Brotherhood & Unity PBF: The War in Bosnia-Hercegovina 1992-1995

I won’t comment a whole lot here. I did a tour there with SFOR and 2 in Kosovo, and then later worked at Urosevic/Ferazai for the US while living in Skopje (hour-long commute!) for a year. So while recognizing Serb brutality and crimes for what they are; I am unfortunately blatantly aware of the equal levels of inhuman criminality on all sides in the conflict. To quote a United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) forensic pathologist I knew well, “You know its funny. People make all sorts of claims, but forensics and even DNA tests really can’t tell you the ethnicity of whoever is in a mass grave we find.”

So since my personality is infused with a soldier’s dark, resigned humor about such things and I expect no “packaging” because aside from bromides for an audience there is no such thing as a “good war” (and I never expect one to be portrayed as such, and kinda scoff when they are…) and would make flippant and to the vast world unfunny dark references to Ratko and stuff like that in the posts, I’m bound to probably incredibly and absolutely offend somebody or many people with my posts unintentionally, I’ll prolly be a bit quiet here. I know when to keep my mouth shut on the Internet.

It was such a complicated war. My wife’s father was a Serb and her mother was a Croat but they lived in Bosnia. Everything was great in her childhood until she was 15 and then all hell broke loose. Neighbors who were friendly were now poisoning her dogs and ransaking her house while her father was out driving serb soldiers around the countryside.

Her father eventually died to 3 Bosniak bullets and then in order to protect her family, at 16, she was recruted into the Croat army. She calls herself Serb because of her father but at 16 she was being trained as a sniper to kill Serbs. After a few months of that, she and her mother and sister fled to Spit, Croatia. They had to walk through forests for 4 days, eating leaves and berries and whatever else they could find as they had to flee as quickly as possible.

They were refugees in Croatia for a year and were granted asylum to the US. Her stories are horrifying and she has a hard time talking about it and definitely has PTSD over that whole time period. From great childhood to all out war and survival…I just cant fathom it.

A good, stark reminder to keep politics going, lest the struggle of arguments becomes one of arms.

I respect your reticence @Navaronegun , even if your elucidation was what I was looking forward to most in this.

Turn 1, Action 3 (Late Summer-ish, 1992)

Serb Card Play

The Serbs play the above card for Ops. Reshuffling units into positions for future actions. Arms and supply embargos from their Foreign Attitude level hamper this effort. They are -1 to moves effectively reducing VRS Brigades to 3 Movement Points. Also moving into uncontrolled spaces costs 2 MP normally, as opposed to moving to controlled spaces which cost 1 MP.

Ratko maneuvers, no attacks launched.

Radovan makes a speech in Tuzla and guides reporters to sites where there is evidence of Bosniak ethnic cleansing of Serb enclaves there. He also refers to similar discoveries in the now-liberated Brcko. He wonders aloud what is occurring in Bosniak-occupied Srbrenica and Goražde.
Radovan1

The Croats mobilize their regular army in Slavonski Brod. This deployment of regular national forces (remember, the Serb and Croat Forces we’ve seen are militia cat’s paws of the actual national governments) can take more time, but the Croats take a FA hit (upsetting the Media and International Community) by making this move.

The Bosniaks desperately need replacements. The play this card for replacements, Each Ops value equals 2 steps that can be placed.

They deploy accordingly:

End of Action 3.

Note, the Serbs have 4 cards, the Croats 1, and the Bosniaks none.

Turn 1, Action 4 (even later Summer-ish, 1992)

Serb Card Play

The Serbs play the below card for the event.

Radovan travels to Paris as the French Foreign Minister requested that he and the President of Serbia meet with the Minister and the President of France in an attempt to “reduce troubling and disruptive Serbian Aggression in Bosnia.”

