Royal Moroccan Armed Forces

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Royal Moroccan Armed Forces
القوات المسلحة الملكية المغربية (Arabic)
Forces armées royales (French)
Armed Forces of Morocco.svg
Founded 1956
Service branches

Main branches:
-Royal Moroccan Army
-Royal Moroccan Air Force
-Royal Moroccan Navy
-Moroccan Royal Guard

Branches under the Ministry of the Interior during peacetime:

-Royal Moroccan Gendarmerie
-Auxiliary Forces
Headquarters Rabat
Supreme Commander and Chief-of-Staff King Mohammed VI
Minister Delegate for the Administration of National Defense Abdellatif Loudiyi
Inspector General General Bouchaib Arroub (June 2014)[1]
Military age 20
Active personnel 195,800 (2012) [2] (ranked 26th)
Reserve personnel 150,000 (2012)
Budget 29.4 billion MAD (3.37 billion $) (2012) [2][3]
Percent of GDP 3.47%
Foreign suppliers  France
 United States
Related articles
History Military history of Morocco
Ranks Military ranks of Morocco

The Royal Moroccan Armed Forces (Arabic: القوات المسلحة الملكية المغربية, French: Forces armées royales) are the military forces of the kingdom of Morocco. They consist of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.

The Royal Moroccan Armed Forces are large and expensive by african standards with a total force of 345.800 soldiers (195.800 active and 150.000 reserve) that is described as being a well-trained force with extensive experience in counter-insurgency, desert warfare and combined air-land operations, Further experience has come from participating in peace-keeping operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Serbia, and Ivory Coast [2] however It has not fought a conventional interstate war since the Algerian wars of the early 1960s meaning that they have little experience in state-on-state Warfare.[4]

It was founded in 1956[5] (except the Royal Navy founded in 1960) after Morocco's independence from France and Spain. Before the French and Spanish occupation of Morocco, which started in 1912, the country's defence force was made of a regular Makhzen army, and of a less organized but much more powerful Berber tribes' militias. These Berber militias were able to resist the French and Spanish armies for over 30 years.

But this force still faces many challenges mainly the problems of Corruption and inefficient bureaucracy, The U.S. Embassy in Rabat commented in 2008 that: "Civilian control, if ascribed to the person of the King, is complete, but there is no real Defense Ministry. Outside the FAR, there is only a small administration. The military remains plagued by corruption, an inefficient bureaucracy, low levels of education in the ranks, periodic threats of radicalization of some of its soldiers, political marginalization, and the deployment of most of its forces in the Western Sahara".[6]

Moroccan soldiers during a military parade


During the period of the French protectorate of Morocco (1912–1956) large numbers of Moroccans were recruited for service in the Spahi and Tirailleur regiments of the French Army of Africa. During World War II more than 300,000 Moroccan troops (including goumier auxiliaries) served with the Free French forces in North Africa, Italy, France and Austria. The two world conflicts saw Moroccan units earning the nickname of "Todesschwalben" (death swallows) by German soldiers as they showed particular toughness on the battlefield . By the end of the World War II, Moroccan troops took part of the French Expeditionary Force engaged in the First Indochina War from 1946 to 1954.

The Spanish Army also made extensive use of Moroccan troops recruited in the Spanish Protectorate, during both the Rif War of 1921-26 and the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39. Moroccan Regulares, together with the Spanish Legion, made up Spain's elite Spanish Army of Africa. A para-military gendarmerie, known as the "Mehal-la Jalifianas" and modelled on the French goumieres, was employed within the Spanish Zone.

The Royal Armed Forces were created on 14 May 1956, after the French Protectorate was dissolved.[7] Fourteen thousand Moroccan personnel from the French Army and ten thousand from the Spanish Armed Forces transferred into the newly formed armed forces. This number was augmented by approximately 5,000 former guerrillas from the "Army of Liberation". About 2,000 French officers and NCOs remained in Morocco on short term contracts, until crash training programs at the military academies of St-Cyr, Toledo and Dar al Bayda produced sufficient numbers of Moroccan commissioned officers.

