On 25th June 1991, Slovenia (and Croatia) formally declared it's independence from Yugoslavia. In spirit of anniversary, I figured I could write up a post about it. If you wish to read about the day-by-day happenings, jump to Wikipedia link HERE.
Long story short, independence was voted for legally in December 1990. After 6 months, it was formally declared a day earlier, to outsmart the Yugoslav People's Army, as military intervention was expected. What is considered as a war lasted for 10 days, but it all ended only in 26th October 1991, when last soldier of YPA left the country. Strictly speaking, this war was not a "war" by most of modern definitions (there's tonnes of them) and it certainly wasn't a war for independence as we like to call it, as Slovenia was already an independent country on 25th, while war started the next day.
Yugoslavia ("The country of South Slavs") was a federal country. It's army YPA thus conscripted from all over the country. My dad, for example, served at Belgrade and his brother served somewhere in Macedonia. Slovenes always wanted to serve in Slovenia, but conscription far from home helped in strengthening the idea of "fraternity and unity of fraternal nations". In YPA units, fighting in Slovenia were Slovene conscripts, as well. In 1968, Soviet Union made a military intervention in Prague (Prague Spring). This lead Yugoslav officials to believe, Yugoslavia might be next. To better prepare for possible Warsaw pact attack on Yugoslavia, each federal state formed Territorial defence units. The purpose of those units was to aid YPA in defence of the country in their local territory and to keep carrying out guerilla actions against the enemy in case parts of the country would be occupied (so, WW2 all over again).
Slovenian Territorial defence was one of the better equipped. Firstly, Slovenes always wanted their own army (had it briefly in 1918 and then during WW2), Slovenia was considered to be too hard to defend in case of an all out attack by either Warsaw or NATO pact, Slovenia as a state was pretty well developed and could afford to equip it's units with better weaponry. This weapons were mostly confiscated by YPA in May 1990, so Slovenes had to resort to importing weapons from Singapore and Israel. Those arrived few days before the war, so some units went to battle armed with original WWII MG42s (not the modernised copies) and an assortment of old bolt-action and semi-automatic rifles. There was an ever present lack of anti-tank weaponry and needless to say, TD had no aircraft or armoured vehicles of their own at the start of the war.
|Fighting in Ten-day war. You can see most of the fighting was done on the borders. .|
In most parts of Slovenia, fighting was over by 2nd of July. Generally accepted date of an end of a war is 7th July, when a cease fire was signed. The fighting was expected to erupt again, even if YPA announced a withdrawal of its forces on 18th June. In August, they still formed a list of planned air strike targets in case of continuation of hostilities.
Overall, 62 people were killed (44 YPA, 4 Slovene TD, 4 Slovene police, rest were civilians). Over 4,500 YPA soldiers and 252 federal police officers were captured, which is a nice indication of their morale. As an interesting note, some of YPA soldiers that were sent to western border (with Italy) were told Italians are attacking and borders have to be protected. In general, soldiers on both sides were reluctant to fire on each other. Worst war crime that I know about was YPA using their red-cross marked vehicles and helicopters to transport troops and ammunition. Every now and then someone mentiones a video showing "Slovene TD shooting at YPA soldiers that are surrendering", but multiple researches and studies keep showing this is not true. I'll explain more about this eventually, as I would like to write a separate post about that battle at a later date (yes, I am making all sorts of plans to replay the battle on the board :P).
I'll just leave you with some random photos I found on the internet now:
|Slovene TD member at the barricade in Ljubljana (sign behind is a mine warning). He is dressed in Yugoslav uniform, but carries a mountain cap with a new, Slovene badge. Mountain caps were mostly only used by Slovene TD in war.|
|Slovene TD members standing at captured T-55 tanks.|
|YPA soldiers at one of the border crossings. Their task was to prevent Yugosalv tables (SFR Jugoslavija SR (Socialist republic) Slovenija) with new "Republika Slovenija" ones.|
|YPA sniper with M76 sniper rifle (Yugoslav Dragunov)|
|YPA M36 Jackson - Influenced by lack of weapons during WW2, Yugoslavia had huge reserves of outdated equipment in its warehouses (including gas masks for horses).|
|Slovene police officer (left, mountain cap) talking to YPA soldiers. Negotiations represented a large part of the conflict.|
|Some random signs. First one is saying "Out with occupying JLA". JLA is a Slovene abbreviation for YPA (JNA is Serbian). |
The blue one is saying "Long live free and independent Slovenia".
|Foreign truck drivers provoking Slovenian TO soldiers (those have camouflage uniforms already). Some truck drivers refused to leave their trucks in the barricades and some died when YPA air force was attacking the barricades to help tanks pass.|
|One of the barricades, some were quite simple with a single truck or even a car parked across the road, while others were kilometers long and next to impassable.|
|A destroyed T-55 on one of the border passes.|
|And again, with another one next to it.|
|Slovene soldiers resting. You can see Armbrust anti-tank weapon on the left. YPA tank crews were horrified if they saw one of those as they were believed to be really effective. The practice showed they weren't all that good after all.|
|YPA T-55 tank column.|
|A destroyed M84 (Yugoslav T-72).|
|Close to where previous photo was taken is now one of the vehicles that YPA left behind. Lightly armoured vehicles had three barrels each.|
|To forces on a position in a forest. Judging by their pants, I think they belong to Alpine reconnaissance platoon.|
|Two military policemen and two police officers, probably protecting political leadership somewhere in Ljubljana.|
|Members of Police special forces resting in one of the border crossings.|
|Military policeman from a MORIS special brigade and a female soldier.|
|What looks like a WW2 German recon armoured car, captured by TD forces.|
|Slovene TD soldier with M57 AT weapon (remember the insurgents?)|
I figured a post on a tad more modern history would be a welcome change and a great introduction to planned posts about modern Slovenian army. If nothing else, it shows that wars in Yugoslavia were not all about ethnic cleansing and war crimes.
Thanks for looking,