Radovan and the President of Serbia walk out of the meeting after 45 minutes and Radovan addresses the International Press. He cites evidence of Bosniak crimes in Tuzla and Brcko; new reports of Bosniak crimes in Srbrenica; Croat massacres of Bosniaks and Serbs after the Croat seizure of Zenica and the Croat Mobilization of Regular forces. He chides European governments for their hypocrisy in casting the Serbs as a “villain like in some Batman movie” as they are merely defending their populations in Bosnia from ethnic violence and Croat conquest.

Press Conference

The “He who smelt it, dealt it” defense works. +3 Foreign Attitude. The Croats are now the official Bad Guys™ in the war.

Serb A4

The Coats play this card for Ops.

The Croats move 2 Brigades of their regular army in Slavonski Brod to Bosanoski Brod in Posovina and begin to entrench there.

Croat Militias take Sipovo in Juzna Krajina and launch another attack on the Serb defenders in Mrkonjic Grad.

The Serbs roll a 5. The Croats roll a 6. No DRMs for anyone. x1 Serb CE with a CE of 2 = 2, no damage to the Croats. X1 Croat CE with 9 attacking = One Serb Brigade at half strength wiped out. -1 Serb Strategic Will/+1 Croat Strategic Will. A Croat Brigade advances and takes the Town and this completes the conquest of Region (called “Oпштина” - Opstina at this time) Juzna Krajina (disputed at War Start). +3 Croat Strategic Will.

The Bosniaks, out of cards, sit back and watch.

End of Action 4.

Note - the Serbs have 3 cards, the Croats none, and the Bosniaks none.

{Ominous Musical Note plays}.

Well, that was pretty gross, so I’m out of here. You guys have fun with your game.

-Tom

Wait, what?

I do not understand this game one bit, but am enjoying the read.

Vietnam being covered in this way is ok, but Bosnia isn’t?

Turn 1, Action 5 (End Summer and Early Fall, 1992)

So whatcha whatcha whatcha want?
I get so funny with with the money that ya flaunt
I said, where’d you get your information from, huh?
You think that you can front when revelation comes?

—Beastie Boys (Performer and Songwriters). “So What’cha Want.” Check Your Head , by Michael Diamond, Adam Horovitz, Adam Yauch. Capitol, 1992. Single.

So, the Western European countries are unwilling to really do anything despite the descent into internecine killings and warfare in Bosnia. They had their “Jesus Jones” moment a few years before and now with the Cold War officially over they are now busy patting themselves on the back and cutting defense budgets well below the NATO member mandates of 2% of GDP. Anything beyond public scolding of the aggressors in Bosnia will interfere with all this. This may come to haunt a certain member famous for windmills and tulips later…

The US is in the throes of an election year. The incumbent President is very concerned about the descent of the former Yugoslavia into a chaotic state of civil war and sees the peaceful midwifing of a post-Cold War Eastern Europe as a duty of his Administration. But as the US is in the middle of a Recession and the opposing party controls congress there is zero chance of any action being taken except maybe a sternly worded diplomatic notice. Foreign Affairs is “out”. Obsessing about the deficit and “feeling your pain” is in. No candidate who hopes to win even says anything about the Bosnian Crisis on the campaign trail except to say what a tragedy it is.

Ratko2

So Ratko decides its time to do something about Srbrenica. Currently in Bosniak paramilitary hands it prevents Republika Srpska from having control of Semberija Opstina and ties down VRS units who could be expanding territorial control. But he needs to worry about the Croats up North in Posavina. Well, first things first.

Serb T1A5 Card Play

So the plan is to use this card to hammer Srbrenica with pre-positioned forces (2 Activations of 2 stacks of 3 VRS Brigades each) and then use the other two activations to gather forces to Hammer the Croats in Posavina.

First the Maneuvering in Posavina:

Gradacac is also gathered up above.

Then its time to hammer Srbrenica

The VRS, per the above card get to reduce two Bosnia units on a roll of 3-9 on a d10 before combat. Nice clinical term, this “Reduce”. What it really means is “indiscriminately shell the crap out of a surrounded multi-ethnic population center occupied by enemy Paramilitaries for weeks.” The Paramilitaries then conduct reprisals by marching out at night and razing majority Serb villages or Serb concentrated population areas to the ground.

