The Croatian Diaspora

Croatia’s Defense Minister Damir Krstičević Visits USA - Special Events With Croatian American Diaspora

On Monday, May 21, 2018, Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, hosted a lecture and luncheon event to honor and spotlight Defense Minister Damir Krstičević.

The event was organized by Boris Vilic, a Croatian American who is the Dean of Continuing Studies at Rider University. Minister Krstičević's presentation has highlighted the dynamics of regional security in Southeast Europe, NATO's commitments and responsibilities and the new partnership with Israel. He also shared some of the nuanced details about how the Republic of Croatia defeated the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA), the world's fourth largest military at the time when no one thought Croatia had a chance against the well-armed JNA military force.

Philadelphia area Croatian Americans including Vedran Nazor, Steve Rukavina, Tommi Mischell and Nikola Kacic with Defense Minister, Damir Krstičević at Rider University
Minister Krstičević also discussed the key elements of Croatia's 2017 National Security Alliance, which includes significant partnerships with the USA. He shared several ways that the U.S. military through equipment like Kiowa Warrior Helicopters, underwater vehicles and intelligence equipment, has bolstered Croatia's military. The Defense Minister's quote that "Croatia is America's key ally in the region" was demonstrated and outlined in many ways within its thirty-five minute power point presentation. The Croatian Americans attending the Rider University were all very impressed with the Croatian Minister of Defense and his ability to articulate the most important aspects of the US-Croatia military alliance and the significance of Croatia's Membership in NATO. and continuing into the present time.

On Tuesday, May 22, Defense Minister Damir Krstičević was inducted into the prestigious US Army War College of Hall of Fame held in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The elite institution, established in 1901, chose to induct Minister Krstičević as part of their inductees of International Fellows. He was the first Croatian officer to graduate from the US Army War College, widely recognized as the highest educational institution for the U.S. Army.
Minister Krstičević commented on this special honor given to him by the United States, saying, "This is the recognition for me personally, the Croatian Armed Forces and the Republic of Croatia 20 years ago I was given the honor as the first Croatian officer to attend the US Army War College The United States is Croatia's partner, advisor and key ally in security and defense. That knowledge helped me tremendously during my career in the military and has served me well now in my role as the Minister of Defense. "

Krstičević is a veteran of Homeland War and a post-war deputy chief of the General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces. He has also served as the chair of the Homeland Security Council for the Republic of Croatia, serving as a member of the Croatian Parliament and was the head of the Croatian delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

Andrea Novak Neumann, Minister Krsticevic, Dr. Vanca Schrunk and Dr. Vesna Hempel Kozar at the Croatian Dom in South St. Paul, MN

The final stop in the USA on Thursday, May 24th, for the top government military officer in Minnesota was in Minnesota to honor the military cooperation for the past 22 years between the Republic of Croatia and the Minnesota National Guard. This special military relationship has seen the Republic of Croatia as a strategic partner in the field of security and defense with the Minnesota National Guard.

Minister Krstičević's itinerary in Minnesota included visits with the new National Guard Adjutant General Jon Jensen and a meeting with Minnesota's Governor Mark Dayton. The Defense Minister added a memorable flight in the skies of Minnesota, flying with a National Guard pilot in F-16 Fighting Falcon, a single engine supersonic fighter aircraft.

The last event of the day was a stop at the "Croatian Dom" in South St. Paul, where Minnesota Croatian Cultural Society President Andrea Novak-Neumann and forty local Croatian Americans met with the Defense Minister and his delegation.In his group Brigadier General Ivica Oljuic and Lara Romano, Deputy Chief of Mission from the Croatian Embassy in Washington, DC and also, Colonel Tomislav Galic from Zagreb, where at this social gathering, once again they all saluted the special relationship between Republic of Croatia and the Minnesota National Guard.