Army of Republika Srpska

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Army of Republika Srpska
Војска Републике Српске
Vojska Republike Srpske
Military leaderRatko Mladić[1]
Political leaderRadovan Karadžić[2]
Dates of operation1992–2006
Split from Yugoslav People's Army
Merged into Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Allegiance Republika Srpska
MotivesIndependence of Republika Srpska (until 1995)
HeadquartersPale, Bijeljina, Banja Luka
Size80,000 at peak, 4,000 in 2005[3]
Allies JNA
Opponents ARBiH (until 1995)
HVO (until 1995)
HV (until 1995)
Colours  Red
Helmet decal

The Army of Republika Srpska (Serbian: Војска Републике Српске/Vojska Republike Srpske; ВРС/VRS), commonly referred to in English as the Bosnian Serb Army,[4] was the military of Republika Srpska, the self-proclaimed Serb secessionist republic, a territory within the newly independent Bosnia and Herzegovina (formerly part of Yugoslavia), which it defied and fought against. Active during the Bosnian War from 1992 to 1995, it continued to exist as the armed forces of RS, one of two entities making up Bosnia and Herzegovina, until 2006 when it was integrated into the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Forces of the VRS engaged in several campaigns, including Operation Corridor 92, Operation Vrbas '92, Operation Bura, and Operation Spider; they were also involved in the siege of Sarajevo, as well as the Srebrenica massacre.


A typical uniform of a VRS member during the 1990s

The Army of the Republika Srpska (VRS) was founded on 12 May 1992 from the remnants of the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from which Bosnia and Herzegovina had seceded earlier in 1992. When the Bosnian War erupted, the JNA formally discharged 80,000 Bosnian Serb troops. These troops, who were allowed to keep their heavy weapons, formed the backbone of the newly formed Army of the Republika Srpska.[5]

Aside from being made up largely of ethnic Serbs from Bosnia and Herzegovina, the VRS also included ca. 4,000 foreign Orthodox Christian volunteers. 700 of whom came from Russia, and 300–800 from Bulgaria.[6][7] 100 Greeks also volunteered to fight on the side of the Bosnian Serbs, forming the Greek Volunteer Guard which allegedly participated in the Srebrenica massacre.[8]

Post-war status and abolishment[edit]

After the war, the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina had two armies, that of the VRS and the Army of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (AFBiH). AFBiH was itself composed of two elements, the ARBiH and HVO. The two armies functioned without a common command, on the principle of "non-intervention in the affairs of the other". Bisera Turković noted that it was 'therefore questionable whether in say a foreign attack on Sarajevo [...the VRS] would defend this capital city'. The existence of the two separate armies was one of the factors impeding civil-military relations development.[9] The VRS conducted demining.[10]

In 2003 the army began to integrate into the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 2005 a fully integrated unit of Serbs, Bosniaks, and Croats was deployed to augment the US-led coalition forces in Iraq.[3] On 6 June 2006, it was fully integrated into the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina controlled by the Ministry of Defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina.[11][12]


The supreme commander of the VRS was General Ratko Mladić,[13] later indicted at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for genocide, as were some other high-ranking Serb officers. Mladić was arrested in Serbia on 26 May 2011.

Military operations[edit]

Special units[edit]

  • Panthers Guard Special Brigade (Garda Panteri) (Специјална бригада Гарда Пантери), East-Bosnian Corps
  • Wolves from the Drina, or Drina Wolves (Вукови са Дрине), Drina Corps
  • Special Unit "Mando" (Специјална Јединица "Мандо"), East-Bosnian Corps
  • Special Unit "Osmaci" (Специјална Јединица "Осмаци"), Drina Corps
  • Serb Guard Ilidža (Српска Гарда Илиџа), Sarajevo-Romanija Corps
  • White Wolves (Бели Вукови)


Territorial organization of the VRS
Oath-taking Ceremony in 2001 at the Manjača Military Range

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia stated that:

"In July 1995, the Armed Forces of the Republika Srpska were under the command and control of the Commander-in-Chief, Radovan Karadžić. His headquarters was in Pale.[14]

