Military of Suriname
After the creation of the Statute of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Royal Netherlands Army was entrusted with the defence of Suriname, while the defence of the Netherlands Antilles was the responsibility of the Royal Netherlands Navy. The army set up a separate Troepenmacht in Suriname (Forces in Suriname, TRIS). Upon independence in 1975, this force was turned into the Surinaamse Krijgsmacht (SKM):, Surinamese Armed Forces. On February 25, 1980, a group of 15 non-commissioned officers and one junior SKM officer, under the leadership of sergeant major Dési Bouterse, overthrew the Government. Subsequently the SKM was rebranded as Nationaal Leger (NL), National Army.
The Netherlands has provided limited military assistance to the Surinamese armed forces since the election of a democratic government in 1991. In recent years, the USA has provided training to military officers and policymakers to promote a better understanding of the role of the military in a civilian government. Also, since the mid-1990s, the People's Republic of China has been donating military equipment and logistical material to the Surinamese Armed Forces, as has Brazil.
- 1 Organization
- 2 Command structure
- 3 Conflicts
- 4 Role
- 5 Equipment Army
- 6 Equipment Navy
- 7 Future
- 8 References
Suriname's National Armed Forces are composed of some 2,500 personnel, the majority of whom are deployed in the Army of Suriname.
- A Light Infantry Battalion (33ste Bataljon der Infanterie) Formed in 1987.
- A Special Forces Corps.
- A Support Arm. (Staf verzorgings Bataljon)
- A Military Police Corps.
In 1982 a small air arm was formed within the Suriname defense force called "Surinaamse Luchtmacht" in short also called LUMA. The first military aircraft of the young air force was a Hughes 500 - Model 369D helicopter, simply registered SAF-100 and being used for light observation tasks. Unfortunately the aircraft was written off in March 1982 killing all four occupants, but from May of the same year the Suriname Air Force was being equipped with four (Pilatus) Britten Norman BN-2B Defenders. Registered with the numbers SAF-001, SAF-002, SAF-003 and SAF-004. Later on during the decade a Cessna 172 Skyhawk (SAF-007), a Cessna 206 (SAF-200) and in 1993 a Cessna T303 Crusader (SAF-008) was acquired. The first official Surinam Air Force Commander from 1983 until 1989 was air force pilot lieutenant Eddie Alenso Savalie Djoe. He was one of the passenger victims of the Surinam Airways Flight 764 accident in June 1989, by then he was already promoted to the rank of Major.
All aircraft of the Suriname Air Force undertake border patrols, utility transport and SAR (Search & Rescue) missions from the main base at Paramaribo - Zorg en Hoop and are occasionally detached to Zanderij - Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport, Nieuw Nickerie - Major Fernandes Airfield, Albina Airstrip and Moengo Airstrip. In 1986 anti-government guerrilla activity prompted the government to acquire a pair of Aérospatiale SA.316B Alouette III (SAF-400 & SAF-500) helicopters from the Portuguese Air Force (Portuguese: Força Aérea Portuguesa), formerly registered FAP9350 & FAP9386. In the same year also three Pilatus PC-7's (SAF-111, SAF-112 & SAF-113) were ordered in Switzerland for COIN (Counter-Insurgency) missions. One of the Alouette's crashed and both delivered PC-7s were returned to Switzerland but one was later re-delivered. In 1987 a Bell 205 Iroquois (SAF-300) was acquired from Venezuela and used as a gunship for five years prior to sale to the US as N6594S in 1991. It made a crash in July 1987 due to a mechanical failure killing the American pilot Billy Pearson, seriously injuring the American mechanic and four other Surinamese crewmembers. The helicopter was later repaired and back in action.
Two CASA 212-400s Aviocar transports (SAF-212 & SAF-214) Garret AiResearch TPE331-10HR turbo-prop engined aircraft were delivered in 1999. One of these two Spanish built CASA 212-400's is a Maritime Patrol Aircraft version (SAF-214) which was modified for the maritime patrol role with a Bendix RDR-1500 surveillance radar. Lack of spares and funding has hampered maintenance and sometimes grounding much of the SAF fleet. In 2012 six experts from Venezuela made an assessment for the Suriname Air Force on the rehabilitation of the Casa 212 airplanes and now the Suriname Air Force has sold them to Fayard Enterprises in the USA.
