Royal Moroccan Armed Forces

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Royal Moroccan Armed Forces
القوات المسلحة الملكية المغربية (Arabic)
Idwasen Urbiben Igeldanen n Murakuc (Berber)
Armed Forces of Morocco.svg
Founded 1956
Service branches -Royal Moroccan Air Force
-Royal Moroccan Army
-Royal Moroccan Navy
-Royal Moroccan Gendarmerie
-Auxiliary Forces
-Moroccan Royal Guard
Supreme Commander and Chief-of-Staff King Mohammed VI
Minister Delegate for the Administration of National Defense Abdellatif Loudiyi
Inspector General General Abdelaziz Bennani (July 2004)[1]
Military age 20
Active personnel 195,800 (2012) [2] (ranked 25th)
Reserve personnel 150,000 (2012)
Budget 27 billion MAD (3.34 billion $) (2011)[3]
Percent of GDP 3.3%
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, Berber: Idwasen Urbiben Igeldanen n Murakuc, DRGM) are the three branched of the armed forces of Morocco, Army, Navy and Air Force.

It was founded in 1956 (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.

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.'[4]


The modern Moroccan military is structured into six different branches.[5]

Branch: Personnel Founded
Flag of the Royal Moroccan Army.svg Royal Army 185,800 1956
Flag of the Royal Moroccan Air Force.png Royal Air Force 13,000 1956
Flag of the Royal Moroccan Navy.svg Royal Navy 42,000 1960
Flag of the Royal Moroccan Gendarmerie.svg Royal Gendarmerie 23,000 1956
Moroccan Auxiliary Forces.jpg Auxiliary Forces 45,000 1956
Flag of the Moroccan Royal Guard.svg Royal Guard 3,000 1956
* Total 311,800 -
Moroccan Infantry soldier


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.[6] 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" (see below). 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.

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 25-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.[7]

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,[8] the Unified Task Force, and the follow-on UNOSOM II mission.

Army of Liberation[edit]

A Moroccan soldier trains with United States Marines
Moroccan soldiers

The Army of Liberation (Berber: Aserdas n Uslelli, Arabic: جيش التحرير‎) was a force fighting for the independence of Morocco. In 1956, units of the Army began infiltrating Ifni and other enclaves of Spanish Morocco, as well as the Spanish Sahara. Initially, they received important backing from the Moroccan government. In the Spanish Sahara, the Army rallied Sahrawi tribes along the way, and triggered a large-scale rebellion. In early 1958, the Moroccan king reorganized the Army of Liberation units fighting in the Spanish Sahara as the "Saharan Liberation Army"[citation needed].

The revolt in the Spanish Sahara was put down in 1958 by a joint French and Spanish offensive. The king of Morocco then signed an agreement with the Spanish, as he asserted control over the rebellious southern border areas, and parts of the Army of Liberation was absorbed back into the Moroccan armed forces.

Nationalistic Moroccans tend to see the Army of Liberation battles in Western Sahara as a proof of Western Sahara's loyalty to the Moroccan crown, whereas sympathizers to the Polisario Front view it only as an anti-colonial war directed against Spain. Sahrawi veterans of the Army of Liberation today exist on both sides of the Western Sahara conflict, and both the Kingdom of Morocco and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic celebrate it as part of their political history.


The Royal Moroccan Armed Forces motto, which graces every military base, banner, and ship, is: God - Nation - King.[9]

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