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Croatia - Operation Storm 1995

After the death of Tito and with the fall of communism throughout eastern Europe, the Yugoslav federation began to unravel. Croatia held its first multi-party elections since World War II in 1990. Long-time Croatian nationalist Franjo Tudjman was elected President, and one year later, Croatians declared independence from Yugoslavia. Conflict between Serbs and Croats in Croatia escalated, and one month after Croatia declared independence, war erupted.

The United Nations mediated a cease-fire in January 1992, but hostilities resumed the next year when Croatia fought to regain one-third of the territory lost the previous year. A second cease-fire was enacted in May 1993, followed by a joint declaration the next January between Croatia and Yugoslavia. However, in September 1993, the Croatian Army led an offensive against the Serb-held self-styled "Republic of Krajina." A third cease-fire was called in March 1994, but it, too, was broken in May and August 1995, after which Croatian forces regained large portions of the Krajina, prompting an exodus of Serbs from this area. In November 1995, Croatia agreed to peacefully reintegrate Eastern Slavonia, Baranja, and Western Sirmium under terms of the Erdut Agreement, and the Croatian government re-established political and legal authority over those territories in January 1998. In December 1995, Croatia signed the Dayton peace agreement, committing itself to a permanent cease-fire and the return of all refugees.

Formed in 1986, Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI) has over 350 full-time "core" employees and an estimated 2000 more available for contracts that can run from a few days to several months. On 30 June 2000, L-3 Communications Holding, Inc. acquired MPRI for $39.6 million. Military Professional Resources, Inc. (MPRI), of Alexandria, Virginia, was headed as of 2003 by President Carl Vuono, former U.S. Army Chief of Staff, and Senior Vice President Crosbie Saint, former commander of U.S. Army forces in Europe.

Advertising itself as having the "the world's greatest corporate military expertise," the firm consists of former military professionals (largely retired senior officers and noncommissioned officers) who provide large-scale military planning and training. Military Professional Resources, Inc. (MPRI), perhaps the most dynamic U.S. Private Military Company (PMC), advertises competency in a wide variety of skills, including airborne operations, civil affairs, close air support, counterinsurgency, force integration, foreign affairs, joint operations, intelligence (both strategic and tactical), leader development, legal services, ordnance, reconnaissance, recruiting, security assistance, special operations, surface warfare, training development, and weapons control.

Although MPRI's core business involves military advice and training, some commentators credited MPRI for the success of the Croat offensive, Operation Storm, which soundly defeated Serb forces holding Krajina in August 1995. the company first gained its reputation with a major project in Croatia, beginning in September 1994. With the explicit consent of the US State and Defense Departments, the firm undertook to modernize and retrain the command structure of the Croatian national army, including the general staff. In the summer of 1995, with such assistance, the formerly inept Croatian army mounted Operation Storm, a successful summer offensive into the region of the Krajina. In less than a month they ejected Serb-supported forces and 150,000 Croatian Serb civilians with remarkably little bloodshed. Control of the region, long held by the Serbs, returned to Zagreb. According to observers, the Croat forces used typical American combined-arms tactics, including integrated air, artillery, and infantry movements, as well as maneuver warfare targeted against Serbian command, control, and communication systems.

French and British officials accused MPRI of helping to plan the Croatian invasion, an allegation denied by the company. Correctly or not, MPRI received credit for a major success. If this credit is due, it is most remarkable because MPRI's fourteen-man training team sent to perform the MPRI-Croatian government contract had less than eight months to train the Croat military leadership. The company insisted that the training team led by retired Major General John Sewall had limited its training to classroom instruction regarding civil-military relations. Nonetheless, MPRI benefited from the suspicions of its role, and it continued to provide significant military services in the Balkans to both the Croatian and Bosnian governments.

The Clinton Administration was able to use MPRI as a surrogate military training cadre during the days when the U.S. troop contribution was at 20,000 soldiers in Bosnia and Croatia, and several thousand other soldiers were supporting from Hungary and Germany. Thus, MPRI provided a complementary force that would normally require employment of a significant number of U.S. military forces. On July 9, 2001, the column by Col. David Hackworth reported that " MPRI -- Military Professional Resources Incorporated -- ... operates in the shadow of the Pentagon and has been hired by the CIA and our State Department for ops in ex-Yugoslavia."

After the Dayton Accords were signed in 1995, Croatia began restructuring its Army, Navy,and Air Force/Air Defense to meet peacetime needs. Croatia had four clearly articulated goals for its foreign training programs. First, Croatia wanted to develop a civil-military system that gave the military an appropriate role in a civil society. Second, Croatia wanted a professionally trained military capable of sustaining its own training process. Third, Croatia wanted to have a resource management system that is efficient and effective. Finally, Croatia wanted all systems to be interoperable with NATO systems.

By April of 2000 MPRI had a full time project team committed to simulations training program. The MPRI had been active in Croatia since 1995 and at the time was also providing support to the ministry of defense and general support through two programs, the Croatian Army Readiness Training (CARTS) program and the Long Range Management Program (LRMP). The relationship between MPRI and the Croatian government has been a long-standing one. The zenith of their assistance, some thirty plus personnel worked in both programs. With the assistance of MPRI, the training simulations initiative took off. The MPRI played an instrumental role in the planning, design, fielding and implementation of the Croatian Armed Forces Leader and Staff Simulation Center (CLSSC) and provided a small staff that continued to assist the center with the training, planning, and evaluating of units during rotations. More than just technical support, the MPRI team provided feedback in the form of after action reviews and take-home packages for units similar to those provided at U.S. training centers like the National Training Center (NTC).



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