Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Armija Republike Bosne i Hercegovine
Армија Републике Босне и Херцеговине
Logo of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.svg
Bosnian Army emblem
Founded15 April 1992
Disbanded14 December 1995
Service branchesBosnian Ground Forces
Bosnian Air Force and Defense
HeadquartersSarajevo,  Bosnia and Herzegovina
Commander-in-ChiefPresident Alija Izetbegović
Defence MinisterMunib Bisić
CommanderGeneral Sefer Halilović (1992–1993)
General Rasim Delić (1993–1995)
Active personnel120,000–230,000 (in 1995)
Related articles
RanksMilitary ranks and insignia of Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosnian: Armija Republike Bosne i Hercegovine; Cyrillic: Армија Републике Босне и Херцеговине or ARBiH), often referred to as Bosnian Army or Bosniak Army, was the military force of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was established by the government of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992 following the outbreak of the Bosnian War.

Following the end of the war, and the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement in 1995, it was transformed into the Army of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The ARBiH was the only military force on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina recognised as legal by other governments. Under the State Defense Reform Law the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina were unified into a single structure, the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina (OSBiH), making entity armies defunct.[1][2]


ARBiH conscript in Visoko in 1992
The ARBiH's flag
A cemetery in Mostar flying the flag of Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (left), the flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the flag of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Creation and composition[edit]

The Army of Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina was formed on 15 April 1992 during the early days of the Bosnian War.[3] Before the ARBiH was officially created, a number of paramilitary and civil defense groups were established. The Patriotic League (PL) and the local Territorial Defence Force of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (TORBiH) were the official army while paramilitaries such as the Zelene Beretke (Green Berets) and Crni Labudovi (Black Swans) units were also active. Other irregular groups included Bosnian mafia groups, as well as collections of police and former Yugoslav People's Army soldiers.

The army was formed in poor circumstances and suffered from a very limited supply of arms. Critical deficiencies included tanks and other heavy weaponry. The first commander of the army was Sefer Halilović.


In 1992, the ARBiH was losing most of the battles and consequently, 70% of Bosnia and Herzegovina was under Yugoslav People's Army (JNA), and later Bosnian Serb army (VRS) control, with Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, besieged. The ARBiH had defended Sarajevo with light weaponry, most of them captured by hostile forces or bought off the black market. The army was surrounded and the transfer of supplies was hard, if not impossible. However, ARBiH forces within the Bosanska Krajina (Bihać pocket) region were steadily defending the territory despite being surrounded by hostile forces.


1993 saw no major changes in the front lines against Serbs. Instead, this year marked the start of the Croat–Bosniak War in Central Bosnia and in Herzegovina, notably the Mostar region. Pressured and contained by heavily armed Serb forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, the ethnic Croat militia forces – the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) – shifted their focus from defending their parts of Bosnia from Serbs to trying to capture remaining territory held by the Bosnian Army. It is widely believed that this was due to the 1991 Milošević–Tuđman Karađorđevo meeting where presidents Slobodan Milošević and Franjo Tuđman discussed partitioning Bosnia between Croatia and Serbia. In order to accomplish this, the Croatian forces would have to defeat the Bosnian Army, since the territory that they wanted was under Bosnian government control. The HVO with great engagement from the military of the Republic of Croatia and material support from Serbs, attacked Bosniak civilian population in Herzegovina and in central Bosnia starting an ethnic cleansing of Bosniak populated territories, such as in the Lašva Valley ethnic cleansing.

Vastly under-equipped Bosnian forces, fighting on two fronts, were able to repel Croats and gain territory against them on every front. At this time, due to its geographic position, Bosnia was surrounded by Croat and Serb forces from all sides. There was no way to import weapons or food. What saved Bosnia at this time was its vast industrial complex (steel and other heavy industry), which was able to switch to military production. After a short but bloody war, and once Croats realized that their partnership with Serbs would not bring them any territorial gains, they agreed to the U.S. leadership's "Washington Treaty" peace agreement. From that point on, Croat and Bosnian government forces fought as allies against Serbs.


