Military of Suriname
After the creation of the Statute of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Royal Netherlands Army was entrusted with the defence of Suriname, while the defence of the Netherlands Antilles was the responsibility of the Royal Netherlands Navy. The army set up a separate Troepenmacht in Suriname (Forces in Suriname, TRIS). Upon independence in 1975, this force was turned into the Surinaamse Krijgsmacht (SKM):, Surinamese Armed Forces. On February 25, 1980, a group of 15 non-commissioned officers and one junior SKM officer, under the leadership of sergeant major Dési Bouterse, overthrew the Government. Subsequently the SKM was rebranded as Nationaal Leger (NL), National Army.
The Netherlands has provided limited military assistance to the Surinamese armed forces since the election of a democratic government in 1991. In recent years, the USA has provided training to military officers and policymakers to promote a better understanding of the role of the military in a civilian government. Also, since the mid-1990s, the People's Republic of China has been donating military equipment and logistical material to the Surinamese Armed Forces, as has Brazil.
- 1 Organization
- 2 Equipment Air Force Inventory
- 3 Command structure
- 4 Conflicts
- 5 Role
- 6 Equipment Army
- 7 Equipment Navy
- 8 Future
- 9 References
Suriname's National Armed Forces are composed of some 2,200 personnel, the majority of whom are deployed in the Army of Suriname.
- A Light Infantry Battalion (33ste Bataljon der Infanterie) Formed in 1987.
- A Special Forces Corps.
- A Support Arm. (Staf verzorgings Bataljon)
- A Military Police Corps.
In 1982 a small air arm was formed within the Suriname defense force called "Surinaamse Luchtmacht" in short also called LUMA. The first military aircraft of the young air force was a Hughes 500 - Model 369D helicopter, simply registered SAF-100 and being used for light observation tasks. Unfortunately the aircraft was written off in March 1982, but from May of the same year the Suriname Air Force was being equipped with four (Pilatus) Britten Norman BN-2A Defenders. Registered with the numbers SAF-001, SAF-002, SAF-003 and SAF-004. Later on during the decade a Cessna 172 (SAF-007), a Cessna 206 (SAF-200) and in 1993 a Cessna T303 Crusader (SAF-008) was acquired. The first official Surinam Air Force Commander from 1983 until 1989 was air force pilot lieutenant Eddie Alenso Savalie Djoe. He was one of the passenger victims of the Surinam Airways Flight 764 accident in June 1989, by then he was already promoted to the rank of Major.
All aircraft of the Surinam Air Force undertake border patrols, utility transport and SAR (Search & Rescue) missions from the main base at Paramaribo - Zorg en Hoop and are occasionally detached to Zanderij - Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport, Nieuw Nickerie - Major Fernandes Airfield and Moengo Airstrip. In 1986 anti-government guerrilla activity prompted the government to acquire a pair of Aérospatiale SA.316B Alouette III (SAF-400 & SAF-500) helicopters from the Portuguese Air Force (Portuguese: Força Aérea Portuguesa), formerly registered FAP9350 & FAP9386. In the same year also three Pilatus PC-7's (SAF-111, SAF-112 & SAF-113) were ordered in Switzerland for COIN (Counter-Insurgency) missions. One of the Alouette's crashed and both delivered PC-7s were returned to Switzerland but one was later re-delivered. In 1988 a Bell 205 Iroquois (SAF-300) was acquired from Venezuela and used as a gunship for ten years prior to sale to the US as N6594S.
Two CASA 212-400s Aviocar transports (SAF-212 & SAF-214) Garret AiResearch TPE331-10HR turbo-prop engined aircraft were delivered in 1999. One of these two Spanish built CASA 212-400's is a Maritime Patrol Aircraft version (SAF-214) which was modified for the maritime patrol role with a Bendix RDR-1500 surveillance radar. Lack of spares and funding has hampered maintenance and some times grounding much of the SAF fleet. Three single engined Indian HAL Chetak helicopters are ordered and due for delivery in 2014. In a deal worth US$13.4 million with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited [HAL], facilitated through a line of credit from India. The deal was previous rumoured to include the more modern twin engined HAL Dhruv helicopters, but this proved to be wrong.  On 26 December 2012 ten technical personnel of the Suriname Air Force left to India to be trained to become certified helicopter mechanics. In 2014 eight helicopter pilots from the Suriname Air Force are trained on operating the HAL Chetak helicopters in India. In 2014 it was announced that Suriname's order for helicopters from India has been changed from HAL Chetak to HAL Dhruv as the Chetak production line is planned to be shut down.
