Army of Republika Srpska

The Army of Republika Srpska (Serbian: Војска Републике Српске/Vojska Republike Srpske; ВРС/VRS), commonly referred to in English as the Bosnian Serb Army,[2] was the military of Republika Srpska (RS), the self-proclaimed Serb secessionist republic, a territory within the newly independent Bosnia and Herzegovina (formerly part of Yugoslavia), which it defied. Active during the Bosnian War (1992–95), 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 perpetrated the Srebrenica massacre in 1995.

Army of Republika Srpska
Participant in the Bosnian War and the Croatian War
Emblem of the Army of Republika Srpska.svg
Motive(s)Independence of Republika Srpska (until 1995)
Allegiance Republika Srpska
Military leaderRatko Mladić (until 1995)
Political leaderRadovan Karadžić (until 1995)
HeadquartersPale, Bijeljina, Banja Luka
Size80,000 at peak, 4,000 in 2005[1]
Colours  Red,   Blue,   White (Serb ethnic colors)
Split fromYPA helmet decal (1991-1992).jpg Yugoslav People's Army
Merged into Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Allies Armed Forces of Yugoslavia
 Republic of Serbian Krajina
Flag of the Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia (1993–1995) AP Western Bosnia
Opponent(s) Bosnian Army (until 1995)
HVO (until 1995)
HV (until 1995)
PatchPatch of the Army of Republika Srpska.svg
Helmet decalVRS helmet decal.png


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 the same year. 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.[3]

Aside from being made up almost entirely of ethnic Serb officers and recruits from Bosnia and Herzegovina, the VRS also included ca. 4,000 foreign Orthodox Christian volunteers. 1,000-1,500 of these came from Russia, and Bulgaria,[4] with 700 volunteers originating from Russia specifically.[5] 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.[6]

Post-war status and abolishmentEdit

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 out 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.[7] The VRS conducted demining.[8]

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.[1] 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.[9][10]


The supreme commander of the VRS was General Ratko Mladić,[11] now indicted at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for genocide, as are other high-ranking Serb officers. Mladić was arrested in Serbia on 26 May 2011.

Military operationsEdit

Special unitsEdit

  • 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

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 Karadzic. His headquarters was in Pale.[12]

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 Krajina Corps – Banja Luka
  • 2nd Krajina Corps – Drvar
  • East Bosnia Corps – Bijeljina
  • Sarajevo-Romanija Corps – Pale
  • Drina Corps – Han Pijesak
  • Herzegovina Corps – Bileća


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


Tanks and armoured vehiclesEdit

M-84 main battle tank of VRS

Towed artilleryEdit

Self-propelled artilleryEdit


M-77 Oganj MLRs of VRS


Antitank gunsEdit

Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Guns (SPAAG)Edit

MANPADs and SAMsEdit

Infantry weaponsEdit


Assault riflesEdit

Battle riflesEdit

Submachine gunsEdit


Sniper riflesEdit

Anti-tank weaponsEdit

Republika Srpska Air ForceEdit

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 alsoEdit


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ AP Archive (21 July 2015). "Bosnia - Bosnian Serbs Launch Counter-Attack" – via YouTube.
  3. ^ John Kifner (27 January 1994). "Yugoslav Army Reported Fighting In Bosnia to Help Serbian Forces". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
  4. ^ Innes 2006, p. 157
  5. ^ Thomas 2006, p. 13
  6. ^ Helena Smith (5 January 2003). "Greece faces shame of role in Serb massacre". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Landmine Monitor Report 2002: Toward a Mine-free World. Human Rights Watch. 2002. pp. 121–. ISBN 978-1-56432-277-7.
  9. ^ Gaub, Florence (2011). Military Integration after Civil Wars: Multiethnic Armies, Identity and Post Conflict Reconstruction. Canada: Routledge. ISBN 9780203841051. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  10. ^ Ramet 2010, p. 324.
  11. ^ "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.
  12. ^ International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Military Structure of the Army of the Republika Srpska
  13. ^ "Roki Vulovic - Panteri / Mauzer ,English Lyrics". YouTube.