A renewed alliance between the HVO and the ARBiH was agreed upon, with the objective of forming a strong force that could fight the much stronger and better equipped VRS. This was the time of frequent peace negotiations.


Despite the loss of several enclaves, notably Srebrenica, 1995 was marked by HVO and ARBiH offensives and later by NATO intervention. Following the Split Agreement, the Croatian Army, with cooperation from the ARBiH and the HVO, launched a series of operations: Flash,[clarification needed] Summer '95, Storm and Mistral 2. In conjunction, Bosnian forces launched operations like Sana. Bosnian and Croat armies were on the offensive in this phase.

From August to December 1995, Serb forces were defeated and driven out of the majority of Croatia and western Bosnia, and the ethnic Serb population fled from these parts.[citation needed]

Following the second Markale massacre, a NATO intervention was launched, which destroyed much of the VRS' infrastructure in just a few days through Operation Deliberate Force.[citation needed] The war ended with the signing of the Dayton Accord.

Army organization and commanding officers[edit]


The Political leadership in Sarajevo had met in Mehurici to decide alternatives if Slovenia and Croatia should follow their stated plans to declare independence. After this board meeting Hasan Cengic met with Rusmir Mahmutcehajic to propose the formation of a paramilitary that would be an adjunct of SDA. Once approved by Alija Izetbegovic the first defense organization known as the "patriotic league" was formed. Another paramilitary known as the "green berets" would be formed from the people to help places where there where no defense organized by the local authority. As Bosnia declared independence the "territorial defense" was established as the state's official army and the patriotic league integrated a month later. The existence of other armed groups would lead the government to request the unification of all armed entities into one formation creating one official armed forces. This reform request would not last long as all other entities except the separatist ones would join finally establishing a centralized army. The newly reformed army would still be known as the "territorial defense" until July where the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina was officially established.

Paramilitaries and Defense Forces[edit]

Name Headquarters Information
Эмблема "Патриотской лиги" Боснии.png
Patriotic League of Bosnia and Hercegovina
Sarajevo The Patriotic League was the first organized paramilitary created to defend the nation in case of aggression by anti-Bosnian militants.
TO BIH Emblem.png
Territorial Defence of Bosnia and Hercegovina
Sarajevo The Territorial Defense Force of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Teritorijalna odbrana Bosne i Hercegovine (TO BiH) was the first official armed forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the beginning of the Bosnian War. Which eventually transformed into the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Эмблема спецподразделения "Зеленые береты".png
Green Berets
Sarajevo The Green Berets were a paramilitary organization founded in Sarajevo. They were eventually integrated into the newly founded Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The name was used as a derogatory term for Bosniaks by Serbs during the war, as many of the personnel within the military unit were Muslims.
Patch of the Croatian Defence Forces in BiH.svg
Croatian Defense Forces
Ljubuški The Croatian Defense Forces was a paramilitary formed in Croatia by the Croatian Party of Rights serving as its military wing. Units established in Bosnia would fight alongside both Bosnian & Croat forces. The commander of the paramilitary in Bosnia accepted subordination with the Bosnian Army general staff. This choice would get him assassinated by the anti-Bosnian faction in the Croatian defense council. With the superior dead this armed force slowly faded away and few units would be absorbed and reorganized into the Bosnian army.
Patch of HVO Sarajevo.svg
Croatian Defense Council Sarajevo
Sarajevo The Croatian Defense Council Sarajevo was established as a political and military representative of the Croatian people in Sarajevo. The Sarajevo organization was linked with the rest of the Croatian defense council. When Bosnian Croat separatists fought against Bosnian government forces this formation did not engage. Eventually, it was abolished and reformed into the Croatian Brigade "King Tvrtko" within the 1st Corps of the Bosnian army.