Equipment Air Force Inventory
|Aircraft||Origin||Type||Versions||In service||In reserve||Notes|
|Cessna 172||USA||Liaison & Training Aircraft||172 Skyhawk||1||(SAF-007) In service from 1993 now for sale as PZ-NAW|
|Britten-Norman Islander||United Kingdom||Transport and Patrol Aircraft||BN-2A Defender||1||2||(SAF-001), (SAF-002), (SAF-003)|
|CASA C-212 Aviocar||Spain||Transport and Patrol Aircraft||212-400||0||2||1 MPA (SAF-214) / 1 Transport (SAF-212)|
|HAL Chetak||India||Utility Helicopter||3||(on order)|
|Transport, Light Attack and Utility Aircraft|
|Cessna 206||United States||Utility Aircraft||TU206G Turbo Stationair||1||(SAF-200) In service from 1982 to 1998. (Sold)|
|Cessna 303||United States||Transport and VIP Aircraft||T303 Crusader||1||(SAF-008) In service from 1993 to 1997. (Crashed)|
|Britten Norman Islander||United Kingdom||Transport and Patrol Aircraft||BN-2A Defender||1||(SAF-004) In service from 1982 to 1997. (Crashed)|
|Pilatus PC-7||Swiss||Light attack Aircraft||PC-7 Turbo Trainer||1||(SAF-111) In service from 1985 to 1990. (Originally HB-HMN, Sold to US as N828PC)|
|Pilatus PC-7||Swiss||Light attack Aircraft||PC-7 Turbo Trainer||2||(SAF-112) & (SAF-113) In service from 1985 to 1987. (Returned to manufacturer as HB-HMP & HB-HMQ)|
|Aerospatiale Alouette III||France||Utility Helicopter||Sud Aviation SE-3160||2||(SAF-400) & (SAF-500) In service from 1986 to 1999. (One sold, one crashed)|
|Bell 205||United States||Utility Helicopter||205A-1 Iroquois||1||(SAF-300) In service from 1988 to 1998. (Sold to US as N6594S)|
|Hughes 500||United States||Utility Helicopter||Model 369D||1||(SAF-100) In service from March to May 1982 (Crashed 4 fatalities).|
Marine & Coast Guard
In 1977 the Navy (Marine) of Suriname received three big Patrol Vessels from the Dutch, built by De Vries Scheepsbouw. With a length of 32 meters each ship had two Paxman 12YHMC diesel engines of 1200HP performing a maximum speed of 20 knots. Delivery was between February 1977 and 1978 and the hull numbers were S-401, S-402 & S-403. Now all three are out of service, the last one S-401 later P-401 is still moored at the Marine Harbor. One was re-built as a luxurious yacht. All ships had their base at the Marine harbor on the Suriname river.
In November 2012 the defence & internal affairs Ministry of Surinam bought three patrol vessels from the French company Ocea for the Coast Guard. This order was worth 16 million Euros. These patrol vessels will be used for fishery protection and to counterattack piracy in Surinamese waters. The first Fast Patrol Boat (P201), a 32 meters long, 6,3 meters wide FPB 98 type, was delivered in June 2013. The first boat arrived in Paramaribo with a container vessel from the port of Saint-Nazaire, France. The vessels can reach speeds of 30 knots. Delivery of the remaining two vessels (P101 & P102), FPB 72 types (24 meters long), occurred by the end of July, 2013. The Surinamese Government ordered the three vessels, accelerating planning to set up a Coast Guard for Suriname that will be deployed to conduct patrol duties and fight maritime crime activities like illegal fishing, drug-trafficking and piracy.
