main_street_vukovarPHOTO: Vukovar, main street:

Oleg Valecky

During the campaign in Croatia in 1991-1992 when hostilities were between the army of Yugoslavia-JNA and forces of Croatia which has proclaimed its independence, engineering troop were playing an important part.

One of the main drawbacks was that in JNA the engineering troops were not recognized as fighting combat arm, and, hence, were not able to conduct independent combat actions. However, successful actions of JNA would not be possible without engineers, especially during fighting for Vukovar.

At the abovementioned theater of war (Eastern Slavonija, Baranja, Western Srem) the number of engineering troops reached 20%, though in JNA in general their strength was not exceeding 7%. This is not an exception but a rule in contemporary wars: the strength of engineering troops of the warring parties reaches one third of the overall number of troops.

The assignments resolved by engineering troops were often at the first place among the tasks for JNA, as these troops by their actions made possible both defensive and offensive actions of troops. According to the opinion of many Yugoslav officers, the main task of the engineering troops in defensive actions was not inflicting damage upon the opponent but stalling the opponent and also redirecting of opponent’s forces under the artillery and aviation fire. This shows the necessity of the joint planning of combat of not only infantry, panzer troops and artillery, but of engineering troops as well.

According to many Yugoslav specialists, engineering troops had to have their own combat subdivisions and perhaps units which would operate in the first echelon and would be equipped with armor firepower.

During the fighting engineering troops were occupying an important place. Thus, at Vukovar, around 20% of the troops were engineering subdivisions and units, which corresponds to the norm of the Viet Nam war (30%) and 1973 Arab/Israeli war (20%).

It looks like in the wars of the future this percentage will rise because of the weapons’ firepower growth. Because of this there is a need for the presence of a segregate engineering/construction unit dealing exclusively with building shelters for the troops and having proper engineering equipment including a concrete-mixer. Along with that engineering and construction units will conduct independent combat actions and that is why it is necessary to have infantry, reconnaissance and fire support units as their part.

The technological progress of the last century favors existence of the engineering troops as a segregate combat arm. Now the amplitude of technological disasters themselves-not speaking about the application of nuclear weapons- can lead to a situation when one would have to fight not an opponent at the front but both technological and natural disasters. For the fulfillment of such tasks engineering troops are suited best.

Yugoslav military media were describing in abundant detail the practices of utilization of engineering equipment, tactics of engineering troops and the method of application of mines during the war in Croatia. Thus, we can see examples of works like: ‘’Engineering during liberation of a town/settlement’’,- Col.Dusan Stanizan, ‘’Novi glasnik’’ ,No 3, 1993 («Inžinjerijsko obezbeđenje pri oslobađanju naseljenog mjesta» — puk. Dušan Stanižan,»Novi glasnik» br. 3., 1993.), ‘’Engineering troops in combat’’-Col. Mladen Mihajlovic, Col. Dusan Stanizan, Milosav Stojanovic,‘’Novi glasnik’’ NoNo 5/6, 1996 («Inžinjerija u borbenim dejstvima» — puk. Mladen Mihajlović, puk. Dušan Stanižan, Milosav Stojanović, «Novi glasnik» br. 5/6., 1996.), ‘’Practices of Engineering Support of Combat in the civil war in Croatia’’ Col.Dusan Stanizan,, Milosav Stanojevic and Major Branko Boskovic, ‘’Vojno delo, No 1, 1995, ( «Iskustvo iz inžinjerijskog obezbeđenja borbenih dejstava u građanskom ratu u Hrvatskoj» — puk. Dušan Stanižan.Milosav Stanojević i major Branko Bošković, «Vojno delo» br.1, 1995; the below mentioned conclusions are , without doubt, the conclusions made by these authors.

During the early stage of the war in 1991 JNA paid little attention to engineering. Engineering mainly consisted of building fortifications and laying of minefields around segregate barracks or other objects and sometimes around Serbian villages JNA was defending. Only at the last stage of the war, JNA was paying more attention to training in engineering, but the character of assignments being fulfilled by JNA demanded other requirements from it.

Little attention was paid to construction of reliable shelters, at least during the first period and that fact was leading to considerable losses.Later on the situation ameliorated.

Deep dug blindages and bunkers with firm covers and deep trenches started to emerge, but absence of sufficient quantity of engineering equipment especially bulldozers and foss diggers in the first echelons was going back on here also.

