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Algeria - Personnel and Recruitment

Independent Algeria has never experienced difficulty in meeting its military manpower needs. Its population is predominantly young. According to United States government data, of an estimated population in 1993 of 27.4 million, more than 6 million are males age fifteen to forty-nine. Of these, an estimated 3.8 million are considered fit for military service, and 293,000 reached the military age of nineteen annually. As of 2010 the male manpower reaching militarily significant age annually was 342,895. Accordingly, basic manpower resources were more than adequate to meet any foreseeable military needs. Based on estimations from 1997 to 2006, the armed forces have the capacity to deal with only about 75,000 conscripts at a time. It was clear that a very large number simply failed to perform military service without receiving a formal exemption. The situation of such persons depended very much on how far the recruitment process has gone in their individual case. The majority, however, benefited from a sequence of amnesties, inviting them to "regularize their military situation", enabling them without service, and without penalty, to receive the "carte de dispense" [exemption card] which is presented to those who are exempted from military service. In the early 1990s the top echelon of the Algerian officer corps, mainly men in their mid-fifties, included many veterans of the War of Independence. Most had served in the external ALN, a few had been guerrilla officers of the internal maquis (the French resistance during World War II), and others had experience in the French army. Some, like Nezzar, had served as NCOs with the French before defecting to the ALN. Until mid-1967, the ANP relied entirely on volunteer manpower. Given the plentiful supply of young men, the economic attraction of the army compared with the difficulties of finding employment elsewhere, and the absence of aversion to military service, the ANP would seem to be able to depend on a voluntary system indefinitely. Algeria's commitment to Arab nationalism, however, caused a rethinking of recruitment policies after Arab forces were decisively defeated by Israel in the June 1967 War. By a 1968 decree, all Algerians were obligated to serve two years upon reaching the age of nineteen. The objective of this national service plan was to increase substantially the personnel strength of the army and, at the same time, to train a youth corps for national development. The first six months were to be spent in military training with the ANP and the rest in social and economic projects managed by the armed forces. National service was also intended to provide political education and indoctrination in the revolutionary socialist program of the government. As initially projected, an equal number of young men and women were to be inducted. In practice, far fewer than the originally intended numbers of men were called to duty, and the induction of women was never implemented. Some women were accepted as ANP volunteers, although fewer were serving in 1993 than in past years. Most of these women were in the lower grades and were limited to the military health service. Conscription remained in effect since 1969, although the period of compulsory service has been reduced to eighteen months. Those young men not conscripted by the end of the year in which they become eligible can obtain a certificate attesting to their exemption from future call-up so that they can continue their studies or work without further distraction.

After the national service program was introduced, conscripts generally were given civic-action assignments following their initial military training period of six months. In some cases, opportunities were offered for those with limited education to learn trades at various vocational schools, often connected with civil engineering and construction. Others learned to drive motor vehicles and to operate construction equipment. National service provided a ready source of workers for civic-action projects while freeing regular soldiers to concentrate on other military missions.

The National Service Code (Code du service national) of 1974 indicated that military service is obligatory for all men over 19 years of age. The Ministry of National Defence indicated that since 31 December 2011, all men over 30 years of age were exempted from this obligation and are eligible for regularization. According to a 2012 report by Child Soldiers International, an international human rights organization that "seek[s] to end the military recruitment and the use in hostilities, in any capacity, of any person under the age of 18", those who are 17 years of age can enlist in the Algerian army.

The 1974 National Service Code indicates that the duration of military service is two years (Art. 3). However, the Algerian government indicates that in 2002, it was reduced to 18 months. The duration of military service is 18 months, and comprises basic training for 6 months and 12 months in civil projects. The initial six-month period consists of [translation] "shooting, mental and physical training, and simulation exercises in cases such as torture and sudden attacks". Beginning in the 1980s, however, most conscripts appear to have been assigned to regular military units to complete their eighteen-month service obligation, and fewer were given nonmilitary assignments. Some conscripts, such as doctors who deferred their military service until completing their education, were allowed to fulfill their service obligation by occupying civilian posts in their special fields in rural areas or small towns. In 1992, a coup detat removed President Chadli Benjedid from office and brought about nineteen years of a state of emergency. It is unlikely that since the declaration of a state of emergency in 1992 any conscripts have in practice been allocated to civilian duties.

After the 18 months of compulsory military service, reservists must provide 6 months of additional service and remain as reservists up to the age of 50. Once compulsory service has been completed, soldiers must remain available to the Ministry of Defence for five years and may be recalled at any time, after which they become part of the reserve forces for a further 20 years. Article 1 of Edict No. 76-110 of 9 December 1976 indicates that military service obligations for Algerian citizens last 27 years and are distributed as follows: 2 years in the national service, 5 years of availability, 10 years as first reserve, and 10 years as second reserve.



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