Ivory Coast Table of Contents
Armed Forces color guard
Courtesy Ellen Perna Smith
France has been the dominant foreign influence on Ivoirian security concerns. France maintained its position through several institutional and informal arrangements. The most important was the mutual defense pact of the Entente Agreement of 1959. By this agreement, French forces guaranteed internal and external security of the Council of the Entente members. This relationship was strengthened by the supplementary quadripartite military accords of April 24, 1961, among France, Côte d'Ivoire, Niger, and Dahomey (present-day Benin). In addition, the Franco-Ivoirian Technical Military Assistance Accord of 1961 reaffirmed France's position as the chief supplier of military aid, training, and equipment. These agreements secured for France a virtual monopoly of external military assistance to Council of the Entente countries, legitimized the continued presence of French armed forces on their soil, and served as justification for occasional direct military interventions. Thus, the national military forces of francophone Africa, together with the French forces stationed among them and France's rapid deployment forces (forces d'intervention), formed a transcontinental defense network that served both local security needs and French global interests. Although the level of French military assistance to Africa (and to Côte d'Ivoire in particular) declined in the 1980s, France's paramount position was not challenged by other foreign powers or by Ivoirian demands for autonomy. Indeed, since the 1970s France had consolidated its position as the leading Western arms supplier to Africa, where it was second only to the Soviet Union.
The Franco-Ivoirian Tecgnical Military Assistance Accord of 1961 encompassed four categories of assistance. Three categories involved French contributions to Ivoirian defense, and the fourth dealt with joint military operations. First, France provided technical assistance personnel (coopérants--see Glossary) to headquarters and field commands. The agreement for the continued provision of these coopérants (who served as administrators, advisers, and in operational capacities) was reviewed and renewed every two years. In 1985 about 1,000 French military officers and NCOs provided technical military assistance to twenty African countries; 78 were assigned to Côte d'Ivoire, a decrease from a peak of 110 in 1981.
Second, France provided military equipment and training for the Ivoirian armed forces under renewable three-year agreements. Equipment and matériel were either donated or sold on favorable terms, and military training was furnished as grant aid. In 1985 France provided about US$2.1 million in direct military aid to Côte d'Ivoire. French military detachments sometimes undertook special projects in the country; for example, for eight months in 1984 and 1985 a vehicle and equipment repair team serviced Ivoirian equipment in Bouaké. In the early 1980s, France also subsidized approximately 200 Ivoirian officers and NCOs annually attending French military academies.
Third, a joint agreement allowed France to station troops in the country. These forces, represented in 1988 by the 400-man Forty-third Marine Infantry Battalion situated near Abidjan, served as tangible evidence of France's security commitment to respond to any major crisis occurring in Côte d'Ivoire or in France's mutual security partners. This battalion could intervene upon request or direction, either alone or in conjunction with similar units stationed in Senegal, Niger, and Gabon, with rapid reinforcements by French rapid deployment forces.
Finally, the two countries participated in joint military exercises held each year and large-scale maneuvers held every two or three years. In the 1980s, these exercises became increasingly sophisticated and politically significant. At the operational level, they strengthened cooperation and coordination between French and Ivoirian forces. At the political level, they were a cogent symbol of the special relationship the two countries shared.
Apart from these formal accords, France also sought to bolster its influence with its former African colonies through visits, exchanges, conferences, and other meetings that promoted a continuing "defense dialogue." For example, the French Ministry of Defense conducted the biennial meetings of the Institute of Higher Studies for National Defense (Institut des Hautes Etudes de Défense Nationale--IHEDN) in Paris for key military and civilian leaders from francophone African countries. The conferences emphasized defense ties and military cooperation, the strategic significance of Africa in the global defense environment, and the importance of Franco-African solidarity. Participants also visited major French military and National Gendarmerie installations for briefings and demonstrations of French rapid deployment forces and the latest equipment.
Other industrialized countries also have furnished military assistance and equipment to Côte d'Ivoire. Japan provided a training ship, training, and naval technical assistance. The Netherlands, Sweden, Britain, and the United States furnished support aircraft, small naval craft, military utility trucks, jeeps, and mortars. In addition, FANCI procured assault rifles from Switzerland, and the police bought pistols from the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany).
In the late 1980s, the military relationship between the United States and Côte d'Ivoire was becoming more important. Between 1967 and 1986, eighty-five Ivoirian trainees received military instruction under the United States International Military Education and Training (IMET) program. The program, which expanded sharply with the signing of a new IMET agreement in 1983, provided training in such areas as infantry and airborne skills, intelligence, and marine environmental science, thereby promoting professional relationships among military personnel. The value of training services increased to US$411,000 during fiscal years (FY-- see Glossary) 1984 to 1986, covering six to ten Ivoirian military students per year.
Government-to-government sales of defense equipment and services, though relatively small, have also expanded. In FY 1986, the United States signed military sales agreements valued at US$500,000, of which US$25,000 was classified as foreign military sales and US$475,000 as foreign military construction sales. In 1985 the United States initiated the African Civic Action Program, which included a Coastal Security Program to help West African littoral states patrol and defend their Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) against treaty violations, illegal fishing, and smuggling. The African Civic Action Program also strengthened regional cooperation in search and rescue, pollution control, and training operations, all of which coincided with the Ivoirian Navy's primary missions. By 1987 the United States had furnished some communications and navigation equipment to Côte d'Ivoire under the terms of the program.
Data as of November 1988
Ivory Coast Table of Contents