Niger Armed Forces

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Niger Armed Forces
Forces Armées Nigeriennes (FAN)
Niger army logo.jpg
Seal of the Niger Armed Forces
Founded 1 August 1961
Service branches Army, Air Force,
National Gendarmerie,
National Guard (GNN).
Headquarters Niamey
Leadership
Commander-in-Chief President Mahamadou Issoufou
Minister of National Defence Karidio Mahamadou
Joint Chief of staff General Seyni Garba
Manpower
Military age 18–49
Conscription 2 year compulsory[1]
Available for
military service
2,135,680 (2005 est.), age 15–49
Fit for
military service
1,155,054 (2000 est.), age 15–49
Active personnel 12,000
Reserve personnel 5000 (2003)[1]
Expenditures
Percent of GDP 1.6% (2007)
Industry
Foreign suppliers France
People's Republic of China
United States
Nigerien army soldiers from the 322nd Parachute Regiment practice field tactics during combat training facilitated by U.S. Army Soldiers during exercise Flintlock 2007 in Maradi, Niger, April 6, 2007

The Niger Armed Forces (French: Forces Armées Nigeriennes) (FAN) includes military armed force service branches (Niger Army and Niger Air Force), paramilitary services branches (National Gendarmerie of Niger and National Guard of Niger) and the National Police. The Niger Army, Niger Air Force and the National Gendarmerie of Niger are under the Ministry of Defense whereas the National Guard of Niger and the National Police fall under the command of the Ministry of Interior. With the exception of the National Police, all military and paramilitary forces are trained in military fashion. The President of Niger is the supreme commander of all armed forces.

Military Armed Forces[edit]

The two military service branches (Niger Army and Niger Air Force) are each headed by their respective Chiefs of Staff who serve as adjunct to the Joint Chiefs of Staff of Military Armed Forces (French: Chef d'Etat Major des Armées). Military operations are headed from the Joint Staff Office (French: Etat Major General des Armées). In addition, each military branch has its own Staff Office. The Joint Chief of Staff has operational command of all the military forces and is under the command of civilian Minister of Defense (Niger), who reports to the President of Niger. This system closely resembles the French Armed forces model. The President also appoints the Special Chief of Staff at the President Office and the head of the Presidential Guard who answer directly to the President. The Special Chief of Staff and the head of the Presidential Guard sit on the Joint Staff.[2][3]

Niger Army[edit]

The Niger Army is the land military armed forces of Niger with 5,200 personnel.[4] Units include logistics, motorized infantry, airborne infantry, artillery and armoured companies. There is a total of 10 pure motorized infantry battalions, three of which are Saharan. The other battalions are mixed, like the ones in Niamey (12eme Battaillion Inter Armes de Niamey),[5] Zinder, Tahoua and Madawela. Each of these battalions comprises a logistics and engineering or génie company, a fire fighter company, an infantry company, be it airborne or land, an armoured squadron and an artillery company. The Army is commanded by the Chief of Staff of the Army in Niamey through appointed commandeers of each of the seven "Defense Zones", which largely overlap each of the civilian Regions of Niger.[2][3]

History[edit]

Motorized company of the Niger Army during a parade in Niamey

The Niger Army was created on 28 July 1960 by decree. At the time, the National Police was a subsection of the military. Initially, units of the army were created from three companies of the French Colonial Forces made of Nigerien soldiers officered by Frenchmen who agreed to take joint French-Nigerien citizenship. In 1960, there were only ten African officers in the Nigerien army, all of low ranks. As Nigerien officers have gradually assumed command role, President Diori signed legislation to end the employment of expatriate military officers in 1965. However, French military personnel remained in Niger both to serve in the Niger Army and in the 4th Régiment Interarmes d'Outre-Mer (Troupes de Marine) with bases at Niamey, Zinder, Bilaro and Agadez.[6] In the late 70's, a smaller French force returned again to Niger. After the 1974 military coup, all French military personnel were evacuated although a smaller French force returned in the late 1970s. In 1970, the army was reorganised and divided into four Infantry battalions, one paratroop company, one light armored company, a camel corps, and a number of support units. It will again be reorganized in 2003 to create the Niger Air Force as distinct service branch.

