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Guinea - Military Doctrine

Insecurity and violence are at the root of the fragile political, social and economic stability of the country. In Guinea, the security sector is at the lowest standard in years: disorganized defense and security force, lack of civil control, absence of means, violations of human rights, etc. This situation has generated crimes of all types, facilitated by the presence of massive and uncontrolled arms on Guinean territory: road high-jackings, drug trafficking, rapes, holdups, etc. without any efficient intervention by authorities. This situation has represented a danger for the civilian population and deprived the country of the foreign direct investment needed to build the private sector.

President Sekou Toure said: "As long as there a piece of African territory under colonial domination, Guinea will not be fully independent." And President Lansana Conté said "when the neighbor's hut catches fire, you have to help extinguish the fire, if the fire may reach your box." In this political context, without any sight on conquering, the armed forces took part in many national liberation wars on the continent since the beginning of the 1960s: Belgian Congo, Angola, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone.

Since shortly afer independence the country had existed in an atmosphere of perennial conspiracy and threats of coups d’etat. This had been substantiated by the multiplicity of purges that spared neither government officials, members of the army, nor high-ranking officials of the Democratic Party of Guinea (Parti Democratique de Guinee — PDG). Moreover, in early 1975 it was underlined by the fact that, aside from two separate one-day trips to Liberia, President Ahmed Sek ou Toure had left Guinea only once since 1967. Endless accusations had been made in broadcasts by President Toure concerning the discovery of new plots against the regime, some attributed to dissidents within the country, others to exile opposition groups operating outside Guinea, and still others to nameless international forces of “imperialism and neo-colonialism.”

Largely because of the government’s general determination to isolate Guinean affairs from the watchful eyes of outside observers, little information on matters relating to contemporary national security was published. This was particularly true of data regarding the military and other security forces, especially since the threat to the governing regime inherent in the invasion of Conakry in November 1970 by exile opposition units backed by elements of the Portuguese military.

Despite the government-imposed embargo on information, it seemed clear that the norms of Guinean public order and internal security in the 1970 were measured by standards adopted by the PDG and influenced to some degree by the doctrines of the Communist-oriented countries that had provided assistance to Guinea since its independence in 1958. Although public order was concerned with ordinary criminal activity, much greater emphasis was accorded adherence to the dictates and regulations of the party-state and its emphasis on the goals of the “Guinean revolution.” Internal security meant the security of the regime in power and its programs of national development. Any opposition to, or even disagreement with, the doctrines of the government and the party.

By the early 1970s Guinea's forces were equivalent to or surpassed those of bordering states with the exception of Portuguese Guinea, where Portugual maintained a force of superior strength and capability. The forces are capable of maintaining internal security and defending against isolated border attacks. Guinea's greatest security concern is another attack from Portuguese Guinea, and weapons and equipment are deployed to meet this coitingency. At the same time. the Guinean Government is highly concerned with infiltration of Guinean exile groups from its five other neighboring states, particularly Senegal and the Ivory Coast. For this reason, tight security is also maintained along these borders, this reducing Guinea's focus on Portuguese Guinea.

Offensive capabilities against any of Guinea's neighboring states would be limited to operations in narrow sectors and would be heavily dependent of surprise. Because of poor maintetiatice of equipment and organizational and logistical deficiencies, the arined forces were not capable of sustained action. Illiteracy and language difficulties, a scarcity of trained officers, and an almost complete absence of technical support units and of a logistical system posed continual difficulties for the development of a strong and effective defense establishment. The armed forces were completely dependent on foreign assistance for both material and future development.

The gendarmerie, a part of the Ministry of Defense, and the National Police, under the Ministry of Security, share responsibility for internal security, although their mandates are not clearly defined. The army is responsible for external security but also plays a role in domestic security. The law permits the military, the gendarmerie, and police to make arrests, but only the gendarmerie can arrest members of the military and police. There are also special police or gendarme units, such as the Anti-Criminal Bureau and the Secretariat General of the Presidency in Charge of Special Services in the Fight against Drugs and Organized Crime. Judicial Police Officers (OPJs)--mixed units of police and gendarmes with special training in investigative techniques--were responsible to the courts and investigated specific crimes.

Guinea participated in ECOMOG in Liberia in the early, first as an observer, then, by the force of events, such as internal security force. Guinea continued the mission to Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau. The mandate was to last six months, but actually served four years. Guinea were also in Rwanda, Western Sahara, Burundi, and prepare an operation of peacekeeping in eastern Sudan. The tasks have been fulfilled, assumed, and we have garnered from the UN authorities testimonials of satisfaction. This multifaceted participation demonstrates the willingness of Guinea to hold its place in the international diplomatic concert.

The government continued reform efforts by standardizing uniforms, providing identity cards, and removing imposters. The gendarmerie continued to receive improved training and equipment. The government established strict rules of engagement for protest marches, with standing orders to allow destruction of property--including police stations--rather than resorting to lethal force. There were limited internal and external mechanisms to investigate security force abuse, but these mechanisms were ineffective due to a lack of professionalism and skills and a dysfunctional judicial system.

The country must also face threats of a security nature. Due to its maritime façade, the country is at first confronted with the insecurity linked to piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. While large-scale piracy is concentrated mainly around Nigeria, Guinea must nevertheless manage illegal trafficking of all kinds and combat illegal fishing.

If Guinea is not directly confronted with terrorism, It is surrounded by hotbeds of tension and is therefore not immune to a contagion of violence. The country shares a border with Mali. Operation Serval and the Ebola epidemic halted the jihadist outbreak to Guinea, but it took the terrorist threat very seriously, security being a prerequisite for the development of the economy. It contributed 144 men to the International Support Mission to Mali set up by ECOWAS in 2013, in addition to Operation Serval, and sent an 850-strong force to MINUSMA, Mission of the United Nations in Mali, to serve in the very difficult region around Kidal. In this context, France has carried out training activities for the Guinean contingent of MINUSMA.

Faced with these threats, President Alpha Condé made the reform of the security sector and, in particular, the armed forces one of his priorities to continue the process of stabilization and modernization of the country. The national defense and security policy of Guinea was validated at the end of 2013 and a military planning law for 2015-2020 was adopted in 2014. However, its financing may be difficult. The Guinean army of about 20,000 men is particularly faced with a problem of overstaffing of officers. Nearly 4,000 of them had been retired since 2010. The overall objective was to reach 15,000 men by 2020. Equipment and training are the other weak points. In addition, The Guinean army retains in some respects a "Soviet" character, with extreme centralized functioning and surveillance posts spread throughout the territory. To this must be added a lack of human resource management and a very weak chain of command.

In regard to governance and strengthening capacities, the reform of defense and security forces is central to the strategy. Such reform will reduce military spending, allowing the majority of budget resources to be allocated to financing the priority sectors (education, health, economic infrastructures: roads, electricity, transportation, etc.). It will also allow the defense and security forces to better ensure the integrity of national territory while protecting individuals and their property.

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Page last modified: 03-05-2017 19:10:52 ZULU