Military of Algeria

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
People's National Armed Forces
الجيش الوطني الشعبي الجزائري (Arabic)
Aserdas Aghelnaw Agherfan Adzyari(Berber)
People's National Army emblem
Founded 1954 (Armée de Libération Nationale)
Current form 1962 (Armée Nationale Populaire)
Service branches Army
Air Force
Territorial Air Defence Force
Headquarters Algiers
Commander-in-Chief President Abdelaziz Bouteflika
Minister of National Defence General of the Army Ahmed Gaid Salah
Conscription 19-30 years of age
18 month term[1]
Available for
military service
9,736,757 males, age 16-49[1],
9,590,978 (2008 est.) females, age 16-49[1]
Fit for
military service
8,317,473 males, age 16-49[1],
8,367,005 (2009 est.) females, age 16-49[1]
Reaching military
age annually
375,852 males,
362,158 (2009 est.) females
Active personnel 198,000 [2]
Reserve personnel 150,000 [3][4]
Budget $13.1 billion (2014) [5][6]
Domestic suppliers


Foreign suppliers  Russia
 United States
Related articles
History Military history of Algeria
Algerian War of Independence
Sand War
Yom Kippur War
Western Sahara War
Algerian Civil War
Insurgency in the Maghreb

The Algerian People’s National Army (APNA) is the armed forces of the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria. Algeria has a large and reasonably well-equipped military to counter foreign and domestic threats. It is the direct successor of the Armée de Libération Nationale (ALN), the armed wing of the nationalist National Liberation Front, which fought French colonial rule during the Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962).

The People's National Army include ground forces, the Algerian Air Force, the Navy (the Marine de la Republique Algerienne), and the Algerian Air Defence Force.[7] The antecedents of the army were the conventional military units formed in Morocco and Tunisia during the war of independence from France. Except for brief clashes with Morocco in 1976, the armed forces have not been involved in hostilities against a foreign power. Their combat capabilities in defence of the country has thus remained untested.


The Algerian military élite has played a dominating role in Algerian politics ever since independence in 1962, when the army emerged as the only effective powerbroker in a shattered political landscape dominated by weak and competing political factions. At the end of the war of independence, a split developed between the National Liberation Army and the Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic (GPRA).[8] The GPRA was set up in 1958 to represent the National Liberation Front abroad, mobilise the funds needed to organise the underground movement and support the refugees who had fled to Morocco and Tunisia. But it was the general staff of the ALN that was actually in charge of the revolution. When the war ended, it “dismissed” the GPRA and took over the running of the new state. Even today, the government is still often seen as the body that applies the policies decided by the army. Many high-ranking officers have held public office. Under Colonel Houari Boumediène (1965–1979) state and army leadership was joined under his highly authoritarian presidency. After his death, factionalization and rivalries within the military and political élites has been a major factor in Algerian politics.

After being structured as a politicized "people's army" in the Boumédiène era, and retaining its allegiance to the FLN during the single-party years of Algerian history, the military forces were formally depoliticized in 1988, as a multi-party system was introduced. This, however, did not end military influence over Algerian politics. In 1992, fearing the installation of Sharia Law, which would result in Algeria becoming an Islamic state, the Algerian Army stopped free elections that were likely to bring an Islamist party to power. This triggered the Algerian Civil War, a conflict which is believed to have claimed 100-350,000 lives during the 1990s. Both the armed forces and Islamist insurgents have been severely criticized by outside observers for their conduct of the war on humanitarian and human rights grounds. The state and army Islamist resistance in the late 1990s, but local and sporadic fighting persists in 2009, along with occasional bomb attacks against government targets in major cities. The most active insurgent group is al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, formerly known as GSPC. Since major fighting subsided in about 1997, the army has been engaged in refitting itself for the tasks of a conventional army, after more than a decade of anti-guerrilla action.

The major part of Algeria's armed forces are directed towards the country's western border with Morocco and Western Sahara.[9] Algeria supported a guerrilla war (1975–1991) against Moroccan control of Western Sahara by the Polisario Front, a national liberation movement of Sahrawi Bedouin exiled in Algeria's Tindouf Province. Algeria has had longstanding border disagreements with Morocco, due to the non-recognition of the colonial borders by the Moroccan regime. Although now basically resolved, these continue to linger as a factor in the consistently troubled but generally non-violent relations between the two neighbouring states. The Algerian-Moroccan land border has been closed since 1994. Both countries' armed forces have engaged in costly equipment upgrades in recent years, clearly viewing each other as the principal threat to their sovereignty, and equally reluctant to let the other nation gain the upper hand militarily.

