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ponedeljek, 6 decembra, 2021

[30 YEARS OF INDEPENDENT SLOVENIA] War for Slovenia DAY 5; FROM MEDVEDJEK TO KRAKOVSKI GOZD

By: Tomaž Kladnik

On the fifth day of the war, Monday, 1 July, the YPA was attempting to break through to its besieged units. For this purpose, it drove new units to the battlefield, abused the use of Red Cross-marked military helicopters for military purposes and issued threats of sabotage. In spite of this, or more precisely, because of this, it faced mass surrenders, defections, and escapes of soldiers from its units. 

The Slovenian Armed Forces were successfully preventing the enemy’s horizontal manoeuvres and in the battles for border crossings they were succeeding in taking more and more of them into their own hands. Locations of important events or conflicts: Nova vas, Medvedjek, Krakovski gozd, Mokronog. 

Battle plans RŠ TO 

As part of the preparations for the armed conflict, individual implementation plans were prepared in the Headquarters for Territorial Defence of the Republic of Slovenia (RŠTO) and in individual regional headquarters (PŠTO), which defined the tasks of units in individual areas: 

The »STONE« plan defined plans for the protection of the state border. They were partially used in July and then again in September 1991. It provided the dates of the occupation of certain border points and the delimitation of tasks between the TO and the militia. 

The »FACILITIES« plan defined plans for the protection of facilities of special importance to the Republic of Slovenia. It was carried out for several months, and after the end of the fighting, it continued to protect TO warehouses and YPA facilities. Members of the internal affairs bodies also worked to implement this plan. 

The »CHAMOIS« plan defined an obstruction plan that was updated in May 1991 and was most used during the war. The plan included preparatory measures, an overview of the micro-locations for obstruction with an indication of the emergency means, an obstruction plan on the map and an alarm scheme with the responsible persons. All YPA barracks and main roads were also blocked. 

The »PURCHASE« plan defined the plans for the blockade and seizure of weapons, material and technical assets owned by the TO from the YPA warehouses. 

The »LAKE« plan defined the organization of collection centres for refugees from the opposite side. 

The »LIME« plan defined the constant readiness of members of the operational services. 

The »FLINT« plan defined connection planning. 

The »BAG« plan defined the establishment of a courier service and the parallel use of regular connections. [] 

The locations of important events or conflicts on the fifth day of the war for Slovenia were: Nova vas, Medvedjek, Krakovski gozd and Mokronog. 

Medvedjek battle 

Members of the TO at a
position near Medvedjek are
listening to the news.

Due to the difficult military situation at the barricade near Poganci, the commanders also planned a blockade on Medvedjek to stop the enemy convoy. Medvedjek is a slight slope on the M–1 road near the village of Veliki Gaber, between Trebnje and Ivančna Gorica. This was the last barricade in the territory of the Dolenjska province TO before Ljubljana, in front of the area of the Ljubljana province TO. The road was three-lane, in a slight bend and at the top of the slope there were two overpasses. Above the M–1 road, there was a local asphalt road, 3 to 20 m away. The TO unit arrived in Medvedjek by two buses at 3.30 a.m. The order was to stop the YPA convoy, but TO members were not allowed to initiate fire. The barricade was erected at this location for two reasons: it was planned based on the configuration of the terrain, despite the proximity of residential houses, and to gain time for its erection and armament due to the distance from Novo mesto. Namely, Poganci had shown that a barricade that is erected in a hurry is extremely difficult to defend. The YPA column reached Medvedjek on 27 June 1991 at 3.45 p.m., and thus, spent more than 5 hours on the 25-kilometer route from Novo mesto to Medvedjek. It had to stop here, as a barricade of trucks had already been erected along the overpasses; these were used as a barricade to stop traffic. The main task of setting up the barricade with trucks was led by the militiamen of the Trebnje PM and the traffic militiamen of the Novo mesto PM and the patrol on the M–1 road. Workers of the Road Company mined the overpass and the area behind the overpass towards Ljubljana; they placed 1,500 kg of explosives (‘kamnitit’) on the overpass and 1,000 kg on the road. The lower barricade was erected near the monument, also from trucks and vehicles. Most of the civilians who remained on the Ljubljana side of the barricade were evacuated to Ljubljana by the police. A few tens of drivers remained in Medvedjek, mostly truck drivers who did not want to move away from their vehicles. On the first day, there were 378 members of the TO at the barricade, and militiamen and criminal investigators from the Trebnje Police Department were also working in the area, guarding certain points. They also directed traffic, protected the installed explosives and provided protection for the city behind the stopped military column. Also, they observed the column in order to document the events. In addition, they assisted TO units in establishing links and transmitting information. After three negotiations between members of the TO and the YPA, an order to attack a YPA column came from the national coordination at 5.04 p.m., but the attack did not occur due to the ambiguity about the competence of the barricade command and lack of information of the TO units and officers on the ground. After the establishment of a unified command of the TO units that were in the ring of the barricade, and due to the threatening movement of the YPA column, the TO commanders decided to control the YPA column until the next day. Meanwhile, YPA commanders established constant contact with their superior commander, and SA–341 and Mi–8 military helicopters flew over the area throughout the day. In the evening, the area was allegedly photographically documented by two IJ–22 Eagle planes, thus preparing the JVL for attacks the next day. With additional reinforcements, the next day, 28 June, 504 members of the TO were in position. After new unsuccessful negotiations, they planned an attack on the YPA column at 9.50 a.m. At the houses of the Medvedjek settlement, sheltering positions were made and all four anti-armour grenades of the armbrust were fired at the first two armoured vehicles, but they missed the target. In addition, members of the anti-sabotage platoon fired at the armoured vehicles at the lower barricade with two armbrusts, which also did not cause major damage. In response to the attack, the YPA attacked with 20 mm PZO cannons against the TO command post. In a 20- to 25-minute mutual shelling, the TO had six wounded and the YPA one dead and two wounded – all three were hit by infantry weapons. After a brief lull, JVL reconnaissance planes flew over the area, and at the same time the 2nd PŠTO learned from members of the militia that they were preparing for an air attack. At 10.47 a.m., the Medvedjek area was attacked by two pairs of JVL aircraft (J-21 hawk, J-22 eagle and MIG 21 aircraft were allegedly involved in all attacks on Medvedjek). Initially, two planes from the Ljubljana direction attacked the Kotar farm with machine guns and rockets, a barricade on the pass of the slope and to the right of the M–1 road on the Ljubljana side of the slope. Another pair of planes fired on positions on the right side of the M–1 road. TO units in Medvedjek did not have anti-aircraft weapons, so withdrawal before air strikes was the only option. At 11.30 a.m., the planes attacked again. The third air attack on Medvedjek was at 2.56 p.m., but at that time there were no major TO forces on the Medvedjek slope. In addition to the six wounded members of the TO, seven civilians were killed in the airstrikes, truck drivers who were next to their vehicles in the barricade, and Anton Kotar, the owner of the bombed and shelled farm next to the barricade. 

