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Sudan Army

The Sudanese army can take pride in its accomplishments in World War II, yet years of radicalization will require many more years to professionalize the armed forces and reintroduce a new generation to proper civil-military affairs. In June 1989, General Omar Al-Basheer seized power and formed a 15-person Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) for National Salvation. The coup was bloodless and invoked Article 15 of Sudans 1985 Constitution that asserted the military right to defend the Sudanese people and its territorial integrity.

Although wanting to resolve the conflict in the South, it became impossible with General Al-Basheers Islamic puritanical views and his closeness to the National Islamic Front and its leader cleric Hassan Al-Turabi. Between 1996 and 2000, the cleric Al-Turabi and General Bashir battled one another, with Turabi seizing control in 1996 and placing religious fundamentalist officers in key posts. After popular elections though, Bashir returned to power and had Turabi arrested.

After the 1967 Six-Day War, Sudan and Egypt came under firm Soviet influence and the Sudanese Peoples Armed Forces received a large infusion of weapons from Moscow. It included T-54 tanks and MiG-17 and 19 fighter-bombers. The years 1967-1968 were pivotal to Sudans armed forces development. Specialized combat units that dealt with maintenance were formed; Sudan integrated surface-to-air missiles and anti-air guns into radar command and control net; and An armed forces general staff was established.

The heyday of Soviet equipment and military assistance came to an end in 1971 and Sudans generals turned to North Korea, China, and Egypt for assistance. After the April 1985 revolt that ushered in a more radical government, weapons and military aid came exclusively from Arab states with the primary donors being Iraq, Syria, and Egypt.

The Sudanese army's inventory of armaments and equipment was extremely varied, reflecting its shifting military relations with other nations in a position to supply arms. At different times, Britain, the Soviet Union, China, the United States, Libya, and Egypt have been important sources of weaponry. Much of the equipment delivered to Sudan, particularly from the Soviet Union, was obsolescent and maintenance has been seriously deficient. Because Sudan had been deprived of support from a number of countries and was unable to afford foreign exchange to pay for needed spare parts, much of the existing stock of arms was believed to be inoperable. The army was virtually immobilized at times for lack of fuel and ammunition.

During the 1970s, the bulk of the army's armored strength consisted of T-54 and T-55 medium tanks delivered by the Soviet Union early in the decade. About seventy Chinese Type 62 light tanks were also delivered in 1972. During the early 1980s, this equipment was supplemented by M-41, M-47, and M-60A3 tanks produced in the United States. Most of the Soviet tanks were believed to be unserviceable, and only the M-60A3 tanks were considered to be up-to-date. The Sudanese army also had a mixed collection of armored personnel carriers (APCs), armored reconnaissance vehicles, and other wheeled fighting vehicles. The most modern of these were 36 M-113 APCs and 100 Commando-type armored cars from the United States, and 120 Walid APCs from Egypt.

Artillery pieces included a number of guns and howitzers mostly of United States and Soviet origin. All of the artillery was towed with the exception of 155mm self-propelled howitzers acquired from France in 1981. The army's modest antitank capability was based on the jeep-mounted Swingfire guided-wire missile, manufactured in Egypt under British license.

By the 1990s the army was basically a light infantry force, supported by specialized elements. Operational control extended from the headquarters of the general staff in Khartoum to the six regional commands (central, eastern, western, northern, southern, and Khartoum). Each regional command was organized along divisional lines. Thus, the Fifth Division was at Al Ubayyid in Kurdufan (Central Command), the Second Division was at Khashm al Qirbah (Eastern Command), the Sixth Division was assigned to Al Fashir in Darfur (Western Command), the First Division was at Juba (Southern Command), and the Seventh Armored Division was at Ash Shajarah near Khartoum (Khartoum Command). The Airborne Division was based at Khartoum International Airport. The Third Division was located in the north, although no major troop units were assigned to it. Each division had a liaison officer attached to general headquarters in Khartoum to facilitate the division's communication with various command elements.

This organizational structure did not provide an accurate picture of actual troop deployments. All of the divisions were understrength. The Sixth Division in Darfur was a reorganized brigade with only 2,500 personnel. Unit strengths varied widely. Most brigades were composed of 1,000 to 1,500 troops. Each battalion varied in size from 500 to 900 men, and a company might have as few as 150 and as many as 500. In the south, the First Division was supplemented by a number of independent brigades that could be shifted as the requirements of the conflict dictated. According to The Military Balance, 1991-1992, the main army units were two armored brigades, one mechanized infantry brigade, seventeen infantry brigades, one paratroop brigade, one air assault brigade, one reconnaissance brigade, three artillery regiments, two antiaircraft artillery brigades, one engineering regiment, and one special forces battalion.

The Sudanese army numbered 105,000 soldiers in 2004, including 20,000 conscripts, organized into 10 divisions, including 1 armored, 1 mechanized, and 6 infantry divisions. By then, the army had 270 tanks, 218 reconnaissance vehicles, 316 armored vehicles, 470 artillery pieces, 635 multiple rocket launchers, 40 recoilless launchers, 40 attack guns, 1,000 air defense guns, and 54 surface-to-air missiles.

Jane's Information Group said in May 2009 that "There are a number of infantry divisions, divided among [the six] regional commands. The commander of each military region traditionally commanded the divisional and brigade commanders within his territory. It is understood that there are six infantry divisions and seven independent infantry brigades; a mechanised division and an independent mechanised infantry brigade; and an armoured division. Other elements are understood to include a Special Forces battalion with five companies; an airborne division and a border guard brigade. Support elements include an engineer division."

The army did not have its own general headquarters but functioned under the immediate control of the deputy chief of staff for operations. Headquarters and training facilities were maintained in or near the national capital area for most of its specialized corps. These included the armored, artillery, signal, and medical service administrations; the transportation and supply corps; and the engineering branch. Among other support elements were the military police and the border guards.

Although the main emphasis of Khartoum is air power, the expansion and modernization of the military is not neglected either. The current priority of Khartoum is launching a concentrated effort to fully operationalize and activate the large quantities of heavy weapons (tanks and artillery) purchased from Ukraine in 2009-2010 and delivered over the next couple of years. The main weapon systems are T-72 MBTs, BM-21 MRLs, 152mm 1S3 SPGs, 122mm 2S1 SPGs, and 122mm D-30 guns.

The Sudanese army numbered 200,000 soldiers in 2014, organized into at least 15 divisions, including 1 armored, 1 mechanized, 1 airborne and at least 11 infantry divisions. By then, the army had 445 tanks, 248 reconnaissance vehicles, 412 armored vehicles, 849 artillery pieces, including 665 multiple rocket launchers.

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