The Establishment of the 156th Brigade of the Croatian Army

In the summer of 1991, volunteer units of the National Guard were established throughout Croatia, among which were units from Makarska and Vrgorac who gained their first combat duty in the defense of the Sinj region.

The initial lack of weapons faced by Croatian forces was rectified following the occupation of military facilities in Ploče in mid-September and would soon be required in the field. Following the Yugoslav People’s Army (YPA) attack on Dubrovnik in October, the people of Makarska and Vrgorac were among the first to provide assistance and take part in the defense of Čepikuće and Slano.

Due to growing numbers of volunteers and at the suggestion of the Makarska Municipality Command, the General Staff of the Croatian Army on 21 December 1991 issued an order to establish the 156th Brigade of the Croatian Army that included two battalions from Makarska and one from Vrgorac.

156th Brigade emblem

On 27 December 1991, members of the newly established brigade took the solemn oath in a ceremony on Father Andrija Kačić Miošić Square in Makarska. Prior to that, Brigade Chief of Staff Ivan Nemčić submitted a report on the readiness of the Brigade to Commander Ante Urlić. Congratulating the members of the brigade, Commander Urlić emphasized the basic principles of every Croatian soldier and stated among other things the dignity, appropriate conduct and selfless commitment to the defense of freedom and sovereignty of the Croatian homeland.

Although the Sarajevo Armistice was signed in early 1992, the war had only just begun for the 156th Brigade. YPA forces from Bosnia-Herzegovina attacked the Neretva Valley and following its successful defense, the Croatian Defense Council (CDC) along with the 4th Guard and 156th Brigades of the Croatian Army launched a counterattack. A large part of eastern Herzegovina was liberated during the ensuing Operation “JUNE DAWN” and the 156th Brigade in particular stood out in the battles around Čapljina. This was followed by operations to liberate the Dubrovnik hinterland in which the Tactical Group of the 156th Brigade fought side by side with the Guard Brigades.

On the Southern battlefront

With the departure of the “Tigers” from the southern battlefront in April 1993, the 156th Brigade spearheaded the defense of the Konavle region and the following year was reorganized into the Home Guard Regiment. It is little known that after Operation “STORM” in August 1995, the Army of the Republika Srpska in Bosnia-Herzegovina launched a series of attacks on Konavle and surrounding areas in an attempt to break through to the Adriatic Sea. Numerous artillery and infantry attacks were a true test for the 156th Regiment, which successfully defended the Croatian south and then completed its war journey. During the Homeland War, 28 members of the 156th Brigade laid down their lives in defense of the Republic of Croatia.

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