Often positions were held for several days; and during these several days it was impossible to pull up equipment from the rear; namely in that period troops were suffering the heaviest losses.

The same was happening with overcoming of natural and artificial obstacles as the first echelon was lacking tank bridge-layers. Concerning planned demolition: these were not applied altogether because of policies of Yugoslav high-ups or local Serb authorities, or they were applied but on a limited scope, as according to Field Manuals demolition is not to be destruction.

At the same time, Croatian forces were preparing for passive defense, and while laying minefields and conducting demolitions, Croatian troops never cared about their own offense. Because of that mines were often laid haphazardly with very high density and sometimes with using booby traps; all that became more frequent with the growth of experience of application of mines/explosive obstacles. Repetitious laying of mines onto the already existing minefields was often encountered, together with fake/false minefields.

According to the article ‘’Entanglement during the 1991-92 fighting’’ by Lt.Col Milan Radmanovic («Zaprečavanje u borbenim dejstvima»- p.puk. Milan Radmanović,»Vojni glasnik»,br.3- 4,1992), forehead demolitions had a great significance for activities of Croatian forces, because they stalled the Yugoslavian Army’s advancement and Croatian forces as a rule practiced total demolition of roads, bridges and objects. As well, according to the article of Col. Vlastimir Stojanovic ‘’Defense of cities’’ published in the magazine ‘’Vojno delo’’ («Odbrana gradova» — puk. Vlastimir Stojanović, «Vojno delo»,br. 4. — 5., 1992), important role in activities of Croatian armed forces was played by organization of unified defense consisting of several lines along the outskirts of cities and along their main streets. Defense knots were formed in buildings in tiers on floors which enabled to organize multilayered fire and crossfire.

Basements were transformed into shelters as well as into fire positions of anti tank weapons. Attics, especially of tall buildings were used as observation points, sniper positions and light mortar/anti-aircraft defense positions. Fortifications were arranged inside high-rise buildings as well including arrangement of positions in flights of stairs , in the event of opponents’ breaks through into the building. Underground communications we frequently used for liaisons between positions. It goes without saying that all described above was an ideal solution which was not always applied to the full extent but for sure the formation of such knots of defense with holding capacity of platoon/company/battalion was the key to successful defense. Trucks or railway coaches/cars loaded with gravel or sand –or with combustible materials which gave a lot of smoke while burning- were often used as barricades. As it was mentioned before, these were strengthened by mines and explosive equipment often put under asphalt from the road shoulder side, and that frequently made the opponent retreat.
According to the article of Lt. Colonel Milan Radmanovic ‘’Engineering obstacles in military actions of 1991-1992’’’ published in ‘’Vojni Glasnik’’ magazine (No 3/4 1992 year («Zaprečavanje u borbenim dejstvima» — p.puk. Milan Radmanović, «Vojni glasnik», br.3/4 -1992), all the construction organizations started to work for military purposes and were producing a large quantity of engineering constructions which were immediately transported to the key points of defense; Croats were preparing these points for round defense/perimeter defense.

Fortifications were strengthened by minefields covered by fire, first of all at main directions. The distances there were diverse: from hundreds of meters to the distance of a direct shot from a gun. Indeed , it was the best option. Often, mines were not covered by fire, but it was mainly at secondary directions, or at the internal (the second) line of defense.

Croatian forces were preparing for passive defense, and while laying minefields and conducting demolitions, Croatian troops never cared about their own offense. Because of that mines were often laid haphazardly with very high density and sometimes with using additional booby traps; all that became more frequent with the growth of experience of application of mines/explosive obstacles. Repetitious laying of mines onto the already existing minefields was often encountered, together with fake/false minefields.

