Croatia Defence & Security Report Q1 2014
BMI's Croatia Defence & Security Report examines the military and security posture of this Balkan nation. The report has been written to provide a comprehensive overview of the security challenges faced by Croatia both now, and in the future. Several facets of Croatia's defence and security posture are examined by the report including: its defence procurement processes; military posture; and strategic risks. The report posits that despite the current financial challenges faced by the country, Croatia is broadly continuing on a path of military modernisation.
The Croatian armed forces are continuing the reform process that began in 2006. As of 2013, they are beyond the halfway point of this initiative, and have enacted some important reforms, not least of which is the professionalisation of the country's armed forces. The army remains Croatia's dominant means of power projection; the navy performs a coastal defence and logistics role, and the air force assists in logistics, alongside its traditional mission of defending the country's airspace.
For the time being, Croatia's deployment to Afghanistan remains the country's largest overseas mission, occupying up to 300 personnel. Zagreb is expected to retain its deployment in Afghanistan until NATO begins to withdraw combat forces from the country in the 2014/2015 timeframe. Beyond Afghanistan, Croatia remains committed to a number of other NATO operations, notably in the Balkans; and UN peacekeeping deployments around the world, deploying small numbers of personnel to this end.
A number of procurement projects are either ongoing or are at the planning stage. These procurement programmes are expected to see the acquisition of defence equipment from Western suppliers. For example, the Croatian army's Infantry Fighting Vehicle fleet is being enhanced with the supply of new vehicles, while the service is also acquiring new light vehicle. In terms of armaments, the army has an outstanding requirement for a new 155mm self-propelled artillery system, new assault rifles, and is acquiring machine guns and night vision systems. The army's logistics fleet is being enhanced with new trucks and jeeps. A number of outstanding requirements also exist for the force, including new heavy equipment transporters, communications systems, plus air surveillance and weapons-locating radars.
The Croatian Navy has few aspirations as far as the procurement of new equipment is concerned, beyond the eventual purchase of four patrol vessels. However, the armed forces as a whole are enhancing their strategic and tactical communications networks and systems. This has resulted in the acquisition of new radio equipment, and battle management systems for the army's artillery branch.
Croatia is expected to continue the modernisation efforts that it commenced in 2006, although economic problems are slowing down this process. The country performed no significant defence acquisition activity in Q413. However, few expect the government to halt or abandon these modernisation initiatives in their entirety. The major question relates to the pace at which they can be conducted, and economic difficulties could see a number of acquisition programmes being postponed in order to save funds.