Training[edit]

Basic training is carried out at Niamey at the Tondibiah base and at Agadez. Other special training centers include the National Officers Training School (French: Ecole de Formation des Forces Armées Nigériennes or EFOFAN) and The Paramedical Personnel Training School (EPPAN) both based at the Tondibiah base.[7][8] In addition to training in Niger, army officers also train in France at the Special Military School of Saint-Cyr, in Morocco at The Royal Military Academy of Meknès, in Algeria and the US. With the growing cross-border threats of terrorism in West Africa, the Niger Army has benefited from training exercises with France and the U.S. The Niger Army has participated in the U.S. led Flinlock Exercise which it hosted in 2014.[9]

Equipment[edit]

The army of Niger is poorly equipped in armored vehicles and tanks. With the exception of two armored vehicles purchased from China in 2009, most armored vehicles are at least 20 years old.[10] The army is however well stocked with 4x4 land cruisers mounted various caliber machine guns. Logistic fuel and water transport capacities have been recently improved to help refueling needs on long patrol missions[11][12]

Armored vehicles

Type Origin Description Quantity References
Panhard AML-90/60  France Light armored reconnaissance vehicles 56-125 [10][13]
UR-416  West Germany Armored personnel carrier 8 [13][14]
ZFB05  China Armored personnel carrier 8 [13][14]
Panhard M3 and VTT  France Armored personnel carriers 32 [10]
Panhard VBL  France Light armoured, all-terrain vehicle 7 [14]
WZ523 APC  China Armored personnel carriers 2 [14]

Niger Air Force[edit]

The roundel of the Niger Air Force

History[edit]

The predecessor of the Niger Air Force, the Niger National Escadrille (Escadrille Nationale du Niger) was first formed on 1961.[15] It was later restructured into the National Air Wing (Groupement Aerien National) in 1989. Prior to 2003, military armed forces of Niger (French: forces armées nigeriennes or FAN) were grouped in one branch with one Chief of Staff who oversees both ground forces as well as the National Air Wing. Following an organizational restructuring in 2003, the military armed forces of Niger were structured into two main service branches: Niger Army (French: armée de terre) for all ground military forces and Niger Air Force (Armée de l'air). Each branch was headed by a Chief of Staff answerable to the Joint Chief of Staff of military armed forces. As part of this new structure, the National Air Wing was renamed as Niger Air Force (Armée de l'Air du Niger) on December 17, 2003. The Niger Air Force is led by the Air Force Chief of staff answerable to the Joint Chief and the Defense Minister. Presently, the Chief of Staff is Col. Boulama Issa.

Structure[edit]

Organizationally, the air force is composed a Chief of Staff Office, operation units (French: escadrons), technical units, an infantry company (compagnie de fusiliers) and generalized staff.[16] The Chief of Staff of the Niger Air Force is the lieutenant-colonel Boulama Issa Zana Boukar Dipchiarima (2011 -- )[15] (chef d'etat major).

Training[edit]

At the moment, there is no air force special training facilities in Niger. Basic training of Air Force recruits is conducted at Tondibiah base along with recruits of other military service branches. Air force officers, pilots and mechanics are additionally trained in France, US and other North Africa countries like Morocco at Royal Air Force School of Marrakech and Algeria.[13]

Equipment[edit]

The aircraft inventory of the Niger Air Force is modest though it has increased with new acquisition beginning 2008 and further assistance from France and US.[10] This expansion in capacity is guided by the need for better border patrol following the crisis in Libya and Mali.

Aircraft Origin Type Quantity Operational status References
Lockheed C-130 Hercules  United States Military transport 1 Operational [13][17]
Dornier Do 228  Germany Utility transport 1 Operational [13][17]
Dornier Do 28  Germany Utility transport 1 Operational [13][17]
Diamond DA42  Austria Surveillance 2 Operational [13]
Boeing 737  United States VIP transport 1 Operational [13][17]
Tetras  France Ultra light (ULM) transport 3-4 Operational [13][17]
Cessna 208 Caravan  United States Light transport 2 Operational [13]
Mi-24  Soviet Union Attack helicopters 2 Unknown [13][17]
Mi-17  Soviet Union Transport helicopters 2 Operational [13][17]
Gazelle SA341F  France Attack helicopters 3 Delivered in 2013 and operational [13]
Su-25  Soviet Union Fighter jets 2 Delivered in 2013 and operational [13]

Paramilitary forces[edit]

There are two paramilitary services branches: (National Gendarmerie of Niger under the Ministry of Defense and the National Guard of Niger) under the Ministry of Interior. Each of these branches are headed by Chief of Staff answerable to the overseeing ministry.

National Gendarmerie[edit]

The National Gendarmerie is commanded by the Superior Commander of the National Gendarmerie. Unlike the National Police and the National Guard, the National Gendarmerie is under the control of the Ministry of Defense of Niger. It is divided between territorial brigades and mobile brigades. In addition to territorial defense and maintaining public order, it provides military and paramilitary justice to other corps of the armed forces and participates to the judicial and the surveillance police activities. It is regarded as an elite force due to its stringent recruitment criteria of all armed forces. Due to increasing cross-border traffic of weapons and drugs, its activities have increased border areas. The national gendarmerie, unlike the Army or the National Guard, has never been directly involved in an attempt to seize or control power by force.[18]

National Guard[edit]

Formerly known as the National Forces of Intervention and Security, the National Guard of Niger is responsible for security in rural areas where the national police is absent. It is overseen by the superior commander of the National Guard who reports to the Ministry of Interior. This body is responsible for: border and territorial surveillance of the country, public safety, maintaining and restoring of order, protecting public buildings and institutions, people and their property, the execution of the administrative police in rural and pastoral areas, management and monitoring of prisons, humanitarian actions in the case of national disaster or crisis and protection of the environment. It is also responsible for providing security to administrative authorities and the diplomatic and consular representations of Niger abroad.[19]

National Police[edit]

The General Directorate of National Police, headquartered in Niamey was until the 1999 Constitution under the command of the Armed Forces and Ministry of Defense. Today, only the National Gendarmerie reports to the Ministry of Defense, with the National Police and its Para-Military Arm—FNIS—moved to the Nigerien Interior Ministry.[20] The National Gendarmerie(modeled on the French Gendarmerie) and the National Forces for Intervention and Security (FNIS) (Forces nigerienne d'internale securite- FNIS) count a combined 3,700 member paramilitary police force. The FNIS, along with some special units of the Gendarmerie, are armed and trained in military fashion, similar to the Internal Troops of the nations of the former Soviet Union.[21] The Gendarmerie has law enforcement jurisdiction outside the Urban Communes of Niger, while the National police patrols towns. Special internal security operations may be carried out by the Military, the FNIS, the Gendarmerie, or whatever forces tasked by the Government of Niger.

Domestic conflicts[edit]

Member of the rebel MNJ, northern Niger, 2008

The First Tuareg Rebellion of 1985–1995[edit]

From 1985 to 1995, the armed forces of Niger were engaged in armed fights with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Niger (FPLN). An armed attack by FPLN members in Tchin-Tabaradene in 1985 sparked the closing of the borders with Libya and Algeria, and the resettlement of thousands of Tuareg and other nomads away from the area. Failed promises by the government of Ali Saïbou fueled growing Tuareg discontent leading to an attack on a police station in Tchin-Tabaradene in May 1990. The Niger Army violently responded in May 1990, arresting, torturing, and killing several hundred Tuareg civilians in Tchin-Tabaradene, Gharo and In-Gall in what is known as the Tchin-Tabaradene massacre.[22] Tuareg outrage sparked the creation of two armed insurgent groups: the Front for the Liberation of Aïr and Azaouak and the Front for the Liberation of Tamoust and continued armed fights until 1995 when a peace agreement end fighting. The Nigerien Armed Forces has been extensively involved in politics since independence, and has been denounced at several points for broad abrogation of human rights and unlawful detentions and killings.

The Second Tuareg Rebellion of 2007-2009[edit]

The Nigerien Armed Forces were involved from 2007 to 2009 in an insurgency in the north of the country, labeled the Second Tuareg Rebellion. A previously unknown group, the Mouvement des Nigeriens pour la Justice (MNJ), emerged in February 2007. The predominantly Tuareg group has issued a number of demands, mainly related to development in the north. It has attacked military and other facilities and laid landmines in the north. The resulting insecurity has devastated Niger's tourist industry and deterred investment in mining and oil. The government has labeled the MNJ criminals and traffickers, and refuses to negotiate with the group until it disarms. As of July 2008, some 100 to 160 Nigerien troops have been killed in the ongoing conflict.[23] The second tuareg rebellion ended in 2009 with Peace Talks hosted by Libya.

Foreign missions[edit]

Soldiers of the Niger army during the Gulf War

In 1991, Niger sent a 400-man military contingent to join the American-led allied forces against Iraq during the Gulf War. Niger provides a battalion of peace-keeping forces to the UN Mission in Côte d'Ivoire. As of 2003, the FAN had troops deployed in the following foreign missions:[24]

Nigerien Panhard AML light armored cars with 90mm guns stand in a holding area during Operation Desert Shield.

Defense cooperation[edit]

Niger defense forces have a long history of military cooperation with neighboring countries in the region, France, the United States, China as well as many other countries.