At the same time, JNA-Yugoslavian People‘s Army, especially at the last stage of the war, was paying great attention to training in engineering, but the character of assignments being fulfilled by JNA demanded other requirements from it. During the early stage of the war in 1991 JNA paid little attention to engineering. Engineering mainly consisted of building fortifications and laying of minefields around segregate barracks or other objects and sometimes around Serbian villages JNA was defending.
In former Yugoslavia the utilization of the mine weapons was seriously prepared. The main JNA center for that was Engineering Training Center in Karlovac (Croatia), relocated to Obrenovac (Serbia) with the start of the war.
Engineering troops were of great importance in former SFRY, mining and explosives were particularly stressed on because of the well developed manufacturing of mining/explosive devices in former Yugoslavia which was active in exporting them.
According to the evaluation of foreign experts, the pre-war SFRY was taking one of leading places in the world as to manufacturing and design of explosives and mining/explosive devices, as the ‘’Third world’’ market was open for SFRY and such goods/commodities were highly popular.
Almost all basic kinds of military and industrial explosives were produced here.During the war, beside both plastid on the basis of hexogen(RDX) and charges of TNT and Composition B , there was used also the industrial explosive which was produced at the factory in the town of Vitez in Bosnia and that is why called ‘’vitezit’’, of the following types: 100, 80/2, 80, 40, 35, 25, 20 and MVP-20
There were produced burning time blasting fuse cords and detonating cords of several types, percussion caps and blasting caps, both ignited by flame and electrically.

A big number of fuses for ‘’special forces’ operations was in service in JNA as well.
One series of these fuses was called ‘’subversive’’, and in that series the following fuses were included, like UDU- which had pressure, pull and pressure/release action; UDZ , equipped by tilt rod ; UDOP- pull and pressure/release actions; UDOd- release by unscrewing ; UDP- pull action.
The other series of fuses , a more novel one, was called ‘’special mechanic’’ and it contained: fuse UMP- reacting on pulling, UMP- reacting on pulling, UMNP- reacting on pressing and pulling, UMOP- pull and pressure/release actions, UMNOP- pressure, pull and pressure/release actions.

There were also chemical fuses: USHP pull action, USHOP-1 pressure/release and pull action and USHN-1 pressure action. Beside these there were chemical delay fuses of UDVK and USTH series. Clockwork delay SU-24,SU-10 SUs-80 were designed and produced as well.

Electronic fuse EMU-1 was designed for anti-transport mines; because of its construction design it could go off beside because pressure/release action, as well as pull action. One more fuse the JNA was armed with was UDB-1 ; it went off because of pulling, change of position/tilting, or inertial force.

The most modern fuses were specialized electronic fuses of the US series, Special Electronic Fuses, or `Superquick Fuses’ as they are sometimes called, are a family of booby traps, each with a different operating principle. (USI-T-inertial(quick movements) force more then 1- 3 meters /sec or tilt to the angle more than 30 degrees; USS-T –photoelectric action , which goes off at the force of light more than 7 lux; UST-T- thermal control device activated at heating more than 70 degrees C; UST — fuse/ timer with setting moderation of 5 to 9999 mins.; USV-T –vibration action; UEPzh –equipped by breaking wire ; USA-T — with acoustic/noise action).As well in former Yugoslavia there were designed and produced radio control device fuses and laser device fuses for activation of explosive charges.

Production of mines was also diverse. Thus, after the WWII in Yugoslavia there was first produced the Soviet anti-personnel pressure blast mine PMD-6, with the Soviet mechanical fuse MUV; it received the JNA marking of PMA-1, correspondingly with fuse UMP-1.

Then the production of the look-alike PMA-1A mine began, but it had a plastic body and chemical fuse UPMAH-1. This mine, however, showed its short life span in the ground because it was open to humidity , and that is why the production of antipersonnel pressure mines of own design –PMA-2 and PMA-3 began.

PMA-2 had the chemical pressure fuse –with an ‘’asterisk’’-six-pronged plunger in the upper part- UPMAH-2.The main body is a cylindrical plastic casing filled with TNT. The threaded central fuse well is sealed by a plug during transit and has a small booster(2 grams) of tetryl at the bottom. The detonator, which has a thin aluminum casing, is attached to the fuse body by a threaded plastic cap which is bonded into place. Once the mine has been placed, the string is pulled to remove the safety pin and sufficient pressure on the plunger forces it into the friction-sensitive composition to initiate the mine.

PMA-3 mine consisted of two plastic halves held together by covered black rubber at the top, and of the chemical fuse UPMAH-3; the upper section contains the main charge and sits in the cupped lower section so that it can tilt in any direction. During transit and emplacement the halves are fastened by a rigid plastic band secured by a safety pin, which has a length of string attached to it. The base section has a central threaded fuze well on the underside, sealed by a plug and a rubber O-ring. The UPMAH-3 fuze assembly consists of a plastic casing which is mould around a small steel pin, the other end of which is lodged in a friction-sensitive composition; above this is the integral M-17 P-2 detonator. When force on the pressure plate causes the upper section to tilt, the fuze moves with the top half, but the tip of the pin is held by the base. This causes the pin to shear sideways through the friction-sensitive composition, transferring the force of the fire to the detonator fuse which in its turn transfers detonation to the charge of the pressurized TNT.

