- Territorial Defense Forces (Yugoslavia)
Territorial Defense Forces (Serbian and Macedonian: Територијална одбрана, "Teritorijalna odbrana", Croatian: "Teritorijalna obrana", Slovenian: "Teritorialna obramba") were a separate part of the
armed forcesof the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The forces acted as a Home Guardwhich roughly corresponded to a military reserve forceor an official governmental paramilitary. Each of the Yugoslav constituent republics had its own Territorial Defense military formations, while the regular armyfor the whole Federationwas the Yugoslav People's Army( JNA), which also maintained its own reserve forces.
SFR Yugoslaviawas a socialist statebut not an Eastern Bloccountry. In 1948 following the Tito-Stalin splitYugoslavia broke ties with the Soviet Unionand its allies, and during the Cold War, it was one the leading members of the Non-Aligned Movement. After the Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, the concerns about an eventual Soviet attack started to rise within the Yugoslav leadership. The invasion of Czechoslovakia showed that the standing conventional forces of a small country could not repulse a surprise attack by a qualitatively and quantitatively superior aggressor. Being strategically positioned between the two major blocs, the NATOand the Warsaw pact, Yugoslavia had to prepare its own military doctrinefor an eventual Third World Warscenario.
With the passing of the National Defense Law of 1969,
SFR Yugoslaviaadopted a total war military doctrinenamed "Total National Defense" or "Total People's Defense" (Serbian: Општенародна одбрана, "Opštenarodna odbrana", Croatian: "Općenarodna obrana"; Slovenian: "Splošna ljudska obramba"; Macedonian: Општонародна одбрана, "Opštonarodna odbrana"; abbr.: Latin: ONO, Cyrillic: ОНО). It was inspired by the Yugoslav People's Liberation Waragainst the fascist occupators and their collaborators in the Second World War, and was designed to allow Yugoslavia to maintain or eventually reestablish its independent and non-aligned status should an invasion occur. According to it, "any citizen who resists an aggressor is a member of the armed forces", thus the whole population could be turned into a monolithic resistance army.
Starting from the
elementary schooleducation, over high schools, universities, organizations and companies, the authorities prepared the entire population to contest an eventual occupation of the country and finally to liberate it. For this purpose, the Territorial Defense Forces (TO) would be formed to mobilize the population in case of an aggression. The combat readiness of the TO meant that the steps of organization and training could be bypassed after the start of hostilities. The TO would supplement the regular JNA, giving it greater defensive depth and an armed local population ready to support combat actions. Large numbers of armed civilians would increase the cost of an invasion to a potential aggressor.
The most likely scenario in the doctrine of ONO was a general war between the
NATOand the Warsaw Pact. In such a situation, Yugoslavia would remain non-aligned, and it would not accept foreign troops of either alliance on its territory. The doctrine did recognize the likelihood that one side or the other might try to seize Yugoslav territory as a forward staging area, to ensure lines of communication, or simply to deny the territory to enemy forces. Such action would be considered aggression and would be resisted. Regardless of ideology, the occupiers would be considered Yugoslavia's enemy.
Territorial Defense Forces
The Territorial Defense Forces were formed in 1969 as an integral part of the Yugoslav "Total National Defense" doctrine. The TO forces consisted of able-bodied
civilian malesand females. Between 1 and 3 million Yugoslavs between the ages of 15 and 65 would fight under TO command as irregular or guerrillaforces in wartime. In peacetime, however, about 860,000 TO troops were involved in military trainingand other activities.
The TO concept focused on small, lightly armed
infantryunits fighting defensive actions on a familiar local terrain. A typical unit was a company-sized detachment. More than 2000 communes, factories, and other enterprises organized such units, which would fight in their home areas, maintaining local defense production essential to the overall war effort. The TO also included some larger, more heavily equipped units with wider operational responsibilities. The TO battalionsand regimentsoperated in regional areas with artilleryand antiaircraftguns and some armoured vehicles. Using their mobility and tactical initiative, these units would attempt to alleviate the pressure of enemy armored columns and air strikeson smaller TO units. In the coastal regions, TO units had naval missions. They operated some gunboatsin support of navyoperations. They were organized to defend strategic coastal areas and naval facilities against enemy amphibious landings and raids. They also trained some divers for use in sabotageand other special operations.
The TO was helped by the fact that most of its citizen-
soldierswere one-time JNA conscripts who had completed their term of compulsory military service. But TO recruitment was somewhat limited by the JNA desire to include as many recently released conscripts as possible in its own military reserve. Other sources of TO manpower lacked prior military service and required extensive basic training.
The TO organisation was highly decentralized and independent. TO units were organized and funded by the governments in each of the Yugoslav constituent republics:
SR Slovenia, SR Croatia, SR Bosnia and Herzegovina, SR Montenegro, SR Macedoniaand SR Serbia, as well as in each of its subunits SAP Vojvodinaand SAP Kosovo.
The possibility that each Yugoslav federal unit could have its own armed formations led to concerns that someday these separate "armies" may oppose the federal Yugoslav
JNAin an act of an eventual secession. Such concerns became reality during the breakup of Yugoslaviaand the Yugoslav Warswhen the TO forces in many of the constituent republics switched their allegiance and turned into separatist paramilitaries. Those former TO forces, along with Yugoslav army deserters and volunteers contributed to the founding of the respective armies of the independent states and other political entities that emerged after the disintegration of Yugoslavia. This includes the armies of: Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina etc.
Library of Congress Country Studies- [http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+yu0183) Yugoslavia: Territorial Defense Forces]
Library of Congress Country Studies- [http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+yu0175) Yugoslavia: Military Doctrine]
Military of Yugoslavia
Yugoslav People's Army
People's Liberation Army (Yugoslavia)
Yugoslav People's Liberation War
*Organ Zaštite Naroda (Armije) - OZNA
*Kontra-Obaveštajna Služba - KOS
Ten Day War
State Defense Forces
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