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Cameroon - Military Doctrine

The President is chief of state and commander of the armed forces. This command is exercised through a Minister of the Armed Forces. Although officially nonaligned in the world ideological struggle, Cameroon was Western-oriented. Cameroon's main strategic problem at independence was related to the maintenance of internal security against the efforts of a communist insurgent group sponsored, trained and supplied by Communist China and the radical African states. This is the Union des Populations du Cameroun (PUC), which has maintained a low-key insurgency with a strength of about 1,200. It had some bases in the mountains, but by 1968 its activities was reduced to occasional hit and run raids from the sanctuary of Congo (Brazzaville). Its leader was captured, tried, and executed in 1971.

The national police, DGRE, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Territorial Administration, and, to a lesser extent, Presidential Guard, are responsible for internal security. The Ministry of Defense--which includes the gendarmerie, the army, the armys military security unit, and the DGRE--reports to an office of the Presidency, resulting in strong presidential control of security forces. While the army is responsible for external security, the national police and the gendarmerie have primary responsibility for law enforcement. The gendarmerie alone has responsibility in rural areas. The national police--which includes the public security force, judicial police, territorial security forces, and frontier police--report to the General Delegation of National Security (DGSN), which is under the direct authority of the presidency.

The various missions formally assigned to the military services at independence were preservation of order, preparation of cadres for additional military units, and participation in economic development projects. Until 1966 their most important activity was the suppression of guerrilla activities by supporters of the UPC.

A potential for internal instability is inherent in the ethno-religious diversity of the people. There are about 200 tribes speaking 24 major languages. In the north, where the Moslem 15% of the country's population is concentrated, the Fang and Fulani tribes predominate. One third of the population, mainly the southern Bantus, profess Christianity and the remainder ate animist. The core of the leftist insurgency came from the Bamileke, about 20 percent of the population, in the central highlands area. So far the north-south split on ethno-religious grounds, so prevalent in West African states, has not manifested itself.

Since independence in 1960 French military traditions and practices have been predominant in the Cameroonian military forces. Warrior traditions had been handed down among various local ethnic groups for many generations before Cameroon became a sovereign nation, but many traditions had been lost during a century of influence by the military forces of the European colonial powers. German influence had prevailed at the beginning of the twentieth century but came to an end in 1916 when German-led troops surrendered to the Allied forces.

France controlled much of the area from 1919 until 1960. Great Britain controlled the western region, which was integrated with the eastern region between 1960 and 1972 in a series of mutually arranged political moves. Five battalions of soldiers from the area fought alongside Free French and British forces in World War II, participating in campaigns in North Africa, the Middle East, and the Strasbourg area of France.

By the late 1960s the terrorism had been reduced to sporadic, relatively minor incidents, and questions concerning the future role of the military forces became more important. In 1971 the minister of state for the armed forces commented on the near absence of UPC-associated violence and indicated a broadened role for the military forces to include: protection of national sovereignty, support of alliances contracted by the government, and continuation of their previously assigned role in the economic and social development of the country. Although defense and support of treaties were usual and potentially important roles for the military services, the emphasis upon them may have been designed to reassure a relatively idle army that it would continue to have an important role in national life. In 1973

The president of the republic was the constitutional commander in chief of the military forces, which he controlled through a senior cabinet-level appointee, the minister of state for the armed forces. Control, which was highly centralized, was maintained through an organizational structure similar to that of the French army. Military ranks were for the most part similar to those in European services.

The peaceful handover of the Bakassi Peninsula from Nigeria was preceded by numerous banditry attacks, killing over 20 security forces and a local official. Observers expressed frustration that, in face of rising security problems, there had been no significant repercussion on the security leadership. State control was seen as weakening in many parts of the country.

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