During the war these 3 kinds of mines were widely used and were called correspondingly: ‘’sapunica’’-‘’soap tray’’, ‘’pashteta’’-‘’ pasty can’’ and ‘’frog’’ (because of its water resistance up to 6 months and the possibility to install it under water).

Thus, Croats in 1991-1992 floated PMA-3 down the Danube, and some of those were washed ashore in Serbia . These mines which had charges of explosives, correspondingly: 200 grams of pressurized TNT, 70 grams of pressurized TNT with additional detonator of 2 grams of tetryle, 35 grams of pressurized TNT, were a big danger for the infantry because of the natural fear of humans who were more afraid to lose a foot than a head.

Until now no reliable protection from antipersonnel pressure blast (high-explosive) mines has been designed, as the existing boots are heavy and inconvenient for moving around, even for sappers/deminers; and inflatable pillows applied later on by French peacekeepers (pillows were put onto boots and they apportioned weight) are suitable only for demining of pressure action mines and only during a very limited period. So far this problem has not been solved throughout the world; while using the protection boots the movement was heavy, factors which deteriorated the situation were both weight and highness of the sole/pelma; while wearing these boots a leg was broken heavily in knee and thigh.

As the majority of contemporary antipersonnel blast pressure mines has plastic body,, and frequently chemical fuse, these mines were hard to disclose as the ground was full of metal, often permeated by ores, especially it was about the Yugoslav PMA-3. Only modern Western mine detectors could be applied, as for example the German ‘’Ebinger’’ but at the time of this war Yugoslav army had small number of good mine detectors.

Yugoslavian People’s Army was armed with few modern mine detectors, there was lack of them in the troops; old models were not of much help. One more grave danger for infantry was stretching fragmentation mine PMR-2 A(similar to the Soviet POMZ-2, but with the charge of 100 grams of pressurized TNT and the mechanical pull action fuse with trip wire UPMR-2 or with the same fuse UPMR-2AS, which had a second strike pin enabling to actuate the signal cartridge located in the upper part; of the same danger were PMR-3 mines of Yugoslavian manufacture with the charge of 400 of molten TNT and with the additional detonator of 13 grams of tetryl; the mine was supplied with the fuse UPMR-3 of pull and pressure action; it enabled to install 6 tripwires each 16 meters long encircling the mine, but not one as with PMR-2.

These mines had a deficiency, though, as they were initiated by wild animals and pets; the opponent was using that sometimes, and the wire itself with a couple of years of time passing became corroded, or was going down to the ground under the weight of foliage and branches falling off the trees, and then sappers had to pull it again. Fishing lines by which wires were sometimes replaced with were stretching themselves, and some sappers raised it to the height of one to one and a half meters as a rule hiding mines’ bodies behind tree trunks.

The abovementioned was especially referring to PMR-3 which had an all-in-one body with TNT poured into it. Nevertheless, these mines could be surmounted without means of demining-and that happened in practice-particularly on stony terrains and in cities where it could be possible to evade dangerous ground/earth surfaces. More dangerous and perhaps the most lethal was the ‘’frog’’ fragmentation mine PROM-1, and in ex-USSR there were mine OZM-3, OZM-4 and OZM-72 of the same type.

It had the charge consisting either of molten TNT with old types or gexotol(Composition B) with new ones, of 425 grams with three additional tetryl detonators. The mine had UPROM-1 fuze with pull/pressure action, similar in action and design with UPRM-3 but UPROM-1 had only percussion cap and delay element and had not non-electric blasting cap.

When tripwire was pulled or pressure asterisk pressed, that pushed down an internal collar, aligning holes with three retaining balls in the central striker assembly. As the balls escape, the spring-loaded striker is released onto the percussion cap. The percussion cap ignites 1,5 second delay element which then burning of propellant charge (3 grams of black powder) ejecting the mine thrown into the air up to 70-80 cm (old type) or 20-30 (new type). During this flight the pulling wire of the another internal fusing device placed inside of explosive charge attached to the bottom of the body of the mine was uncoiled.

