The war in the Balkans which lasted for almost 10 years was one of the bloodiest conflicts in Europeís recent history. The war still scars the region and to this day there remain hundreds of NATO and UN peace keepers policing this fragile region.
Following the death of the Yugoslav president Tito in 1980, the semi-autonomous republics and cultural provinces that since 1945 he had helped to unify into a multicultural nation, began to slide towards separation. From 1991 the region fell apart in a series of bloody conflicts, fuelled by the desire for national autonomy, cultural and ethnic separation. For the first time a relatively modern and developed European state was crumbling into a horrific conflict, with increasing atrocities against civilian populations on a scale not witnessed in Europe since the 2nd World War, this would eventually lead to international intervention. Eventually it took military action by NATO and many peace agreements to bring about some stability. Today, individuals such as Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadic are still sought for their involvement in war crimes.
This book, part of the Osprey Publishing Elite Series, The Yugoslav Wars (2) focuses on the troops and military organisation in Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia between 1992 and 2001. Whilst there is some detailed information regarding the battles and campaigns, this book is not a full blown account of the Balkans conflict. It provides a useful look at the units and organisations which conducted the war. The book is a companion to TheYugoslav Wars (1) focusing on Slovenia and Croatia.
Very useful is the glossary of military and national acronyms which I found myself constantly referring to when reading the book.
The book is divided into five main sections focusing on the warring factions involved in the Bosnia-Herzegovina conflict, the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the armies of the various Kosovan units, war in Kosovo and finally the forces of Macedonia as well as a brief outline of the conflict there. There is also a short overview of the Yugoslav wars. The fighting in Bosnia-Herzegovina which was perhaps the most bloody of the entire war is focused in much greater detail with a clear outline of the forces involved including those of the Bosnian-Serbs, Bosnian-Moslems and the Bosnian Croats. The author provides a highly detailed description of organisation, the units and names as well as dates of formation. There is also reference to areas in which these units fought. I did however find some of the information rather confusing mainly due to the fact there are so many different fighting forces, each with their own abbreviation.
Nine pages are dedicated to detailing the key fighting of the Bosnian Campaign. This section covers all the conflicts in North, East, South and West Bosnia with reference to the Units described in the previous section, as well as key dates. I found that the information given here and throughout the rest of the book provides enough detail for someone reading into the conflict for the first time but also slightly more detail that would perhaps be left out in a book focusing on the Balkans war as a whole, making it a highly useful reference guide.
The rest of the book then focuses on Kosovo and the Kosovo Liberation Army and the Yugoslav-Serb forces. Finally the last three pages give a brief outline of the Macedonian war and the units involved there. Once again there is precise information given and an outline of the main forces involved. There are seven tables throughout the book providing an order of battle of the relevant combat forces. These are highly detailed and provide the regional names of the Units and in some cases the Commanding Generals of each corps or unit. On almost every page there are photographs which in some cases are rare and previously unpublished. The role of these pictures is to provide information regarding uniforms and insignia. Each picture is backed up with detailed information regarding uniform types, with issue information, pattern type, camouflage style and in many cases references to the insignia. The photographs are all black and white and from a modellerís perspective are not particularly good but due to their rarity and detail they are useful and quite interesting. In the centre of the book are the colour plates seen in all Osprey books of this series. The plates here show three troopers on each plate in various uniforms from the main units of each conflict, ranging from a General Major of the Bosnian Serb VRS to a volunteer in the Ethnic Albanian Army. The quality of the artwork is amazing and very useful to the modeller or military enthusiast. I hope we will see more work from this artist in future Osprey publications. In the rear of the book are eight charts illustrating and detailing the insignia of the main forces described throughout. Again this should be very useful to the military enthusiast and figure modeller. There is also a detailed map of the region on page 5 which is very useful when trying to understand the information provided in the book.
Soft back cover
- 64 pages
- 41 B/W Photographs
- 7 order of battle tables
- 8 insignia charts
- 8 colour plates
Overall this is a very detailed and informative publication from Osprey covering a conflict that stretched for much of the 1990s, yet one that is not strongly covered in the modelling world. Throughout this publication the authors provide the highest levels of detail and information backed up with a relatively detailed study of the overall situation these forces were involved in. The reference to dates and regional place names as well as unit names make this a wealth of information and this a highly useful piece of reference material. This publication is suitable for Historians and Modellers alike with its unrivalled detail of unit formation/organisation, the history of the conflicts that took place and the superb colour plates and reference photographs. I do think this is a book that will require several reads to take in all the information and you will definitely find yourself referring back to fully understand it all.
The latest volume in the series, covers for the frist time the military forces and personel involved in the wars of Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia. And how the Balkans were reshaped follwing the break up of the former Yugoslavia.