Fleeing is difficult, of course. It’s surrounded. And occupied. Many try though.

Well, two Bosniak Brigades are reduced and flipped to their damaged side. So, we now have three reduced Brigades with values of 2-6-2 in Srbrenica. The Serbs attack.

The Bosniaks get a -2 this turn to their Combat Effectiveness rolls. They roll a three. That is modified to become a net 1. That means the combat factors (the 2’s) are multiplied by .5. So, they do 3 damage. Since this doesn’t at least equal a VRS Brigade’s defense strength of 6, they do nothing.

The Serbs roll worse, a 0. +3 for the card. -2 Because Srbrenica is in the mountains. No a net 1. So 24 (6 4-6-4 Brigades) x .5, just like the Bosniaks above. This is 12 damage. Enough to destroy 2 one-step Brigades, but a final one step brigade survives. Srbrenica holds. The Paramilitaries defending get even more fanatical. The population suffers even more depredations. The Serbs gain 2 Strategic Will for destroying two enemy Units. The Bosnians lose 2 Strategic Will for losing two units. Ratko is miffed and ponders his next move.

The 6th and Final Action of Turn One is next.

Well I think I’m losing my mind, this time!
This time I’m losing my mind, that’s right!
Said I think I’m losing my mind, this time!
This time, I’m losing my mind!

I remember Srebrenica well. It was all over the news, and we took years getting over it. It’s a major national trauma for us, the Dutch.

What I don’t remember from all the news coverage is any reasoning on the why of it. In a sense seeing this game happen sheds some light on that. So why that place, and not another?

Turn 1, Action 6 (The rest of Fall, 1992)

I’m in love without the tears of regret
Open fire 'cause I love it to death
Sky high with a heartache of stone
You’ll never see me 'cause I’m always alone

—Ministry (Performer and Songwriters). “N.W.O.” Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs , by Al Jourgensen, Paul Barker. Sire – Warner Bros. 1992. Single.

Ratko3

Ratko is tired of the stalemate in the North. Given a free hand by the President of Serbia, Slobodan Milošević, the real power broker behind the Bosnian Republika Srpska, he decides to launch Operation Corridor 92, which is this game is represented by this Card, which is the Serb card play:

Ratko puts the Operation in the hands of the 1st Krajina Corps commander, who is this man (and card):

What this means is the Serbs have 4 Operations, but any attack in Posavina Opstina will be +5. They also get 2 of these “Reductions” before the any attacks in Posavina (massive shelling of a population center and using MRLS as well Mobile Rocket Launchers). And the attack, from the 4 Ops card, if successful, will have a +1 to the Advance after combat (aside from the advance they get into the hex). General Simić there gives them another +2 to the attack and another +1 Advance after combat. So what I am trying to do here is guarantee (with a massive shelling and with a +7 to my d10 roll) that they will demolish all the Croat Units in Posavina in one attack (against Bosnaska Brod), and when they do they’ll be able to redeploy a bit. So, three of the Main Card’s Operations are to activate three stacks in Posavina – two adjacent to against Bosnaska Brod and one in Doboi there to move to Devenic to ensure an attack with maximum strength, twenty four Ground Factors.

So first we roll for the reductions against the two best Croat Units, the HV National Units (Units from Croatia, not Bosnian Croat Militias). A 3 and a 6 are rolled reducing them to one step 2-6-4 units. The remaining two step unit is a 3-6-4 Croat Militia Brigade.
For Combat the Croats roll a 6. They have no DRMs for Terrain, and none for the Entrenchments because they are not completed. They have 7 Factors, so this is, per the 6 rolled, x 1. They do a Step of Damage to the Serbs (7 is equal to or more than 6, the Defending value of all the Serb units there and the remainder is discarded), which will be implemented after the attack is resolved. The Serbs roll a freaking 1. Glad I made this a +7 attack with all the cards. That is a net 8. 24 Factors at x 1.5 is 36 Factors. The Croats can absorb only 24. So they are wiped out. Our respective Strategic Wills are +3 (me for destroying 3 of his units) and -3 to him (for losing 3 Units).
Now for the Advance below. Boassanski Brod is taken (+3 for my SW for taking a key space/-3 to the Croats for losing it) and that also means I have complete control over Posavina Opstina (+6 more SW).
Taking Boassanski Brod also means that the Slovenians there (seen as pro-Croat) and any Croats are forced to flee to across the border to escape the wrath of the local Serbs who were under Croat Military control and “held responsible” for the shelling by the Croat Military. As well the VRS goes on a rampage, burning any remaining Slovene and Croat areas to the ground as punishment for “oppressing” the local Serb population. This raises the ire of the International Community again, so the Serbs +1 to to their FA. But not yet at a level where it will impact the VRS Militarily. More sternly worded letters from Paris and London. Ratko uses the extra movement to deploy defensively in the area.

With the other Operation, Ratko will activate a stack in the South and finish the nonsense in Srbrenica. Below is the same end phase Map in that area, but only the northern stack is activated here.

This is just straight up roll for the Serbs with 12 Factors at a -2 for mountains. And for the Boniaks, a -2 for Turn 1 with just 2 factors.
The Serbs roll a 9, -2 a net 7. Which means 12 x 1.5 = 18 factors. The Bosniaks are wiped out.
The Bosniaks roll a 5, -2 a net 3. Which is 2 x 1 = 2 factors. The Serbs take no damage.
Again, the Bosniaks lose 1 SW and the Serbs gain 1 for the Bosniak losses. The Serbs gain +3 SW for capturing the key space of Srbrenica, and the Bosniaks lose 3. This completes the undisputed Republika Srpska control of Semberija Opstina which gives the Serbs an additional 5 SW. Below is the situation in the area post-Attack resolution.

The Serb Division runs wild after taking the City. The Bosniaks have nowhere to go – across the border is Serbia proper. That means refugees are flooding south for Goradze through a gauntlet of the remaining Serb populace, who have been suffering the depredations of the Bosniak paramilitaries and are now “liberated”, and VRS Division. It is estimated that only 33% of the refugees make it to Goradze.

A summit of French, British and German leaders is held in Geneva. It is decided to propose at the UN that a resolution be passed to reimpose fuel sanctions on the Serbs. The Russians and the Chinese veto the resolution in the Security Council. The Nascent-EU imposes the sanctions anyway. However, fuel shipments through Hungary continue in blatant violation of the sanctions and it is also suspected that German companies are now able to make a great profits by evading the sanctions and shipping through there. Perhaps the new year will see brave leadership by the liberal Western powers in ending this conflict.

Final SW and FA levels at turn end:

End T1 FA

End Turn 1

A new world order
A new world order
A new world order
A new world order
We’re not about to make that same mistake twice

Wait, what? Holy shit! That’s something you don’t read on a gaming forum every day.

Is there a PDF of the manual somewhere? I am getting an error off the Compass site. I’d like to try and understand what you are taking about.

Did you guys stop the game?

We are still going in the background. I’ll have some posts tonight, if @Navaronegun doesn’t beat me to it.

This link worked for me: https://compassgamesbucket.s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/downloads/BrotherhoodUnity_rulebook.pdf

Compass redid their website and broke all of the old links.

Nope. Just haven’t posted updates. We’re in Turn 2, action round 3 starting.

It’s all you, Kane. I’m all posted out for a bit after the end of Turn 1.

Thanks!