As soon as the wire pulled the strike pin onto the percussion cap of the internal fusing device, the force of fire was transferred to the blasting cap and then to detonator and the mine exploded hitting personnel by fragments at the distance of 20-30 meters. Propellant charge of the PROM-1 mine was located in a small metal tube which could be found in the crater after the explosion of the mine.

It was the most wide-spread model of PROM, though there models PROM-KD with electronic fusing device with break-wire and the ‘’subversive(special forces)’’ model PROM-3 weighing 2 kg, with the explosive plastid charge(analogy of C-4) and plastic body containing 2900 steel beads (0,35 grams each). In the body of the mine there were two (upper and lower) detonators triggering at the same time and giving a narrow blast wave with bigger kinetic energy of fragments. However, the two last models of PROM were not practically used during the war, except in some unconfirmed accidents. .

The MRUD mine had 900 gram charge of plastic explosive (analogy of C-4) and 650 steel balls molten into plastic. MRUD mines, like similar American M-18 Claymore, like the whole series of mines of that type manufactured throughout the world, could be installed for pull action but as a rule were installed for initiating by wire remote method.

Self-made fragmentation mines manufactured either by individual craftsmen or under makeshift conditions played a big role in that war. These were mainly antipersonnel mines — ‘’stretch’’ mines both of circular and directional action , though the latter were installed more often not for pull action but were controlled remotely.

In this war there were many examples of improvised mines of directional action. Mines weighing several dozen kilograms were encountered. Great attention was given to booby traps installed by the Croatian forces massively but often haphazardly.

Antitank mine TMRP-6 presented a big danger for infantry, especially for vehicles traveling by narrow roads; that mine was directed not only against bottom, but against sides as well. Because of the rod on the upper part that mine had one more distinction-concave disk from high quality steel , established over the charge of 5,2 kg molten TNT.

This disk because of rapid changing of form under explosive force was getting the velocity of 1500-2000 m/sec and was piercing up to 50mm of vertical molten armor at the distance of 10 meters, 30 mm-at the distance of 30 meters, 20mm –at the distance of 50 meters. Such effect is called Miznay-Shardin effect .

It is understandable that it would be possible to make this mine an anti-personnel one at times, or by pull tension action (either through the rod itself, or through the wire tied to the rod’s end) or at directional action, by command with electric detonator inserted at the bottom of the mine in the hole from where to remove detonator. Lastly, usual anti-tank mines: TMM-1, TMA-1, TMA-3, TMA-4, TMA-5, TMA-5A were used as antipersonnel mines, when an antipersonnel pressure blast mine was put upon lids of those mines.

During that fighting mines displayed themselves as very important weapon in wars of XX century (war in Viet Nam, Arab/Israeli wars, Yugoslav war); the level of losses from mines was reaching 20-30 %. In city conditions of Vukovar and later in Sarajevo specialists for demolition among whom there were not many professionals-often in the course of ‘’actions’’ were the decisive factor for the outcome of combat by demolishing opponent fortifications with explosive charges, pulling these charges quite close to enemy’s positions. Different utensils filled with explosives were transported by diversionists of both sides to opponents’ positions or were floated by rivers (there were pin action fuzes) against opponent’s objects, bridges first of all.

A big number of improvised mines/explosives were utilized for fighting infantry, like: booby-traps made of concrete, controlled land mines made of stone, and self-made fragmentation mines both of directional and circular action.

Concerning explosive charges, in practice there were used charges made of pressurized TNT ( mainly TNT paper covered blocks of 200 grams) and plastic covered TNT blocks of 100 and 500 grams; also pound (453 g) charges of tetrytole (a mixture of TNT and tetryle); sometimes there were encountered explosive charges(blasts) of 1,2 kg tetrytol,1,1 kg gexotol(Composition B), of 25 kg TNT, and also a number of charges of foreign and self-made manufacture.

The most popular were composite plastic explosives on the basis of RDX (M5A1, P-20 and PE-64, PP-01) and PETN (NP-65), as well as industrial plastic explosive ‘’vitezit’’. These explosives, being easy to use, snugly fitting to surface, having waterproof ability and ductility/pliability were most frequently applied in different offensive and subversive ‘’actions’’.

