Armee de Terre
Forces armées de la République du Congo
Forces armées congolaises
The police, Gendarmerie and armed forces comprise the security forces, though the distinction between the role of each is unclear. The police forces should be the first to react to incidences with the Gendarmerie and army supporting if necessary. However, joint operations are common. The armed forces have been involved in combating the Ninja rebels, with the additional assistance of the Angolan army units stationed in the country.
In the years following the 1992 election, both Denis Sassou Nguessou who ruled from 1979 until 1992, and his successor Pascal Lissouba built personal militias and attempted to incorporate them into the Federal Army. These lightly armed, generally undisciplined units would become the kindling for open warfare five years after Lissouba took office.
|2 x Armored Battalions|
|2 x Infantry BN Groups|
|1 x ParaCommando Battalion|
|1 x Commando Battalion ?|
|1 x Artillery Group|
|1 x Engineer Battalion|
|1 x Independent Infantry Bn|
|1 x Signals Bn (-)|
|1 x Supply/Log. Bn|
|1997 ~ same as 2013|
While a Presidential Guard battalion had been forming, the armored battalions were little more than strong companies. Infantry battalion groups included the infantry battalion (apparently organized on the Eastern Bloc standard), a signals platoon, a light tank troop (3 x PT76 or Type 62), an artillery battery (generally eight tubes), an engineer troop, and a logistics group. The civilian police mustered a pre-war strength of about 2,000, with 20 companies scattered across the country. During the course of the fighting and afterwards, they appeared to be a force quite independent of the army.
In 1997 ethnic and political tensions exploded into a full-scale civil war, fuelled in part by the prize of the country's offshore oil wealth, which motivated many of the warlords. Law and order broke down completely, the remnants of what used to be the national army fractured into ethnic-based factions loyal to regional warlords. The army split along ethnic lines, with most northern officers joining President Denis Sassou Nguesso's side, and most southerners backing the rebels. These were supporters of the former president, Pascal Lissouba, and his prime minister, Bernard Kolelas, who had been deposed by President Sassou Nguesso in 1997. By the end of 1999 the rebels had lost all their key positions to the government forces, who were backed by Angolan troops. The rebels then agreed to a ceasefire.
One reason why the situation in Congo Brazzaville was so precarious in the 1990s was the fact that there was no proper army. Denis Sassou-Nguesso represented a radical wing within the Parti congolais du travail (PCT) - the M-22. Like Marien Ngouabi, he was from the North, albeit from a different ethnic group, the M’bochi, whereas Ngouabi as well as Yhombi Opangi were members of the Kouyou ethnic group. Ngouabi was assassinated in March 1977. In 1992 the first multi-party elections were held. Pascal Lissouba was elected President.
In 1993 Lissouba for his part was so distrustful of the armed forces that he decided to form his own militia, thereby alienating the few army members who were still supporting him. Lissouba having formed his Cocoye militia (also known as Mamba), Kolélas decided to establish his own militia, the Ninjas. As a civilian with no connection to the military he asked Sassou-Nguesso for support. Sassou Nguesso provided him with former government soldiers to form a militia which became known as the Ninjas. Sassou-Nguesso had also established a militia called the Cobras.
The civil war concentrated in and around Brazzaville. Most of the fighting took place in the so-called Pool region south of Brazzaville, the fiefdom of Bernard Kolélas and his Ninjas. Its members are recruited mainly from the Lari, the Bakongo and the Bateke ethnic groups. The Cocoye, Lissouba's militia operate in the Southwest; Lissouba is said to have imported Israeli mercenaries to train his militia, former Zairian soldiers as well as Serb mercenaries who had fought in Zaire. President Sassou-Nguesso is from Oyo in the North of the country where he also can rely on his strongest support. He was backed by Angolan forces.
