Operation Summer '95
|Operation Summer '95|
|Part of the Bosnian War and the
Croatian War of Independence
Map of Operation Summer '95
Bosnia and Herzegovina
| Republika Srpska
Republic of Serbian Krajina
|Commanders and leaders|
| Zvonimir Červenko
| Ratko Mladić
|8,500 troops||5,500 troops|
|Casualties and losses|
|18 killed, 155 wounded||unknown|
|12,000–14,000 Bosnian Serb refugees|
Operation Summer '95 (Croatian: Operacija Ljeto '95) was a joint military offensive of the Croatian Army (HV) and the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) that took place northwest of the Livanjsko field and around Bosansko Grahovo and Glamoč, in the western Bosnia and Herzegovina. The operation was carried out in 25–29 July 1995, during the Croatian War of Independence and the Bosnian War. The attacking force of 8,500 troops, commanded by HV's Lieutenant General Ante Gotovina, encountered initially strong resistance of the 5,500 VRS 2nd Krajina Corps. The HV/HVO pushed the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) back capturing about 1,600 square kilometres (620 square miles) of territory, intercepting Knin–Drvar road—critical for supply of the self-declared Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK). The operation failed to achieve its declared primary goal—draw VRS units from the besieged city of Bihać—but it placed the HV in a good position to capture RSK capital of Knin days later in Operation Storm.
Operation Summer '95 was launched in response to renewed attacks of the VRS and the RSK military on the Bihać pocket, one of six United Nations Safe Areas established in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The area was viewed as strategic to Croatian military effort by the HV General Staff as it presented an obstacle to supply of the RSK and it pinned down a portion of the RSK military, as well as some VRS forces that would otherwise be redeployed. The international community feared a humanitarian disaster greater in scale than any other of the war to that point would occur if the Bihać pocket were overran by the RSK or the VRS. Amongst the United States, France and the United Kingdom, there was division regarding how to protect the area.
In August 1990, a revolution took place in Croatia centred on the predominantly Serb-populated areas of the Dalmatian hinterland around the city of Knin, as well as in parts of the Lika, Kordun, and Banovina regions, and settlements in eastern Croatia with significant Serb populations. The areas were subsequently named the Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK) and, after declaring its intention to integrate with Serbia, the Government of Croatia declared the RSK a rebellion. By March 1991, the conflict escalated to war and the Croatian War of Independence broke out. In June 1991, Croatia declared its independence as Yugoslavia disintegrated. A three-month moratorium followed, after which the decision came into effect on 8 October. The RSK then initiated a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Croatian civilians and most non-Serbs were expelled by early 1993. By November 1993, less than 400 ethnic Croats remained in the United Nations (UN) protected area known as Sector South, while a further 1,500 – 2,000 remained in Sector North.
As the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) increasingly supported the RSK and the Croatian Police was unable to cope with the situation, the Croatian National Guard (ZNG) was formed in May 1991. The ZNG was renamed the Croatian Army (HV) in November. The establishment of the military of Croatia was hampered by a UN arms embargo introduced in September. The final months of 1991 saw the fiercest fighting of the war, culminating in the Battle of the barracks, the Siege of Dubrovnik, and the Battle of Vukovar.
In January 1992, the Sarajevo Agreement was signed by representatives of Croatia, the JNA and the UN, and fighting between the two sides was paused. Ending the series of unsuccessful ceasefires, the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) was deployed to Croatia to supervise and maintain the agreement. A stalemate developed as the conflict evolved into static trench warfare, and the JNA soon retreated from Croatia into Bosnia and Herzegovina, where a new conflict was anticipated. Serbia continued to support the RSK, but a series of HV advances restored small areas to Croatian control as the siege of Dubrovnik was lifted, and Operation Maslenica resulted in minor tactical gains. In response to the HV successes, the RSK intermittently attacked a number of Croatian towns and villages with artillery and missiles.
As the JNA disengaged in Croatia, its personnel prepared to set up a new Bosnian Serb army, as Bosnian Serbs declared the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina on 9 January 1992, ahead of 29 February–1 March 1992 referendum on independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina—which would later be cited as a pretext for the Bosnian War. Bosnian Serbs set up barricades in the capital, Sarajevo and elsewhere on 1 March, and the next day the first fatalities of the war were recorded in Sarajevo and Doboj. In the final days of March, the Bosnian Serb army started shelling Bosanski Brod, and on 4 April, Sarajevo was attacked.