Regional defense cooperation[edit]

Through ECOWAS and the African Union, Niger defense forces have been involved in multiple missions in the Africa and the West Africa. Niger has been a supporter and volunteered to participate in the African Union future rapid intervention forces.[25] In addition, with the growing threat of Boko Haram, defense forces of Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad have intensified cooperation to address the trans-border threat of this organization.[26]

Counter-terrorism defense cooperation[edit]

U.S. and France defense cooperation with Niger has intensified post 9/11 as part of the Global War on Terror.[27] The Niger defense forces along with forces from Chad, Mali, Mauritania have become major partners of France and the United States in counter-terrorism efforts in Africa. The counter-terrorism efforts focused mainly on Al-Qaïda affiliated groups in Africa, in particular the Algerian Group for Call and Combat which will later become AQMI. The collapse of the Gaddafi regime, followed with the disbandment of his arsenal in the region, accentuated the precarious situation of many sahelian nations. The Northern Mali conflict and beginning of Operation Serval to free northern Mali of Islamic militant groups solidified the role of Niger in counter-terrorism activities in the region. Following an agreement with the Niger government, the air force base 101 of Niamey became a permanent drone hub for French and U.S. forces since 2013.[27][28][29] Drone intelligence gathering activities in Mali and the region were carried out from this base during Serval. Niamey has became the Intelligence gathering pole of French and U.S. forces in the region.[30]

Political involvement[edit]

In 1974 General Seyni Kountché overthrew the first president of Niger Hamani Diori. The military regime that followed, while plagued by coup attempts of its own, survived until 1991. While a period of relative prosperity, the military government of the period allowed little free expression and engaged in arbitrary imprisonment and killing.[31]

A paratrooper of the FAN Parachute Company armed with an Israeli-made Uzi submachine gun, 1988

In 1996, a former officer under Kountché and the then Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara, staged his own coup, placing the military again in power. During the Maïnassara regime, human rights abuses were reported by foreign NGOs, including the discovery of 150 dead bodies in a mass grave at Boultoungoure, thought to be Toubou rebels. In April 1999, the third coup led by Douada Mallam Wanké was staged leading to murder of President Baré by his own guards. To date, the authors this crime have been prosecuted.[32] Major Daouda Mallam Wanke, commander of the Niamey based military region and the head of the Republican Guard assumed power, but returned the nation to civilian rule within the year.[33] The military regime of Douada Mallam Wanké ended with the election of Mamadou Tandja in 1999 who deposed ten years later by another military coup, the fourth in the history of the country.

Cultural sponsorships[edit]

The Army, National Guard and the National Police sponsor semi-professional football clubs, ASFAN, AS-FNIS and AS Police, which play in the Niger Premier League.

Professionalisation[edit]

The Armed Forces—which includes the National Gendarmerie—have undergone a series of structural changes aimed at professionalisation of the ranks and the retaining of more skilled recruits. Greater emphasis on recruiting officers and NCOs, lessening recruitment of lower ranks, and more training required between promotions have been instituted. Annual recruitment for the Army and the Gendarmerie now stands at one thousand each.[34]

Budget and foreign aid[edit]

Niger's defense budget is modest, accounting for about 1.6% of government expenditures. France provides the largest share of military assistance to Niger. The People's Republic of China also provide military assistance. Approximately 18 French military advisers are in Niger. Many Nigerien military personnel receive training in France, and the Nigerien Armed Forces are equipped mainly with materiel either given by or purchased in France. United States assistance has focused on training pilots and aviation support personnel, professional military education for staff officers, and initial specialty training for junior officers. A small foreign military assistance program was initiated in 1983 and a U.S. Defense Attaché office opened in June 1985. After being converted to a Security Assistance Office in 1987, it was subsequently closed in 1996, following a coup d'état. A U.S. Defense Attaché office reopened in July 2000.

The United States provided transportation and logistical assistance to Nigerien troops deployed to Côte d'Ivoire in 2003.

