Chadian National Army - History
(Armée national tchadienne, ANT)
At independence in 1960, Chad's national army consisted of only about 400 men, mostly members of the Sara ethnic group who had distinguished themselves in French army service during World War II and later in Algeria and Indochina. By the mid-1960s, however, rebellion in northern and eastern Chad necessitated the enlargement of this army. The rebellion also caused French forces stationed in nearby countries to intervene repeatedly to assist the Chadian government.
By the late 1960's, the Chadian armed forces were divided into the Territorial Guard (later called the Garde Nationale et Nomade), the Surete Nationale, the gendarmerie, and the regular army. The regular army had increased to four infantry battalions, and there was even a miniscule Chadian naval unit on Lake Chad. In 1969, the armed forces contained about four thousand men. The great majority of these men were from southern tribes, as were all of their officers except for two Arab lieutenants. Even though the northern tribes were raised with warlike traditions, they were never attracted to military service.
By 1979 conditions had become chaotic. Aq many as eleven separate factional armies were contending for control, generating alliances and schisms at a bewildering rate. In the capital of N'Djamena, after the national army had been pushed aside, the two main northern rivals, Goukouni Oueddei and Hissein Habre, struggled for domination. Libya's intervention in 1980 on behalf of Goukouni resulted in the defeat of Habre's army. With only a few hundred of his hardiest followers remaining, Habre was forced to seek a haven in western Sudan. But after Libya withdrew under international pressure, Habre's revitalized army fought its way back to the capital, and he assumed power in 1982.
The confused pattern of civil warfare continued, but Habre gradually consolidated his political position and brought the resistance in the south under control. With the help of a French expedition, he repelled a new offensive from the north in 1983 that had been mounted by a coalition of opponents under Goukouni's leadership and backed by Libya's armor and air power. In 1986 a split developed among the insurgents in the north when the major part of Goukouni's army turned against the Libyans. Joined by these rebel forces, Habre's army was strong enough in early 1987 to wage a successful campaign to clear the Libyan invaders from most of Chad's vast northern territories and to threaten the Aozou Strip, which Libya had occupied since 1972.
In 1983 the military arm of Habre's movement became the nucleus of a new national army, the Chadian National Armed Forces (Forces Armies Nationales Tchadiennes - FANT). By 1987 FANT had evolved into a potent, mobile, and battle-tested military organization. It had acquired modern arms adapted to the rigorous conditions of the far-flung arena of conflict in the north. In addition to receiving arms deliveries from France and the United States, FANT had captured a large stock of Libyan armored vehicles, missiles, artillery, and materiel. In its stricken financial state, the country continued to be dependent on its Western backers for munitions and fuel, as well as maintenance and training support for its newly acquired weaponry. Its air arm was insignificant, but French transport and combat aircraft remained in the country. Moreover, the army's antiaircraft missile defenses had effectively blunted Libyan air assaults.
Habre had been remarkably successful in enlisting previously bitter adversaries in a common undertaking to regain the nation's territory. As part of the reconciliation with his former armed opponents, Habr6 had absorbed into FANT the remnants of the post-independence national army, dissident guerrilla fighters from the south, and most of the rebel coalition forces of his northern rival, Goukouni. Only the Presidential Guard, a select force mostly drawn from Habr6's own ethnic group, retained its separate identity.
This large assemblage of manpower, however, could not be militarily justified as a permanent force once the Libyan danger was removed. For the future, a major problem for the military leadership would be the welding of FANT into an integrated force of sufficient loyalty to be entrusted with a primarily internal security mission and at strengths and equipment levels compatible with the count y's financial means and defense requirements.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|