Tunisian Armed Forces

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Tunisian Armed Forces seal
القوات المسلحة التونسية
Armoiries Forces armées tunisiennes.svg
Founded 24 June 1956
Service branches شعار أركان جيش البر، تونس.svg Army
Tunisian Navy.png Navy
أركان جيش الطيران، تونس.svg Air Force
Headquarters Tunis
Commander-in-Chief Pres. Moncef Marzouki
Minister of National Defense Ghazi Jeribi
Active personnel 35,800-45,000
Deployed personnel Unknown number in UN Missions
Percent of GDP 1.6%
Foreign suppliers  United States
Related articles
History Bizerte Crisis
Yom Kippur War
Battle of Wazzin

The Tunisian Armed Forces (Arabic: القوات المسلحة التونسية‎) consist of the Tunisian Army, Navy, and Air Force.

As of 2008, Tunisia had an army of 27,000 personnel equipped with 84 main battle tanks and 48 light tanks. The navy numbered 4,800 operating 25 patrol boats and 6 other crafts. The Air Force had 4,000 personnel, 27 combat aircraft and 43 helicopters. Paramilitary forces consisted of a 12,000-member national guard.[1] Tunisia has participated in peacekeeping efforts in the DROC and Ethiopia/Eritrea.[2] Previous United Nations peacekeeping deployments for the Tunisian armed forces have included Cambodia (UNTAC), Namibia (UNTAG), Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi and the 1960s mission in the Congo, ONUC.


Tunisian artillery and gunners, circa 1900

The modern Tunisian Army had its origins in the time of the French Protectorate (1881–1956). During this period, Tunisians were recruited in significant numbers into the French Army, serving as tirailleurs (infantry) and spahis (cavalry). These units saw active service in Europe during both World Wars, as well as in Indo-China prior to 1954. The only exclusively Tunisian military force permitted under French rule was the Beylical Guard.[3]

Following independence[edit]

In 1956 9,500 men who served in the French Army and the Beylical Guard, made possible the rapid establishment of a combined-arms regiment, which was decided on June 21, 1956. The necessary equipment was made available to the young state while 25 officers, 250 NCOs and 1,250 soldiers were transferred from the French army to the Tunisian army.[4]

On June 30, 1956, the Tunisian army was officially founded by decree.[5] It initially had about 1,300 officers and men transferred from French Army service, plus 850 former members of the Beylical Guard.[3] Approximately 4,000 Tunisian soldiers continued in French Army service until 1958, when the majority transferred to the Tunisian Army, which reached a strength of over 6,000 that year.

The integration of the Beylical Guard, intake of conscripts for military service, made mandatory in January 1957, and recall of reservists allowed the army to grow from three to twelve battalions and 2300 to 20000 men in 1961.[4] Sixty per cent of those forces were used for monitoring borders.

Units saw action first against the French Army in 1958 after the intrusion of the latter in the south trying to chase the National Liberation Army (Algeria).In 1960 Tunisian troops served with the United National Peacekeeping Force in the Congo. In 1961 clashes occurred with French forces based at Bizerte. More than 600 men fell in battle against the French forces. The French evacuated the base after subsequent negotiations with the Tunisian Government.

The Navy, founded in 1958, received its first ship in the fall of 1959. As for the Air Force, it acquired its first combat aircraft in 1960 . While suppliers of the Tunisian army are numerous, United States remain the largest suppliers of army and air.[4] As for management training, once exercised by the French and American military schools, it is gradually assigned to newly established military schools.

The January 10, 1957, a law prohibits any military to be a member of a group or a political party.[4] However, the 7 November 1987, the Prime Minister, General Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali took power. Abdelhamid Escheikh and Mustapha Bouaziz, senior officers, subsequently occupy ministerial posts.

On April 30, 2002, at around 18.15, the direction of the Army - Brigadier General Abdelaziz Skik who led the Tunisian contingent to Cambodia, two colonels - majors, three colonels, four majors, two lieutenants and a sergeant-major - disappeared in a helicopter crash near the town of Medjez el-Bab.[6]

Tunisia has contributed military forces to United Nations peacekeeping missions, including an army company to the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) during the Rwandan Genocide. In his book Shake Hands with the Devil, Canadian force commander Roméo Dallaire gave the Tunisian soldiers high credit for their work and effort in the conflict and referred to them as his "ace in the hole".

During the 2011 Libyan civil war, Tunisian forces, mostly border guards, saw some limited action when fighting between Libyan rebels and loyalist soldiers spilled over the border and clashes ensued between the Libyan Army and the Tunisian Army, resulting in at least one Tunisian civilian being injured by a Libyan rocket.[7]

Tunisian Army[edit]

The Tunisian Army is 27,000 strong and is composed essentially of:[8]

  • three mechanised brigades baséd at Kairouan (1st), Gabès (2nd) et Béja (3rd) ; each is composed of:
    • one armoured régiment (M60 Patton tanks)
    • two regiments of mechanised infantry (M113 armoured personnel carriers) (11th-17th Mechanised Infantry Regiments have been reported)
    • one artillery regiment (M198 howitzer)
    • one reconnaissance company (AML 90)
  • one Saharan territorial group at Borj el-Khadra and Remada, consisting of two light infantry regiments
  • one special forces group (Groupe des Forces Spéciales)
  • one military police régiment

Army Ranks[edit]

this are the ranks of the Tunisian Army

[9] with editing the source

Enlisted personnel[edit]

