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Yugoslavia: Military Life
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > Military Manpower > Military Life


Yugoslavia's socialist self-management system was defended by the one institution in the country that did not practice selfmanagement. It was believed that the independence implicit in self-management was contradictory to the essential military principles of command, subordination, and discipline.

Soldiers received free military housing, meals, and health care, plus a small monthly payment for personal expenses. They spent a considerable amount of time producing their own food. Larger military units raised and slaughtered livestock and grew various staple crops. The stipulated average work week of a YPA soldier was forty-two hours; however, training exercises and maneuvers could extend that time. Soldiers were entitled to fifteen to twenty-one days of regular leave during the activeduty period. Some received extra leave privileges for good conduct. Overall the standard of living of the average soldier was below that of his civilian counterpart. This was not a serious concern, because military service was both mandatory and relatively brief.

While they lacked the privileges of self-management, soldiers had a special right to complain to their immediate superiors about unsatisfactory working and living conditions. They could appeal an unfavorable decision to a higher officer within thirty days. Military law stipulated that regular meetings of military units and facilities would discuss housing, health care, and other conditions of military life. Like other citizens, soldiers voted for delegates to serve in commune, republic or province, and federal assemblies. These delegates represented their service post and not their home region.

The majority of soldiers came directly to the service from school, but if they were employed prior to conscription they had the right to return to their former jobs. Military service brought with it a fairly generous disability allowance as well as death benefits to a soldier's family.

Unlike soldiers, officers received sufficient pay and allowances to live in better circumstances than their civilian counterparts. Officer pay was determined by a combination of factors including rank, length of service, marital status, and number of dependents. Officers received generous allowances for travel, family separation, cost-of-living differentials, and other hardships. Air crews and airborne officers received hazardous duty pay, and medical doctors, engineers, and technicians with special skills or training received extra incentive pay to stay in the service.

Promotions were awarded rapidly and equitably. Active-duty performance was evaluated as either favorable or unfavorable. A favorable rating was further classified as adequate, good, outstanding, or especially outstanding. Officers were rated after one year of service and every three years thereafter until the tenth year of service. After ten years of service, they were evaluated every four years.

Officer benefits were generous. Leave amounted to thirty days every year. Officers with more than twenty-five years of activeduty service or older than age fifty received an additional ten days per year. In most cases, retirement pay was more than fifty percent of active-duty pay. Nevertheless, inadequate military housing was a common problem that lowered morale among officers.

Data as of December 1990

Last Updated: December 1990

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Yugoslavia was first published in 1990. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

Yugoslavia Main Page Country Studies Main Page

Section 190 of 208


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