The central marking of the Croatian Army and the Croatian Armed Forces Day and…
Ceremonies marking of the Croatian Army Day
The Croatian Army Day and the 27th anniversary of its establishment were formally celebrated through a series of activities, attended by many citizens. A special programme was organised on 26 and 27 May in the recreational area at Jarun, featuring drill exercises and a static display. It was attended by the President of the Republic as Supreme Commander Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, by the Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Damir Krstičević, the Homeland War Veterans Minister Tomo Medved, the Chief of the General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces, General Mirko Šundov, his Deputy , Lieutenant General Drago Matanović, by the Commander of the Croatian Army Brigadier General Siniša Jurković, by the General Commander of the Polish Defence Forces, General Jarosław Mika and the delegations of the Ministry of Defence, of the Croatian Armed Forces, of the Croatian Parliament and of the defenders associations. The ceremony kicked off with the firing of 27 volleys with mountain guns, symbollising the 27 years of the Croatian Armed Forces, followed by parachute jumps from the Mi-8 helicopters by the members of the Special Forces Command, who carried the flags of the Republic of Croatia, of the Ministry of Defence, of the Croatian Armed Forces, of the Croatian Army and of the City of Zagreb.
The hoisting of the state flag by Lieutenant Junior Grade Ante Jović, the winner of the “Memorial Major Davor Jović – First for Croatia“, a minute of silence and a flypast by a MiG-21 paid the tribute to the defenders fallen in the Homeland War. The members of the Honorary Battalion performed an eye-catching ceremonial drill, and members of the Croatian Army, the Croatian Air Force and of the Special Forces Command conducted a joint exercise (“MINEX Jarun 18“), which demonstrated a joint operation by land, air and special forces attacking the resistance point and neturalising enemy in a terrorist threat situation. The top attraction of the programme was the performance by the “Wings of Storm“ aerobatic group.
President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović commended the programme, and Defence Minister Damir Krstičević congratulated the members of the Croatian Armed Forces and extended appreciation for their professional and patriotic service; the Minister also stated: THe Croatian people are fond of the Croatian Army and a lot of young people show the interest in it as I see. Our duty is to present the Croatian Army and its capabilities“.
The Minister of Homeland War Veterans Tomo Medved recalled the growth of the Croatian Armed Forces, today a “ modern and well-equipped and armed military“. The Croatian soldiers have represented Croatia in international military operations and missions, and are a guarantee of security in the event of major disasters“.
General Šundov said the ceremony was an opportunity for the Croatian Armed Forces to demonstrate to its citizens their abilities and readiness to fulfill all constitutional tasks.
General Jurković expressed gratitude to the fallen and disabled defenders, who made the ceremony of the kind possible, and also to the families of the fallen and missing defenders, for their sacrifice“.
Numerous visitors were delighted to see the characteristics of the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters, the AMV Patrias, and the vests and assault rifles made in Croatia.
The booths of the Military Police Regiment (demonstrating the military working dogs and their handlers capabilities) and the Special Forces Command (demonstrating martial skills) attracted most attention.
“We visit the booths every year, it is nice and interesting for the children, and the manifestation is growing better each year“ said one of the visitors; while others thanked the Minister for opening the Croatian Armed Forces to the citizens.
After the programme concluded, the senior officials toured the static display and talked to the citizens.
The MINEX Jarun 18 Demonstration Exercise
The MINEX Jarun 18 Demonstration Exercise was conducted jointly by the forces of the Croatian Army, the Croatian Air Force and of the Special Forces Command; using the specialist equipment. The exercise scenario featured neutralisation of a terrorist group in the enemy-controlled area. In the first phase of the task the soldiers had to accede the facilities; one group infiltrated from the helicopters and the other by fast boats. The second phase kicked off with a smoke screen and pushing the enemy into the facility. The soldiers then took the positions in the south and east side of the island and opened fire, while a part of the team entered and took control of the facility, closing the operation.
Formal ceremony in “Vatroslav Lisinski“ Concert Hall
A formal ceremony marking the 27th anniversary of the establishment of the Croatian Armed Forces, on 28 May, held in the “Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall was attended by the President of the Republic of Croatia and Supreme Commander of the Croatian Armed Forces Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, the Speaker of the Croatian Parliament Gordan Jandroković, the Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, the Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Damir Krstičević, the Chief of the General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces, General Mirko Šundov, the representatives of the Croatian Parliament, Government, Ministry of Defence and other government institutions, the former defence ministers, members of the Croatian Armed Forces, the families of the fallen and missing defenders , the representatives of associations from the Homeland War,the members of the Diplomatic and Military Corps.
The President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović expressed her congratulations to all members of the Croatian Armed Forces and particularly to the promoted and awarded. “The members of the Croatian Armed Forces have a most important role in Croatian society as the main guarantor of security. We are all building Croatia and the homeland security system capable of responding to any security challenges, The Croatian society has developed the awareness that investing into the armed forces is not an unnecessary expense but investment into security.
The President also stated added that members of the Armed Forces were expected to be an elite and the pride of Croatia, just as they were during the Homeland War.
The Speaker of the Croatian Parliament Gordan Jandroković extended congratulations on behalf of the Croatian Parliament , stressing the vital role of the Croatian Army in the creation of free Croatia.
“The Croatian Armed Forces are at all times ready to protect Croatian sovereignty and provide assistance; the people recognise that and are proud of them“
The Prime Minister emphasised that the Croatian Army had grown over the 27 years into a modern and internationally recognised military force, whose members are ready in any moment and in any conditions to respond to any challenges to protect national security. He also reminded that the Government of the Republic of Croatia had fulfilled all crucial defence- and security-related promises and highlighted the decision by Minister Krstičević on the return of the Croatian Armed Forces to their previous locations .