Three single engined Indian HAL Chetak helicopters were ordered in 2009. In a deal worth US$13.4 million with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited [HAL], facilitated through a line of credit from India. The deal was previous rumoured to include the more modern twin engined HAL Dhruv helicopters, but this proved to be wrong.  On 26 December 2012 ten technical personnel of the Suriname Air Force left to India to be trained to become certified helicopter mechanics. In 2014 eight helicopter pilots from the Suriname Air Force were trained on operating the HAL Chetak helicopters in Bangalore, India. In 2014 it was announced that Suriname's order for helicopters from India was in fact for HAL Chetak and not the HAL Dhruv even as the Chetak production line is planned to be shut down. So rumours aside by the end of January 2015 the three Indian Chetak helicopters were assembled and delivered in Suriname as SAF-H001 (c/n AH-350), SAF-H002 (c/n AH-351) & SAF-H003 (c/n AH-352). These registrations later changed to SAF-153, SAF-303 and SAF-811 when operational training started. The plan is to have one helicopter each based at the city of Paramaribo (Zorg en Hoop Airport), Nickerie (Majoor Henry Fernandes Airport) and Albina (Albina Airstrip). Finally on 13 March 2015 the helicopter fleet of three Chetaks was officially handed over by the Indian ambassador Subashini Murgesan to the Minister of Defence of Suriname Lamuré Latour with a nice ceremony some inaugural flights were made over airport Zorg en Hoop.   On the same day and occasion the Minister announced that a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter was about to strengthen the airfleet of the Suriname Air Force shortly with pilots already in training.
|HAL Dhruv||India||SAR / utility||3 on order |
Marine & Coast Guard
In 1977 the Navy (Marine) of Suriname received three big Patrol Vessels from the Dutch, built by De Vries Scheepsbouw. With a length of 32 meters each ship had two Paxman 12YHMC diesel engines of 1200HP performing a maximum speed of 20 knots. Delivery was between February 1977 and 1978 and the hull numbers were S-401, S-402 & S-403. Now all three are out of service, the last one S-401 later P-401 is still moored at the Marine Harbor. One was re-built as a luxurious yacht. All ships had their base at the Marine harbor on the Suriname river.
In November 2012 the defence & internal affairs Ministry of Surinam bought three patrol vessels from the French company Ocea for the Coast Guard. This order was worth 16 million Euros. These patrol vessels will be used for fishery protection and to counterattack piracy in Surinamese waters. The first Fast Patrol Boat (P201), a 32 meters long, 6,3 meters wide FPB 98 type, was delivered in June 2013. The first boat arrived in Paramaribo with a container vessel from the port of Saint-Nazaire, France. The vessels can reach speeds of 30 knots. Delivery of the remaining two vessels (P101 & P102), FPB 72 types (24 meters long), occurred by the end of July, 2013. The Surinamese Government ordered the three vessels, accelerating planning to set up a Coast Guard for Suriname that will be deployed to conduct patrol duties and fight maritime crime activities like illegal fishing, drug-trafficking and piracy.
The new unit resorts under the Ministry of Internal Affairs. For the crew, soldiers were transferred from the Navy Unit (Marine) of the National Army, who will form the initial Coast Guard staff. The Maritime Authority of Suriname (MAS) is currently training 16 students from the Nature Technical Institute (NaTIn) and Technical Faculty of Suriname's University on how to conduct technical maintenance of the vessels. Ocea sent a trainer along with the boats to help conduct a six-month course. Colonel Jerry Slijngaard heads the Government's Coast Guard committee. The purchase of the vessels is but a start. Three boats will barely be sufficient to patrol Suriname's territorial waters and combat maritime crime activities like piracy, but at least now quick action is possible.
The unit has its own base on the banks of the Suriname River in Paramaribo, with posts at the border with Guyana (in western District Nickerie) and French Guiana (in eastern District Marowijne). Legislation on which the Coast Guard will be founded is almost finished. It will soon be tabled in the Council of Ministers and the Council of State, after which it will head for the National Assembly for approval. The new unit is a civil organisation, with authority to enforce the law in Suriname territorial waters. The Surinamese government does not intend to cut down cost on the Navy (Marine), once the Coast Guard is fully operational. The Navy will keep operating in the high seas outside the 100-mile zone.
The President of the Republic, Dési Bouterse, is the head of the armed forces, with the title of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces (Opperbevelhebber van de Strijdkrachten). The President is the supreme authority for all national military matters . The President is assisted by the Minister of Defence in his role over the armed forces, Mr. Lamure Latour. The director of the Ministry of Defence is Mr. John Achong.
Beneath the President and Minister of Defense is the Commander of the Armed Forces (Bevelhebber van de Strijdkrachten), Colonel Hedwig Gilaard, whose headquarters is in Paramaribo, was followed-up after three years by Colonel Ronni Benschop, who in turn was promoted to Brigade General in February 2014. This is the highest-ranked officer in the Armed Forces of Suriname ever.