The Bosnian Serb army—renamed the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) after the Republika Srpska state proclaimed in the Bosnian Serb-held territory—was fully integrated with the JNA. As 1992 carried on, it controlled about 70% of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This was achieved through a large-scale campaign of territorial conquest and ethnic cleansing which was backed by military and financial support from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Even though the war originally pitted Bosnian Serbs against non-Serbs in the country, it evolved into a three-sided conflict by 1993 when the Croat–Bosniak alliance deteriorated and Croat-Bosniak war broke out between the two. The Bosnian Croats declared a Herzeg-Bosnia state with the intent of eventually joining Croatia. This was incompatible with Bosniaks' aspirations of a unitary state confronted by demands to partition the country. The VRS was involved in the Croatian War of Independence in a limited capacity, through military and other aid to the RSK, occasional air raids launched from Banja Luka, and most significantly through artillery attacks against urban centres, while extent of the territory it controlled did not change significantly until 1994.
Ethnic cleansing in the Bosnian War happened on a considerably larger scale than in the RSK, as all the major ethnic groups became victims of ethnically motivated violence committed by Bosniaks, Croats or Serbs. The ethnic conflict produced a vast number of displaced persons. It is estimated that the number of refugees in areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina not controlled by the VRS at the end of 1994 exceeded one million, while the total population of the same area was approximately 2.2 million. In addition, 720,000 Bosniaks, 460,000 Serbs and 150,000 Croats fled the country as refugees. A large part of the Bosniak and Croat refugees was hosted by Croatia—by November 1992, there were 333,000 registered, and an estimated 100,000 unregistered, refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina in Croatia. Circumstances under which the refugees left their homes varied considerably. The Bosnian Serb-committed ethnic violence against civilian population resulted in the greatest number of civilian victims in the Bosnian war, and would culminate in the Srebrenica massacre in 1995.
In November 1994, the Siege of Bihać, a battle of the Bosnian War, entered a critical stage as the VRS and the RSK came close to capturing the town. A strategic area, since June 1993 Bihać had been one of six United Nations Safe Areas established in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The US administration felt that its capture by Serb forces would intensify the war and lead a humanitarian disaster greater in scale than any other of the war to that point. Amongst the United States, France and the United Kingdom, there was division regarding how to protect the area. The US called for airstrikes against the VRS, but the French and the British opposed them citing safety concerns and a desire to maintain the neutrality of French and British troops deployed as a part of the UNPROFOR to Bosnia and Herzegovina. In turn, the US was unwilling to commit ground troops. On the other hand, the Europeans recognized that the US was free to propose military confrontation with the Serbs while relying on the European powers to block any such move, as French President François Mitterrand discouraged any military intervention, greatly helping the Serb war effort. The French stance reversed after Jacques Chirac was elected president of France in May 1995, pressuring the British to adopt a more aggressive approach as well. Denying Bihać to the Serbs was also strategically important to Croatia, and General Janko Bobetko, the Chief of the Croatian General Staff, considered the potential fall of Bihać to represent an end to Croatia's war effort.
In March 1994, the Washington Agreement was signed, ending the Croat–Bosniak War, and providing Croatia with US military advisors from the Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI). The US involvement reflected a new military strategy endorsed by Bill Clinton in February 1993. Because the UN arms embargo was still in place, the MPRI was hired ostensibly to prepare the HV for participation in the NATO Partnership for Peace programme. They trained HV officers and personnel for 14 weeks from January to April 1995. It has also been speculated in several sources, including an article in The New York Times by Leslie Wayne and various Serbian media reports, that the MPRI may also have provided doctrinal advice, scenario planning and US government satellite intelligence to Croatia, although MPRI, American and Croatian officials have denied such claims. In November 1994, the United States unilaterally ended the arms embargo against Bosnia and Herzegovina, in effect allowing the HV to supply itself as arms shipments flowed through Croatia.
The Washington Agreement also resulted in a series of meetings between Croatian and US government and military officials held in Zagreb and Washington, D.C. On 29 November 1994, the Croatian representatives proposed to attack Serb-held territory from Livno in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in order to draw off a part of the force besieging Bihać and to prevent its capture by the Serbs. As the US officials gave no response to the proposal, the Croatian General Staff ordered Operation Winter '94 the same day, to be carried out by the HV and the Croatian Defence Council (HVO)—the main military force of the Bosnian Croats. Besides contributing to the defence of Bihać, the attack shifted the line of contact of the HV and the HVO closer to the supply routes of the RSK.
