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Central African Republic Army
Forces Armées Centrafricaines

The primary role of the Central African Armed Forces (FACA - Forces Armées Centrafricaines) is to maintain internal security. Approximately 5,000 personnel serve in the Central African Armed Forces, and they are divided into an Army (2,750 personnel), an Air Force, and paramilitary outfits. The president is the commander in chief of the Armed Forces and the Army chief of staff.

The government is hampered by the international arms embargo and cannot, as a result, create a Central African army in order to protect its civilians from attack. Following the completion of Operation “Sangaris” in October 2016, the security forces were unable to take over and Minusca, the UN peace mission, does not have sufficient resources to protect civilians. The UN has flagged up “early warning signs of genocide” and believes that another large-scale humanitarian crisis is on the cards.

The Army was organized into one republican guard regiment, one territorial defense regiment, one combined arms regiment, one headquarters support regiment, one presidential guard battalion, and one riverine patrol boat squadron. All units are under-strength [ie, over-officered] and poorly equipped. Discipline is a continuing problem. The main barracks are at Camp Kasai near Bangui. Camp Saint-Sylvestre is also in Bangui. The Presidential Guard Battalion, also known as the Special Forces for the Defense of the Democratic Institution (FORSDIR), is 800-strong and responsible for presidential security.

As the CAR is a landlocked country, it does not have a navy but has a riverine force. Approximately nine riverine vessels were used to patrol the CAR’s 2 800 km of navigable waterways. About 100 personnel operated these vessels.

There are several different uniform styles for soldiers in the C.A.R. There are both French and Central African camouflage patterns that are used for day-to-day purposes as well as field duty. Mechanics and drivers wear blue coveralls, and those in the air force wear an olive uniform. The dress uniform consists of khaki pants with either a medium sleeve khaki coat or a khaki short sleeve shirt.

All army units wear a cloth patch shaped like a shield with the C.A.R. colors on their left sleeves; the republican guard wears a similar patch shaped like a diamond; and the Air Force does not wear a patch. The presidential guard wears a patch that consists of the C.A.R. flag, an eagle, the words Securite Presidentielle, and RCA. Regiments and major units wear their insignia on the right breast pocket.

Over recent decades, the 7,000 to 8,000 members of FACA have been more of a menace to the population than a guarantor of its security, feared for its brutality and gross human rights abuses committed with impunity. Its presence rarely extended far beyond the capital, Bangui. There the under-resourced, ethnically imbalanced, ill-managed, barely trained and poorly paid army was defeated by the Seleka rebellion which seized power in March 2013, looting all barracks of their weapons. Coup leader Michel Djotodia subsequently announced FACA’s dissolution.

Now the army is barely functional and, thanks to a UN arms embargo, has barely any weapons to carry. Rebuilding the army into an institution that represents the diversity of the country’s ethnic groups and which is capable of contributing to national security, is one of the most important and daunting tasks facing CAR.

1 mixed intervention bn
2 territorial infantry bns
1 amphibious bn
1 engineer bn
1 support bn

Presidential Guard:
1 protection bn
1 security bn
1 honour bn
Under military restructuring plans formulated 1999-2000, the civilian Minister of Defense controlled and directed all armed forces, including the Presidential Security Unit (UPS), which had previously been seen as a militia supporting the president. This distinction had become somewhat blurred, as President Bozize held the title of Minister of Defense and President and his son, Jean Francis Bozize, was the Deputy Minister of Defense.

Central African Republic President Francois Bozize fired his son as defense minister and fired the army chief of staff, after a string of victories by rebel forces. The firings were announced in a decree read over state radio 02 January 2013 . The decree said Bozize is taking the defense minister's post for himself. The dramatic move comes as the rebels seem poised to move on the capital. A coalition of rebel groups known as Seleka captured several major towns and cities last month and is positioned less than 200 kilometers from the capital, Bangui. Seleka accused him of failing to implement peace deals that ended an earlier rebellion, and demanded that the president step down.

The rebel coup in 2013 plunged the CAR into chaos. In the countryside, armed militias continued to fight over mineral resources and trade routes. Bandits and other groups like the Lord's Resistance Army also take advantage of the poor security situation. The national army, known as the FACA, is being rebuilt from scratch with training from the European Union. The FACA has a limited supply of weapons as a result of an arms embargo by the UN Security Council. Analysts warn it may be years before the army is combat-ready and can take back control of the country.

Members of the Central Office for the Repression of Banditry (OCRB), a police anticrime unit, conducted extrajudicial killings near Bangui. International nongovernmental organization (NGO) Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported 18 extrajudicial killings allegedly committed by the OCRB between April 2015 and March. For example, on 27 January 2016, witnesses told HRW that OCRB members apprehended and unlawfully killed a market vendor. Led by Colonel Robert Yekoua-Kette, the OCRB was largely composed of soldiers of the Central African Armed Forces (FACA) who operated as police officers. In June the government removed Colonel Yekoua-Kette as commander of the OCRB but failed to investigate or punish suspected OCRB perpetrators.

In April 2017 the U.S. ambassador to the Central African Republic turned over the keys to four cargo trucks to the national army. It was the first installment of $8 million worth of nonlethal assistance that is expected to include 16 more trucks and communications equipment. "Essentially, we want to help the various processes that will allow this country that has known some really difficult times to pull out of that crisis and move into something sustainable, something safer for the region and ultimately safer for the American people as well," U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Hawkins said. "Because if there is glaring instability, even in a place that is remote like C.A.R., that does not serve American interests."

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