This paper advances two interrelated claims about late socialist order in the former Yugoslavia. First, the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA), which had been a pillar of the Yugoslav state socialism, had to start justifying its character as it came to be defined as an outmoded and conservative institution. Second, it was increasingly difficult for the JNA leadership to attract men to its ranks while masculine ideals entered a period of flux. The urban and educated upper and middle-classes openly argued that the army was not living up to the many roles it was supposed to play. This study has important implications for studies of late socialism in Eastern Europe and the USSR as it indicates the dynamism of this period.