Concerning methods of sapping/disruption: most often the fire method with usage of time fuse cord was utilized, and, as a rule, azid non-electric blasting cap No 8, which was fastened at the hole in explosive charge or, if there were several explosive charges, to the detonating cord which was connected to the charges sequentially or in parallel.

The mechanical method of sapping/disruption was used as a rule, with special firing device by pull action, like mines/explosive traps, and the electrical method with blasting machines (dynamo exploder),electric detonators and firing cable was applied mainly then and there where time and situation permitted.

Further on in the war and especially with the relocation of fighting into Bosnia and Herzegovina, a big number of means of foreign and home-made manufacture was applied.

It is only logical that with time passing a lot of good specialists appeared in the troops because of lasting practice of work with mines/explosive devices including individuals who started to acquaint themselves with mines only with the beginning of the war; these individuals were able to set up (install) several dozen and sometimes hundreds mines a day and were removing the same quantity a day, by the schemes of course.

During defensive actions the work with mines/explosives had even greater significance as they were often the main obstacle for the opponent, and then, sometimes , booby-traps made of several PROMs tied-up together were installed. Mining engineering played a big role in installment of defensive lines, especially in city warfare.

Concerning mechanical means of demining, they were used insufficiently during the Yugoslav war , especially in armies which appeared later-Army of Bosnian Serbs and Army of Croatian Serbs.

Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) was successfully applying tanks T-34 with mounted/hinged equipment (trawls PT-55 and KMT-6) but they were sometime fired at by anti tanks weapons or blown up on explosive charges connected with detonating cord to mines which were under a tank’s bottom at the moment when trawl was coming onto a mine.

Here the influence of stereotypes was big, and indeed the main demining method was a manual one. Here the light winding JNA prodders were used and also bayonets both from M-98 carbines and M-70 assault automatic rifles(Yugoslav ‘’Kalashnikovs’’) .

Minefields were placed both in accordance to maps and without them-haphazardly, frequently directly during the ongoing combat. Mines were put in the ruins of buildings, and this presented a big problem for demining because of the metallic sound background in ruins. Often

mines were places in road shoulders, that entailed-after the destruction of the leading vehicle by antitank weapons fire or by mine explosion- the ever greater losses for the offensive forces which were trying to form into combat order. When the war has transitioned into the phase of civil conflict there was even less order in placement of minefields, and mines were placed wherever by whoever, often without keeping to the necessary rules, at least for preparing minefield maps.

This led to big losses in troops from ‘’friendly’’ mines. Of course, the main reason was lack of discipline, but at the same time it is necessary to take into consideration that sapper units as a rule existed on the brigade level and that, naturally, was not corresponding to the needs of platoon and company unit levels . It was considered necessary that both sappers and EOD operators were in all the units equaling company. Along with that it is necessary to train all personnel the basics of engineering, at least concerning placement and defusing of all kinds of mine explosive devices, at that does not take much time.

Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) naturally had a large theoretical base and a big number of specialists, but the majority of reservists drafted by JNA very often did not have experience of working with mines altogether, or that experience was of ten to twenty year back in time. It is known how small is practical experience of active duty rank and file servicemen concerning work with mines and explosive devices, especially with the strict confidentiality regime , when even officers lacked intelligible reference books.

This experience has not become much bigger even during the war , when many ‘’pioneer’’ (sapper) units were used not by their direct mission , but as building/construction units or infantry, and in those units only the minority of personnel worked with mines. That was concerning both officers and privates, and that is why the fright of mines was great in the troops, and there were grounds for that , as losses from mines often reached around a quarter to the total losses in infantry units.

Many officers who themselves did not know how to use mines , did not give their consent to allot men to groups for arranging obstructions though those groups- in the opinions of many engineering officers reflected by the media, including Col. Dusan Stanizan- fighting practically on their own, should consist not only of sappers and construction units personnel but of infantry with anti tank munitions and should have off-road vehicles and armored vehicles and, desirably, helicopters. The situation required to train personnel in conditions of combat, and such kind of training, as it turned out, was going much faster and more meaningful than during the time of peace.

The control and protection was utilized badly-because of commanding officers’ reluctance to retain their personnel near the minefields and that was leading to repeated recce missions of the minefields or losses from ‘’friendly’’ mines, and the irresponsibility in those cases was great.

