Analysis of operations on the Salonika Front 1916 -1918
By laying a wreath at the Memorial at the Serbian military cemetery in Thessaloniki, the third study trip organised within the implementation of the scientific research project of the School of National Defence of the University of Defence entitled “Historical Comparative Analysis of Operations at the Salonika front in 1916-1918” was completed.
This year's study trip, which started on 11th September, included a group composed of students of the 61st class of the General Staff Course and the 64th class of Command and Staff Course, members of the research team of the University of Defence and associates in the scientific research project.
Participants in the study trip had the opportunity to analyse various aspects of the operations on the Salonika front at tactical, operational and strategic levels. In order to accomplish this task, they visited the sites of great battles and victories of the Serbian and allied forces along northern Greece, such as Veva (Banica), Kela (Gorničevo), Kaimaktshalan, Dobro Polje and Dojrani.
Analysis of battle of Kaimaktshalan and Dobro Polja is of particular importance. The victory of the Serbian Army in the Battle of Gorničevo, the conquest of Kaimaktshalan and the liberation of Bitola in the autumn 1916 meant the recovery and consolidation of the Serbian Army after the Albanian Golgotha. The final breakthrough of the Salonika Front in Dobro Polje that was carried out by Serbian heroes in September 1918, in cooperation with allies on the entire front-line of the Salonika front, announced a quick victory for the liberation of the homeland and a turning point for the end of the First World War.
It is for the first time this year that the participants in a study trip went out to Dobro polje, on the border of Greece and Macedonia. French General Bernard Barrera and Colonel Marko Zelenović from the National Defence School spoke about the importance of the great Serbian and allied victory. Participants in the activity were greeted by Greek General Christos Drivas.
At the British military cemetery in Dojrani, Colonel Nikola Ilić, defence attaché of the United Kingdom in Belgrade, reminded of the importance of the great victorious battle that the British Army waged along with the Greek army in that part of the front, engaging the Bulgarian forces not to support their units at Dobro Polje. Denis Keefe, the ambassador of the United Kingdom in Belgrade, laid a wreath at the memorial to the fallen British soldiers, in Dojrani and at the British military cemetery in Thessaloniki.
Assessing the realization of the goals of the study trip, Colonel Rade Slavković, PhD, Head of the Operations Department, who is responsible for the realisation of the project, pointed out that all the planned goals were achieved very successfully. Participants in the activity reviewed the key elements of the environment and battles from 1916 to 1918. Future military leaders on the tactical and operational decision-making levels, using the lessons learned from the past, will better understand modern operations and adequately apply what they learned in future operations. For teachers at the University of Defence, a study trip is very useful in developing a new teaching form during the process of training of officers at the National Defence School.
Colonel Slavković especially emphasized that the study trip included officers of the Allied armies in the First World War, Serbia, the United Kingdom, France and Greece, which provided excellent logistical support to the realisation of activities this year.
To the glory and honour of the fallen Serb heroes on the Salonika Front and in the battles for freedom of Serbia, the participants in the activity laid wreaths at the memorials in Thessaloniki, on Kaimaktsalan, Sitara, the Serbian military cemetery in Bitola and in the crypt of the church of the Holy Archangel Michael in Skopje. By the study trip and the upcoming scientific gathering at the beginning of November, the University of Defence marks the anniversary of the end of the World War I.