Krakovski gozd battle 

When the YPA convoy arrived in Krakovski gozd on July 1, they
immediately came into contact with members of the TO.

Krakovski gozd is a swampy area intertwined with numerous canals, and the Ljubljana−Zagreb expressway, which ran through it, was built on an embankment. The area is uninhabited, so the possibility of civilian casualties was reduced. TO constructed the road barricade from mined trucks. Visibility from the road was poor due to the high vegetation, and at the same time the members of the TO were protected from gunfire by the forest, which camouflaged their movements. In Krakovski gozd, TO units were deployed in the depth of the forest and along the road, in the direction of the M–1 road towards Ljubljana. The units were armed with light personal weapons and two non-refractory cannons, two M-57 pistols and six armbrust hand-held anti-tank weapons. The units were mentally and physically exhausted, but already had gained vast combat experience from previous clashes. The experience of the fight on Medvedjek also dictated the preparations for the conflict in Krakovski gozd. In the event of an aerial attack, a quick withdrawal from the area where the cars and buses were was prepared. When the YPA column arrived, it immediately came into contact with members of the TO. Simultaneously with the negotiations on the surrender of the YPA unit, preparations were also made for TO units to attack. JVL (Yugoslav Military Air Force) planes and helicopters flew over the area all day. Due to a threat of an air attack, TO units twice withdrew to reserve positions. At 11 p.m., after coordination between the republican coordination, the RŠTO, the coordination subgroup and the 2nd PŠTO, they decided to attack the column in the morning. On the night from 1 to 2 July, the position at the barricade was also checked by the commander of the 2nd PŠTO, Gutman, and they agreed with the commander of the unit, Teropšič, on the details of the attack on the YPA column. As the YPA unit did not surrender despite the calls, a burst of gunfire was fired at 5.15 a.m. as an agreed signal to start the attack. TO units at the barricade attacked violently with all weapons. The YPA armoured vehicles also responded with anti-aircraft guns. Most at stake were the armoured vehicles at the front of the barricade, which were in the immediate vicinity of the non-refractory cannons. Cannon grenades, however, did not have much effect. After ten to fifteen minutes, the TO units retreated to reserve positions, 50 m back in depth. Two members of the TO were injured in the clash. The TO group fired several more trombone mines in the repeated attack and damaged two more armoured vehicles with an armbrust. In the fight, the JLA suffered at least 4 dead and 13 wounded and 5 variously damaged armoured vehicles. The wounded were cared for and taken away by a team of doctors from the Krško Health Center, who arrived at the scene immediately after the clash. The column of the remaining armoured vehicles went back along the road towards Drnovo, but encountered an obstacle there. After the attack, TO units tactically withdrew from Krakovski gozd to various locations in the Posavje region, where they then observed the attack of JVL aircraft (hawks) on the barricade. The YPA unit, which remained trapped in the barricade, tried to demine and remove the barricade, but after an unsuccessful attempt it abandoned the mission and tried to break through Gorjanci towards Croatia on foot.

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