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National Gendarmerie

In August 1972, the National Police was dissolved, and its functions were transferred to the National Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Nationale). In addition, oversight of the police was transferred from the Ministry of Interior to the defense portfolio. The 21,000- member gendarmerie functions primarily as a police force, but it also has a paramilitary mission, to form the first line of defense against an external threat (see Development of a National Police Force , this ch.). The 1972 transfer of oversight concentrated additional power in the hands of President Mobutu, while weakening the law enforcement role of municipal leaders at the local level who had previously exercised authority over a police detachment but now had to turn to local military commanders, who were often unresponsive, for assistance.

To accomplish its divergent missions, the gendarmerie is organized into two forces: a territorial force, the Territorial Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Territoriale--GT) and a mobile force, the Mobile Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Mobile--GM). The GT functions as the police component and the GM as a paramilitary organization. The gendarmerie is commanded by a chief of staff, who reports to the head of the FAZ and the minister of defense and veterans' affairs.

The gendarmerie is lightly armed with individual weapons and machine guns and is transported in jeeps and trucks. Although most of this equipment is often in disrepair, gendarmerie units in some parts of the country are better equipped than army units, which often have to borrow gendarmerie equipment to train or deploy. Nevertheless, the gendarmerie is normally not as well trained as army units and even less capable.

Data as of December 1993