On 17 July, the RSK and the VRS militaries started a fresh effort, codenamed Operation Sword-95, to capture Bihać by expanding on gains made during Operation Spider. The move provided the HV with a chance to extend their territorial gains from Operation Winter '94 by advancing from the Livno valley. On 22 July, Croatian President Franjo Tuđman and the Bosnian president, Alija Izetbegović, signed Split Agreement on mutual defence, permitting the large-scale deployment of the HV in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Order of battle 
The HV and the HVO fielded Operational Group Rujani, a combined force controlled by the HV Split Corps under command of Lieutenant General Ante Gotovina. The Operational Group comprised approximately 8,500 troops arranged in two groups—directed against Bosansko Grahovo and Glamoč. The HVO troops were deployed against Glamoč, while the HV force was arrayed in both Glamoč and Bosansko Grahovo areas. The defending force consisted of approximately 5,500 troops drawn from the VRS 2nd Krajina Corps, commanded by Major General Radivoje Tomanić. The 2nd Krajina Corps was supported by the Vijuga battlegroup put together by the RSK 7th North Dalmatian Corps and initially deployed to the Bosansko Grahovo area as a 500-strong unit in late 1994. The area was additionally reinforced following the HV's Operation Leap 2 in June 1995 using three VRS brigades deployed to Bosansko Grahovo and Glamoč. The units deployed by the VRS themselves were strengthened by platoons and companies transferred from seven different brigades of the VRS 1st Krajina Corps and from three additional brigades of the VRS East Bosnian Corps.
|Split Corps||7th Guards Brigade||Facing Bosansko Grahovo|
|1 company of the 114th Infantry Brigade|
|81st Guards Battalion||In the Šator Mountain area|
|3rd Battalion of the 1st Guards Brigade|
|elements of the 1st Croatian Guards ¸Brigade|
|Special police of the Bosnian Croat Ministry of Interior|
|2nd Guards Brigade, strengthened by Gavran-2 special forces company||Facing Glamoč, HVO force|
|3rd Guards Brigade|
|60th Guards Airborne Battalion|
|22nd Sabotage Detachment|
|4th Guards Brigade||Held in reserve|
|2nd Battalion of the 9th Guards Brigade|
|1st Battalion of the 1st Guards Brigade|
|Reconnaissance-Sabotage Company of the HV General Staff|
|2nd Krajina Corps||3rd Petrovac Light Infantry Brigade||In Bosansko Grahovo area|
|9th Grahovo Light Infantry Brigade|
|RSK Vijuga battlegroup|
|3rd Serbian Infantry Brigade||In Glamoč area|
|5th Glamoč Light Infantry Brigade|
|7th Kupres-Šipovo Motorized Brigade|
Operation timeline 
Operation Summer '95 started on at 5 am on 25 July. The HV 7th Guards Brigade advanced northwest along Livno–Bosansko Grahovo road towards the primary objective of the offensive—the town of Bosansko Grahovo. A composite company drawn from the HV 114th Infantry Brigade attacked VRS positions on the right flank of the advance. Even though the 7th Guards Brigade managed to move forward by about 2 kilometres (1.2 miles), it had to suspend its effort as the 114th Brigade company could not defeat the VRS entrenched defences on Marino Brdo to cover the 7th Brigade's right flank. The VRS defences were well prepared all along the frontline attacked by the HV and the HVO, and especially so in the Bosansko Grahovo area, where fortifications, shelters and covered trenches were prepared in several lines of defences and obstacles, including minefields.
The same day, the HV/HVO force advancing towards Glamoč—the secondary objective of the offensive—also met strong resistance of the VRS troops. The HV 81st Guards Battalion advancing southeast from the Šator Mountain to the rear of Glamoč broke forward defences of the VRS 3rd Serbian Brigade. However, it paused its push after less than 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) as its right flank came into jeopardy as the HV and the HVO units to their right were held back by the VRS determined defence. The 1st Croatian Guards Brigade (1. hrvatski gardijski zdrug - HGZ), the Bosnian Croat special police and the 3rd Battalion of the 1st Guards Brigade were blocked by the VRS holding a fortified position on a mountaintop between the Šator Mountain and Glamoč, while the 2nd and the 3rd Guards Brigades of the HVO attacking the VRS 5th Glamoč Brigade southwest of Glamoč made hardly any progress. The HVO 60th Guards Airbourne Battalion and the 22nd Sabotage Detachment attacked in Kujača Hill southeast of Glamoč, but they also made marginal gains only.
On 26 July, Gotovina deployed the 2nd Battalion of the 9th Guards Brigade to the Bosansko Grahovo axis. The battalion outflanked the VRS force blocking the HV 114th Infantry Brigade composite company and attacked the VRS defences from their rear. Even though the HV could not advance more than 1 kilometre (0.62 miles), the move was sufficient to allow the HV 7th Guards Brigade to press on with their attack and push the VRS back by 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) that day, reaching within 7 kilometres (4.3 miles) from Bosansko Grahovo. The imminent threat to the town sitting astride the most significant route between the Republika Srpska and the RSK capital of Knin, became an urgent matter to the RSK. The 2nd Guards Brigade of the RSK Special Units Corps was ordered to disengage from the ARBiH 5th Corps in Bihać pocket area and move to Bosansko Grahovo to defend the town. He also ordered a battalion of RSK police to bolster the defence in the area. While the police battalion declined to deploy claiming that the General Staff had no authority over the police, the RSK 2nd Guards Brigade did not reach Bosansko Grahovo in time to contribute to the defence.
