Polisario People's Liberation Army
|Polisario People's Liberation Army|
|Frente Popular de Liberación de Saguía el Hamra y Río de Oro|
Coat of Arms
|Service branches||Sahrawi Liberation Army|
Sahrawi Auxiliary Army
|Headquarters||Sahrawi refugee camps, Tindouf Province, Algeria|
|Foreign suppliers||Algeria Libya|
The Polisario People's Liberation Army is the armed forces of the Polisario Front.
The Polisario Front has no navy or air force. The Sahrawi People's Liberation Army, (SPLA, often abbreviated in Spanish as ELPS – Ejército de Liberación Popular Saharaui), is the Polisario's army. Its commander-in-chief is the Secretary General, but it is also integrated into the SADR system through the institution of a SADR Minister of Defence. The SPLA's armed units are considered to have a manpower of possibly 6–7,000 active soldiers today, but during the war years its strength appears to have been significantly higher: up to 20,000 men. It has a potential manpower of many times that number, since both male and female refugees in the Tindouf camps undergo military training at age 18. Women formed auxiliary units protecting the camps during war years.
- Sahrawi Liberation Army
- Sahrawi Auxiliary Army
When it originally began the anti-Spanish rebellion, Polisario was forced to capture its weapons individually, and transport them only by foot or camel. But the
insurgents multiplied their arsenal and military sophistication after striking an alliance with Algeria in 1975. The modern SPLA is equipped mainly with outdated Soviet-manufactured weaponry, donated by Algeria. But its arsenals display a bewildering variety of material, much of it captured from Spanish, Mauritanian (Panhard AMLs) or Moroccan forces (Eland Mk7s, Ratel IFVs, AMX-13s, SK-105 Kürassiers) and made in France, the United States, South Africa, Austria or Britain. The SPLA has several armored units, composed of old tanks (T-55s, T-62s), somewhat more modern armored cars (EE-9 Cascavels, BRDM-2s), infantry fighting vehicles (BMP-1s, BTR-60s), rocket launchers (BM-21s) and halftracks. Surface-to-air missiles (anti-aircraft missiles, as SA-6s, SA-7s, SA-8s and SA-9s) have downed several Moroccan F-5 fighter jets, and helped compensate for the complete Moroccan control of the skies.
guns (as ZPU-2 or ZU-23) or anti-tank missiles, (as the AT-3 Sagger) and using them in great numbers, to overwhelm unprepared garrisoned outposts in rapid surprise strikes. This may reflect the movement's difficulties in obtaining original military equipment, but nonetheless proved a powerful tactic.
On 3 November 2005, the Polisario Front signed the Geneva Call, committing itself to a total ban on landmines, and later began to destroy its landmine stockpiles under international supervision. Morocco is one of 40 governments that have not signed the 1997 mine ban treaty. Both parties have used mines extensively in the conflict, but some mine-clearing operations have been carried out under MINURSO supervision since the ceasefire agreement.
The Polisario People's Liberation Army has many surface-to-air missiles (anti-aircraft missiles, as SA-6s, SA-7s, SA-8s and SA-9s) and they have downed several Moroccan F-5 fighter jets, and helped compensate for the complete Moroccan control of the skies.
AFL's and IFV's
|Ratel IFV||South Africa|
improvised fighting vehicle
|Land Rover||United Kingdom|
|BM-21 Grad||USSR||From Algeria|
The SPLA traditionally employed ghazzi tactics, i.e., motorized surprise raids over great distances, which were inspired by the traditional camel-back war parties of the Sahrawi tribes. However, after the construction of the Moroccan Wall this changed into tactics more resembling conventional warfare, with a focus on artillery, snipers and other long-range attacks. In both phases of the war, SPLA units relied on superior knowledge of the terrain, speed and surprise, and on the ability to retain experienced fighters.
- "Editor Chris Brazier’s Journey Into Polosario Territory, Including His Trip Through A Cleared Minefield, A Visit To An Underground Hospital, And To A Guerrilla Army Base". New Internationalist.
- "Moroccan Air Force at 50". Air Scene UK.
- Michael Bhatia, "Western Sahara under Polisario Control: Summary Report of Field Mission to the Sahrawi Refugee Camps (near Tindouf, Algeria)". ARSO.org.
- genevacall.org Archived 1 June 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
- genevacall.org Archived 4 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine.