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Guinea - Military Personnel

The Republic of Guinea Armed Forces, comprising the army, air force, navy and gendarmerie, totalled approximately 14,000 personnel as of 2005, including conscripts serving two years of military service. The Army commanded 70% of the forces, leaving 15% to the aviation, 10% to the gendarmerie and 5% to the navy. By another estimae, as of 2016 several armed forces consisted of the Field Army, the Gendarmerie and the Republican Guard. The Field Army total strength of 20,000 people, of which 18,000 people in the army , navy 1500 people, 500 air force . Gendarmerie had 1,800 people, and the Republican Guard 1600 people.

The weaknesses in defense and security forces relate first of all to the recruiting system, which places criteria of ethnicity above strict rules based on the intellectual and physical aptitudes of recruits. The system has excluded numerous potentially qualified youths from the defense and security forces and considerably reduced the national character of those forces. The difference in treatment between the senior ranks and the rest of the troops has provoked considerable unrest, including mutinies in which soldiers demand the removal of their commanding officers. Lack of discipline has taken hold in the army, police and paramilitary Gendarmerie, undermining their operations and creating a climate of insecurity throughout the country.

The Associated Press (AP) reported in December 2010 that the Guinean armed forces were, at that time, "largely Malinké". Similarly, according to a 2010 article from the African news portal Afrik-News, the military was "said to be majority Malinké" (16 Nov. 2010). According to International Crisis Group's 2010 report Guinea: Reforming the Army, "factionalism" in the military is "most evident" along ethnic lines, as successive regimes have "pushed members of [their] ethnic group into the army," which has "created rivalries" and given "privileged access" to promotions (23 Sept. 2010, 18). Similarly, in a chapter about Guinea in Security Sector Governance in Francophone West Africa, a book published in 2011 by the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of the Armed Forces (DCAF), an international foundation that has among its objectives the reform of the security sector (DCAF n.d.), the author writes that "training and career development for Guinean soldiers is not linked to their competence, since recruitment and advancement are based on ethnic affiliation or allegiance to the existing regime" (ibid. 2011, 104). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, the representative of FIDH indicated that, historically, with each successive administration, people are recruited to the military from the administration's political support base, which is generally from the same ethnic group as the president (17 Apr. 2014).

The Guinean security establishment under Sekou Toure appeared to consist of three major elements, namely, the regular armed forces, various police services, and a growing militia of the PDG whose responsibilities in matters of security extended to the lowest structural levels of the society. According to estimates of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, the military component consisted of a force of some 5,500 officers and men comprising an army, an air force, and a small naval element. The police services, numbering roughly 3,500 officers and men, included the Gendarmerie, the Surete Nationale (National Police), and the Garde Republkaine (Republican Guard). The Cuban-style militia was growing in size and authority. This force had assumed an ever-increasing responsibility for national defense, particularly after its popularly credited role in the defeat of the 1970 invaders.

The term “People's Army" was variously used to describe both the regular army and the conglomerate of forces which had been trained and retained since 1970. It was in this context that the President claimed Guinea's army totalled 39,000 men.

After independence the number of voluntary applications to serve in the armed forces far exceeded available vacancies. A presidential ordinance published in October 1959 nevertheless created a conscription system generally patterned after that established in 1912 by the French colonial administration. The ordinance stipulated that all able-bodied male citizens between the ages of nineteen and forty-nine were liable for military service. It prescribed three methods for obtaining recruits: by conscription of annual contingents; by enlistment; and by reenlistment.

Over the years, however, the inducements of military service proved attractive enough to have made it unnecessary for the government to resort to conscription to meet established manpower requirements. Nonetheless, compulsory service in an element of the security establishment for a period of two years appearrf to have continued into the 1970s. Apparently this service commitment could be fulfilled by duty in any of the military unitd, the militia, or any of the police services.

In the early 1960s, military obligations had entailed a lengthy reserve requirement after completion of actuve duty in the army. In the national interest, reserve duty at that time was usually devoted to work on economy development projects. In December 1970 after the invasion of Conakry, the government announced that, because of its fear of a second invasion, reservists released from active duty from 1966 through 1969 were being recalled to duty.

At independence most of the officers and men who entered the new Guinean army had received training in basic military subjects during their duty with French colonial units. Many of them had attended French noncommissioned officer schools or had been given specialized training courses. Some Guinean soldiers presumably had attended the military preparatory school at Saint-Louis in Senegal or one of the other military schools in French West Africa, and a few had trained at military schools in France. All ranks participated in regular French troop-training programs, which included instruction in such basics as the use and maintenance of weapons and tactical exercises for small units. Army recruits were trained at Camp Soundiata near Kankan.

