Military of Guinea-Bissau

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Revolutionary Armed Forces of the People
Forças Armadas Revolucionárias do Povo
Emblem of Guinea-Bissau.svg
Emblem of Guinea-Bissau
Founded 1964 (as the military branch of PAIGC)
1973 (as the national armed forces of Guinea-Bissau)
Service branches Army
Air Force
Headquarters Bissau
President José Mário Vaz
Defense Minister Adiato Djaló Nandigna
Chief of General Staff General Biague Na Ntan
Conscription Selective compulsory military service
Active personnel 4,000[citation needed]
Budget $9.46 million
Percent of GDP 3.1%
Foreign suppliers  China
Related articles
History Guinea-Bissau War of Independence
Guinea-Bissau Civil War
2010 Guinea-Bissau military unrest
2012 Guinea Bissau coup d'état
Ranks Military ranks of Guinea-Bissau
Soldiers of the PAIGC raise the flag of Guinea-Bissau in 1974.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of the People (Portuguese: Forças Armadas Revolucionárias do Povo) or FARP are the national military of Guinea-Bissau. They consist of an Army, Navy, Air Force and paramilitary forces. A 2008 United Nations Development Programme census estimated that there were around 4,000 personnel in the Armed Forces.[1] An earlier CIA World Fact Book figure was 9,250. The World Fact Book also estimated military expenditure as $9.46 million, and military spending as a percentage of GDP as 3.1%.

The World Fact Book also reports that the military service age and obligation is 18–25 years of age for selective compulsory military service; 16 years of age or younger with parental consent, for voluntary service (2009).

Internal culture[edit]

2010 Guinea-Bissau military unrest[edit]

Major General Batista Tagme Na Waie was chief of staff of the Guinea-Bissau armed forces until his assassination in 2009.

Military unrest occurred in Guinea-Bissau on 1 April 2010. Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior was placed under house arrest by soldiers, who also detained Army Chief of Staff Zamora Induta. Supporters of Gomes and his party, PAIGC, reacted to the move by demonstrating in the capital, Bissau; Antonio Indjai, the Deputy Chief of Staff, then warned that he would have Gomes killed if the protests continued.[2]

The EU ended its mission to reform the country's security forces, EU SSR Guinea-Bissau, on 4 August 2010, a risk that may further embolden powerful generals and drug traffickers in the army and elsewhere. The EU mission's spokesman in Guinea-Bissau said the EU had to suspend its programme when the mastermind of the mutiny, General Antonio Indjai, became army chief of staff. "The EU mission thinks this is a breach in the constitutional order. We can't work with him".[3]

International drug trade[edit]

The multitude of small offshore islands and a military able to sidestep government with impunity has made it a favourite trans-shipment point for drugs to Europe. Aircraft drop payloads on or near the islands, and speedboats pick up bales to go direct to Europe or onshore.[4] UN chief Ban Ki-moon has called for sanctions against those involved in Guinea-Bissau's drugs trade.[5]

Air Force head Ibraima Papa Camara and former navy chief Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto have been named "drug kingpins".[6]

Angolan assistance[edit]

Angola, at the presidency of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) since 2010, has since 2011 participated in a military mission in Guinea-Bissau (MISSANG) to assist in the reform of defence and security.[7] MISSANG had a strength of 249 Angolan men (both soldiers and police officers), following an agreement signed between the defence ministers of both countries, as a complement to a Governmental accord ratified by both parliaments.[8]

The Angolan assistance mission included a programme of technical and military cooperation focused on a reform of the Guinean armed forces and police, including the repair of barracks and police stations, organisation of administrative services and technical and military training locally and in Angolan institutions. The mission was halted by the Angolan Government, following a politico-military crisis that led to the ousting of the interim president of Guinea- Bissau, Raimundo Pereira, and the prime minister, Gomes Júnior. By 22 June 2012, the Angolan vessel Rio M'bridge, carrying the mission's equipment, had arrived back in Luanda.

Army equipment[edit]

Name Origin In service Photo Notes
Main Battle Tanks
T-34  Soviet Union 10
T-54/55  Soviet Union 10
PT-76B  Soviet Union 10
10- BRDM-2
25- BTR-40
20- BTR-152
35- BTR-60PB
10- 9K11 Malyutka/AT-3 Sagger
B-10 recoilless rifle 82mm
9- BM-21 Grad 122mm
26- D-30
16- ZU-23-2
16- ZSU-23-4 Shilka
10- S-60

Air Force[edit]

On leaving Bissalanca by 1973-74, the Portuguese Air Force left three North American T-6Gs.[9]

After achieving independence from Portugal, the air force was formed by officers returning from training in Cuba and the USSR. The FAGB was re-equipped by the Soviet Union with a limited aid package in which its first combat aircraft were introduced. Five MIG-17s and two MiG-15UTI trainers entered service with a single Mi-8 helicopter.

In 1978 France provided more aircraft aid in the form of a Reims-cessna FTB.337 for coastal patrol and a surplus Alouette III. A Dassault Falcon 20F was donated by the Angolan government but was soon sold to the USA. In the late 1980s a similar number of MiG 21s replaced the MiG 17s, also delivered an AN-24, a YAK-40 and another Mi-8 helicopter. In the early 90s they received ex-polish PZL-Mielec Lim-6 Fresco fighter bombers from Poland and East Germany.

The force's title was changed to Força Aérea da Guiné-Bissau (FAGB) after the outbreak of the civil war in 1998.[9] Cooper and Weinert state 'when sighted for the last time in ..1991, most of the [MiG] fleet was in 'storage' inside several hangars on the military side of Bissalanca IAP (Osvaldo Vieira International Airport), and in a deteriorating condition.'[10]

As of 2015 Guinea-Bissau has no aircraft in flying condition, with the last know type a SE.3105 helicopter, which ceased operating in 2011


Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Combat Aircraft
MiG-21 Soviet Union fighter / interceptor withdrawn from service 2004[11]
MiG-17 Soviet Union fighter MiG-17F 2 placed in storage[11]
MiG-15 Soviet Union fighter / trainer MiG-15UTI 1 placed in storage[11]
Falcon 20 France VIP 1 unserviceable[11]
Alouette II France light utility 1 placed in storage[11]
Alouette III France liaison 2 placed in storage[11]


In September 2010, Rear-Admiral Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto attempted a coup, but was arrested after failing to gain support. "Guinea-Bissau's navy chief, who was arrested last week and accused of trying to stage a coup, has escaped custody and fled to nearby Gambia, the armed forces said on Tuesday."[12]


  • The Two Faces of War
  • World Aircraft Information Files. Brightstar Publishing, London. File 338 Sheet 02
  • Cooper, Tom & Weinert, Peter (2010). African MiGs: Volume I: Angola to Ivory Coast. Harpia Publishing LLC. ISBN 978-0-9825539-5-4. 

Further reading[edit]

  • B Embaló, Civil–military relations and political order in Guinea-Bissau, The Journal of Modern African Studies, 2012
  • Shaw, Mark, Drug trafficking in Guinea-Bissau, 1998-2014: the evolution of an elite protection network, The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 53.3 (Sep 2015): 339-364.

External links[edit]