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Ivory Coast

Defense Mission and National Policy


President Houphouët-Boigny inspecting the troops
Courtesy Embassy of Côte d'Ivoire, Washington

In 1987 the armed forces consisted of about 14,920 regular and paramilitary personnel, organized into FANCI, the navy, FACI, the National Gendarmerie, the Presidential Guard and Militia, and the Military Fire Brigade. Although the National Gendarmerie was an integral part of the Ministry of Defense and Maritime Affairs, its mission related more to internal security than to external defense (see Internal Security , this ch.).

The effective strength of the army was about 3,000 troops during the early 1970s. It increased to 4,000 during the mid-1970s, and to more than 8,000 by the early 1980s, before declining steadily to about 5,500 by 1987. FANCI was equipped lightly and almost exclusively with French matériel, much of which was delivered during 1980 and 1981, when the army experienced its greatest expansion (see table 9, Appendix).

Headquarters elements included a general staff, headquarters and logistics companies, commissariat service, and matériel service. The main combat elements were the four infantry battalions of three companies each, stationed in the four military regions. The First Battalion at Port Bouët near Abidjan included two infantry companies, a paratroop company, and an air defense unit. An armored battalion with two squadrons also was stationed in the Abidjan region, along with the Military Preparatory Technical Academy (Ecole Militaire Preparatoire Technique--EMPT) at Bingerville. The Second Battalion at Daloa consisted of three infantry companies. In the Third Military Region at Bouaké was the Third Battalion, consisting of three infantry companies, a heavy weapons/artillery battery, an antiaircraft artillery battalion, an engineering battalion with a combat engineer company, two construction companies, and a training company. The Fourth Military Region at Korhogo was still being established, and in 1986 a new command battalion and a dog-handling center were reported to have been formed.

Until December 1987, the Ivoirian Navy (Marine Nationale) was part of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, which was also responsible for the merchant marine. In July 1974, Captain Lamine Fadika became the first Ivoirian minister of maritime affairs, replacing an expatriate. In December 1987, Fadika was removed from office, and the ministry was incorporated into the Ministry of Defense and Maritime Affairs under Banny.

The navy's mission was limited to coastal and river patrols and harbor defense, and its primary emphasis was on protecting the environment and fighting fires. The ministry planned to restructure the navy into two coastal patrol squadrons as additional fast attack craft were acquired. Naval headquarters were at the main naval base at Locodjoi, near Abidjan; smaller bases were at Sassandra, San-Pédro, and Tabou, all on the southwestern coast. The navy expanded from about 200 personnel in 1970, to 400 in 1980, to about 700 in the late 1980s, maintaining a ratio of officers to enlisted men of 1 to 10. It had a small but versatile force of warships, auxiliaries, and service craft. Most of these were French craft, commissioned in the late 1970s (see table 10, Appendix). The Navy was also reported to have a commando group and one light transport aircraft. The independent merchant marine fleet consisted of more than sixty vessels, including three tankers.

FACI was basically a military transportation and liaison service rather than a combat force. This mission was reflected in FACI's official name, Ivoirian Air Transport and Liaison Group (Groupement Aérien de Transport et de Liaison--GATL). Like FANCI, FACI was an independent service arm of the Ministry of Defense and Maritime Affairs. In 1988 Colonel Abdoulaye Coulibaly was the FACI commander, having assumed that post from a French officer in 1974. FACI had only about 200 personnel through the 1970s. It then entered a period of expansion, reaching an estimated strength of 930 in the mid-1980s. Organizationally, FACI consisted of a headquarters staff with operational, technical, and general services sections and also various field activities and air bases.

FACI's one small combat aircraft squadron consisted of six French Dassault-Breguet light attack/trainer Alpha Jets, obtained during 1980 and 1981. The squadron was stationed at the Bouaké air base, which opened in December 1980. Some of FACI's original light transport planes, including three Fokker F-27s and four F-28s, were transferred in 1979 to the national airline, Air Ivoire, and several old transports (three C-47s, five MH-1521 Broussard light transports, and one Mystère 20), have been retired from service. In 1987, in addition to the Alpha jets, FACI's aircraft consisted of twenty fixed-wing aircraft and eleven helicopters used for training, light transport, ferrying of dignitaries, and communications and utility missions. Pilots received training on French Aerospatiale Rallye 160 and Rallye 235 aircraft, two Reims Aviation/Cessna 150Hs, and six Beech F33C Bonanzas, (see table 10, Appendix).

FACI operated from a number of strategically situated air bases. Port Bouët near Abidjan was the main base for FACI, along with the First Military Region/FANCI Battalion, the paratroop company, and the air defense forces. Other major bases were in the southwest at Daloa (the headquarters of the Second Military Region/FANCI Battalion) and in the populous central savanna at Bouaké (site of the Third Military Region/FANCI Battalion), which included heavy weapons battery, antiaircraft artillery battalion, and the engineering battalion. Yamoussoukro, Sassandra, San-Pédro, Tabou, Man, Séguéla, Odienné, and Korhogo also had air fields.

The remaining component of the armed forces having a combat mission was the GPM. President Houphouët-Boigny formed the GPM to serve as a paramilitary counterweight to FANCI after the 1963 military coup plot and to provide personal protection to the president. In 1986 the militia was estimated to have had 1,500 personnel; the Presidential Guard, 1,100. GPM members were recruited largely from the National Gendarmerie and were organized into two units, one based in Abidjan and the other at Yamoussoukro.

Data as of November 1988

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