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Guinea-Bissau - Military Doctrine

The situation of the security and defence forces of Guinea-Bissau is attributed to the long and difficult years of the national liberation struggle (1963-1974), and subsequent post-independence internal conflicts, marked by military interventions in politics, clashes between various security and defence forces, and the armed conflict of 1998/99. Reform of the countrys security and defence sectors (SSR) has been recognized as a necessary condition for a proper exercise of State sovereignty; a redefining of the role of the security and defence services; the protection of the human rights of groups and individuals; and the pursuit of human, economic and social development, democracy and peace consolidation.

The Defence sector in Guinea-Bissau is marked by a generational conflict due to its varied composition of veterans and freedom fighters from the national liberation era, regular recruits who joined after independence, militias and other paramilitary elements. The defence sector is characterised by relatively large size; with serious imbalance or an inverted pyramid reflected in an excessive number of high-ranking officers compared to junior ranks; inadequate and disorganised turnover of men; weak levels of training and a lack of training facilities; lingering resistance to innovation and reform; socio-economic adversity and deteriorating living and working conditions; a deficient legal framework, with failure to implement existing law, and the persistence of legal vacuums.

The Security sector in Guinea-Bissau faces many challenges, related to the prevalence of multiplicity of bodies with the same aims but ill-defined jurisdictions (Public Order Police, Judiciary Police, Border Guards, Immigration Services, Maritime Police, Financial Oversight Services and State Security Information Services); an overage force compounded by a lack of periodical recruitment; poor distribution and presence across the territory; weak levels of training and lack of training institutions; inadequate performance levels; a discredited public image; generational conflicts and interdepartmental clashes; socio-economic adversity and deteriorating living and working conditions for personnel; and a lack of a legal framework.

While the military has played an active role in national politics in the past, it is currently staying out of the political arena. However, in the past, the lack of a comprehensive security sector reform plan, combined with the Governments inability to provide for the armys basic needs, have resulted in several failed attempts at demobilization that prompted repeated mutinies and coups.

The security sector reform plan presented to the donor community in November 2006 at a Geneva donors conference benefited from the support of the army. The national plan was launched during a ceremony held in Parliament on 23 January 2008; its successful implementation and conclusion was expected to contribute to political stability in the country.

With regard to the roadmap to SSR implementation in Guinea-Bissau, the guiding national documents that inform the process are (i) the October 2006 SSR Strategy Peacebuilding Commission Country-Specific Configuration on Guinea-Bissau Thematic Discussion on Security Sector Reform and the Rule of Law 18 June 2008 Document, which defines the strategies to be adopted for the four target reform areas of Security, Defence, Justice and Veterans of National Liberation; (ii) the 2007-2009 Three-Year Investment Plan for SSR (October 2006), which lays out the SSR objectives that need to be achieved and the programmes or projects needed to achieve the objectives, at an estimated budget of US$184.3 million; and (iii) the SSR Plan of Action for the Restructuring and Modernization of the Security and Defence Sector (September 2007), which defines the timeline for implementation of activities, with the aim of operationalizing the Governments October 2006 SSR Strategy.

Under the SSR Plan of Action, the Governments short-term objectives include: defining a security and defence context for the adoption of a legislative framework on SSR; improving the management of human resources, organizational structures and material conditions of Guinea-Bissaus defence and security sector; regaining the confidence of the population through commitment to SSR implementation; finding an adequate solution to the dilemma of the veterans of Guinea-Bissaus Liberation War; and promoting far-reaching national reconciliation based on democratic principles.

The medium to long-term objectives include: modernizing the security and defence sector through the adoption of a legislative framework of SSR and the mobilization of human, material and financial resources; transforming the security and defence sector into guarantors of peace and security; tailoring the size of the security and defence forces to the economic capacity and needs of Guinea-Bissau; and creating favourable conditions for peace consolidation in Guinea-Bissau.

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