Floréal Class Mohammed V

Four years later, the Royal Moroccan Navy was established in 1960.

The Royal Moroccan Army fought on the Golan front during the Yom Kippur War of 1973 (mostly in the battle for Quneitra) and intervened decisively in the 1977 conflict known as Shaba I to save Zaire's regime. The Armed Forces also took a symbolic part in the Gulf War among other Arab armies.

But the Moroccan Armed Forces were mostly notable in fighting a 16-year war against the POLISARIO, an Algerian backed rebel national liberation movement seeking the independence of Western Sahara from Morocco. From the mid-1980s Morocco largely managed to keep Polisario troops off by building a huge berm or sand wall (the Moroccan Wall), staffed by an army roughly the same size as the entire Sahrawi population, enclosing within it the economically useful parts of Western Sahara (Bou Craa, El-Aaiun, Smara etc.). This stalemated the war, with no side able to achieve decisive gains, but artillery strikes and sniping attacks by the guerrillas continued, and Morocco was economically and politically strained by the war.

On 14 July 1999, the Moroccan Armed Forces took part in the Bastille Day parade on the Champs-Élysées, which was exceptional for a non-French armed forces, at the invitation of then French President Jacques Chirac.[8]

It is today taking part in several peace keeping missions: MONUC, ONUCI, EUFOR, KFOR and MINUSTAH. Previous peace-keeping missions included the Somalia operation, in which Moroccan personnel served as part of UNOSOM I,[9] the Unified Task Force, and the follow-on UNOSOM II mission.


Ifni War[edit]

Main article: Ifni War

The Ifni War, sometimes called the Forgotten War in Spain (la Guerra Olvidada), was a series of armed incursions into Spanish West Africa by Moroccan irregular Liberation Army force that began in October 1957 and culminated with the abortive siege of Sidi Ifni, estimated casualties were by thousands of deads and injured on the moroccan side and 400 soldiers dead and missing on the spanish side.[10]

Sand War[edit]

Main article: Sand War

The Sand War or Sands War occurred along the Algerian-Moroccan border in October 1963, and was a Moroccan attempt to claim the Tindouf and the Béchar areas that France had annexed to French Algeria a few decades earlier, but the Moroccan effort failed, Casualties and losses are estimated to be approximately 339 casualties on both sides, The war reached a stalemate and after the intervention of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the Arab League, it was broken off after approximately three weeks The OAU eventually managed to arrange a formal cease-fire on February 20, 1964 A peace agreement was then reached after Arab League mediation, and a demilitarized zone instituted but hostilities simmered.

Western Sahara conflict[edit]

Main article: Western Sahara War

The conflict escalated after the withdrawal of Spain from the Spanish Sahara in accordance with the Madrid Accords. Beginning in 1975, the Polisario Front, backed by Algeria, waged a 16 year-long war for independence against Mauritania and Morocco. In February 1976, the Polisario Front declared the establishment of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, which was not admitted into the United Nations, but won limited recognition by a number of other states. Following the annexation of Western Sahara by Morocco and Mauritania in 1976, and the Polisario Front's declaration of independence, the UN addressed the conflict via a resolution reaffirming the right to self-determination of the Sahrawi people, Casualties and losses are estimated to be between 14000 and 21000 on all Belligerents.


The modern Moroccan military is structured into six different branches.[11]

Branch: Personnel Founded
Flag of the Royal Moroccan Army.svg Royal Army 175,000 1956
Flag of the Royal Moroccan Air Force.png Royal Air Force 13,000 1956
Flag of the Royal Moroccan Navy.svg Royal Navy 7,800 1960
Flag of the Royal Moroccan Gendarmerie.svg Royal Gendarmerie 20,000 1956
Moroccan Auxiliary Forces.jpg Auxiliary Forces 30,000 1956
Flag of the Moroccan Royal Guard.svg Royal Guard 1,500 1956
* Total 247,300 -

The Royal Army[edit]

Main article: Royal Moroccan Army

The Royal Moroccan Army is the branch of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. The army is about 175,000 troops strong, In case of war or state of siege, an additional force of 150,000 Reservists and paramilitary forces, including 20,000 regulars of the Royal Moroccan Gendarmerie and 30,000 Auxiliary Forces come under the Ministry of Defence command.

