, 1992, without an effective national armed force to protect its fragile independence. The Bosnian Croat community, which had long recognized the threat posed by Bosnian Serb ambitions, reacted by forming the Croatian Defense Council, the military wing of which was established officially in May, 1992. Bosnia-Herzegovina's Muslim political leadership, on the other hand, had been slow to recognize the threat. As a consequence, the...

The Fall of Travnik

Travnik Mehurici

The expected resumption of the Muslim offensive came at the end of the first week of June, when elements of eight ABiH brigades struck the HVO forces manning the defensive line against the Bosnian Serb Army in the Travnik area.21 The Muslim attack achieved tactical surprise and was completely successful, capturing the HVO positions and driving the surviving HVO soldiers and thousands of terrified Croat civilians into the hands of the Serbs, who took them prisoner.22 Tensions between Muslims and...

The ABiH Attack in the Busovaca Area

Vitez Busovaca

The town of Busovaca and the road junction at Kacuni were important ABiH objectives during the probing attacks in late January, 1993. Although elements of the ABiH 333d Mountain Brigade seized control of the Kacuni intersection and took up positions overlooking Busovaca from the east, they were unsuccessful in taking either the Kaonik road junction north of Busovaca or the town itself, both of which the HVO vigorously defended. In the Muslim offensive that began on April 16, Busovaca and the...

The ABiH Attack on Zepce Zavidovici and Novi Seher June July 1993

Having successfully attacked and cleansed the HVO troops and Bosnian Croat civilians from Travnik and most of the Novi Travnik area in early June 1993, the Muslim-led ABiH turned its attention northward hoping to catch the isolated Bosnian Croat community in the Tesanj-Maglaj salient off guard. On June 24, the ABiH III Corps launched an attack on the town of Zepce and other HVO positions at the base of the salient.10 The Muslim assessment of the weakness of the Croat defenders of Zepce proved...

The Battle for Novi Travnik

Having routed the HVO forces and secured their objectives in the Travnik area, the ABiH mounted a serious attack against HVO forces in the Novi Travnik area. At 5 a.m. on June 9, the 308th Mountain Brigade from Novi Travnik some 2,100-3,100 men commanded by Bislim Zurapi , assisted by elements of the 307th Mountain Brigade from Bugojno and the 317th Mountain Brigade from Gornji Vakuf, as well as parts of the El Mudzahid mujahideen group, the Sosna private army about 100 men , a company from the...

The February March Pause

Col. Bob Stewart, the UNPROFOR commander in the Lasva Valley, misread the situation on January 25, opining that both sides were having a go at each other Croats in Busovaca Muslims in Kacuni.19 In fact, it was the Muslims who were having a go at the Croats in Kacuni, in Busovaca, and in the Kiseljak area. When all was said and done, the HVO and Croat population in the area paid the heaviest toll for the January fighting the Croat villages of Nezirovici,...

The ABiH Attack in the Kiseljak Area

Kiseljak 1993

The April, 1993, Muslim attack in the Kiseljak area also developed much as Ivica Zeko, the OZCB intelligence officer, had predicted almost a month earlier. The HQ, OZCB, preparatory order issued at 10 a.m. on April 15 accurately forecast the details of the Muslim operational plan.44 As expected, the ABiH focused its April attack on occupying the BM 661-Svinjarevo-Mladenovac-Gomionica area, cutting the Busovaca-Kiseljak road at the Foj-nica intersection just west of Gomionica, and linking up...

Organization of the Croatian Defense Forces

Struktur Organigram Kelas

The organization, arming, and military training of the Croat community in Bosnia-Herzegovina began in 1991 when the Bosnian Croats realized that they were next on the Serb agenda and that the newly independent Re public of Bosnia-Herzegovina's government, led by Alija Izetbegovic, and its Muslim population were either incapable of or unwilling to take decisive defensive measures against a probable attack by the Bosnian Serbs and their allies.18 At the time, the Muslim-dominated government in...

Hac Bosnia And Herzegovina

Source HQ, Vitez Military District, Vitez, n.d. February 2 , 1993, subj Assessment of the Situation Table, Ratios of Forces and Equipment by Locality , 21, KC D59 2. Source HQ, Vitez Military District, Vitez, n.d. February 2 , 1993, subj Assessment of the Situation Table, Ratios of Forces and Equipment by Locality , 21, KC D59 2. items was a very important, if limited, part of the logistical chain. Prior to the outbreak of the Muslim-Croat conflict, HVO forces in central Bosnia were relatively...