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Foreign Military Assistance

Since independence, Comoros has received foreign military assistance from Tanzania, France, South Africa, and the United States. However, by early 1994, only France and the United States continued to provide military aid to Comoros.

Tanzania hoped to keep Comoros away from Western influence by providing military aid to President Soilih. However, apart from deploying about 100 military advisers to the islands to train the army and the Commando Moissi, Tanzania lacks the resources to make a significant long-term impact on the Comorian armed forces.

Historically, France has been the most important military player in Comoros. It sought to protect its strategic interests in the Indian Ocean and its military installations on the islands of Reunion and Mayotte. Even before independence, France and Comoros signed a defense agreement in 1973; five years later, the two nations concluded a technical military assistance agreement. After the downfall of the Soilih regime in 1978, French military advisers replaced European mercenaries and guaranteed Comorian security. On November 10, 1978, Paris and Moroni signed a military agreement that provided French training for Comorian armed forces and French military assistance in case of an attack on the islands. By January 1985, seventy-six Comorian military personnel had received training in France, and the French military had stationed twenty-three advisers in Comoros.

After the assassination of President Abdullah, France deployed 140 troops from the 21st Marine Paratroop Regiment and fifty officers and warrant officers from the Military Assistance and Instruction Detachment. According to a December 16, 1989, statement by President Djohar, the latter unit was supposed to remain on the islands for one to two years to train and to reorganize the Comorian armed forces. However, by early 1994, France continued to maintain a military presence in Comoros.

During the late 1980s, South Africa and Comoros maintained a discreet but significant military relationship. The South African government constructed a radio-monitoring station on the islands. Also, according to Indian Ocean Newsletter, Comoros was a transshipment point for arms shipments from South Africa to Iran and to the Mozambican National Resistance (Resistência Nacional Moçambicano--Renamo) rebel movement in Mozambique. Additionally, South Africa funded the GP, under Colonel Denard's command. In late 1989, South Africa severed its connection to the GP and Colonel Denard, thereby allowing France to become the dominant foreign military power on the islands.

Since the late 1980s, the United States has maintained a small IMET program in Comoros. Initially, five to six Comorian officers received basic military training and English language instruction in the United States. In 1989 the IMET program was expanded to include professional military education and technical training courses for a small number of Comorian military personnel. By the early 1990s, the IMET program complemented the ongoing French effort to reorganize the Comorian armed forces.

Data as of August 1994