Established in 1918 following the First World War, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes later became the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929, under the rule of King Alexander I. During the Second World War, the nation was occupied by Axis powers and an Independent State of Croatia was allowed to split off from the rest of the country. An anti-occupation resistance movement eventually grew into the National Liberation Army (aka the Partisans), the largest guerilla force of its kind in the European Theater of Operations. This movement successfully routed the Axis powers between 1944 and 1945, and established the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia in 1946, a confederation of six republics (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovenia and Serbia, plus the automomous provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina). The nation was renamed the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) in 1963, with former war hero Marshal Josip Broz Tito being named President for Life (he had formerly held the position of Prime Minister). Although the republics (and provinces) each had their own constitution, supreme court, parliament, president and prime minister, attempts to establish national identity or express additional autonomy were suppressed by the Tito regime, most notably during the Croatian Spring of 1970-71.
Following the death of President Tito in 1980, some ethnic tensions began to emerge, but it was not until the early 1990s that the SFRY truly began to disentegrate. In June 1991, Croatia and Slovenia declared their independence from Yugoslavia, and in September of the same year Macedonia also declared its independence. In 1992 Bosnia and Herzegovina was recognized by most European countries. Each of these nations has a unique history of achieving their sovereignty.
Montenegro and Serbia remained together as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia until 2003, when it was renamed State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. The union lasted only three years, and in 2006 Montenegro officially broke away as the Republic of Montenegro (Република Црна Гора - Republika Crna Gora).
The Army of Yugoslavia was called Jugoslovenska Narodna Armija (JNA) from 1945 until 1992. It was renamed Vojska Jugoslavije (VJ), and retained that name until 2003 when it became Vojska Srbije i Crna Gore (Military of Serbian and Montenegro).
Yugoslavian Camouflage Patterns
- The first camouflage design of the JNA was the "mountain" pattern, printed on Soviet-style sniper suits. The fabric for these uniforms was allegedly supplied by East Germany, and was very lightweight like Soviet suits of this era. Two colour variations (dark and light) have been documented. Although primitive in design, the uniforms remained in service well into the late 1990s.
- The M68 MOL (Maskirno Odelo Letnje) summer camouflage pattern was first issued in 1968. The pattern was printed on a slightly more practical sniper's oversuit, but also appeared on shelter halves and body armour. During the Yugoslav Wars, many items were cannibalized to fabricate custom uniforms or field equipment such as chest webbing for carrying ammunition. At the same time a plain white winter oversuit was also introduced called M68 MOZ (Maskirno Odelo Zimsko or "Camouflage Winter Uniform").
- The M87 small oak leaf pattern was tested by reconnaissance units of the 63rd Airborne Brigade and some military police units between 1986 and 1988. It was never officially adopted. The pattern is identical to that used by Slovenia, but with different colours.
- The M89 oak leaf pattern entered into usage with the JNA in 1990 and was the standard camouflage design of the Army until around 2003. The pattern was used by the Bosnian Serb Army and by Serb forces in Croatia.
- The M93 oak leaf pattern (adopted in 1993) is produced from the same screens as the M89, is used on a new series of uniforms. As production increased, a greater variety of color combinations have appeared, some much darker than the earlier printed designs.
- Introduced in 1992, the green tiger pattern was used by JNA special forces, and later by MUP (Ministarstvo Unutrašnjih Poslova - Ministry of Internal Affairs). It was obviously influenced by the original French tenue leopard design. Several color variations exist, including some versions that blur the distinction between "green" and "grey" variations.
- The blue tiger stripe or blue lizard pattern (also called purple tiger or purple lizard) was also introduced in 1992 and used extensively by the Yugoslavian police. Since 1997, it was worn as field uniform by all police officers for riot control, during field exercies, and in the conflict within Kosovo. The pattern, a variation of the green tiger pattern by JNA and having either a predominantly blue or purple colorway, was phased out in 2001. Several colour variations exist, although it is generally conceded the differences are a result of manufacturing techniques and not due to by intentional design.
- A grey tiger stripe variation was also worn by the MUP (Ministarstvo Unutrašnjih Poslova - Ministry of Internal Affairs). The predominant feature of this pattern is the grey background color, overprinted with stripes in a shade of brown and green; however some variations of the green pattern shown above can be mistaken for or even categorized as a grey variant as well.
- A blue puzzle variation of the Army M89 pattern was worn by the MUP Special Police since around 1992. Only two series produced, and stocks were never replenished after the second production run.
- A grey version of the Army M89 pattern was also produced for the MUP in 1993, but may never have been officially adopted. Few examples have survived.
- An experimental variation of the green tiger pattern was tested in 1995 but never officially adopted.
- Seldom-seen, a copy of the British DPM pattern was produced in limited numbers for use during the 1990s. Variations having a different colorway have also been documented.
Photographs of Yugoslavian Military Personnel
- Two JNA military policemen, 1992. Both wearing M89 uniforms.
- Either a JNA or Krajina Serb soldier, 1992. He is wearing a vest in the M89 pattern