In November 1999 the Ninjas and Cocoyes were reported to have agreed on a peace plan with the government; nevertheless the fighting continued until the end of the year. The population was very doubtful about the viability of such a ceasefire agreement as long as the militia leaders Lissouba and Kolélas were not part of it. Initially, Lissouba and Kolélas had both denounced the agreement as a hoax and a scam. On 29 December 1999, a second peace agreement was signed, In February, Bernard Kolélas said he supported the agreement and President Sassou-Nguesso. Since then, there had been no fighting and considerable number of militia started to demobilise.
The security forces include the police, the Gendarmerie, and the armed forces; however, the functional distinction between these forces was not clear. While, in theory, the police should be the first to respond to security incidents, with gendarmes and army units intervening later if necessary; in practice joint operations are common. Many new recruits who have joined the security forces since the 1997 civil war were former members of nongovernmental militias.
As of March 2002, the Government did not have full control over some individual members of the security forces. Since the end of the 1998-1999 conflict, the Government had established increasing control over progovernment "Cobra" militiamen who effectively had been autonomous. Some units of the Angolan armed forces remained in the country under a bilateral agreement to provide security, most of them near the Congolese border with Cabinda (Angola). Rwandan Hutu militiamen, as well as former soldiers from the DRC, remained in the country as refugees and no longer participate in government military operations. A major challenge for the country has been the reintegration of former militiamen from all sides in the 1998-1999 conflict who have stopped fighting under the terms of the peace accords.
In some cases, joint military units comprised of army troops and former rebels provide security in former rebel-controlled areas, and several thousand former combatants benefited from internationally supported programs to help their reintegration into society and to collect and destroy illegal arms. Some members of antigovernment groups supporting Lissouba or his Prime Minister, Bernard Kolelas, have been permitted to rejoin their previous employers, for example, in the Ministry of Interior.
Denis Sassou-Nguesso was elected to a seven-year term as president of Congo in March 2002. In the two rounds of elections held in May and June 2002, the parties that supported President Sassou-Nguesso, the Parti Congolais du Travail (PCT) and the Forces Démocratiques Unies (FDU) won 83 of the 153 seats in the Assemblée Nationale (National Assembly). In July 2002, it was announced that the PCT and its allies had won 56 of the 72 seats in the Senate.
While the government was endeavoring to reconstruct roads and buildings, scattered bands of armed former militiamen were nonetheless active in the Pool region, which includes the capital city. The last bout of fighting in the Congo Civil Wars broke out in March 2002 when rebel groups launched attacks first in the Pool region and later in Brazzaville. The fighting was quickly contained in Brazzaville, however "Ninja" rebels continued to resist in the Pool region. In March 2003, the ROC government signed a cease-fire accord, which remained in effect. Fighting broke out in March and June of 2002 when rebel groups launched attacks first in the Pool region and later at the Brazzaville airport. The fighting in Brazzaville was quickly contained and the rebels were repulsed. In October 2002, attacks began to increase in the Pool region.
Most of the Republic of Congo, a country of three-million people, is at peace. Only the Pool region, south of the capital Brazzaville, remained unstable. In November and December 2002, tens-of-thousands of people fled Pool because of fighting between government forces and what are called "Ninja" militia rebels. The government opened up so-called humanitarian corridors two-years earlier, to give safe passage to former rebel soldiers who wished to become re-integrated into society.
The National Program of Demobilization, Disarmament, and Reintegration (PNDDR) was funded by the World Bank and the EU through 2008.
Exercise Loango 2014 brought together eight of the ten ECCAS countries. Notably Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, DRC and Chad. The objective was to test and evaluate the rapid deployment capacity of FOMAC. This force is also aimed at defining common operational procedures and strengthening the ties of friendship and brotherhood of arms among member countries. With a view to strengthening the operational capability of this subregional force, in accordance with the principle of the African Standby Force. Chaired by President Dénis Sassou Nguesso of Congo-Brazzaville in the presence of President-in-Office of ECCAS, President Idriss Deby of Chad, sanctioned the demonstration organized at the Three Martyrs camp of the Para-commando, from 20 to 28 October 2014.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|