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Sudan Ministry of Defense

The Sudan Peoples Armed Forces is a 100,000-member army supported by a small air force and navy. Irregular tribal and former rebel militias and Popular Defense Forces supplement the armys strength in the field. This is a mixed force, having the additional duty of maintaining internal security. During the 1990s, periodic purges of the professional officer corps by the ruling Islamist regime eroded command authority as well as war-fighting capabilities. Indeed, the Sudanese Government admitted it was incapable of carrying out its war aims against the SPLA without employing former rebel and Arab militias to fight in support of regular troops. During the CPA period, Joint Integrated Units were formed to unite Sudanese Armed Forces and former SPLM rebels. After the secession of South Sudan, people of Southern descent were let go from the army and the Joint Integrated Units were dissolved.

Sudans military forces historically have been hampered by limited and outdated equipment. In the 1980s, the U.S. worked with the Sudanese Government to upgrade equipment with special emphasis on airlift capacity and logistics. All U.S. military assistance was terminated following the military coup of 1989. Oil revenues have allowed the government to purchase modern weapons systems, including Hind helicopter gunships, MiG 23 fighter aircraft, mobile artillery pieces, and light assault weapons. Some military techniques are improvised, such as using Antonov transport aircraft as crude and inaccurate bombers. Sudan now receives most of its military equipment from China, Russia, and (until 2011) Libya.

The armed forces of the national government, known as the Sudanese People's Armed Forces (SPAF), were believed to have a total personnel strength of about 71,500 in 1991. The army numbered about 65,000 officers and enlisted men. The navy had perhaps 500, and the air force and air defense command each had a complement of about 3,000.

General Bashir, the chairman of the RCC-NS and head of state since the coup of June 1989, was also supreme commander of the armed forces and minister of defense. A colonel at the time of the coup, Bashir subsequently assumed the rank of lieutenant general. The SPAF chief of staff, Lieutenant General Ishaq Ibrahim Umar, was in immediate command of the armed forces. The general staff included deputy chiefs of staff for operations, administration, and logistics, who also held the rank of lieutenant general. The commander of the air force, the commander of air defense command, division commanders, and most military governors held the rank of major general. A retired major general was appointed minister of state for defense affairs to serve as Bashir's deputy in the Ministry of Defence. The actual responsibilities and influence of senior officers depended greatly on their political status, ethnic affiliation, and other factors in addition to their positions in the chain of command.

In 2006 the Ministry of Defense underwent a re-structuring and a blood-letting of 400 serving officers. Almost simultaneously, 600 officers from the South Sudan Defense Forces were integrated into the Sudanese Armed Forces. Retired officers say that those officers who have been cashiered were all considered to be threats to President Bashir.

In an attempt to "raise the level of the military to that of a world class force," and to "upgrade the combat and defense capabilities of the armed forces to protect the borders against external threats," Minister of Defense Abdul Rahim Mohammed Hussein announced on 28 February 22006 the immediate restructuring of the Sudanese Armed Forces. Hussein announced the creation of chief of staff positions for the SAF's three main branches: infantry, air forces, and mechanized forces. While all three generals will be called Chief of Staff, the infantry chief of staff will be the senior of the three. Hussein also announced his promotion from lieutenant general to general; a grade one step below that of field marshal (the rank held by President Bashir), he noted.

On Thursday 01 March 2006, just before the troops were released for the Friday holiday, the Ministry of Defense announced the retirement of 400 serving officers ranging in rank from lieutenant colonel to lieutenant general. These retirements were not done by "batches" (year groups), as is the norm in Sudan. According to retired officers, all the officers released presented some type of threat to either the security of the regime or directly to President Bashir.

The cashiered officers came from three groups: (1) those from West Sudan - Darfur and Kordofan; (2) those from Nuba mountains; and (3) those who had some connection to Vice President Ali Osman Taha. The cuts were described by another retired officer, a former brigadier general, as the first cuts to Taha's tribe, the Shaygia. He said he knew of no officers from Bashir's tribe, the Ja'aleen, who had been cashiered. Almost simultaneously, the army announced the integration of 400 officers formerly with the South Sudan Defense Forces (SSDF), ranging in rank from captain to major general.

The blood-letting was seen as a protective move by Bashir. Bashir clearly fears a coup d'etat attempt by Taha. The restructuring can be seen in the same light: dissipating power atop the military makes it unlikely that one officer could lead the entire army against the President. The SSDF officers were a wild card, but it was expected that Bashir has won their loyalty by integrating them at relatively high ranks given their lack of professional training.

The Chairman of the Transitional Military Council (TMC), Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, issued a decision 15 April 2019 appointing the Lt.Gen. Hashem Abdel Muttalib Ahmed, as Chief of the General Staff, succeeding the former chief of the general staff Kamal Abdel-Marouf. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan also issued a number of decisions under which he promoted a number of officers and restructed the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as follows: Salah Abdel Khaleq Saeed Ali, Mohammed Osman Al Hussein, Jamal Omar Mohammed Ibrahim, Abdullah Al Matri Hamed were promoted to the rank of General; Maj. Gen. Mohammed Ali Mohammed Mahmoud, Magdy Sayed Omar Marzook, Abdulrahman Yousif Ali, Abdullah Al Bashir Ahmed Al Sadiq and Mohammad Ali Ibrahim joined the rank of Lieutenant General.

Restructuring of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as follows:

  • Hashem Abdel Muttalib Ahmed as as Chief of General Staff.
  • Mohammed Osman Al Hussein as Deputy Chief of Staff.
  • Abdullah al-Matri, as Inspector General of the Armed Forces.
  • Majdi Ibrahim Osman, as Chief of Land Forces Staff.
  • Mohammed Ali Mohamed Mahmoud as Chief of Air Staff.
  • Majdi Sayed Omar Marzouq as Chief of Naval Staff.

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