Additionally, the US provided initial equipment training on vehicles and communications gear to a company of Nigerien soldiers as part of the Department of State Pan Sahel Initiative. Military to military cooperation continues via the Trans-Saharan Counter Terrorism Partnership and other initiatives. EUCOM contributes funds for humanitarian assistance construction throughout the country. In 2007, a congressional waiver was granted which allows the Niger military to participate in the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, managed by the Defense Attaché Office. This program funded $170,000 in training in 2007.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Dossier Niger:: Les forces armées nigériennes (FAN)" in Frères d’armes n°241 (October 2003). Published online by the Ministère des Affaires étrangères (France), 2003: Removed from website. See citation at The library catalogue of the Centre de recherche de la gendarmerie nationale (France) (retrieved 2009-02-21)
  2. ^ a b Au Conseil des ministres : le gouvernement adopte plusieurs projets de lois et des mesures nominatives. Government of Niger, 2011-06-11.
  3. ^ a b Passation de Commandement à la Garde Présidentielle : le Lieutenant Colonel Tiani Abdourahamane prend le Commandement. Oumarou Moussa, Le Sahel (Niamey), 2011-04-19.
  4. ^ IISS Military Balance 2012, pp446.
  5. ^ http://nigerdiaspora.net/index.php/nigerdiaspora-la-communaute-virtuelle-du-niger/politique/4330-passation-de-commandement-au-12eme-bataillon-interarmes-de-niamey-le-lieutenant-colonel-mamoudou-seydou-prend-le-commandement
  6. ^ 4e Régiment Interarmes d'Outre-Mer: the 4th RIAOM was dissolved after leaving Niger.
  7. ^ Forces Armées Nigériennes (FAN) : cérémonie de sortie de 25 stagiaires de la 6ème promotion Dan Kassaoua. Laouali Souleymane, le Sahel (Niamey) 2011-08-02
  8. ^ F.A.n°250 : dossier ENVR Niger. Seminaire ENVR 2006, Point de Situation: Quand l'Histoire Nous Parle d'ENVR Localisation des ENVRs dans le Monde. Ministère des affaires étrangères et européennes, France (2008)
  9. ^ U.S. Africa Command Flintlock Exercise. Yearly Flinklock Exercise in Niger in 2014 (last retrieved on July 7/26/2014)
  10. ^ a b c d Army trade registry. Last accessed in July 2014
  11. ^ Cooperation militaire Niger-US. Last accessed on july 15th, 2014.
  12. ^ Military cooperation Niger Saudia Arabia
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Defense Web - Africa leading defense portal. Last accessed in July 2014.
  14. ^ a b c d Niger Land Forces military equipment and vehicles of Nigerien army. Last accessed July 19, 2014.
  15. ^ a b Cinquantenaire de l'aviation militaire du Niger : un demi siècle de professionnalisme et d'excellence au service de la Nation. Zabeirou Moussa, Le Sahel (Niamey) 2011-08-02.
  16. ^ Dossier Niger:La nouvelle armée de l'air, France Diplomatique, 2003.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g World Military Intel. Last accessed July 2014
  18. ^ [1] Gouvernance du secteur de la sécurité en Afrique de l’Ouest: les défis à relever – Le Niger
  19. ^ [2] Etats de lieux de la formation des forces de defense et de securité sur le droit de l’enfant au Niger
  20. ^ Contact information for The General Directorate of National Police
  21. ^ Déplacement du Directeur au Niger, Ministère des Affaires étrangères (France). Framework partnership document France - Niger (2006-2010), Ministère des Affaires étrangères (France), 2006. Dossier Niger: Les forces armées nigériennes (FAN), Ministère des Affaires étrangères (France), 2003.
  22. ^ for the Tchin-Tabaradene massacre and human rights abuse of the period in Niger, see a summary in Amnesty International's Niger: Impunity enshrined in the constitution. 8 September 1999. Bram Posthumus (see below) gives the number of civilians killed as a range between 650 and 1500.
  23. ^ Initial text taken from November 2007 United States State Department report: Bureau of African Affairs, Background Note: Niger.
  24. ^ Dossier Niger: Les forces armées nigériennes (FAN), Ministère des Affaires étrangères (France), 2003.
  25. ^ The Rapid Intervention Forces of the African Union. The African Union is envisioning to create Rapid Intervention Forces at the continental or the regional levels (retrieved on 7/27/2014).
  26. ^ Summit of Paris for the Security in Nigeria. Regional plan of action against Boko Haram by neighboring countries of Nigeria (retrieved on 7/27/2014).
  27. ^ a b Niger - États-Unis : une coopération militaire soutenue (retrieved on July 26, 2014).
  28. ^ Obama sends U.S. military to Niger (retrieved in 7/26/2014).
  29. ^ Foreign military bases in Niger. Article by Nigerdiaspora.net (retrieved on 7/26/2014).
  30. ^ Operation Barkhane (retrieved on 7/27/2014).
  31. ^ For a detailed account in english of the inner workings of the military regime, see Samuel Decalo (1990), pp.241–285.
  32. ^ Niger: The people of Niger have the right to truth and justice, 6 April 2000, Amnesty International. President Mainassara: A profile, BBC, April 9, 1999.
  33. ^ Niger: A copybook coup d'etat, April 9, 1999, BBC. Military controls Niger , April 10, 1999, BBC.
  34. ^ Nigerien army, security officers get new status. APA. 2009-02-05