Military


Royal Moroccan Army

The Royal Moroccan Army [Armée marocaine] has two commands: one responsible for the northern zone, or Morocco proper, and the other for the southern zone, or Western Sahara. These commands control three mechanized infantry brigades, one light security brigade, two paratroop brigades, and eight mechanized or motorized infantry regiments. Independent units include one armored battalion, two cavalry battalions, 39 infantry battalions, one mountain infantry battalion, two paratroop battalions, three motorized (camel corps) battalions, nine artillery battalions, seven engineering battalions, one air defense group, and seven commando units.

Morocco's unique military organization Al-Deerk Al-Malaki (Royal Guards) not only protects the monarch but provides security in courts, military policing, port security, and airport security. The 1,500-member Royal Guard has one battalion and one cavalry squadron.

Most enlisted personnel serve voluntarily, although conscription is authorized for up to 18 months beginning at age 18. Army reserves are required to serve until age 50.

During the later part of the 19th Century the Moroccan army had undergone a transformation. The organisation of a national standing army was the first blow struck at the exclusive privilege of the Makhzen tribes. These tribes had in fact supplied the sole armed force of the Sultans, and it was for this very reason that they had been declared Makhzen. As the Turks had soon ceased to be a menace to Morocco, the Makhzen army, in its original form, had been sufficient to carry out its task of keeping the tribes in check. The appearance of an external danger with the French conquest in Algeria compelled the Sultans to devise a new military system. The experience of Isly demonstrated the powerlcssncss of the old army, and the approach of the Christians made it possible for Moulay Abderrahman to bring home to his people the need for a national army, in which the contingents of all the submissive tribes should be incorporated in a permanent fashion.

His son, Sidi Mohammed, was the founder of the new Moroccan army. Under his reign the mokhaznii ceased to form the active army, and were reduced to forming the permanent garrison of the Makhzen cities, and also act as gendarmes. The permanent askar, and temporary noualb, furnished by the tribes, became the effective force, which took part in all the Shereefian expeditions, and it was the policy of Sidi Mohammed and Moulay el-Hassan to be continually increasing the number of the tribes who would consent to furnish these contingents. Gradually the submissive tribes ended by consenting, and by the end of the 19th Century no resistance was met with, save among the Khlot and the people of the Gharb.

The ancient Makhzen system was disappearing, and the mokhaznis no longer possessed their old-time value. Their mounas and ratcbi were carelessly paid, and the illustrious corps of the Bouakhar was falling more and more into decay. The Sheraga, who seemed best to have maintained their position, did not exceed 4500 horsemen, and the Oudai'a 2000. The creation of a national army necessarily reduced the authority of the Makhzen tribes. Henceforward all are called to serve the Sovereign, and, among the askar, the tabors of the Makhzen tribes are in no way distinguished from those of the other tribes.

Despite this military degradation, which befell them in the middle of the nineteenth century, the Makhzen succeeded in maintaining their predominance in the Government of Morocco. Their privileged place in the imperial guard and among the employments of the palace continued to secure them access to the sovereign, whose councils they dominated. Up to the death of Moulay el-Hassan, who preserved a strict observance of the traditions of his dynasty, the chief men of the Makhzen were sprung, as a general rule, from Makhzen tribes.

By 1910 the Regular infantry consisted of 19 tabors, 16 of which remained near the Sultan, and the remaining 3 garrison Siis and Marakesch (Morocco). The the tabor, which varied from 200 to 1,000 men, was the real unit; it was commanded by a caid-agha assisted by a khalifa [successor], and is divided into companies of 100 men each under a catd-mia. Each company had its own banner. The caid-agha and the oaid-mia are the only two ranks of officer. The mokaddem, immediately inferior to them, corresponded to a non-commissioned officer ; the sergeant-major, when there was one, was called a bach-chaouch. As a rule, all billets and promotions were awarded personally by the Sultan, who thus rewards either the members of the Imperial family who have gained his confidence, or other chiefs who are in his favour. Frequently a Moroccan, who had passed all his life in some State office was suddenly raised to general's rank and placed at the head of an expedition.

Moroccan troops participated in the French War in Indochina. Moroccan forces witnessed Ho Chi Minh and his guerrillas drain French forces and the foreign legionnaires, which culminated in their defeat in Diem Bien Phu. When Morocco gained its independence in 1956, Moroccans were fighting under French and Spanish flags as well as with the National Liberation Army (ALN). Hassan went to Paris to negotiate the transition for self-rule and to establish a Moroccan Armed Force of 15,000 troops. Mohammed V went directly to ALN leaders to acknowledge their contributions to the Nation's independence. He offered each fighter the opportunity to join the Moroccan Armed Forces and employed many of them as border guards. He instituted a 9-month training program to ease the Moroccan's transition to the regular army, and he brought ALN leaders and formations to the palace in Rabat to go through a military inspection and a presentation of colors before the King.

Following the 1972 coup attempt, King Hassan took strong steps that stripped the military, especially the air force, of much of its power. Hassan took over as his own minister of defense and chief of staff. Hassan showed his apparently well-founded distrust of the military by virtually disarming the ground forces and tightly controlling ammunition and all military operations.

The U.S. Government has provided an extensive quantity of military equipment and services to Morocco through FMS credit purchases and the Military Assistance Program (MAP). The major end items are M48A5 tanks, Ml13 armored personnel carriers, 155mm howitzers, TOW anti-tank missile systems, 20mm Vulcan air defense weapons, Chaparral air defense missile systems, and shipboard electronics. The majority of these end items were financed by FMS credit and third country funds, and were delivered in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Since FY 1983, the security assistance funding levels had shrunk from $100 millionto less than $35 million in FMS credits in FY 1986, rebounding to a mix of $52 million in MAP grants and FMS credits in FY 1988, and $52 million in FMS grants in FY 1989. An additional $1 million to $1.5 million was provided annually for the International Military Education and Training Program. With the exception of the expedited delivery of 50 TOW anti-tank missile systems in 1987, the purchase of 100 M48A5 tanks in 1988 (paid mostly with cash), the focus of the U.S. security assistance effort in Morocco shifted from procurement and was directed at sustaining and maintaining U.S.-origin equipment in the Moroccan Armed Forces.

On May 10, 1996 the Department of Defense notified Congress that the government of Morocco has requested the purchase of 26 M198 155mm towed howitzers, 280,000 rounds of miscellaneous ammunition and other related items of program support. The estimated cost is $31 million. Morocco needed these howitzers to standardize equipment within the Moroccan Army, fully equip existing units and retire older artillery pieces in order to modernize the Army's defensive fire support capability. Morocco will have no difficulty absorbing these howitzers into its armed forces.

As of 2006 the army was equipped with 744 main battle tanks, 100 light tanks, 324 reconnaissance vehicles, 115 armored infantry fighter vehicles, 740 armored personnel carriers, 185 towed artillery, 227 self-propelled artillery, 40 multiple rocket launchers, 1,470 mortars, 720 antitank guided weapons, an unspecified number of rocket launchers, 350 recoilless launchers, 36 antitank guns, 477 air defense guns, 107 surface-to-air missiles, and unspecified numbers of surveillance and unmanned aerial vehicles.

In April 2009 the Moroccan army received delivery of 70 Belgian-made armoured vehicles. The armed forces' general command was studying deals to acquire Russian armored vehicles and Spanish electronic systems. The Royal Armed Forces recently acquired 102 Belgian-made armored cars, as part of a secret military deal made between the two countries.



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