Djibouti Armed Forces

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Military of Djibouti
Flag of Djibouti.svg
Founded 1977
Service branches Air Force
Military age 18–49 years old
Available for
military service
391,797, age 18–49 (2010 est.)
Fit for
military service
268,730, age 18–49 (2010 est.)
Reaching military
age annually
(2010 est.)
Active personnel 16,962 active personnel[1]
Reserve personnel 15,234
Deployed personnel  Somalia - 1,000[2]
Budget $36.90 million (2011 est.)
Percent of GDP 3.7% (2011 est.)
Foreign suppliers  United States
Related articles
History Djiboutian Civil War
Djiboutian–Eritrean border conflict
African Union Mission to Somalia

The Djibouti Armed Forces (DJAF) (Somali: Ciidanka Jabuuti) are the military forces of Djibouti. They consist of the Djibouti National Army and its sub-branches the Djibouti Air Force and Djiboutian Navy. As of 2013, the Djibouti Armed Forces consists of 8,000 ground troops, which are divided into several regiments and battalions garrisoned in various areas throughout the country.

In 2015 General Zakaria Chiek Imbrahim was chief d'etat-major general (chief of staff) of the Forces armees djiboutiennes. He assumed command in November 2013.[3]


Historically, Somali society accorded prestige to the warrior (waranle) and rewarded military prowess. Except for a man of religion (wadaad), and they were few in number, all Somali males were considered potential warriors. Djibouti's many Sultanates each maintained regular troops. In the early Middle Ages, the conquest of Shewa by the Ifat Sultanate ignited a rivalry for supremacy with the Solomonic Dynasty.

A Djibouti Armed Forces commander.

Many similar battles were fought between the succeeding Sultanate of Adal and the Solomonids, with both sides achieving victory and suffering defeat. During the protracted Ethiopian-Adal War (1529–1559), Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi defeated several Ethiopian Emperors and embarked on a conquest referred to as the Futuh Al-Habash ("Conquest of Abyssinia"), which brought three-quarters of Christian Abyssinia under the power of the Muslim Adal Sultanate.[4][5] Al-Ghazi's forces and their Ottoman allies came close to extinguishing the ancient Ethiopian kingdom, but the Abyssinians managed to secure the assistance of Cristóvão da Gama's Portuguese troops and maintain their domain's autonomy. However, both polities in the process exhausted their resources and manpower, which resulted in the contraction of both powers and changed regional dynamics for centuries to come.

The Ogaden War (13 July 1977 – 15 March 1978) was a conflict fought between the Ethiopian government and Somali government. The Djibouti government supported Somalia with military intelligence. In a notable illustration of the nature of Cold War alliances, the Soviet Union switched from supplying aid to Somalia to supporting Ethiopia, which had previously been backed by the United States. This in turn prompted the U.S. to later start supporting Somalia. The war ended when Somali forces retreated back across the border and a truce was declared.

The first war which involved the Djiboutian armed forces, was the Djiboutian Civil War between the Djiboutian government, supported by France, and the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD). The war lasted from 1991 to 2001, although most of the hostilities ended when the moderate factions of FRUD signed a peace treaty with the government after suffering an extensive military setback when the government forces captured most of the rebel-held territory. A radical group continued to fight the government, but signed its own peace treaty in 2001. The war ended in a government victory, and FRUD became a political party.

Djiboutian troops with light armoured cars near the border of Eritrea

Djibouti has fought in clashes against Eritrea over the Ras Doumeira peninsula, which both countries claim to be under their sovereignty. The first clash occurred in 1996 after a nearly two-months stand-off. In 1999, a political crisis occurred when both sides accused each other for supporting its enemies. In 2008, the countries clashed again when Djibouti refused to return Eritrean deserters and Eritrea responded by firing at the Djiboutian forces. In the following battles, some 44 Djiboutian troops and some estimated 100 Eritreans were killed.