However , the set up of minefields indeed served as a big obstacle for Croatian forces, and the latter, not wishing to de-mine the minefields, were trying to move through the spaces which were not mined and were often covered by direct laying fire, and, while retreating, got under fire again, this time under mortar fire. Nevertheless JNA was laying mines decidedly not at full strength, and the opponent was apparently yielding up to JNA in strength and level of training.

On the strength of all that, one of the major tasks of recon units which ‘’track’’ routes for movement of troops is reconnaissance and marking of minefields. Because of such character of modern wars there arises a need to have sappers in every unit. For sappers the time of their training is not that long if to select candidates out of soldiers with combat experience. If every section is provided with one or two qualified sappers, during one month they can render that section battle-worthy, and the main factor in that is the availability of training dummy mines layouts. These dummy mines have to be installed at the training ground so that trainees would consolidate their combat skills and the flair would emerge. It is quite possible to teach trainees to operate prodders, knives and mine detectors during a month, as well as to get experienced drivers ready to operate demining vehicles.

Dog handlers need longer training, as training of mine detection dogs requires the term of not less than six months. These dogs are very important, first of all, for ferreting of mine fields, as they react to the main danger from mines –to the explosives, and the possibility using dogs for confirming of work with mine detectors which are based on seeking of metal is considerably lower. During demining actions at unfamiliar terrain a well trained dog proceeding ahead of a patrol makes the movement much faster , reacting to mines and EOD. During the war in Yugoslavia in 1991-1992, usage of dogs never was widespread by Yugoslavian army, despite the existence of dog training center in Beli Manastir which was later relocated to Kikinda.

Frequently mine clearing equipment did not arrive to troops because of far-fetched reasons and the minefield breaching system with rocket-propelled line charge UZ-3 which was in service sometimes was proclaimed a weapon and that is why was not issued to such a ‘’non-combatant’’ as engineering. There were no portable charges similar to the Soviet rocket-propelled line charge UR-83P while there was an acute need for them.

Outfitting with engineering equipment has turned out a big weakness and the existing equipment was not armored; as a result mines were placed mainly manually and as the combat situation was rapidly changing, almost all engineering equipment was not armored. At first pull tension action fragmentation mines were used; as for mining of the same area with pressure action mines the quantity of them had much to be much bigger, moreover, the latter caused fright in personnel, and such mines were frequently placed without digging them into the ground and sometimes without fuses.

The number of antitank mines placed was less, maximum one against four antipersonnel mines, because the adversary did not have enough armored vehicles.

Trailer minelayers displayed themselves well, where they were applied. Minelayers are absolutely not an obsolete weapon and, need arising, they could cover the actions of tank groups in case they break through into the depth of the opponent’s defense. It turned out that a light armored natant minelayer would have been necessary. Here credit should be given to the Yugoslav army, as after the war in Yugoslavia such a minelayer MOS-80A based on APC M-80 was designed. It placed antitank mines (TMRP-6 and TMNU-7) at the speed of 500 landmines per hour and had in 288 of these mines as ammo.

Yugoslav People’s Army was not practically applying the scattering mines dispensers it had as weapons, like twelve barrel 262 mm multiple rocket launcher ‘’Orkan’’ of Yugoslav-Iraqi production which had rockets R-262, containing both mono-block and cluster warhead which in its turn contained either 24 antitank mines KPOM with M-S effect plate and magnetic fuse or 288 shaped-charge elements KB-1 and KB-2( copies of American ones M42/46); there was also thirty two barrel 128 mm multiple rocket launcher ‘’Oganj’’ M-77 which also had rockets containing either mono-block warheads or cluster warheads with four antitank mines KPOM or with 48 elements KB-2 in each rocket M-77.

According to JNA military media sources, engineering in JNA was fulfilled depending on needs of platoon leaders/company commanders. When JNA was coming over to offensive there was not a great need in entanglements, and mainly segregate engineering groups were busy preparing the positions, mining first and foremost, and also –to the lesser extent- were demolishing and constructing fortifications.

The situation has changed, however, during the last (third) year of the war, when JNA-because of political reasons — came over to defense, and then attention to engineering furnishing of positions has incomparably grown.

It should be noted that that all the abovementioned peculiarities of the application of mines/explosives as well as setting up of engineering obstacles referred not only to fighting in Croatia in 1991-1992, but also to the fighting after 1992 both in Croatia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina.



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