Republican Forces of the Ivory Coast (FRCI)
The Defense and Security Forces (FDS), under former president Laurent Gbagbo’s Ministry of Defense, included the army, navy, air force, republican guard, presidential security force, and the gendarmerie, a branch of the armed forces with responsibility for general law enforcement. In practice, references to the FDS are largely synonymous with the regular ground forces [the "army"] as well as various associated irregular militias.
The effective strength of the army was about 3,000 troops during the early 1970s. It increased to 4,000 during the mid-1970s, and to more than 8,000 by the early 1980s, before declining steadily to about 5,500 by 1987. FANCI was equipped lightly and almost exclusively with French materiel, much of which was delivered during 1980 and 1981, when the army experienced its greatest expansion.
Headquarters elements included a general staff, headquarters and logistics companies, commissariat service, and materiel service. The main combat elements were the four infantry battalions of three companies each, stationed in the four military regions. The First Battalion at Port Bouet near Abidjan included two infantry companies, a paratroop company, and an air defense unit. An armored battalion with two squadrons also was stationed in the Abidjan region, along with the Military Preparatory Technical Academy (Ecole Militaire Preparatoire Technique—EMPT) at Bingerville. The Second Battalion at Daloa consisted of three infantry companies. In the Third Military Region at Bouake was the Third Battalion, consisting of three infantry companies, a heavy weapons/artillery battery, an antiaircraft artillery battalion, an engineering battalion with a combat engineer company, two construction companies, and a training company. The Fourth Military Region at Korhogo was still being established, and in 1986 a new command battalion and a doghandling center were reported to have been formed.
In November 2002 two rebel forces emerged in the west, south of the cease-fire line: the Yacouba-based Mouvement populaire ivoirien du Grand Ouest (MPIGO) and the much smaller Mouvement pour la justice et la paix (MJP). MPIGO was backed by Liberian President Charles Taylor in retaliation for Gbagbo's support of anti-Taylor rebels in Liberia. Taylor lieutenants directly led operations that included Liberian and Sierra Leonean fighters in support of MPIGO attacks in western Côte d'Ivoire. Together with the MJP, MPIGO called for Gbagbo's ouster and vowed to avenge the death of Robert Guéï.
Other armed militia groups were close to the ruling party, the Front populair ivoirien (FPI). These militias are active in areas under the control of the Government, notably in the west, where the following four groups had been identified: Front pour la libération du grand ouest (FLGO), Alliance patriotique du peuple Wê (APWE), Union patriotique de résistance du Grand Ouest (UPRGO) and Mouvement ivoirien de libération de l’ouest de la Côte d’Ivoire (MILOCI). The four militia groups that participated in the disarmament process in Guiglo (UPRGO, FLGO, MILOCI and APWé) fell under the overall control of Denis Maho since the events of mid-January 2006 and were loosely known as the Forces de résistance du Grand Ouest (FRGO). Although the militias had shown interest in receiving DDR bounty payments, they retained their best weapons although it is also likely that they were finding it difficult to hand over sufficient weapons to accommodate the targeted ratio of 75 weapons for each 100 combatants.
A mutual defense accord signed with France in 1961 provided for the stationing of French forces in Cote d'Ivoire. Shortly after the beginning of hostilities in September 2002, France established a stabilization force, eventually numbering several thousand, under "Operation Licorne." On April 4, 2004, the UN Operation in Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI) was authorized under UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1528. Peacekeeping troops from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) became part of UNOCI, which also coordinated with Operation Licorne. In July 2011, UNOCI's mandate was extended through July 2012.
A modest security assistance program providing professional training for Ivorian military officers in the U.S. had been suspended due to sanctions under Section 608 of the Foreign Assistance Act. Those sanctions were lifted following the resolution of the post-electoral crisis in June 2011, and Ivoirian officers participate in African and regional seminars funded by the U.S. Government, such as Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) and ECOWAS programs.
As of 2010 Periscope reported that the army was organized into four military regions with Headquarters: Abidjan, Bouake, Daloa Korhogo. Approximately 6,500 currently serve in the army. Within the regions there existed: 1 armored battalion, 3 infantry battalions, 1 artillery battalion, 1 anti-aircraft artillery battery, 1 airborne group, and 1 engineer company. The army's equipment was almost solely of French origin, with tanks from Russia and few planes from Russia and Sweden. The army had tanks, armored reconnaissance vehicles, armored personnel carriers, artillery, mortars and air defense planes.
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