Yugoslavia Table of Contents
The YPA became involved in internal security when unrest in Kosovo escalated in 1981. Under a declaration of national emergency, the army intervened to stop demonstrations by ethnic Albanians beyond the control of the LCY, People's Militia, and local militia. Hundreds of citizens were injured and some were killed during the YPA's suppression of the demonstrations. Some reports indicated that one-fourth of the YPA's total manpower remained in Kosovo to maintain order throughout the 1980s. The YPA presence added to local resentment; demonstrations resumed in 1987 and continued through the end of the decade.
Use of military force against the domestic population to maintain order aroused controversy. Top government and party leaders, rank and file military, and government critics expressed varying opinions. Political leaders expected the military to ensure the unity of Yugoslavia and preserve its constitutional order against internal threats. Yet the internal security mission put the YPA under great stress because it was not structured or equipped for such activity. In Kosovo the YPA suffered intense hostility from the entire ethnic Albanian population, including armed attacks by local militants. Some officers believed involvement in ethnic problems put the army in a dangerous position of opposing large segments of society. More importantly, they believed that such involvement might weaken or divide the YPA. Many in this group preferred to stay in the barracks and concentrate on defense against foreign aggression. Outside critics of the YPA also argued that its only legitimate role was external defense, and that the army was a bulwark of the excessive centralism opposed by many citizens. The YPA seemed to be involved in all Yugoslavia's political and social crises. Some citizens looked to it for solutions; others viewed it as part of the country's problems.
The controversy surrounding the role of the YPA in 1990 meant that the political and social tensions of Yugoslavia had finally begun to affect the last bastion of all-Yugoslav solidarity. Significant reduction in the threat of foreign invasion and the urgent need for reduction in a high military budget also brought major changes in actual Yugoslav military practice--although in 1990 the World-War-II-vintage doctrine of civilian defense forces and preparation for invasion remained in place. At the policy level, Yugoslavia's nonaligned military position remained firm; greater emphasis on domestic arms manufacture and reduced reliance on the Soviet Union and other suppliers, strengthened that position. Meanwhile, Yugoslav security forces continued to monitor dissident activity at home and abroad. As nationalist political activism increased in the 1980s, the role of the security forces increased, particularly in turbulent Kosovo. By 1990, however, the democratization of neighboring countries and the pluralization of Yugoslav society exerted substantial pressure to abolish laws that justified arbitrary prosecution of domestic dissident activity. Many observers believed that the fragmentation threatened by reduced control of nationalist activity might become a justification for military intervention in national politics, or for expanded use of the YPA in quelling civil disturbances.
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In Yugoslavia's Security Dilemmas and numerous articles, Marko Milivojevic shows that he is the foremost student of Yugoslav security and military affairs. A number of Yugoslav authors describe well the country's military history and doctrine. Walter R. Roberts's Tito, Mihailovic and the Allies, 1941-1945, a vital work on Yugoslavia during World War II, was revised and updated in 1987. Although articles by former YPA officer and émigré Milan N. Vego are somewhat dated, they offer first-hand experience with the subject. The Radio Free Europe reports of Slobodan Stankovic and Milan Andrejevic are useful sources of up-to-date information on external security matters. The Daily Report: East Europe of the Foreign Broadcast Information Service is important for obtaining translations of illuminating articles from the Yugoslav military press. The United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency's annual report World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers is a source of data on the economics of national defense in Yugoslavia. Amnesty International reports provide reliable coverage of the internal security and human rights situation in the country. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)
Data as of December 1990
Yugoslavia Table of Contents