The new army was divided into corps, each stationed in a particular territory. In 1993, most brigades were renamed as Mountain troops given that the lack of heavy weapons made it organizationally pointless to list them as infantry or motorized. In addition, Bosnian terrain favored light infantry over armored and mechanized formations. The special forces alongside the military police were controlled directly by the general staff of the army but that still didn't deny the formations of smaller spec-ops units and military police battalions to be formed in the corps independently or brigades specifically.

Army Corps and Independent Divisions[edit]

Name Headquarters Information
1. Korpus Armije RBIH v2.png
1st Corps
Sarajevo This corps was the first to be formed in 1992 and served in the protection of Sarajevo in the Siege.
2. Korpus Armije RBIH v1.png
2nd Corps
Tuzla This corps was formed in 1992 and had major success in holding Tuzla area and in operations like "Operation Vozuća". This was also the only corps which had direct connection at one time during the war with the Independent 81 Division. The corps was active within the Tuzla region.
3. Korpus Armije RBIH v1.png
3rd Corps
Zenica The corps was formed in 1992 and because of quick change in fighting, towns like Vareš were liberated. The corps was active within some of Central Bosnia.
4. Korpus Armije RBIH v1.png
4th Corps
Mostar The corps was famous for the successful defense of the city of Mostar. The corps was formed in 1992 and cooperated also with the Croatian Defence Forces. Despite this, the corps was active and responsible for operations within the Mostar region of Central Bosnia during the Croat-Bosniak War.
5. Korpus Armije RBIH v1.png
5th Corps
Bihać The 5th corps formed in 1992 was one of the most organised and highly-decorated corps within the army. The corps was active within Western Bosnia (in the Bosanska Krajina region near Bihać) and was responsible for liberating much of the territory controlled by the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina in operations like: Operation Mistral 2, Operation Storm and Operation Sana.
6th Corps of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.png
6th Corps
Konjic Formed 9 June 1993. Disbanded February 1994, some units incorporated in 7th Corps and the rest in 4th Corps.
7. Korpus Armije RBIH v1.png
7th Corps
Travnik The corps was one of the most important as it liberated many territories within Central Bosnia. The corps was notable for their success of capturing Mount Vlašić, which was a strategic point for all 3 warring parties.
28th Podrinje Independent Division Srebrenica This was not classified as a corps, rather as an independent division because the division was not connected to any corps within the region. This division was responsible for military operations around the Srebrenica enclave.
81st Podrinje Independent Division emblem.jpg81st Podrinje Independent Division Goražde This was not classified as a corps rather as an independent division because the division was not connected to any corps within the region. This division was responsible for military operations around the Goražde enclave.

General Staff Units and Centers[edit]

Name Headquarters Information
120. Light Brigade "Black Swans" Sarajevo The 120. Light Brigade "Black Swans" was an elite unit responsible for high-risk operations, mostly high-value target operations such as the elimination of artillery/bunker/marksman positions surrounding the city of Sarajevo. The unit has a long history as it existed before the official army in the patriotic league and then the territorial defense as a special unit for specific purposes.
Guards Brigade "Delta" Sarajevo The Guards Brigade "Delta" was an elite unit that existed in the Bosnian army until it got dissolved a year later because it was estimated that its commanding staff was loyal to the army general. The Bosnian counterintelligence had been infiltrated by people who were serving the enemy side with information. With high positions they convinced the president that the unit was going to perform a coup against the government.
Guards Brigade Sarajevo The Guards Brigade was formed as a rapid deployment force pretty late in the war. It would be filled by people from a military police battalion in Sarajevo and eventually from other formations. In addition to combat tasks, the brigade also provided security for the general staff and had an honorary squad for welcoming ceremonies in honor of delegations and guests of the Bosnian presidency.
Main Logistics Center Visoko The Main Logistics Center was the most important depot of the Bosnian army.
Military School Center Zenica The Military School Center was used to train and educate Bosnian soldiers on military tactics and knowledge.
High Command of Military Doctrines Sarajevo The High Command of Military Doctrines was responsible for researching military doctrines during the war.