Within the framework of the VRS, immediately subordinate to the Commander-in-Chief, was the Main Staff of the VRS, headquartered in Han Pijesak and commanded by General Ratko Mladic. It was the responsibility of the Commander of the Main Staff to issue regulations, orders and instructions regarding the implementation of orders by the Commander-in-Chief, and to discharge the command duties delegated to him by the Commander-in-Chief. The Main Staff of the VRS consisted of staff officers and staff support personnel, as well as some specialised military units such as the 65th Protection Regiment, designed to provide protection and combat services for the Main Staff; and the 10th Sabotage Detachment, a unit trained for operations behind enemy lines and other special combat assignments.

The vast majority of the fighting force of the VRS itself was divided into six geographically-based Corps, all subordinate to, and under the command of, General Mladic and, in turn, the Commander-in-Chief, Radovan Karadzic. In July 1995, the six Corps were the Drina Corps, the 1st Krajina Corps, the 2nd Krajina Corps, the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps, the Hercegovina Corps and the East Bosnia Corps."




  • 1st Corps – Banja Luka
  • 3rd Corps – Bijeljina
  • 5th Corps – Sokolac
  • 7th Corps – Bileća


Tanks and armoured vehicles[edit]

M-84 main battle tank of VRS

Towed artillery[edit]


Self-propelled artillery[edit]


M-77 Oganj MLRs of VRS


Antitank guns[edit]

Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Guns (SPAAG)[edit]


MANPADs and SAMs[edit]

Infantry weapons[edit]


Assault rifles[edit]

Battle rifles[edit]

Submachine guns[edit]

Machine guns[edit]

Sniper rifles[edit]

Anti-tank weapons[edit]

Republika Srpska Air Force[edit]

Formerly known as Ratno Vazduhoplovstva i Protiv Vazdušna Odbrana Vojske Republike Srpske or RV i PVO RS. Beginning on 1 June 2004, the Republika Srpska Air Force was officially called, Prvi Puk Vazduhoplovstva i Protiv Vazdušna Odbrana Vojske Republike Srpske, also known as 1st Aviation Regiment and Air Defence Force of the Republic of Srpska's Army.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ (until 1995)
  2. ^ (until 1995)
  3. ^ a b Nedim Dervisbegovic (2 June 2005). "Bosnia's first unified army platoon deployed to Iraq". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on 15 October 2007. Retrieved 26 September 2007.
  4. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: AP Archive (21 July 2015). "Bosnia - Bosnian Serbs Launch Counter-Attack" – via YouTube.
  5. ^ John Kifner (27 January 1994). "Yugoslav Army Reported Fighting In Bosnia to Help Serbian Forces". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
  6. ^ Innes 2006, p. 157
  7. ^ Thomas 2006, p. 13
  8. ^ Helena Smith (5 January 2003). "Greece faces shame of role in Serb massacre". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
  9. ^ Philipp H. Fluri; Gustav E. Gustenau; Plamen I. Pantev (27 December 2005). The Evolution of Civil-Military Relations in South East Europe: Continuing Democratic Reform and Adapting to the Needs of Fighting Terrorism. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 83–. ISBN 978-3-7908-1656-3.
  10. ^ Landmine Monitor Report 2002: Toward a Mine-free World. Human Rights Watch. 2002. pp. 121–. ISBN 978-1-56432-277-7.
  11. ^ Gaub, Florence (2011). Military Integration after Civil Wars: Multiethnic Armies, Identity and Post Conflict Reconstruction. Canada: Routledge. ISBN 9780203841051. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  12. ^ Ramet 2010, p. 324.
  13. ^ "The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia – Case No. IT-95-5/18-I". UN – ICTY. 2007. Archived from the original on 19 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-26. On 12 May 1992, Ratko MLADIC was appointed Commander of the Main Staff of the VRS, a position he held until at least 22 December 1996. On 24 June 1994, Ratko MLADIC was promoted to the rank of General Colonel.
  14. ^ International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Military Structure of the Army of the Republika Srpska
  15. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Roki Vulovic - Panteri / Mauzer ,English Lyrics". YouTube.