Slovenia - Military History

Slovenia's military tradition dates back to the times of Carantania, the first Slovenian country, established in the 7th century. A special part of folk tradition is the memory of fights with the Turks, which ranged in the period between the end of the 14th century and the great victory over the Turks near Sisak in 1593. However, the richest tradition is the one relating to the great peasant revolts in the territories populated by Slovenians, which have also contributed to the national awakening. The greatest peasant revolts occurred in 1478, 1515, 1573, 1635 and 1731.

In the Austro-Hungarian Army, Slovenian regiments and soldiers were highly appreciated and recognised. In 1918, they constituted the base for the first army in modern Slovenian history, which was composed of approximately 12,000 men. In the fight for the northern border, this army, commanded by General Rudolf Maister, successfully defended Maribor including its rear area and eastern Carinthia.

In 1919, the Slovenian army was disbanded and replaced by the Yugoslav army. During the years of occupation, between 1941 and 1945, an almost completely autonomous Slovenian partisan army was formed. In August 1944, it included 21,700 members and was organised into two corps and one operational zone. It was disbanded after the war. In 1968, when the countries of the Warsaw Pact attacked Czechoslovakia, the Yugoslav political and military authorities were convinced that Yugoslavia needed a more effective armed force. Therefore, the General People's Defence doctrine was adopted and the Territorial Defence of the republics and provinces was established.

The main headquarters of the general people's resistance in Slovenia was established on 20 November 1968. On the basis of lessons learned during World War II, the Territorial Defence was organised mainly in the form of detachments. Within the organisation of the armed forces, the Territorial Defence acted as the Yugoslav People's Army's (YPA) auxiliary force. The commanding language was Slovene. Members of the Territorial Defence felt like Slovenian soldiers and were perceived as such by the local population.

The Territorial Defence Command made every effort to arm its units better than the YPA's plans envisaged. Consequently, the leadership of the Territorial Defence was ousted and the YPA began to increasingly subordinate the headquarters and units. Especially after 1974, more and more highly responsible duties within the Territorial Defence were being assumed by active YPA officers. While Serbia's goals to subject all of Yugoslavia to its authority were becoming more and more evident, the support for the Slovenian Territorial Defence was decreasing.

Due to the democratic changes in Slovenia, which were crowned with the opposition's victory in the 1990 elections, the central government in Belgrade issued an order to the Territorial Defence Republic Headquarters to disarm Slovenian Territorial Defence units. The story of 1945, when the Slovenian armed forces were disarmed and subordinated to Belgrade, was repeated. However, all the headquarters did not obey the order to disarm and surrender their weapons.

In accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia and the Law on General People's Defence, the minister of defence and the minister of internal affairs of the first democratically elected government of the Republic of Slovenia, armed the Manoeuvre Structure of National Defence, the backbone of the Slovenian Armed Forces, in utmost secrecy.

Within the Territorial Defence, a small group of YPA supporters was formed on one side against the majority of Territorial Defence members on the other side who favourably accepted the democratisation of Slovenian society. The conflict reached its peak in October 1990, when the federal army violently occupied the premises of the Territorial Defence Republic Headquarters. After the incident, the Slovenian authorities designated a new Chief of Staff, who assumed his duties on 10 October.

The Division for the Development of the Territorial Defence was established within the Territorial Defence Republic Headquarters. In December, a new Territorial Defence coat-of-arms was introduced, rank insignia were adopted and the first new uniforms were made. In May 1991, the training of military recruits in two training centres (Ig near Ljubljana and Pekre near Maribor) began. On 2 June, the first conscripts were sworen in. They were the first peacetime servicemembers in the history of the Slovenian nation.

In October 1990, upon the occupation of the Territorial Defence Republic Headquarters in Ljubljana, the Yugoslav People's Army (YPA) used weapons against the new Slovenian armed forces for the first time. The next attempt to impose the will of the YPA was on 23 May 1991 at the training centre in Pekre near Maribor, when the YPA tried to gain access to the conscripts by initiating an incident.

On 25 June 1991, the Republic of Slovenia declared its independence. On the same day, armoured and other units of the YPA launched an armed aggression to occupy Slovenian border crossings. The YPA was tasked to break Slovenia's connection with the world, to disarm members of the Territorial Defence and the Police Force and to force Slovenian governing authorities to discontinue the measures for the establishment of an independent country.

Slovenia agreed to the fight. Territorial Defence and Police Force units disabled the YPA's plans. They won the fight for the borders, stopped the movements of enemy columns, blocked YPA units stationed in the barracks and disabled their provisioning of the country.

The war lasted from 26 June to 7 July, when the Brioni Declaration was signed. Upon the signing of the declaration, the Territorial Defence was in control of the entire Slovenian territory. On 26 October 1991, the last YPA soldier left Slovenia from the port of Koper. At the beginning of the conflict, the Territorial Defence included 16,000 armed men, whereas at the end of the war it included 35,000 men. Territorial Defence weapons did not include armoured assets and artillery. The Slovenian Police Force was composed of some 10,000 members.

In the 10-day conflict, 31 tanks, 22 infantry fighting vehicles, 172 transport vehicles, 6 helicopters and other YPA's assets were destroyed. 45 YPA members were killed and 146 wounded. Territorial Defence units captured 4693 YPA members and 139 members of the federal police. There were 19 Slovenians killed and 182 wounded.

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