Police Forces[edit]

Name Headquarters Information
Ministry of Internal Affairs Sarajevo The Ministry of Internal Affairs was the governing body of the police forces in the state from 1992 to 1995.
Police Detachment for Special Purpose "Bosna" Sarajevo

The Police Detachment for Special Purpose "Bosna" was the first special police force who grew from the former republics one. Made iconic by Dino Merlin and his song "Vojnik Srece" which he dedicated to the unit. In training and equipping, this unit looked up to the German special police force "GSG-9".

Police Detachment for Special Purpose "Lasta" Sarajevo The Police Detachment for Special Purpose "Lasta" was the second special police force created by a decision made from the ministry of internal affairs. While the other special police squad focused on the fighting in Sarajevo, this squad was accessible for fighting around all areas under government control.

Bosnian general staff[edit]

Corps commanders[edit]

  • Mustafa Hajrulahović Talijan (first commander of the 1st Corps)
  • Vahid Karavelić (second commander of the 1st Corps)
  • Nedžad Ajnadžić (third commander of the 1st Corps)
  • Željko Knez (first commander of the 2nd Corps)
  • Hazim Šadić (second commander of the 2nd Corps)
  • Sead Delić (third commander of the 2nd Corps)
  • Enver Hadžihasanović (first commander of the 3rd Corps)
  • Mehmed Alagić (second commander of the 3rd Corps, first commander of the 7th corps)
  • Kadir Jusić (third commander of the 3rd Corps)
  • Sakib Mahmuljin (fourth commander of the 3rd Corps)
  • Arif Pašalić (first commander of the 4th Corps)
  • Sulejman Budaković "Tetak" (second commander of the 4th Corps)
  • Ramiz Dreković (first commander of the 5th Corps, third commander of the 4th corps)
  • Atif Dudaković (second commander of the 5th Corps)
  • Salko Gušić (first commander of the 6th Corps)
  • Galib Hodžić (second commander of the 6th Corps)
  • Zaim Imamović (commander of the Easter Bosnian Operational Group)
  • Blaž Kraljević (commander of HOS and member of the Bosnian Army Chiefs of Staff)
  • Mustafa Polutak (fourth commander of the 4th Corps)
  • Dino Aljić (Guard Brigade "Delta" and 117.Muslim Brigade commander)


T-55 tanks belonging to the 28th Division, 281st Brigade, 1st Tank Battalion, stationed in Visca.
OT M-60 Armored Personnel Carrier belonging to the 28th Division, 281st Brigade, 1st Tank Battalion, stationed in Visca.
A close-up view of an M48 76mm mountain gun belonging to the 28th Division, 281st Brigade, 1st Tank Battalion, stationed in Visca.
Main aircraft of ARBiH were the Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters. Here is an Mi-8T displayed to SFOR personnel during an inspection at Ćoralići Airfield.
A Bosnian Army UTVA-75 light utility aircraft displayed as an artifact at Ćoralići Airfield in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Infantry weapons of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina[edit]

Assault rifles and machine guns[edit]

