On 28 May 1991, the first military parade of National Guard units was held.
Twenty-six years after the inauguration ceremony of the National Guard (ZNG) was held in Zagreb on 28 May 1991, members of the Croatian Armed Forces celebrate their day. From Vinkovci to Knin, military barracks will open their doors to citizens, and a number of events will take place in Zagreb, including a traditional presentation of weapons and equipment and a fly-by programme at the Jarun Lake. Also, members of the Honorary Guard will perform the change of the guard ceremony at the St. Mark’s Square, in front of the Parliament building, reports Večernji List on May 27, 2017.
Members of the Armed Forces do have a good reason to celebrate. Over the past 26 years, the Croatian Army has grown into a respectable military force which contributes globally to peace, stability and security, participating in international missions and peace support operations. The trust of the allied states resulted in Croatia becoming a member of the NATO on 1 April 2009.
Participation of Croatian soldiers in international missions and operations began in 1999 when ten military observers were sent to the UN mission in Sierra Leone. In all international missions and operations in which they have participated, Croatian soldiers have demonstrated their professionalism, efficiency and dedication in carrying out different tasks. Their contribution to creating stability and security has been recognized by allies, but also by the local population in the areas of operations. Members of the Armed Forces currently participate in three UN peacekeeping missions (India and Pakistan, Western Sahara and Lebanon), in the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, in the KFOR peace operation in Kosovo, and in the European Union mission in Somalia.
The Croatian Armed Forces currently have 15,921 members, of whom 14,437 are active military personnel, including 3,064 officers, 100 military specialists officers, 5,337 non-commissioned officers, 413 non-commissioned military specialists, and 5,523 soldiers and sailors. The armed forces have 12 MiG-21 aircraft and 22 Pilatus and Zlin training aircraft. The latest stars of the Croatian Armed Forces are 16 Kiowa Warrior helicopters, received from the United States, and self-propelled howitzers PzH 2000 from Germany.
In the months after the inaugural ceremony in May 1991, the National Guard was transformed into the Croatian Armed Forces. They successfully defended Croatia during the Homeland War and in 1995 executed two major operations, Flash in May and Storm in August, which liberated the largest part of previously occupied territories and effectively marked the end of the Homeland War. The rest of the occupied territories were peacefully reintegrated in the Croatian constitutional order in January 1998.