Assessment

The HVO forces were under legal and moral obligations to conduct their military operations in accordance with the accepted laws of land warfare and the international treaties governing the conduct of military operations, but they were under no obligation to remain inactive and permit Muslim forces to attack them with impunity. Thus, having learned of the planned Muslim attack, Colonel Blaskic laid out an aggressive plan of active defense to foil the Muslim offensive. Except for the deplorable conduct of his subordinates in Ahmici, Colonel Blaskic's employment of the meager forces at his disposal was admirable. He correctly assessed the main threats and assigned his strongest forces to deal with them. Thus, elements of the 4th Military Police Battalion carried out a successful spoiling attack on the presumed ABiH assembly area in Ahmici, an attack that unfortunately deteriorated into a massacre of Muslim civilians. The Vitezovi blocked the strong Muslim forces in Stari Vitez, and the half-formed Viteska Brigade prevented a Muslim advance out of Kruscica and Vranjska. When Muslim forces in Donja Veceriska and Gacice posed a threat to Vitez and to the SPS factory, HVO assault forces composed of village guards augmented by small special purpose force detachments conducted successful clearing operations. Elsewhere in the Vitez area, local Croat forces, primarily village guards, held the line against advancing ABiH troops.76 Again with the exception of Ahmici, all of these operations were conducted within the bounds of expected norms. Although casualties were heavy, they were not disproportionate to the legitimate military objectives sought.77

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