The Croatian Armed Forces (Croatian: Hrvatske oružane snage, HOS) was reorganized in November 1944 to combine the units of the Ustaše and Domobrani into eighteen divisions, comprising 13 infantry, two mountain, two assault and one replacement Croatian divisions, each with its own organic artillery and other support units. There were also several armoured units, equipped in late 1944 with 20 Pz IIIN and 15 Pz IVF and H medium tanks. From early 1945, the Croatian divisions were allocated to various German corps and by March 1945 were holding the Southern Front. Securing the rear areas were some 32,000 men of the Croatian Gendarmerie (Hrvatsko Oružništvo), organised into 5 Police Volunteer Regiments plus 15 independent battalions, equipped with standard light infantry weapons, including mortars.
By the end of March, 1945, it was obvious to the Army command that, although the front remained intact, they would eventually be defeated by sheer lack of ammunition. For this reason, the decision was made to retreat into Austria, in order to surrender to the British forces advancing north from Italy.
The Croatian Gendarmerie (Hrvatsko Oružništvo) was formed on 30 April 1941 as rural police under Major-General Milan Miesler. By September 1943, there were 18,000 men in seven regional regiments. These were divided into 23 companies (one per county plus one for Zagreb). The companies were subdivided into 142 district platoons, each with several posts. In early 1942, a three-battalion Combined Gendarmie Regiment, in July redisignated Petrinja Brigade, was established for anti-Partisan operations in Slavonia. Twelve of the independent Police Volunteer Battalions formed the Croatian Gendarmerie Division in 1945.