By contrast, Algeria's post-independence border disagreements with Tunisia and Libya, which were at times a cause for poor relations, both appear to have been peacefully resolved (to its advantage). The Algerian army has also, especially in later years, been very active along the country's border with northern Mali, where various insurgent movements are based. Algeria has fought only one brief war after independence (the Sand War, a border conflict with Morocco in 1963), but the country is also, like most Arab nations, formally at war with Israel since 1948.

Algeria has the largest defence budget in Africa. Historically, Algeria bought weapons and military equipment from the Soviet Union. United Press International reported in March 2013 that Algeria was undergoing a process of military modernization, which includes the introduction of new, more modern warships, aircraft, and tanks.[10]

President Bouteflika is seeking to reassert the power of the presidency over the largely autonomous armed forces.[11] As Minister of Defence, he nominated new commanders for military regions in August 2004. He also issued a presidential decree creating the position of General Secretary within the Ministry of Defence. Nevertheless, current and retired officers—"le pouvoir"—remain important decision-makers. In order to encourage Algerian military reforms, the armed forces receives U.S. bilateral assistance from International Military Education and Training (IMET) funds.

In 1984, after promoting eight colonels to become the first generals in independent Algeria, Chadli Benjedid announced the establishment of an ANP general staff.[12] Previously, the armed forces had relied on the secretary general of the Ministry of National Defence to coordinate staff activities. The previous secretary general of the ministry, Major General Moustafa Benloucif, was named the first chief of staff. Benloucif had risen quickly in the ANP and was also an alternate member of the FLN Political Bureau. However, he was dismissed in 1986 without explanation; in 1992 the regime announced that Benloucif would be tried for corruption and the embezzlement of US$11 million, which had been transferred to European accounts.

On 19 January 2013, Algerian troops killed 32 militant hostage-takers and freed more than 650 hostages held at the Tigantourine gas facility, situated near In Amenas in the Illizi Province.[13][14] Nearly 48 hostages are confirmed to be dead. The kidnappers said the assault on the gas plant was launched in retaliation for French intervention against Islamist groups in neighboring Mali.


The army is under the control of the president (since 1999, Abdelaziz Bouteflika), who also is minister of National Defence. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency estimated that military expenditures accounted for some 4.48% of GDP in 2014.[15]

Before 1984, the armed forces had relied on the secretary general of the Ministry of National Defence to coordinate staff activities.[16] That year, Chadli Bendjedid announced the establishment of an ANP general staff. The general staff had responsibility for operational planning for the integrated armed forces, budgeting, information and communications, logistics and administrative support, mobilization, and recruiting. It was not, however, part of the regular chain of command. In practice, the armed forces chief of staff dealt directly with the chiefs of the service branches and with the commanders of the six military regions. Along with the minister of defence (Nezzar in 1993), Metz wrote in 1993 that the senior hierarchy of the armed forces included the Chief of Staff of the People's National Army, Abdelmalek Guénaizia; the commander of the National Gendarmerie, Abbas Ghezaiel; the chief of the DRS, Mohamed Médiène; and the inspector general of the land forces, Tayeb Derradji.

In October 2013 Jeune Afrique predicted the recreation of an inspectorate of the armed forces, possibly to be headed by General Ben Ali Ben Ali.[17]

The armed forces comprise:

The army was in the process of being reorganized into four divisions in 1993, and also has numerous independent brigades and battalions. There are seven military regions, the seventh being added in 2013. The 6th Military Region was created in 1975 to cover the south, and the 7th Military Region in 2013.[18] Regular military forces are composed of conscripts; all Algerian men are required to do a year and a half of military service.

Military intelligence, recognized to have played a major political role, was long called Sécurité militaire (Military Security, SM) but reorganized in the late 1980s and early 1990s into today's Département du renseignement et de la sécurité (Department of Intelligence and Security, DRS). The DRS and its counter-espionage branch, DCE, assumed a leading role in the fight against the Islamist insurgency of the 1990s through a number of its own special forces units, as well as by establishing joint task force commands which assumed control over specialized military and police units.

Military forces are supplemented by a 150,000-member National Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Nationale), a paramilitary body, which is used mainly as a police force in rural areas. The 200,000-member Sûreté nationale or metropolitan police force is under the Ministry of the Interior.

Algeria is one of four Saharan states which will create a Joint Military Staff Committee, to be based at Tamanrasset in southern Algeria. Algeria, Mauritania, Niger, and Mali will take part.[19] Mortimer wrote that '..In March 2010, the Centre d'Etat-Major commun Opérationel Conjoint (CEMOC) was established'.[20] A later report said the committee had a secretariat with four staff sections: operations, intelligence, logistics, and communications.[21]

Sources of equipment and support[edit]

The Russian made Rais Korfou frigate

Algeria's primary military supplier has been the former Soviet Union, which has sold various types of sophisticated equipment under military trade agreements, and the People's Republic of China.[citation needed] Since independence in the 1960s, no foreign bases are known to have been allowed in Algeria, although in the 1970s and 1980s, particularly, large numbers of Soviet military advisers were stationed in the country. Since 2001, security cooperation with the United States has increased, and US forces have taken part in training missions in the country's Saharan south.

