Training

The difficulties with C3 in both the HVO Operative Zone Central Bosnia and the ABiH III Corps were in part the product of the low level of individual, unit, and specialist training. Training and discipline were weak in both armies except in the elite special purpose and military police units whose personnel apparently received extra training, were better armed, and exhibited a higher level of discipline and cohesion. The short duration of the Muslim-Croat conflict and the comparatively short existence of both the HVO and the ABiH, compounded by the exigencies of the war against the Bosnian Serb army, made the attainment of a high level of individual, unit, and specialist training all but impossible. Nevertheless, both the HVO and the ABiH attempted to provide at least rudimentary individual combat training for all personnel, and in some cases were able to offer officer training courses, specialist courses for engineers and snipers, and other forms of formal training. The HVO in central Bosnia published formal training schedules, although they seem to have been more a reflection of what commanders hoped would happen than they were realistic plans that could be and were actually carried out. Both sides also appear to have given their troops instruction in the laws of land warfare. For example, a leaflet on the subject prepared by the Croatian Red Cross was distributed to the HVO units in the OZCB.1

The ABiH early on contemplated the establishment of a war college to train officers and noncommissioned officers (NCOs), but it apparently did not come into being during the period under consideration. Courses for detachment commanders were organized at brigade level, and officers from other corps areas were sent to Zenica for training in engineering and other matters.2 Soldiers in the elite 7th Muslim Motorized Brigade apparently received at least fifteen days of individual training, including the use of individual weapons, automatic rifles, and mortars.3 They no doubt also received considerable instruction in the tenets of Islam. The mujahideen also conducted rather extensive training exercises at their various camps in central Bosnia.

Few officers in either the ABiH or HVO had been career officers in the Yugoslavian National Army or had received training adequate for the level of their posting. Indeed, there were only three officers in the OZCB, including the commander, Tihomir Blaskic, and the intelligence officer, Ivica Zeko, who had any additional training to qualify them for the positions they held in the HVO.4 However, quite a few officers in both organizations had undergone training as reserve officers and NCOs in the JNA and then went on to serve in the JNA Territorial Defense structure for several years.5 In most cases, that training and experience barely qualified them for duty as a captain first class or as a company commander.

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