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Croatian Defence Forces

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Title: Croatian Defence Forces  
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Subject: Blaž Kraljević, Battle of Gospić, Dretelj camp, Siege of Dubrovnik, 1991 Yugoslav campaign in Croatia
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Croatian Defence Forces

Croatian Defence Forces
Hrvatske obrambene snage
Flag of the Croatian Defence Forces
Active 22 January 1991 – 16 April 1993
Country Croatia
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Branch Army
Size 24,000[1]
Headquarters Zagreb, Croatia
Ljubuški, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Nickname Blacks (Crnci)
Motto Za dom spremni
Colors Black
March HOS – Za dom spremni
Engagements Battle of the Barracks
Battle of Vukovar
Siege of Dubrovnik
Siege of Sarajevo
Disbanded September 1991 in Croatia[2]
21 August 1992 in Bosnia and Herzegovina[3]
Dobroslav Paraga
Blaž Kraljević

The Croatian Defence Forces (Ante Paradžik, an HSP member who was killed by Croatian police in September 1991. After the November 1991 general mobilization in Croatia and the January 1992 cease-fire, the HOS was absorbed by the Croatian Army.

The HOS units in Bosnia and Herzegovina consisted of Croats, Bosniaks and foreign volunteers led by Blaž Kraljević.[4] On 9 August 1992, Kraljević and eight staff members were assassinated by Croatian Defence Council (HVO) soldiers under the command of Mladen Naletilić.[5] The HOS was disbanded shortly afterwards, and absorbed by the HVO and the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the beginning of the Croat-Bosniak War.[4] The last HOS unit was dissolved on 5 April 1993 in central Bosnia.[6]


The frequently used Hrvatske obrambene snage), is identical to the abbreviation for the military of the World War II Nazi puppet state, the Independent State of Croatia. The military of the Independent State of Croatia were the Croatian Armed Forces (Hrvatske oružane snage), also abbreviated "HOS" in Croatian.




The Croatian Party of Rights was reestablished in Croatia on 26 February 1990, with Dobroslav Paraga president and Ante Paradžik vice-president. The Croatian civilian population began arming itself, and on 21 December 1990 the Serbs of Croatia rose up; soon, the Yugoslav People's Army combined with the insurgent Serbs and the Croatian Party of Rights considered forming its own military wing.

Although the first HOS squad was established in January, the HOS was officially founded on 25 June 1991 by Dobroslav Paraga, Ante Paradžik, Alija Šiljak and other leaders of the HSP. Soon after the establishment of the HOS general staff, Paradžik became its chief. The general staff was at Starčević Center, the HSP headquarters in Zagreb. At first, the HOS was poorly armed and its soldiers used their own weapons. However, they performed well in conflicts with Serb forces and attracted the attention of Croatian public. The HSP received donations from the Croatian diaspora and HSP branches in Australia and Canada, enabling them to buy weapons and increase their membership. Not every HSP member supported a military wing, and secretary Krešimir Pavelić left the party in protest.

Many HOS recruits came from the diaspora: Bosnia and Herzegovina and overseas. In addition, HOS attracted trained soldiers from abroad.


At the beginning of the company for 10,000 spectators in Jelačić Square. Shortly after the demonstration, the company was involved in the Battle of Vukovar under Robert Šilić.

At this time, HOS units were founded in Dalmatia. Until May 1991, Dalmatian HOS units were company-sized. In an agreement between Paraga and the Slovene Minister of Defense Janez Janša, the units were sent to Slovenia for training. By October 1991 the unit had grown to battalion size; it was called the 9th Battalion (the Rafael "Knight" Boban Battalion) and was commanded by Jozo Radanović, president of the HSP branch in Split. This unit became one of the most popular Croatian units; in early December 1991, Radanović was promoted to colonel in the HOS.

Paradžik was shot at a police checkpoint near Zagreb on 21 September 1991, in what was described by the authorities as an accident. On 23 November the Croatian government began a general mobilization, and most HOS militiamen joined Croatian Army units. Shortly after the cease-fire in January 1992, the HOS ceased operations in Croatia.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Large group of smiling soldiers, with arms raised
HOS soldiers in Čapljina, 1992

Blaž Kraljević was a Croat paramilitary leader who commanded the HOS during the first few months of the Bosnian War. When the war began, Kraljević positioned the HOS as the primary Croat militia in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Unlike the HVO, the other Croat militia, the HOS opposed the partition of Bosnia and Herzegovina and an ethnically-cleansed Greater Croatia; instead, they wanted to ally Bosnia and Herzegovina with Croatia.[7]

After early successes, many HVO soldiers defected and joined the HOS.[8] During summer 1992 the HOS defended Stolac, launching an offensive into eastern Herzegovina which seized parts of Trebinje. Much of the Serb population of Trebinje and Bileća had begun to evacuate; this ran counter to the Graz agreement between Republika Srpska and Herzeg-Bosnia concerning the country's division. After Kraljević's death, the HOS in Bosnia and Herzegovina was led by Ante Prkačin and Stanko Primorac.