In 2011, Djibouti troops also joined the African Union Mission to Somalia.[6]

As of 2013, the Djibouti Armed Forces (DJAF) are composed of three branches: the Djibouti National Army, which consists of the Coastal Navy, the Djiboutian Air Force (Force Aerienne Djiboutienne, FAD), and the National Gendarmerie (GN). The Army is by far the largest, followed by the Air Force and Navy. The Commander-in-Chief of the DJAF is the President of Djibouti and the Minister of Defence oversees the DJAF on a day-to-day basis.

Component forces and their organization[edit]

Djiboutian Army[edit]

Main article: Djiboutian Army
Djiboutian Army soldiers during Operation Able Dart 08-01 on Forward Operating in Ali Sabieh.

As of 2013, the Djibouti Army (L'Armee de terre) has about 8,000 personnel (IISS 2013). The latter are divided into several regiments and battalions garrisoned in various areas throughout the country.[7] The Army has four military districts (the Tadjourah, Dikhil, Ali-Sabieh and Obock districts).[8] Clashes with the Military of Eritrea, in 2008, demonstrated the superior nature of the Djiboutian forces’ training and skills, but also highlighted the fact that the small military would be unable to counter the larger, if less well-equipped forces of its neighbours. The army has concentrated on mobility in its equipment purchases, suitable for patrol duties and counterattacks but ill-suited for armoured warfare. The 2008 border clashes at least temporarily swelled the ranks of the Djiboutian army, with retired personnel being recalled, but the military’s size and capabilities are much reduced since the 1990s. The official tasks of the armed forces include strengthening the country against external attack, and maintaining border security. Djiboutian troops continue to monitor its borders with Eritrea, in the case of an attack.

Djibouti Armed Forces is located in Djibouti
Ali Sabieh Infantry Regiment
Ali Sabieh Infantry Regiment
Dikhil Infantry Regiment
Dikhil Infantry Regiment
Obock Infantry Regiment
Obock Infantry Regiment
Tadjoura Infantry Regiment
Tadjoura Infantry Regiment
Djibouti City Rapid Reaction Regiment
Djibouti City Rapid Reaction Regiment
One Demining Company
One Demining Company
Djiboutian Army Infantry Regiments

Its maneuver units are:

  • One armoured regiment (comprising a reconnaissance squadron, three armoured squadrons and an anti-smuggling squadron)[8]
  • Four infantry regiments (each comprising three to four infantry companies and a support company)[8]
    • Regiment interarmées de Tadjourah[9]
    • Regiment interarmees de Obock
    • Two other infantry regiments
  • One rapid reaction regiment (comprising four infantry companies and a support company)[8]
  • One Republican Guard regiment[8]
  • One artillery regiment[8]
  • One demining company[8]
  • One signals regiment[8]
  • One computer and information systems section[8]
  • One logistics regiment[8]
  • One maintenance company[8]

Italy delivered 10 howitzers M-109L (in 2013), tens IVECO trucks (ACM90, cranes, tankers, etc.), some IVECO armoured car Puma 4X4 and IVECO utility vehicles VM90.

In reforming the Djiboutian Army, most of the available financial resources have been directed to the development of the Land Forces. Over the years, Djiboutian Army has established partnerships with militaries in France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and the United States. Currently, the amount allocated to defense represents the largest single entry in the country’s budget.

Djiboutian Navy[edit]

Djiboutian Navy at naval base in Djibouti City.
Main article: Djiboutian Navy

The Djiboutian Navy is the naval service branch of the Djibouti Armed Forces. The Djiboutian Navy has about 1,000 regular personnel as of 2013, to protect national maritime rights and to support the nation's foreign policies. It is responsible for securing Djibouti's territorial waters and 314 km seaboard. The force was launched two years after Djibouti gained its independence in 1977. Initially, it comprised the remnants of the Gendarmerie and was focused on port safety and traffic monitoring. This is an area known to have considerable fish stocks, sustaining an active fisheries industry. The acquisition of several boats from the US in 2006 considerably increased the navy's ability to patrol over longer distances and to remain at sea for several days at a time. Cooperation with the US and Yemeni navies is also increasing in an effort to protect and maintain the safety and security of the Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOC). In 2004 Italy delivered 2 former Italian Coast Guard Classe 200 patrol boats (ex CP 230 and CP 234 ) and 2 new type CP 500 motorboats.

