Country Listing

Zaire Table of Contents



Armed Forces: Zairian Armed Forces (Forces Armées Zaïroises--FAZ) consisting of army, navy, air force, and paramilitary gendarmerie, which also functions as nation's primary police organization. Total FAZ strength estimated at 49,100 in 1993, including 25,000 army, 1,300 navy, 1,800 air force, and 21,000 gendarmerie personnel. In addition, 10,000-member Civil Guard, not technically part of the FAZ, performs integral national security and police role. Official FAZ mission is to defend country against all internal and external threats, but in practice primary task has been suppressing perceived internal threats to the Mobutu regime.

Major Military Units: Army most significant military force; most capable and trusted unit is elite Special Presidential Division (Division Spéciale Présidentielle--DSP). In chaotic political and security situation of early 1990s, DSP only military unit regularly paid, and thus loyal and effective instrument of control.

Military Equipment: Wide variety of poorly maintained equipment, mostly of United States, French, and Chinese origin. Most equipment not operational because of shortages of spare parts, poor maintenance, and theft.

Foreign Military Relations: Since independence, country has benefited from variety of foreign military assistance, especially from Belgium, France, United States, and Israel, also China and Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea). But Western nations terminated military assistance in early 1990s because of widespread human rights abuses and prevailing nationwide chaos.

Internal Security Forces: Two national organizations performing police and internal security functions: 21,000-member National Gendarmerie and 10,000-member Civil Guard, both ineffective, suffering from poor training, discipline, and equipment, and unreliable pay. Many members contribute to lawlessness by practicing banditry and extortion.

Data as of December 1993