On the second day of the operation, the HV 1st Guards Corps and the 3rd Battalion of the 1st Guards Brigade outflanked the VRS mountaintop position between the Šator Mountain and Glamoč that blocked them the previous day, allowing the HV 81st Guards Battalion to advance further 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) and threaten to interdict a road used by the VRS to supply Glamoč from the north. In order to secure the high ground south of Glamoč, Gotovina released the 1st Battalion of the HV 1st Guards Brigade, supported by an anti-terrorist unit of the HV 72nd Military Police Battalion, from the reserve and used them to attack VRS positions on the 1,600-metre (5,200 ft) Vrhovi Mountain. The HVO units continued their attack towards Glamoč, achieving little progress. The HVO 2nd Guards Brigade only managed a 1-kilometre (0.62 mi) advance towards Glamoč. By the end of its second day, Operation Summer '95 was suffering from delays.
On 27 July, Gotovina reinforced the Bosansko Grahovo axis by deploying the 4th Guards Brigade on the right flank. The brigade broke through the VRS defence in its sector, advancing about 10 kilometres (6.2 miles), arriving within 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) of Bosansko Grahovo. Advances in Glamoč area were still being achieved at a slow pace. The Croatian Air Force took part in the attack the same day, using two MiG-21s to conduct airstrikes designed to disrupt road network around Glamoč. The airstrikes were in violation of a no-fly zone imposed by the UN and enforced by NATO as Operation Deny Flight.
The VRS defences around Bosansko Grahovo were defeated by the HV 4th and the 7th Guards Brigades on 28 July, and the two HV brigades captured the town that day. At the same time, the HV 81st Guards Battalion and the 1st HGZ, supported by the special police, moved north of Glamoč, reaching its outskirts and cutting the main route between the town and the rest of Bosnian Serb-held territory. After the HV threatened the VRS positions in Glamoč from their rear, defence of the town became less determined—and the HVO 2nd Guards Brigade, the 60th Guards Airbourne Battalion and the 22nd Sabotage Detachment broke through the VRS defences. Glamoč was captured on 29 July by HVO troops attacking from the south.
Gotovina assessed VRS resistance to the HV and the HVO units early on during the battle as fierce, while former RSK officers claim that the overall resistance of the VRS and the RSK battlegroup in Bosansko Grahovo area was not great. The attacking HV/HVO forces sustained a loss of 18 killed in action and 155 wounded troops. Approximately 1,600 square kilometres (620 square miles) of territory changed hands, and the Knin–Drvar road, vital to resupply of the RSK, was interdicted. The offensive displaced 12–14 thousand Serb refugees who fled towards Banja Luka.
On 30 July, the RSK declared a state of war and the RSK President Milan Martić stated that the Croatian territorial gains would soon be reversed in cooperation with the VRS. Colonel General Ratko Mladić, the supreme commander of the VRS, visited Knin the same day, also promising to restore the territory lost that month. However, the RSK military concluded that the VRS has no units in the Western Bosnia capable of the attack. Analyses of the RSK military indicated that the HV had saved the Bihać pocket for the second time and that it is preparing to attack the RSK at several points. Following the offensive, the RSK authorities reported fear and some panic among the population caused by conviction that the RSK cannot defend itself against the HV. Women and children started to evacuate to Yugoslavia, while a mobilization of the RSK military was largely completed by 3 August. Finally, on 2 August, the RSK civil defence authorities ordered preparation for evacuation of the RSK, and the RSK prime minister Milan Babić asked the government ministers to be ready to move to Donji Lapac.
Operation Summer '95 failed to achieve its declared goal of relieving Bihać by drawing off substantial forces of the RSK military and the VRS away from the city to contain the HV/HVO advance. The RSK 2nd Guards Brigade was ordered to move from Bihać to Bosansko Grahovo though, and it would remain in the area of Knin until the beginning of the following HV offensive, Operation Storm, on 4 August. Success of the HV and the HVO in capturing of Bosansko Grahovo and Glamoč and their achieving of positions very favourable to attack Knin, followed by a large-scale mobilization of the HV in preparation for Operation Storm, caused the RSK to shift its focus away from Bihać though. On 30 July, RSK civilian and military leaders, Milan Martić and General Mile Mrkšić met with Personal Representative of Secretary-General of the United Nations Yasushi Akashi and agreed upon a plan to withdraw from Bihać in order to prevent the expected Croatian offensive. Only days later, the area captured in Operation Summer '95 would be used as a staging area for the 4th and the 7th Guards Brigades' advance into Knin in Operation Storm. The VRS 2nd Krajina Corps attempted to retake Bosansko Grahovo on the night of 11–12 August. The advance from direction of Drvar broke through the HV's reserve infantry left to garrison the area and reached the outskirts of the town, only to be beaten back by two HV Guards battalions.
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