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Burundi - Military Doctrine

Faced with a poor country and deeply divided society, it is difficult for the Burundi authorities to articulate foreign policy priorities or a grand strategy for the country.

Burundi is a small country (about 10,740 square miles) in the remote highlands of east Central Africat, possessing only limited resources, industry, and transport facilities. Although the major coutries have shown increasing interest in this area in recent years, they do not appear to regard the area as strategically important.

Burundi has evolved on a regional level, in an area of the Great Lakes region that was characterized by a situation of insecurity, armed conflicts, and population movements. At the national level, an environment of uncertainty and instability, exacerbated by the weather and natural disasters, has led to a fall in food production, so that Burundi periodically faces starvation in the provinces of Kirundo and Muyinga.

Burundi has passed important markers in peace-building with the support of the international community. In 2005, elections were held and brought to power CNDD FDD, a former rebel group. The National Liberation Forces (FNL), the last armed rebel movement, abandoned war and was approved as a political party in April 2009 and integrated into the defense and security bodies and institutions.

It is important to note that the first crisis of 1972 was an ethnic slaughter that resulted in the displacement and death of many Hutus, especially in the south, where many fled towards Tanzania. The second crisis was triggered by the death of the first democratically elected President in 1993.

Belgium initially provided military aid and equipment, but other Western showed little interest. This restricted Burundi's options, since the states was is dependent on external sources for practically all military equipment and logistical support.

Initially the fighting forces were limited to small infantry units; the nation had no air or naval forces. Volunteers exceed military requirements, but the slortage of applicants possessing, technical skills was acute. More than 90 percent of the population was engaged in agricultural pirsuits, which offered little opportunity for the development of technical and mechalaical backgrounds.

Since annual manpower replacement totals were small, the Armed Forces could afford to be rather selective in accepting applicants; the percentage of volunteers disqualified for physical and educational reasans was very high. A military career offered security and benefits not usually attainable bh the majority of civilians.

Most Army leaders had been drawn from the politically astute Tutsi minority. Below the top echelons, however, the manning of the Armed Forces was predominantly Hutu. Military service enhanced their social status and improved their material benefits. Despite ethnic and class differences, most of the force was considered to be personally loyal to the President, but this loyalty and the combat capabilities of his forces had never been thoroughly tested in full combat.

Belgian military officers conducted or supervised most of the incountry military training programs since 1962. There was no shortage of volutnteers with technical and mechancal ability. In mid-1968 most of the 40-plus Belgian advisers were assigfned to the Armed Forces School in Bujumbura. There was little evidence available concerning the conduct of basic military training, but the quality of training provided by the Belgians, particularly the technical training, was good. The failure rate in technical schools was reportedly in excess of 50 percent.

Successful trainees had additional opportunities, and selected students were sent to Belgium or France for advanced courses. In 1968 a paracommando company of approximately 140 members completed jump training at an Army Training Center operated by an Israeli Mission in the neighboring- Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa). Upon graduation, the company performed a mass jump over Bujumbura. Congolese transports were utilized.

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