  • Privet
  • Privet 1st Class
  • Corporal
  • Master Corporal

Non-Commissioned Officers[edit]

  • Sergeant
  • staff Sergeant
  • Sergeant 1st class
  • Master Sergeant
  • Sergeant Major

Commissioned Officers[edit]

  • Second-lieutenant
  • Lieutenant
  • Captain

High Ranking Officers[edit]

  • Major
  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • Colonel

Commanding Officers[edit]

  • Brigadier
  • Brigadier General
  • Major General
  • General

Air Force equipment[edit]

Main article: Tunisian Air Force

Combat aircraft[edit]

Jet training/light attack aircraft[edit]

Training/COIN piston-engined aircraft[edit]

Liaison aircraft[edit]

Transport aircraft[edit]

Attack helicopters[edit]

Naval attack/search and rescue helicopters[edit]

Medium transport helicopters[edit]

Light transport helicopters[edit]

  • 2 SNIAS AS-355 Ecureuil-II
  • 12 SNIAS AS-350B Ecureuil
  • 8 SNIAS AS-316B Alouette-III
  • 7 SNIAS AS-313 Alouette-II


  • AIM-9J Sidewinder AAMs
  • AGM-65A Maverick AGMs
  • Raytheon BGM-71C Improved-Tow(for MD-500 Defender Helicopters)
  • MBDA HOT for SA-342 Helicopters

Military airfields[edit]

  • Bizerte(Sidi-Ahmad)
  • Bizerte(La-Kharouba)
  • Gabes
  • Gafsa
  • Sfax

Navy equipment[edit]


  • 3 Combattante-III-M class(with 8xMM-40 SSMs,1x76mm Gun,2x40mm Guns,4x30mm Guns)
  • 6 Type-143 Lurssen Albatros class (2x76mm Gun,Mine Laying Capability)
  • 3 P-48 Bizerte class (with 8xSS-12M SSMs (Obsolete, no longer installed),4x37mm Guns)

Gun frigates[edit]

ASW vessels[edit]


  • 6 Kondor-II class (635ton,3x2x25mm Guns) (Only one (01) unit still in service. Five (05) already decommissionned.

Gun boats[edit]

  • 3-5 Modified Hazhui\Shanghai-II class (128 ft,30 knots, 4x37mm Guns, 4x25mm Guns)

Patrol boats[edit]

  • 1 Ch.Navals De Lestrel 31.5m class (104 ft,30 knots,2x20mm Guns)
  • 3 Ch.Navals De Lestrel 25m (83 ft,23 knots,1x20mm)
  • 5 Bremse class (22.6m,2x14.5mm HMGs)[11]
  • 4 Gabes class(12.9m,2x12.7mm HMGs)
  • 4 Rodman-38 class(11.6m)
  • 2 Vosper Thornycroft 103 ft class(27 knota,2x20mm Guns)
  • 6 20meter long PCs

Landing craft[edit]

Auxiliary vessels[edit]

  • 1 Robert Conard class 63.7m Survey vessel (NHO Salammbo)
  • 1 Wilkes class (T-AGS-33) 87m (NRF Khaireddine)
  • 2 El Jem class Training ships (ex A 5378 Aragosta and A 5381 Polipo delivered by Italian Navy on 17.7.2002)
  • 1 Simeto class Tanker ( Ain Zaghouin - ex A 5375 delivered by Italian Navy on 10.7.2003 )
  • 1 White Sumac 40.5m class


  • MBDA MM-40 Exocet SSMs (no longer in use)
  • Nord SS-12M SSMs (Obsolete, no longer in use)

ASW Torpedo[edit]

Naval bases[edit]

Weapons of mass destruction[edit]

No known nuclear activity. Signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

No known chemical weapons activity. Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

No known biological weapons activity. Party to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC).


  1. ^ The Military Balance 2008, Routledge ISBN 978-1-857-43461-3
  2. ^ Tunisia - Armed forces
  3. ^ a b page 710 "World Armies, John Keegan, ISBN 0-333-17236-1
  4. ^ a b c d (French) [Ridha Kefi http://www.jeuneafrique.com/jeune_afrique/article_jeune_afrique.asp?art_cle=LIN13076leshaemrale0 , "The army 's new clothes ", Jeune Afrique, July 13, 1999]
  5. ^ "Décret du 30 juin 1956 instituant l'armée tunisienne" (PDF). Journal officiel tunisien (in French) (52): 884. 29–30 June 1956. 
  6. ^ (French)Abdelaziz Barrouhi , "The army in mourning, "Jeune Afrique", May 13, 2002
  7. ^ Amara, Tarek (2011-04-29). "Pro-Gaddafi forces clash with Tunisian military". Reuters. Retrieved 2013-12-26. 
  8. ^ Institute for National Security Studies. "Tunisia". Archive.wikiwix.com. Retrieved 2013-12-26. 
  9. ^ http://www.uniforminsignia.org/index.php/component/insigniasearch/?result=62
  10. ^ "La Tunisie renforce sa flotte aérienne". Mosaique Fm. Retrieved 2013-12-26. 
  11. ^ Dienstschiffe Typ GSB 23

Further reading[edit]

  • Fernanda Faria and Alvaro Vasconcelos, “Security in Northern Africa: Ambiguity and Reality,” Chaillot Paper Series, no. 25 (September 1996),
  • Lutterbeck, 'Arab Uprisings and Armed Forces,' Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces
  • “Civil-Military Relations in North Africa,” Middle East Policy, 14, 4 (2007).

External links[edit]