The role of the military in communist Yugoslavia: an historical sketch

by A. Ross Johnson


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After World War II the Yugoslav People's Army (YPA) evolved from a revolutionary partisan army into a professional military establishment. It was created by the Communist Party and since has remained subordinated to overall Party control. Assimilating the changing values of the Party, the leadership has developed a strong loyalty to the state and the Yugoslav Communist political system. The YPA has been preoccupied with external security, primarily the Soviet threat. Intensity of defense preparations have varied proportionate to the Soviet threat. Following the domestic turmoil of 1971-1972, the military has reemphasized its mission to protect the integrity of the Yugoslav Communist system and Yugoslav state against domestic as well as external challenges. It is committed to a broadly based system of "total national defense" that has created a symbiotic relationship between the military and Yugoslav society as a whole.

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