Dependence on the communist countries for training of Guinean security force personnel was pronounced. In 1972 alone at least sixty-five Guinean air force personnel and five Air Guinea employees were sent to schools in the Soviet Union for training as pilots, navigators, and technicians. Five of the ten officers and four of the sergeants were to be trained as pilots. During the same year 331 military personnel from all the services were sent to the PRC. Another group of significant size was sent to Cuba, largely for training in specialties usable in Guinean civic action programs.

All Guinean ethnic groups had been represented in the army since its inception. In an effort to subordinate regional or ethnic ties to loyalty to the nation and in order to protect the service from family or local pressures, army personnel of all ranks were frequently transferred on an individual basis from one station to another and were generally not stationed in their home regions.

The cumulative effect of the so-called Labe plot in 1969 involving certain elements of the military establishment and the purges that followed the 1970 invasion was a decimation of the upper ranks of the army. In plans announced by President Toure to “purify and reconvert” the army of its inherited colonial structure, those who were not wholehearted supporters of PDG policies were to be removed. In addition 900 officers and men who had reached a certain age were to be forced to retire from active duty; this group presumably included most, if not all, of those who had served in the French army before Guinean independence. According to one outside observer, many of these officers were opposed to the leftward turn in PDG policies, which was blamed on the influence of Chinese Communists. These officers also were displeased with the growing power of the militia, which had been strengthened as a counterbalance to the army after the spate of military coups in other African countries.

In a move unique in Africa and unusual anywhere, Guinean soldiers were integrated into the civil service in 1970 in order that they could be assigned to civilian occupations within the governmental structure, particularly to economic development tasks. They were henceforth to be known as “militants in uniform.”

The failed coup d'état of 4 July 1985 of Colonel Diarra Traoré (co-author of the putsch that had brought Conté to power a year earlier) upset the regional and ethnic balance at the head of the troops. Almost all the Malinke officers, like Traoré, were passed over, placarded or retired. The young people of this ethnic group, who represented a timid succession, were victims of the repression of the mutiny of 2-3 February 1996.

On 4 November 2005, the Guinean army experienced a great upheaval. Nearly one-tenth of the troops (1,872 officers, non-commissioned officers and non-commissioned soldiers out of about 20,000 men) was retired by a decree signed on 4 November by President Lansana Conte and read in all the garrisons of the country. Two generals, four colonels, ten lieutenant-colonels, 39 commanders and 93 captains are on the list of persons to retire no later than 31 December. The departure of these senior officers, all Fulani, illustrated the climate of suspicion that had prevailed for several months between the head of state and the graduates of this ethnic group.

In addition to the ethnic cleavages, the Guinean army was crossed by a conflict of generations. The newcomers, generally well-trained, deplored their meagre purchasing power, which was increasingly eroded by the crisis that is shaking the country, while the "old" in command, all other things being equal, accumulated privileges. As for the operation of the "social elevator" within the troops, Lansana Conté granted on 04 November 2005, advancements to all the soldiers, from the 1st class to the rank of adjutant, while freezing until further order new promotion in the hierarchy.

With the "purification" shock of 4 November 2005 that carried off the Peul cadres, the hierarchy of the army was in the hands of the Soussous. But this big reduction seems not to have taken place, as IISS reports troop levels that were back up to previous levels within a cd of years.

By October 2008 it was common knowledge when the military was doing its last recruitment campaign, that the price of a place on the recruitment list was 1.5 million GnF ($312). Ethnocentrism is emerging, with groups of Peuhls and Malinkes that generally deal only with persons of their same ethnic group. Soussous intermingle with all the groups.

André Silver Konan wrote in August 2011 "The first challenge will be to know the exact numbers of the army. Are they 35,000? 45,000? No one knows, not even the members of the presidential cabinet contacted by Jeune Afrique . Are they easy to identify? "Far from it," explains the retired officer. Heads of units, such as fuel distribution, a position that incidentally made the fortune of Dadis Camara, officers of the Directorate of Military Stewardship (DGIM), responsible for payroll The pay] and camp commanders will do anything to block this census. At stake: "commissions" levied on balances, misappropriation of the salary of fictitious soldiers, Fraud on the distribution of food and fuel ... Some situation annuities - albeit illegitimate - are dangerous to question. Yet "there is no reason why the Guinean army should exceed 12,000 troops," said Senegalese General Lamine Cissé, who led the joint mission to assess security sector reform for the Community Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union and the United Nations in the first quarter of 2010. By that date, the organization had estimated the workforce at 32,000."

