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Yugoslavia Table of Contents


Postwar Development

Demobilization, begun in late 1945, eventually reduced the size of the YPA by half. Disagreements with the Soviet Union soon had an impact on the Yugoslav military establishment. The Soviets wanted their junior ally to maintain only a small army and depend mainly on the Red Army for defense. Although the Soviet Union offered to train that small army, the Yugoslavs rejected this proposal because they were dissatisfied with the quantity and quality of Soviet military assistance. Tito also was angered by Soviet attempts to recruit a network of agents within the Yugoslav military. Upon the break in Soviet-Yugoslav relations in 1948, the Soviet Union withdrew its military advisers.

Yugoslavia's ability to endure the Soviet blockade that followed the break was due in large part to the loyalty of the YPA to Tito and the country. To ensure control, Tito served as his own minister of defense until 1953. From 1948 until 1954, the army maintained a constant state of military alert to repel a possible Soviet invasion to overthrow Tito.

The United States was also a large factor in postwar Yugoslav military policy. President Harry S. Truman gave an indirect guarantee of Yugoslavia's security when he declared its continued independence to be a national interest of the United States. The risk of a possible United States response to a Soviet invasion of Yugoslavia outweighed any conceivable gain. Between 1948 and 1955, the United States gave Yugoslavia US$600 million in direct military grants and an equal amount in economic aid, enabling Yugoslavia to devote more of its domestic resources to defense. By 1952 the YPA had grown to 500,000 troops, and defense expenditures consumed 22 percent of the gross national product ( GNP--see Glossary). A formal United States Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) was established in Belgrade in 1951. It operated for ten years, disbursing military grants and arranging another US$1 billion in arms sales on favorable terms. At United States urging, Yugoslavia sought a collective security agreement with Greece and Turkey, which became the formal Balkan Pact in 1954. Tito withdrew from that grouping before it was formalized, however. Yugoslavia distanced itself from the United States, after Nikita Khrushchev repaired bilateral Soviet-Yugoslav ties and Tito became involved in the Nonaligned Movement in the mid1950s . By the time the MAAG was withdrawn in 1961, military relations with the United States had dwindled to US$1 million in spare parts and ammunition purchased yearly.

Yugoslavia depended heavily on purchases of Soviet arms and equipment during the 1960s and 1970s, but the Soviet threat increased at essentially the same time. The Soviet-led Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 forced a major change in Yugoslav military doctrine. The surprise, speed, and massive superiority of the invading forces in Czechoslakia indicated that the relatively small YPA could not successfully use conventional tactics to defend Yugoslav territory against a similar attack. A new doctrine of Total National Defense (TND) was promulgated to permit continuous, unconventional warfare by the entire population against a massive invasion and occupation. After implementing the new doctrine in the early 1970s, Yugoslavia increased its military contacts with countries other than the Soviet Union; in the late 1970s and 1980s, it began to buy more weapons from other sources or to produce them domestically.

Data as of December 1990