The HOS had a black flag with its emblem in the centre: a circle of triple wattle containing a chequered shield (with white first square) over a four-sided blue-and-white triple-wattle symbol; above, the inscription "HOS"; below, "HSP, Za dom spremni".[9] These symbols resembled those of the NDH, a Croatian state during the Second World War which collaborated with German and Italian occupation forces. "Za dom spremni!" ("Ready for the homeland!") was the official greeting of the NDH army.


The HOS primarily wore black uniforms with World War II NDH-type insignia. They also wore available camouflage uniforms, usually US battle dress or the Croatian equivalent.


Name Symbol Headquarters Commander
1st Battalion Ivan "The Knight" Brdar
(1. bojna Ivan Vitez Brdar)
Livno, Bosnia and Herzegovina Mate Šukan
2nd Battalion Stojan Vujnović "The Serb"
(2. bojna Stojan Vujnović Srbin)
Domaljevac, Bosnia and Herzegovina Stojan Vujnović
4th HOS Battalion
(4. bojna HOS-a)
6th Battalion Marijan Baotić
(6. bojna Marijan Baotić)
Vinkovci, Croatia
9th Battalion Rafael "The Knight" Boban
(9. bojna Rafael vitez Boban)
Split, Croatia Marko Skejo
1st Company Ante Paradžik
(1. satnija Ante Paradžik)
Jasenovac, Croatia
Vukovar HOS Company
(Vukovarska satnija HOS-a)
Vukovar, Croatia Robert Šilić
13th Battalion Jure "The Knight" Francetić
(13. bojna Jure vitez Francetić)
Tomislavgrad, Bosnia and Herzegovina Ivan Mamić
The Knights
Vitez, Bosnia and Herzegovina
101st Battalion To Drina
(101. bojna Do Drine)
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
19th Battalion "The Knight" Jure Francetić
(19. bojna Vitez Jure Francetić)
Gospić, Croatia Valentin Rajković
Black Wolves
(Crni vukovi)
Kalesija, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Marked Ones
Novi Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Hunter Company
(Satnija Lovci)
Ljubuški, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Independent Security Company
(Samostalna satnija osiguranja)
Zagreb, Croatia
Mostar HOS Battalion
(Mostarska bojna HOS-a)
Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Ljubuški HOS Company
(Ljubuška satnija HOS-a)
Ljubuški, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Zenica HOS Company
(Zenička satnija HOS-a)
Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Tuzla HOS Company
(Tuzlanska satnija HOS-a)
Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Čapljina HOS Company
(Čapljinska satnija HOS-a)
Čapljina, Bosnia and Herzegovina


See also


  1. ^ "Politička ubojstva: Nedavno uhićenje Ivana Andabaka u žižu vraća ubojstvo Blaža Kraljevića, generala HOS-a, borca za BiH do Drine. I organizatori I ubojice na slobodi".  
  2. ^ Absorbed into the Croatian ground army
  3. ^ Absorbed into the Croatian Defence Council and Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina
  4. ^ a b Nigel Thomas, Nigel Thomas (2006). The Yugoslav Wars: Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia 1992–2001. Osprey Publishing. p. 21.  
  5. ^ Ramet, Sabrina P. (2006). The Three Yugoslavias: State-Building and Legitimation, 1918–2004. Indiana University Press. p. 343.  
  6. ^ Shrader, Charles R. (2003). The Muslim-Croat Civil War in Central Bosnia: A Military History, 1992–1994. Texas A&M University Press. p. 46.  
  7. ^ "IT-98-34-T, the Prosecutor versus Naletilic and Martinovic".  
  8. ^ Pg 85 – "From Ottawa to Sarajevo: Canadian Peacekeepers in the Balkans" (PDF). Centre for International Relations, Queen's University Kingston, Ontario Canada. 1998. Retrieved 25 September 2007. ISBN 0889117888
  9. ^ "HOS, Croatian Defence Forces". crwflags. 2008. Retrieved 11 March 2008. The HOS used a black flag with the emblem in the middle, with a circle of triple-wattle within which is a chequy shield (with white first square) over a four-sided blue-white triple wattle (similar to the one used as Ustasha symbol, on flags of the Independent State of Croatia in World War II), above the inscription HOS, below HSP, ZA DOM SPREMNI (For Homeland. Ready!). 
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