The new unit resorts under the Ministry of Internal Affairs. For the crew, soldiers were transferred from the Navy Unit (Marine) of the National Army, who will form the initial Coast Guard staff. The Maritime Authority of Suriname (MAS) is currently training 16 students from the Nature Technical Institute (NaTIn) and Technical Faculty of Suriname's University on how to conduct technical maintenance of the vessels. Ocea sent a trainer along with the boats to help conduct a six-month course. Colonel Jerry Slijngaard heads the Government's Coast Guard committee. The purchase of the vessels is but a start. Three boats will barely be sufficient to patrol Suriname's territorial waters and combat maritime crime activities like piracy, but at least now quick action is possible.
The unit has its own base on the banks of the Suriname River in Paramaribo, with posts at the border with Guyana (in western District Nickerie) and French Guiana (in eastern District Marowijne). Legislation on which the Coast Guard will be founded is almost finished. It will soon be tabled in the Council of Ministers and the Council of State, after which it will head for the National Assembly for approval. The new unit is a civil organisation, with authority to enforce the law in Suriname territorial waters. The Surinamese government does not intend to cut down cost on the Navy (Marine), once the Coast Guard is fully operational. The Navy will keep operating in the high seas outside the 100-mile zone.
The President of the Republic, Dési Bouterse, is the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces (Opperbevelhebber van de Strijdkrachten). The President is assisted by the Minister of Defence.
Beneath the President and Minister of Defense is the Commander of the Armed Forces (Bevelhebber van de Strijdkrachten), Colonel Hedwig Gilaard, whose headquarters is in Paramaribo, was followed-up after three years by Colonel Ronni Benschop, who in turn was promoted to Brigade General in February 2014. This is the highest-ranked officer in the Armed Forces of Suriname ever.
Lieutenant Colonel Egmond Letterboom is Chief of Staff, Lieutenant Colonel Marino Acton is the Commander of the Navy (Marine), Lieutenant Colonel Robert Kartodikromo is the Commander of the Air Force, Lieutenant Colonel Henri van Axeldongen is the Commander of the Army.
The Military Branches and regional Military Commands report to the Commander.
Commanders of the Suriname Armed Forces
- Yngwe Elstak (25 November 1975 - 25 February 1980)
- Desi Bouterse (July 1980 – 3 December 1992)
- Ivan Graanoogst (temporary, 3 December 1992 – 15 May 1993)
- Arthy Gorré (15 May 1993 – 30 June 1995)
- Glenn Sedney (30 June 1995 – 1 July 2001)
- Ernst Mercuur (1 July 2001 - 4 February 2010)
- Hedwig Gilaard (4 February 2010 – 10 July 2013)
- Ronni Benschop (temporary, 10 July 2013 - February 2014)
- Ronni Benschop (February 2014 – present)
Surinamese armed forces had also fought with the Resistance Amerindian groups who call themselves "Tucayana Amazonas" was led by Alex Jubitana & Thomas Sabajo. This Amerindian insurgents fought from 1986 to 1989. They oppose the expropriation of land owned by indigenous people and discrimination by the military regime.
- Defend the territorial integrity of Suriname.
- Assist the civil power in the maintenance of law and order when required.
- Contribute to the economic development of Suriname.
The Army also participated in the Multi-National Force in Haiti in the 90's and were redeployed in 2010.
- FN P90
- FN Five-seven
- FN FAL
- FN MAG
- M2 Browning
- FN Minimi
- M40 recoilless rifle
- M16 rifle
- M4 carbine
- M1 carbine
- Dragunov SVD
- M45 Quadmount
With latest procurement of three HAL Chetak helicopters from India for the Air Force and three patrol vessels from France for the new Coast Guard the Armed Forces of Suriname should be better equipped to fulfill its roles in the future.
In September 12, 2012. The Suriname defense minister, Lamouré Latour, discussed with the Brazilian defense minister the possibility of the Military of Suriname acquiring from two to four Brazilian Embraer AT-29B Super Tucanos light attack (COIN) trainer planes, 500 ton light patrol ships and the revitalization of the armourd vehicles supplied from Brazil in 1983.
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