Zaire Table of Contents
Caption: Prior to the 1990s some Zairian officers
received United States military training, including the air force
major (top left), army captain and army second lieutenant pictured
Courtesy United States Department of Defense
Military service in Zaire is voluntary, although the constitution does provide for conscription in the event of a national emergency. Zaire has a fairly large population in relation to the size of its military. For example, 1993 estimates indicated that Zaire had a potential military manpower pool (males fifteen to forty-nine years of age) of 8.9 million, about half of whom are fit for military service. Although this pool is in theory adequate to ensure a sufficient number of recruits, the FAZ has had problems attracting enough qualified personnel and retaining them in service. A major deficiency in this respect is that the FAZ has no formal recruiting organization, and prospective recruits often have to go out of their way to enter the military. Moreover, the service conditions inhibit many young men from electing to serve in the military and often make it difficult for the FAZ to convince them to make the service a career. The people who remain in the military are often not the best and most motivated soldiers, but rather those who have no alternative or are in a favorable position because of their ethnic affiliations.
An interesting aspect of Zairian military life is the fairly significant presence of women, both in enlisted and officer ranks. Although most enlisted women have insignificant roles and often owe their rank to sexual favors provided to senior officers, Zairian female officers usually perform legitimate roles in the military, in both command and staff positions. In 1987 three female captains graduated from the Command and Staff School, one of them among the top ten graduates. That result represented the first time women had attended and graduated from this elite institution and could signal the advancement of these women to field-grade ranks.
Data as of December 1993