Name Origin Type Notes
MG42[4]  Nazi Germany Machine gun World War II-spec model
Zastava M53[4]  Yugoslavia Machine gun Provided from old JNA barracks in large numbers
M2 Browning machine gun[4]  United States Machine gun Captured
DShK[4]  Soviet Union Machine gun Captured and smuggled
NSV machine gun[4]  Soviet Union Machine gun Captured, in smaller numbers
M48 Mauser[4]  Yugoslavia Bolt-action rifle Some used as sniper rifles, fitted with ZRAK 4x32 telescopic sight
PAP M59/66[4]  Yugoslavia Semi-automatic rifle In large numbers, used as sniper rifles or by paramilitary
Zastava M72[4]  Yugoslavia Assault rifle In large numbers
Zastava M76[4]  Yugoslavia Sniper rifle Captured/smuggled
Heckler & Koch MP5[4]  West Germany Submachine gun Captured/smuggled, mainly used by the Military Police
AK-47 and its derivatives[4]  Soviet Union Assault rifle In large numbers, mostly the Romanian PM md. 63
Zastava M70[4]  Yugoslavia Assault rifle In large numbers
Škorpion vz. 61[4]  Yugoslavia Submachine gun Designated as the M84 Škorpion
Dragunov Sniper Rifle[4]  Soviet Union Sniper rifle Smuggled
G3[4]  West Germany Assault rifle In low numbers
Zastava M84[4]  Yugoslavia Machine gun In large numbers
Zastava M80[4]  Yugoslavia Assault rifle Captured in small numbers
Thompson submachine gun[4]  United States Submachine gun In low numbers (all provided from old JNA barracks)


Pistol Origin Type Versions Notes
TT pistol[4]  Soviet Union Pistol
CZ-99[4]  Yugoslavia Pistol

Infantry anti-tank weapons[edit]

Name Origin Type Versions Notes
M80 Rocket Launcher  Yugoslavia Rocket Launcher 64 millimetres (6.4 cm)
M79 Osa  Yugoslavia Rocket Launcher 90 millimetres (9.0 cm)
AT-3 Sagger  Soviet Union Anti-tank missile
HJ-8  China Anti-tank missile Baktar-Shikan, HJ-8E Was supplied to ARBiH in 1993-1995

by the Inter-Services Intelligence of


RPG-7  Soviet Union Rocket-propelled grenade


Artillery Origin Type Versions Notes
D-30[4]  Soviet Union Howitzer D-30J Captured
BM-21 Grad[4]  Soviet Union Multiple rocket launcher BM-21 Grad/RM-70
M-63[4]  Yugoslavia Multiple rocket launcher M-63 Plamen
M-77[4]  Yugoslavia Multiple rocket launcher M-77 Oganj
M-87[4]  Yugoslavia Multiple rocket launcher Few
Type 63 multiple rocket launcher[4]  China Multiple rocket launcher Large numbers


Tanks Origin Type Notes
T-34[4]  Soviet Union Medium Tank 46 tanks
M-84[4]  Yugoslavia Main battle tank Captured, 3 vehicles.
T-55[4]  Soviet Union Main battle tank 60 tanks
PT-76[4]  Soviet Union Light tank at least 2 vehicles captured
M47 Patton[4]  United States Main battle tank 8-13 tanks

Armored personnel carriers[edit]

APC Origin Notes
BVP M-80[4]  Yugoslavia
OT M-60[4]  Yugoslavia
BOV (APC)[4]  Yugoslavia From police and captured from the VRS.
BRDM-2[4]  Soviet Union ~3 vehicles

Self-propelled anti-aircraft artillery[edit]

System Origin Notes
ZSU-57-2[4]  Soviet Union <10 vehicles
M53/59 Praga[4]  Czechoslovakia <5 vehicles

Anti-aircraft artillery[edit]

System Origin Notes
Bofors 40 mm[4]  Sweden
ZU-23-2[4]  Soviet Union Mainly used against ground targets

Self-propelled artillery[edit]

System Origin Notes
2S1 Gvozdika[4]  Soviet Union (captured 1994-95)
M36 tank destroyer[4]  United States
M18 Hellcat[4]  United States


  1. ^ "Untitled Page". Archived from the original on 2016-05-16. Retrieved 2014-05-05.
  2. ^ Archived May 16, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "ARMIJA REPUBLIKE BIH - THE BOSNIAN ARMY IS BORN". 5 May 2014. Archived from the original on 5 May 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap "Equipment of Army of Republic of Bosnia & Herzegovina". 22 February 2013. Archived from the original on 22 February 2013.

External links[edit]