Doctrine

The former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia relied on a national defense policy closely modeled on the Communist Chinese concept of "people's war."6 The JNA's defense policy and military doctrine focused on defending against an invasion by either NATO or Warsaw Pact forces and thus stressed the mobilization of the entire population. In the event of an invasion of Yugoslavian territory, the policy envisaged the conduct of a "total defensive battle [that] would involve all the forces of the nation, the entire population, and all aspects and material resources of the society."7 Accordingly, Yugoslavian defensive military doctrine was based on a relatively small but well-equipped national army (the JNA) whose job was to delay an invader by engaging him in conventional combined arms operations while the larger Yugoslavian Territorial Defense forces were mobilized. The TO forces would operate in conjunction with the JNA until the latter's combat power was exhausted. At that point, the TO would assume responsibility for large-scale guerrilla operations throughout the country to defeat and eject the invader. This doctrine was adapted in one form or another by all three warring factions during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The keystone of Yugoslavia's defense doctrine was the Territorial Defense force, which was destined to carry the battle through to its successful conclusion. The TO forces were organized into mobile, brigade-size elements designed to operate over wide areas and local regional forces designed to protect their home territory. Territorial Defense forces were equipped and trained to fight with light antitank and air defense weapons as well as mortars and machine guns. Finally, they were designed to operate in a decentralized and independent manner, and although organized in brigade strength, they were trained to fight in company-size or smaller units.

The JNA's maneuver concepts were, as Charles R. Patrick has noted, "focused almost exclusively on what Baron Antoine Henri de Jomini called the 'Grand Tactical Level of Battle.'"8 They were, in fact, a blend of Soviet operational and tactical concepts and methods (for example, the use of special operations forces to degrade the enemy's command and control capabilities and heavy reliance on artillery firepower in both the offense and defense) with those of the U.S. Army (for example, the "active defense"). To these were added uniquely Yugoslavian elements based on their own combat experience and exercises and combining the use of regular, partisan, and irregular TO forces. Inasmuch as the JNA's defense doctrine envisioned a rather short period of conventional warfare followed by an extended guerrilla campaign, emphasis was placed on the conduct of both large- and small-scale guerrilla raids, ambushes, and terrorist actions throughout enemy-held territory. Consequently, territorial defense personnel received a good deal of training in small-unit tactics, special operations, and the employment of snipers—all of which figured prominently in the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The JNA's doctrine also emphasized the use of checkpoints to control movement along important lines of communications.9 Sited on or near key terrain features, natural choke points, and the front lines, checkpoints featured the use of antitank and antipersonnel mines laid on both sides of the roadway, antitank mines laid on the surface of the roadway (for easy removal in order to permit friendly vehicles to pass through), iron tetrahedron obstacles, concertina barbed wire, and light antitank weapons and machine guns. Usually manned by up to ten men, such checkpoints could also be used to extort fees for passage. Both sides in central Bosnia employed checkpoints as an important operational method. Even the elderly civilian inhabitants of some villages along the main supply routes found that the establishment of a checkpoint could provide a lucrative source of income, and such unofficial "geezer" checkpoints were common.

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