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Madagascar - Military Personnel

Total force strength as of 2013 included Army: 13 800, Air Force: 700, Navy: 350, and Paramilitary: 12 000 (including maritime police, Presidential Security Regiment). In 1994 army had about 20,000 personnel, navy about 500 including 100 marines, air force about 500. In 1994 there were about 7,500 gendarmerie, including maritime police.

Military hazing resulted in deaths. The media reported in April 2015 that a new recruit at the gendarmerie school of Ambositra died two days after being hazed. Security forces raped women. In early April 2015 a sergeant reportedly raped a woman and seized several cattle in Ambinda, Ampanihy Ouest District. A military commander in Toliary told the villagers that the perpetrators of such acts must be prosecuted, but authorities took no known action.

In 1994 the FAP numbered about 21,000. Madagascar's president was commander in chief of the FAP. There was no reserve force. Males aged eighteen to fifty were subject to conscription for eighteen months of military or civil service. The majority of conscripts belonged to the relatively poor cotiers because exceptions to the conscription law allow influential or prosperous persons to avoid military service. The officer corps remained a promising career for most Malagasy.

Prior to independence, the French conducted all military training. In 1966 the Malagasy government, with French assistance, established the Military Academy (Academie Militaire) at Antsirabe. This school trains officers for the armed forces, the National Gendarmerie, and the Civil Service. In 1967 the first students enrolled in a three-year program that included courses in military and civic affairs. Students specialize in arts or sciences. A few foreign officers, usually from francophone African countries, also study at the Military Academy.

The May 1972 student strikes affected the Military Academy, which temporarily suspended examinations after students complained about the curriculum. Over the next several weeks, academy officials agreed to consider modernizing course material, examinations, entry requirements, and general educational policies. In addition to training officers at the Military Academy, the Malagasy government annually selected a small number of officer candidates to attend the French Military Academy at St. Cyr. Also, until military relations were severed in the mid-1970s, Malagasy and French units participated in joint annual exercises.

During the Cold War, hundreds, if not thousands, of FAP personnel received military training from several Soviet-bloc countries, including the former Soviet Union, the former GDR, Cuba, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea). Beginning in the mid-1980s, France resumed training limited numbers of Malagasy military personnel. The United States also started an International Military Education and Training (IMET) program that sought to enhance the FAP's professional skills and reduce dependence on East European countries. By the early 1990s, the United States had expanded the IMET program to include management and technical training with emphasis on construction engineering skills and medical courses.

Historically, morale in the armed forces has been good, if for no other reason than that the military provides job security in a country plagued by high unemployment. However, many cotiers who have been conscripted to serve in the ranks resent the lack of opportunity and the Merina domination of the officer corps. Also, with the decline of foreign military assistance since the end of the Cold War, poor morale has become a problem in many FAP units.

French officers and French-trained Merina officers dominated the Malagasy armed forces. Additionally, the presence of French officers in Madagascar helped to maintain professionalism and noninvolvement of the military in politics. President Tsiranana, with French support, tried to offset Merina domination in the officer corps by sending promising cotier military personnel to France for training and assigning them to important positions upon their return to Madagascar.

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Page last modified: 13-10-2016 19:38:25 ZULU