Another weapon partner of Algeria, is France. France and Algeria has a large connection since the French Algeria, as France sends and supplies weapons and armors to Algerian forces.

Four or eight [22] battalions of Russian S-300PMU2 long-range anti-aircraft missiles were ordered in 2006.[23]

In 2006, multi-billion dollar purchases of Russian military equipment were made in order to upgrade the country's conventional arsenal. This included a deal by the Algerian Air Force to buy 28 Su-30MKA and 36 MiG-29SMT for up to $3.5 billion. However, those MiG-29s were returned to Russia in February 2008 because of poor quality of their airframe, after technical evaluations in Algeria.[24][25] In May 2008 the two governments agreed a new deal to replace those 36 MiG-29SMT by a new batch of 16 Su-30MKA which meet all requirements of Algerian Air Force, but the issue does not appear to be completely resolved in 2009.

As of October 2009 it was reported that Algeria cancels weapons deal over Israeli parts.[26]

Algeria also has a small domestic military industry of its own. The Army produces assault rifles AK-47 ( 7.62mm ) and AK-74 ( 5.45mm ) licensed by Russia and China as well as rocket-type RPG in the Construction Company Mechanical Khenchela. The logistics base station produces various types of AICV ( Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicle ) for the recognition and transport of troops and light armored vehicles for the maintenance of order. The air force produces two types of light aircraft for the basic training and produces its own drone reconnaissance since December 2010. The Russian company Rosoboronexport, has expressed a request for financial assistance to several countries including Algeria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE to participate in the project for the production of the T-50 (PAK-FA) 5th generation fighter aircraft.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "CIA - World Factbook -- Algeria". Central Intelligence Agency. 2009-10-28. Retrieved 2009-11-10. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ IISS Military Balance 2013, p.370
  4. ^ IISS Military Balance 2014, p.319
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ CIA 2009. IISS 2013 does not list the air defence command separately from the air force.
  8. ^ Mohamed Harbi, Le FLN, mirage et réalité, éditions Jeune Afrique, Paris, 1980, cited by Lahouari Addi, The Algerian army holds the levers of power Le Monde Diplomatique, English Edition, February 1998.
  9. ^ U.S. Department of State Background Notes, 2003
  10. ^ "Algeria buying military equipment". 2013-03-11. Retrieved 2013-04-19. 
  11. ^ Bonn International Centre for Conversion, Security Sector Reform in Algeria, accessed December 2014.
  12. ^ Metz, Helen (1994). Algeria: A Country Study (PDF). Federal Research Division, Library of Congress. p. 257. ISBN 0-8444-0831-X. Retrieved January 2015. 
  13. ^ "Algerian forces seek 'peaceful' settlement of dramatic, deadly hostage crisis -". CNN. 2013-01-23. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ The World Factbook: Algeria
  16. ^ Metz, 1994, 257, 259.
  17. ^
  18. ^ and
  19. ^ "Saharan states to open joint military headquarters". BBC. 21 April 2010. Retrieved 22 April 2010. 
  20. ^ Robert A. Mortimer (2015) Algerian foreign policy: from revolution to national interest, The Journal of North African Studies, Vol. 20, No.3, 478, DOI: 10.1080/13629387.2014.990961
  21. ^ See also
  22. ^ "$7,5". Retrieved 14 November 2014. 
  23. ^ "". Retrieved 14 November 2011. 
  24. ^ "Algeria to return 15 MiG aircraft to Russia over inferior quality". RIA Novosti. 18 February 2008. Retrieved 29 April 2013. 
  25. ^ "Algeria Lays Down Russian Arms - Kommersant Moscow". Retrieved 2013-04-19. 
  26. ^ Algeria cancels weapons deal over Israeli parts

Further reading[edit]

  • Jeremy Keenan, 'The Dark Sahara,' Pluto Press (July 7, 2009), ISBN 0-7453-2452-5. Role of Algerian armed forces in fomenting unrest in the Sahara to legitimise militarisation of Algerian politics and support for Algerian military.
  • Army, State and Nation in Algeria in Kees Koonings; Dirk Kruijt, Political armies : the military and nationbuilding in the age of democracy, New York : Zed Books, 2001, 398 p., ISBN 1856499790 (cased); ISBN 1856499804 (softback).
  • I. William Zartman, chapter in Claude Welch, 'The Soldier and the State in Africa,' 1970.