Equatorial Guinea - Military Personnel
The Equatoguinean military consists of approximately 2,500 service members. The largest contingent is the Army with 1,400 soldiers; the police have 400 paramilitary policemen, the Navy has 200 members, and the Air Force has approximately 120. The Gendarmerie numbers approximately 300. The Gendarmerie is a new branch of the service in which training and education is being supported by the French Military Cooperation in Equatorial Guinea. Between 1984 and 1992, service members went regularly to the United States on the International Military Education Training program, after which funding for this program for Equatorial Guinea ceased. US military-to-military engagement has been dormant since 1997 (the year of the last Joint Combined Exchange Training Exercise), although representatives from Equatorial Guinea occasionally attend military-hosted multilateral conferences on Gulf of Guinea security matters.
The Equatoguineans rely on foreigners to operate and maintain this equipment as they are not sufficiently trained to do so. The presidential guard is composed entirely of Moroccans, because he does not trust Guineans: and the Moroccans guard him not from idealism, but because they are paid to do so. Indeed, Moroccan mercenaries guard more than one West African tyrant.
In 2005 Israeli arms dealers and security companies were negotiating a contract to train Equatorial Guinea's presidential guard. International human rights organizations said that if Israelis train Equatorial Guinea's presidential guard, it would help bolster one of Africa's most corrupt and tyrannical presidents.
An failed coup attempt took place in Equatorial Guinea in 2004. It was organized by British businessmen including Mark Thatcher, the son of Britain's former prime minister. The coup plotters were assisted by British, South African, Armenian and German mercenaries. Most of them were arrested and sentenced to long prison sentences in Equatorial Guinea, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Following the coup attempt, Obiang approached Israeli weapon dealers and security companies for assistance. In addition to IMI, Aeronautics Defense Systems of Yavne, which manufactures drones, is also active in Equatorial Guinea. Several retired senior IDF officers, including Major General(res.) Avigdor Ben Gal, are on the Yavne company's board of directors.
By November 2015 the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) was reportedly set to train troops in Equatorial Guinea following an "urgent" request from the west African country. The ZDF deployed a team of trainers to Equatorial Guinea to train that country’s military officers on "operational and logistic matters", according to the state-owned Herald newspaper. The report said the delegation was composed of members of the Zimbabwe National Army and Air Forces of Zimbabwe.
"The Equatorial Guinea had realised some training deficiencies on their defence forces, hence the request," the ZDF Commander General Constatine Chiwenga was quoted as saying during a send-off ceremony.
This was not the first time that Zimbabwe's security forces have been deployed to Equatorial Guinea. The southern African country sent a team of its anti-terrorism unit to capital Malabo to provide services during the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. Reports said at the time that President Teodoro Obiang Nguema asked his Zimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe to send the elite team, which provided "VIP security, intelligence as well as manning key institutions".
Equatorial Guinea met all expenses. Mugabe's close relationship with Nguema dates back to 2004 when Zimbabwe intercepted mercenaries who were en route to Malabo to stage a coup and overthrow Nguema.
In February 2017 Uganda's government deployed scores of troops to Equatorial Guinea under an agreement to train the West African country's troops. Between 100 and 150 troops had been sent after the agreement was signed between the two countries at the start of the year. The government of Equatorial Guinea hoped the "training and monitoring" team from Uganda will work toward "a certain level of professionalism" among the Guinean armed forces. Both Uganda and oil-rich Equatorial Guinea were led by two of the world's longest-ruling presidents, and both men face charges of dictatorial rule.
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