Turn Two: 1993

One of the key differences between the three factions is their force composition and reinforcements. After first turn set up is complete, the Serbs have 35 Brigades, rated at 4-6-4 (Attack-Loss Factor-Movement). The Bosniaks have 22 Brigades, rated at 3-6-2. And the Croats have 12 Brigades, rated at 3-6-4. The Serbs have a lot of momentum, but they’ve also deployed their entire force–barring the deployment of units, the Serbs will not receive any reinforcements. The Bosniaks will gain 12 more 3-6-2 Brigades, 6 on each of turns 2 and 3. The Croats get 5 more 3-6-4s, 3 on turn 2 and 2 on turn 3.

Reinforcements must be placed in key spaces (names in red capitals on the map) or adjacent to key spaces, which must be friendly controlled, supplied, and within stacking limits (no more than 3 units per hex).

On turn 2, the Croats deploy reinforcements first. Before worrying about my 3 domestic Brigades, I need to decide whether to maintain the foreign units I’ve mobilized in the North. Maintaining a foreign force in the conflict generates opposition from the United States and Europe, resulting in a -1 move on the Foreign Attitude track, which would put me into sanctions territory. I have one Croatian Army unit (HV) in the North, and it is would need to attack across a river into, at a minimum, a full strength Serb unit to make it in to Bosnia, which is an extremely unlikely result. Instead, I choose to withdraw the unit–I may deploy it in a future turn where it can do more good.

The Serbs are concentrated in the Eastern half of Bosnia, which contains only one of my key regions. My forces are strong in the West, and it makes the most sense to me to bolster that strength. I deploy one unit in Jajce and two in Livno. (Those are the units with the red flags in them below:

Bruce’s Bosniaks deploy one unit to each of the three Bosniak controlled space in Sarajevo (at most one per space, since Sarajevo is an enclave, surrounded by Serb units). Bruce deploys the remaining three units in Jablanica and Istocni Mostar, key spaces in the South, near stacks of both Croat and Serb units. Again, his units are flagged red in the images below.

Action Round One

The Serbs begin by launching a major strategic redeployment of their forces in Bosnia. Ordinarily the Serbs would not be allowed to do a strategic redeployment due to western sanctions, but the event allows them to circumvent the rules, presumably thanks to resources stockpiled before the imposition of sanctions.

T2 A1.1 Serb Card'

The Serbs can redeploy 6 brigades, moving them through an unlimited number of friendly spaces (and potentially through Yugoslavia (YUG) or Krajina (KRA)). Recognizing that the withdrawal of Croatian Army units freed up his units in the North, Pat moved four brigades west, providing a defense of the key space of Banja Luka and creating a perimeter around the key space of Prnjavor.

Pat also moved two brigades towards the besieged Bosniak key space of Gorazde in the east.

The Croatians move to surround a brigade of Serbs holed up in the mountain fastness of Glamoc, and pull units from further east to cover their flank.

T2 A1.4 Croat Moves

The Bosniaks launch a limited offensive in Sarajevo, in an attempt to liberate the city.

T2 A1.5 Bosniak Card

Bosniak forces launched a three pronged attack on Grbavica, a quarter of Sarajevo which had been occupied without a shot by Serbian reservists in 1992. A group of radical Serb nationalist volunteers, allegedly led by Zeljko “Arkan” Raznjatovic and Vojislav Seselj (who served as Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia from 1998-2000), later joined the reservists. Arkan and Seselj’s forces massacred Croat and Bosniak residents of Grbavica. Arkan, who later led the Serbian football club FK Obilic, was assassinated in 2000, which likely saved him from convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for his role the war. Seselj was was initially acquitted by the ICTY in 2016, but was convicted of crimes against humanity by the Appeals Chamber of MICT (the successor to the ICTY) in 2018.

The fighting is inconclusive. The Serbian brigade occupying Grbavica is reduced, but not eliminated. Bosniak losses are negligible. The civilian population, as ever, suffers the brunt of the harm.

640px-Sarajevo_Grbavica
Grbavica in 1996, 4 months after signing of the Dayton Accords