Croatia, Intelligence and Security
Following World War I, the ethnic nations in the Balkan region were unified into a single state, known after 1929 as Yugoslavia. Tensions between the various ethnic populations remained high, and the government unstable. After World War II, Marshal Tito, who established a strong-handed communist dictatorship, seized the Yugoslav government. The Yugoslavian governmental intelligence was dominated by secret police forces and government-backed political espionage. Modeled after intelligence and security forces in the Soviet Union, Yugoslav intelligence focused on protecting the ruling regime under the direct control of the Communist Central Committee.
In the 1990s, Yugoslavia broke apart following the fall of the Soviet Union. Croatia was the first province to declare its independence in 1991. Border disputes and ethnic tensions flared in the region, sparking intense warfare. When fighting eased after the intervention of UN peacekeepers, Croatia began its struggle to overcome the legacy of decades of communist dictatorship. The intelligence community was a primary target of initial reforms. Though the old secret police were disbanded, and new agencies sought to distance themselves from the legacy of their predecessors, the process of rebuilding intelligence and security services continues to be problematic in Croatia.
Between 1990 and 2003, the Croatian intelligence community altered its structure several times. As of 2003, twelve departments, in two government ministries, comprise the Croatian intelligence services. The main civilian agency, under the direction of the Ministry of the Interior, is the Croatian Intelligence Service (HIS). HIS operations deal exclusively with the collection and analysis of foreign intelligence. However, the agency also performs the bureaucratic function of coordinating the efforts of all civilian intelligence operations, and processing information gathered by various agencies for dissemination to government officials.
Aiding the HIS with coordination of intelligence operations is the National Security Office (UNS). The UNS also distributed necessary intelligence information to the government and oversees the operations of various intelligence agencies in Croatia. The UNS further coordinates joint efforts between the intelligence and law enforcement communities to act neutralize potential threats to national security. Many of Croatia's specific intelligence units, such as Communications Intelligence and Counter-intelligence force, are subsidiaries of the UNS.
A small agency, the Security Intelligence Service (OBS), conducts intelligence operations against neighboring Balkan nations, most especially Serbia and Montenegro. The agency constantly provides other intelligence and security forces with information on regional ethnic tensions, arms trafficking and stockpiling by various groups, and the strength and operations of other regional intelligence services.
The Croatian military, under the direction of the Ministry of Defense, also maintains specially trained intelligence forces, embedded in the each service branch. The small Croatian Navy collects signals, communications, and remote intelligence. The significantly larger Army Intelligence Force aids civilian intelligence operations, as well as collects information on foreign militaries. Both military and civilian intelligence forces are chard with the preservation of national security and the protection of Croatian government officials at home and abroad.
Even after U.N. intervention in the Balkan Peninsula, sporadic fighting between rival ethnic interests, and diplomatic disagreements between Croatia and neighboring states, remain endemic. Croatian government and economic reforms have made the nation the strongest in the region, with increasing participation in international organizations.
█ FURTHER READING:
Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook, 2002. "Croatia" < http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/hr.html; > (March 30, 2003).