Djiboutian Air Force[edit]

Main article: Djibouti Air Force
A Djiboutian Mil Mi-24 flying over.

The Djiboutian Air Force (DAF) (French: Force Aérienne du Djibouti (FAdD) was established as part of the Djibouti Armed Forces after the country obtained its independence on June 27, 1977. Its first aircraft included three Nord N.2501 Noratlas transport aircraft and an Allouette II helicopter presented to it by the French. In 1982, the Djibouti Air Force was augmented by two Aerospatiale AS.355F Ecureuil 2 helicopters and a Cessna U206G Stationair, this was followed in 1985 by a Cessna 402C Utiliner. In 1985, the Allouette II was withdrawn from use and put on display at Ambouli Air Base at Djibouti's airport. In 1987, the three N.2501 Noratlas were also retired and subsequently returned to France. New equipment came, in 1991, in the form of a Cessna 208 Caravan, followed by Russian types in the early nineties. These included four Mil Mi 2, six Mil Mi 8 and two Mil Mi 17 helicopters and a single Antonov An 28 light transport aircraft. Pilot training for the 250 men of the DAF, if necessary, is conducted in France with continued on type flight training at home. The DAF has no units of its own and forms in whole a part of the Army, its sole base is Ambouli.


The Djibouti Armed Forces actively take part in the AMISOM peacekeeping mission.

Country Mission Number of personnel
Somalia Somalia AMISOM 1,000 Peacekeeping Troops[2]

Foreign military within Djibouti[edit]

Djibouti troops in first responder course with United States Army soldiers.


France's 5e RIAOM are currently stationed in Djibouti.

United States of America[edit]

There is also Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, a U.S. force of more than 3,500, currently deployed in the country at Camp Lemonnier.[10]


Approximately 200 soldiers of the JGSDF and the JMSDF are currently stationed in Djibouti, with their base and naval port recently opening in July 2011.[11][12] The base cost a total of $40 million and is a major part of Japan's role in monitoring piracy in the Indian Ocean.[13] JSDF soldiers are based in the "Deployment Airforce for Counter-Piracy Enforcement (DAPE)" and are planned to be based in Djibouti as a relay station for any JSDF deployment in East Africa.[12][14]


  1. ^ "The World Factbook". Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Paul Richardson (16 July 2014). "Djibouti Will Deploy Battalion of Troops to Somalia by Year-End". Bloomberg. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Saheed A. Adejumobi, The History of Ethiopia, (Greenwood Press: 2006), p.178
  5. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, inc, Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 1, (Encyclopædia Britannica: 2005), p.163
  6. ^ "Somalia: Djibouti Peacekeepers Arrive in Mogadishu to Join Amisom". Garowe Online. 21 December 2011. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  7. ^ "Présentation des forces armées djiboutiennes". Ministère des Affaires étrangères (France). Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) (2012). The Military Balance 2012. London: IISS. p. 432. ISSN 0459-7222. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "United States military deployments: Information from". Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  11. ^ Hajime Furukawa (2011-05-29). "Djibouti base 'in natl interests'". The Daily Yomiuri. Retrieved 2011-10-26. 
  12. ^ a b "SDF readies overseas base in Djibouti / 1st outpost abroad to help fight piracy". The Daily Yomiuri. 2011-05-29. Retrieved 2011-10-26. 
  13. ^ Bruno de Paiva (2011-07-29). "Japan: National Involvement in the Indian Ocean Region" (PDF). Future Directions International. 
  14. ^ Yoichi Kato (2011-08-25). "SDF's New Anti-Piracy Base Creates Dilemma". International Relations and Security Network.