The Royal Air Force[edit]

The Royal Moroccan Air Force is the air force branch of the Moroccan Armed Forces, It employs 13,000 personnel and is equipped with more than 300 aircrafts,[12] in the 21st century the Royal Moroccan Air Force started a progressive modernization program of its ageing fleet and their technical and operational capacities.

The Royal Navy[edit]

Main article: Royal Moroccan Navy

The Royal Navy is the branch of the Moroccan Armed Forces responsible of conducting naval operations, Its mission includes the protection of Moroccan territory and sovereignty, as well as the control of Morocco's 81,000 square nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone. Given Morocco's significant coastline (2,952 km) and strategic position oversseing the strait of Gibraltar, it (with Spain and the United Kingdom) is deeply involved in the security of this important international waterway.

Royal Moroccan Gendarmerie[edit]

The Moroccan Royal Gendarmerie is the Gendarmerie body of Morocco, the legislation which founded the Royal Moroccan Gendarmerie describes it as a public force designed to guarantee public security and public order and the implementation of laws. This legislation text attaches the Gendarmerie to the Royal Moroccan Army, then constituting a military force in its structure, administration and command forms. It consists of officers and NCOs.

Auxiliary Forces[edit]

Main article: Auxiliary Forces

The Moroccan Auxiliary Forces is a paramilitary force legally part of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces but following the command of the Ministry of the Interior of Morocco, which supplements the military, Gendarmerie and police when needed, Auxiliary Forces' missions are to support security forces and the army, maintain public security, and participate in operational missions of territory defense.

Royal Guard[edit]

Main article: Royal Guard

The Moroccan Royal Guard is officially part of the Royal Moroccan Army, However it is under the direct operational control of the Royal Military Household of His Majesty the King, The sole duty of the guard is to provide for the security and safety of the King and royal family of Morocco.

Current peace-keeping deployments[edit]

Moroccan soldiers training with United States Marines

United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire[edit]

Morocco has deployed one infantry battalion[13] to participate in the ONUCI peacekeeping mission whose objective is "to facilitate the implementation by the Ivorian parties of the peace agreement signed by them in January 2003" (which aimed to end the Ivorian Civil War). The two main Ivorian parties here are the Ivorian Government forces who control the south of the country, and the New Forces (former rebels), who control the north. The UNOCI mission aims to control a "zone of confidence" across the centre of the country separating the two parties.

MONUSCO (Democratic Republic of the Congo)[edit]

Morocco has deployed 6 observers, one mechanised infantry battalion and one field hospital[13] to participate in the United Nations Security Council efforts to monitor the peace process of the Second Congo War .

Kosovo Force[edit]

Main article: Kosovo Force

Morocco has deployed one company of soldiers[13] to contribute in the NATO-led international peacekeeping force which was responsible for establishing a secure environment in Kosovo.

Peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic[edit]

Main article: EUFOR RCA

The Moroccan Royal Armed Forces Has sent a contingent on december 25 2013 for the Central African Republic to be deployed in the UN Integrated Peace building Office (BINUCA). Moroccan authorities also said they stand ready to support the Central African Republic in its path toward peace and stability.[14]


The Royal Moroccan Armed Forces motto, which graces every military base, banner, and ship, is: "God, The Homeland, The King".[15]

  • God: Creator of all destiny, by His Mercy we draw from, He ordains our choice to right path.
  • The Homeland: Land that begets our bounty, from which we sustain ourselves we protect its integrity and defend it from all enemies.
  • King: Our commander and guide, he guides our renaissance and development, protector of our people's rights."