The Commander called "Bevelhebber", is the Military Chief, charged with command over the different Military Branches. The Military Branches and regional Military Commands report to the Commander.
Commanding officers of the Suriname Armed Forces at present
- President Dési Bouterse Supreme Commander-in-Chief
- Brigade General Ronni Benschop is Commander of the Armed Forces - Military Chief
- Colonel Adolf Jardim is Vice Commander of the Armed Forces - Deputy Chief
- Lieutenant Colonel Egmond Letterboom is Chief of Staff
- Lieutenant Colonel Marino Acton is the Commander of the Navy (Marine)
- Lieutenant Colonel Robert Kartodikromo is the Commander of the Air Force
- Lieutenant Colonel Henri van Axeldongen is the Commander of the Army
- Lieutenant Colonel Cliff Ganpat is Commander of the Military Police Corps
- Colonel Jerry Slijngaard is Director of the Coast Guard
Commanders of the Suriname Armed Forces past to present
- Yngwe Elstak (25 November 1975 - 25 February 1980)
- Desi Bouterse (July 1980 – 3 December 1992)
- Ivan Graanoogst (temporary, 3 December 1992 – 15 May 1993)
- Arthy Gorré (15 May 1993 – 30 June 1995)
- Glenn Sedney (30 June 1995 – 1 July 2001)
- Ernst Mercuur (1 July 2001 - 4 February 2010)
- Hedwig Gilaard (4 February 2010 – 10 July 2013)
- Ronni Benschop (temporary, 10 July 2013 - February 2014)
- Ronni Benschop (February 2014 – present)
The Armed Forces is Headquartered in Paramaribo.
The task of the national army of Suriname is defending the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Suriname against foreign armed military aggression. That is, the defense of not only the territory but also the territorial waters and the airspace above it.
The Ministry of defence consists of the Policy Centre and the operational part (the national army) that makes up the Defence Organization Forms. The Department of Defense has no departments. There are various services and units. The Policy Centre is responsible for the care of the armed forces so that timely and adequate it can perform the duties or missions assigned to it by law in an efficient and effective manner. Providing assistance to international organisations, if and to the extent that command is given for that purpose by the competent authority.This is e.g. for humanitarian operations of the United Nations. Also providing assistance in the preparation and implementation of projects related to the socio-economic development of Suriname
There are several military installations, barracks and detachments in the various districts including the Memre Boekoe Kazerne (Paramaribo), the Naval Marine base (district Wanica), the Air Force Luma base (Zorg en Hoop, Paramaribo), the training centre for recruits namely the Ayoko-barracks and the detachment Zanderij, the eastern border post, the Akontoe Velantie Kazerne at Albina, in Nickerie the western border post, the Professor Dr. Ali Kazerne and on the Kennedy Highway to Concordia the 1st Sgt Martowidjojo Kazerne. There are also various detachments and the so-called small stations throughout Suriname in the districts Sipaliwini, Saramacca, Brokopondo and Para. But also the protection of important objects such as the Afobakkadam or the bridge over the Coppename River belongs to the protective task of the National Army of Suriname.
Surinamese armed forces had also fought with the Resistance Amerindian groups who call themselves "Tucayana Amazonas" was led by Alex Jubitana & Thomas Sabajo. This Amerindian insurgents fought from 1986 to 1989. They oppose the expropriation of land owned by indigenous people and discrimination by the military regime.
- Defend the territorial integrity of Suriname.
- Assist the civil power in the maintenance of law and order when required.
- Contribute to the economic development of Suriname.
The Army also participated in the Multi-National Force in Haiti in the 90's and were redeployed in 2010.
- FN P90
- FN Five-seven
- FN FAL
- FN MAG
- M2 Browning
- FN Minimi
- M40 recoilless rifle
- M16 rifle
- M4 carbine
- M1 carbine
- Dragunov SVD
- M45 Quadmount
With latest procurement of three HAL Chetak helicopters from India for the Air Force and three patrol vessels from France for the new Coast Guard the Armed Forces of Suriname should be better equipped to fulfill its roles in the future.
In September 12, 2012. The Suriname defense minister, Lamouré Latour, discussed with the Brazilian defense minister the possibility of the Military of Suriname acquiring from two to four Brazilian Embraer AT-29B Super Tucanos light attack (COIN) trainer planes, 500 ton light patrol ships and the revitalization of the armourd vehicles supplied from Brazil in 1983.
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