The Prime Minister congratulated Minister Krstičević on the induction into the U.S. Army War College Hall of Fame as a great recognition for the entire Croatian Armed Forces and pledged support of the Croatian Government to the future development of the Armed Forces defence capabilities.
Minister Krstičević emphasised that the Croatian Army grew in hardest time, during an imposed war and aggression, but the desire for freedom, the will and strength of Croatian defenders were stronger than any aggressor and weapons. “In the hardest of times we fought way beyond our weight. Today, the Croatian Army is manned by new generations of youth, motivated and determined soldiers who are proud successors to the Croatian defenders“.
The Minister reminded of the reversed trend of decrease of defence budget, which enagled the restoration of the material rights of the Croatian soldiers, and of the return of the units to their previous locations in Sinj, Vukovar, Ploče and Varaždin. The Minister also underlined the assistance provided by the Croatian Army to the population hit by fires, floods and heavy snowfall. “The Croatian Army has always been close to the people, in good and bad times“, said the Minister, who also recalled the recent Decision on the Procurement of MFA F-16 Barak, which was a historic decision and opportunity for the Croatian defence industry and the economy. The aircraft will be named “Storm“ and “Lightning“, honouring the two magnificient liberating operations.
The Minister praised the decision to guard of the symbols and values of the Homeland War and the restoration of the title Croatian Army(Hrvatska vojska) as “closer to the Croatian tradition and the people“.
The Chief of the General Staff reminded the defensive and liberation operations by the Croatian soldiers. The Croatian Army today is a professional organisation successfully integrated into NATO and the EU.
“The experiences acquired in the participation in international missions and operations complemented those from the Homeland War. The exemplary conduct of our has earned the Croatian Armed Forces international reputation as a responsible and credible partner. The Croatian Armed Forces have placed their resources at the service of the civilian institutions and have become an irreplacable support in hardest moments.
The ceremony featured the presentation of promotions and awards. Rear admiral Rober Hranj, the Director of the General Staff has been promoted to the rank of viceadmiral, and Brigadier General Siniša Jurković, the Commander of the Croatian Army to the rank of major general. A total of 84 members of the Croatian Armed Forces (one in admiral and one in general rank) and the winners of the “Memorial Davor Jović – First for Croatia“ – Cpl Romana Šajn of the Intelligence Division in the women’s category and Lieutenant Junior Grade Ante Jović of the Special Forces Command in the men’s category. The attendees also saw a documentary dedicated to the 27th anniversary , and the Orchestra of the Croatian Armed Forces, the Croatian Navy’s Vocal Ensemble “Sveti Juraj”, the vocal ensemble Intrade Vand Cadet Choir featuring Zaprešić Boys.
Changing of the Guards ceremony in St. Mark’s Square in Zagreb
The ceremony marking the establshment anniversary and the Croatian Army Day featured the Changing of the Guard in the St. Marko Square, performed by the members of the Honorary Battalion and attended by the President of the Republic Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, the Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Damir Krstičević, the Chief of the General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces, General Mirko Šundov, the U.S . Ambassador to Croatia, H. E. Robert Kohorst and the Defence Attaché. Colonel Robert Mathers and other senior officials.
Minister Krstičević congratulated the members of the Croatian Armed Forces and expressed pride over the continued tradition of the victorious Croatian Army. The Homeland War and the Croatian defenders are the foundation of modern Croatia. Over the past 27 years the Croatian military has made a huge progress, and is at the service of the Croatian citizens in any contingency. The increase of the defence
budget has enabled the upgrade of the living and working conditions of the enlisted soldiers, NCOs and officers and the restoraing of material rights allocated for readiness optimisation. The Minister also reminded that the ceremony of the Changing of the Guards was revived in 2017, and that it was taking place in the St. Mark’s Square again. “The Croatian people is fond of the Croatian Armed Forces, and on seeing our cadets I am sure that they will have a bright future“.
General Šundov stated that the Croatian Armed Forces gradually introduced new and maintained the acquired capabilities, such as the Panzer Howitzers, the Kiowa Warrior helicopters and the integration of the UAV and CIS system. The Commander of the Honorary Battalion, Colonel Elvis Burčul said the ceremony was performed by new members who mastered it well in a brief period. The Grand Changing of the Guards is performed on all Saturdays and holidays in the period from 27 May and 1 October. The 15-minute ceremony was revived in 2017 after a 17-year period, pursuant to the decision of the Deputy Prime Minister and Defence MInister Damir Krstičević. It features a daily changing of the guards from the times of Banovina Hrvatska, before the World War II. Three officers, dressed in black-and white historical uniforms and 26 NCOs and enlisted soldiers wearing red and black uniforms, accompanied by the music, arrive to and leave from the Banski dvori Palace and Kuševićeva ulica through Ćirilometodska street in Zagreb Upper Town, to the playing of the band of the Croatian Armed Forces.
The honorary unit (titled the Honorary Presidential Guard) was first presented with other units of the Croatian National Guard on 28 May 1991 in the FC “Zagreb“ stadium; two days later the first Grand Changing of the Guard was performed in St. Mark’s Square Today the Changing is performed by the Honorary Battalion – the unit directly subordinated to the General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces assigned with protocol and ceremonial tasks for the top government institutions, as well as providing security to the President of the Republic. The Honorary Guard is a successor of the 1st Croatian Guard Corps, and shares the same Barracks at Tuškanac in Zagreb.
Following the Changing of the Guards, the Battalion membes performed a ceremonial drill combining the honorary and drill procedures.
The ceremony programme also featured performances by the Orchestra of the Croatian Armed Forces at various spots in Zagreb of the pieces by P. Souso, D. Shostakovich and K. Baranović, and patriotic and popular songs.