Alpha Condé planned to take advantage of the consolidation of the civil service to send 4,200 soldiers to retirement. Similarly, 4,000 soldiers have to convert to water and forestry agents and 7,000 others to prison guards and fire brigades. But what about the 3,000 young people recruited under Moussa Dadis Camara who did not join the barracks? Their integration is not on the agenda. In Guinea, more than 4,000 soldiers of the old guard were retired ex officio on 31 December 2011. the Minister for Defense Me Abdoul Kabele Camara, said on 29 December 2011 at a press conference at the Ministry of Defense. At his side were , the Chief of Staff of the Guinean Armed Forces, General Kéléfa Diallo, Aboubacar Defense Director Sidiki Camara aka "Iddi Amine", General Biro Conde, Chairman of the Force Restructuring Commission Defense and security forces and several other corps commanders of the various army units. Also attending the press conference were representatives of the United Nations, who largely finance the operation.

The soldiers concerned, who had made a career under the Guinean flag, are those recruited between 1952, before the independence of the country in 1958, and 1975. They will benefit from incentive measures. Abdoul Kablele Camara, Minister of Defense, said that " the retirement of some 4,000 soldiers requires colossal financial means ", especially since " the President of the Republic has advocated accompanying measures. The UN system has made it easier for us to do that , "the minister said. The United Nations will pay three months' salary, and " the Guinean government will have to pay the fourth month".

The UNDP spokesman said that "in support of this reform, UNDP has mobilized more than US $ 8 million". The UNDP representative added that this reorganization of the armed forces aims "to make the security forces and defense institutions stronger and more respectful of democratic values and principles including respect for human rights ". Members affected by these incentives are invited to submit their applications by 15 January 2012, the deadline.

Located in Camp Alpha Yaya Diallo, 15 km from the city center, is L’école militaire interarmées (EMIA - Joint Military School (EMIA) Conakry, the National School for Officer Training. Founded in 1961, it underwent a mothballed in 1965 before being revived in 1994. EMIA now the melting pot of the Guinean Army while seeking to expand its jurisdiction in the coming years.

In the aftermath of independence, Guinea got a basic training school for officers. Between 1961 and 1965, as well as three EMIA promotions which come from the President of the Republic, General Lansana Conté and the highest military authorities. After closing the school in 1965, the commissioned ranks were awarded to soldiers returning from foreign placements in schools or higher education patentees NCOs. Reopened in 1994, with the help of the French Cooperation, EMIA hoste the promotions of initial training, bringing to 210 the number of students educated officers within its walls. Along with this initial training, which was its primary purpose, the school also provided application training and specialization of junior officers.

Through its "joint" character EMIA reports directly to the Chief of General Staff of the Army. It is commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Diallo Telli who is assisted by a security officer, a director of studies, a chief of general resources and a commander of promotions. The instructors, selected to serve there, have a satisfactory level of military training: four of them are holders of the diploma of Staff (DEM) and ten followed the training of future unit commanders ( CFCU), mainly in France.

The cadets training cycle spans three years when EMIA provides military training and general training by university professors. Admission to the school is by way of competition in candidates with a grade or equivalent. Having long preferred the semi-direct recruitment exclusively for military three services and the Gendarmerie, the General Staff of the Armed now seems to be moving towards a mixed competition by appealing to young civilians.

Depending on its capacity, EMIA alternately provided the following courses:

  • the refresher training junior officers that caters to a population of lieutenants from the rank.
  • The process of implementation of the lieutenants who aims to deliver similar training to a population with this type of placement abroad.
  • the CFCU.

    The EMIA has an accommodation capacity of one hundred trainees, spread over two buildings. It has an instruction building equipped with modern and appropriate teaching aids: an amphitheater, two classrooms, a computer room, a language laboratory. The tactics room, library, gym and a basketball court, handball volleyball complement this capability. However, and given its isolation within the Camp Alpha Yaya remains small, the school has difficulty organizing sessions obstacle course, shooting and field trips. It must therefore organize this type of instruction, outside Conakry, other military sites.

    Permanent military cooperation are placed respectively with the school director and the director of studies. Educational Consultants and tactics, they participate in the development, programming and monitoring of training programs taught at EMIA. They are also involved in the selection and preparation of candidates directed to French schools and national schools with a regional focus (ENVR).

    The school also welcomed Lieutenant Colonel (ret) Devèze, French teacher of the General Association of Retired players (ACT) and the squadron commander (TA) Simeon ME / 7th BB Short mission period, to participate in the framing of the first CFCU.

    With the support of the Military Cooperation, EMIA can boast of being the best equipped school in terms of audiovisual equipment, office and computer. It also benefited from infrastructure rehabilitation program that reinforces its image window of the Guinean armed forces.

    Eleven years of efforts made by the cooperation brought EMIA to a level of experience, competence and recognized quality. Melting pot of future generations of officers, school is a successful project. It has now reached a level of maturity that should be preserved in the future, in a spirit of partnership. Maintaining its initial training capacity and developing the application and specialization courses, it is moving in the future to the training of senior officers of the level DEM.

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    Page last modified: 03-05-2017 19:10:51 ZULU