Military of Mali

Military of Mali
Armed and Security Forces of Mali
Forces Armées et de Sécurité du Mali
Flag of Mali.svg
National flag of Mali
Founded 10 October 1960[1][2][3]
Service branches Army, Air Force, Gendarmerie, Republican Guard, National Guard, and National Police (Sûreté Nationale)
Headquarters Bamako
President Amadou Toumani Toure
Minister of Defence Natié Pleah
Chief of staff Brigadier General Gabriel Podiougou (appointed in June 2008)[4]
Conscription Compulsory military service[5]
Active personnel 7,350 plus 4,800 paramilitary and 3,000 militia
Budget $68 million ($5 million procurement) (FY03)
Percent of GDP 2% (FY01)
Foreign suppliers  United States

Mali's armed forces are the Army, Air Force, Gendarmerie, Republican Guard, National Guard, and National Police (Sûreté Nationale).[6] They number some 7,000 and are under the control of the Minister of Armed Forces and Veterans. The IISS Military Balance 2009 lists an Army of 7,350, Air Force of 400, and Navy of 50.[7] The Gendarmerie and local police forces (under the Ministry of Interior and Security) maintain internal security. The IISS lists paramilitary total force as 4,800: 1,800 Gendarmerie (8 companies), 2,000 Republican Guard, and 1,000 Police. In the sixties and seventies, Mali's army and air force relied primarily on the Soviet Union for materiel and training. A few Malians receive military training in the United States, France, and Germany.[8] Military expenditures total about 13% of the national budget.

The Malian armed forces were initially formed by Malian conscript and volunteer veterans of the French Armed Forces. In the months preceding the formation of the Malian armed forces, the French Armed Forces withdrew from their bases in Mali. Among the last bases to be closed were those at Kati, on 8 June 1961, Tessalit (un base aérienne secondaire), on 8 July 1961, Gao (la base aérienne 163 de Gao), on 2 August 1961, and Air Base 162 at Bamako (la base aérienne 162 de Bamako), on 5 September 1961.[1]

"On 1 October 1960, the Malian army was created and solemnly installed through a speech by Chief of Staff Captain Sekou Traore. On 12 October the same year the population of Bamako attending for the first time an army parade under the command of Captain Tiemoko Konate. Organizationally, says Sega Sissoko, is the only battalion of Ségou and includes units scattered across the territory. A memo from the Chief of Staff ordered a realignment of the battalion. Following on, a command and services detachment in Bamako was created, and the engineer company in Ségou, the first Saharan motorized company of Gao, the Saharan Motor Company of Kidal, the Arouane nomad group, nomadic group of Timetrine, the 1st Reconnaissance Company and Nioro 2nd Reconnaissance Company Tessalit. As of January 16, 1961, Mali's army totaled 1232 men."[1][3]

On November 19, 1968, a group of young Malian officers staged a bloodless coup and set up a 14-member military junta, with Lt. Moussa Traoré as president. The military leaders attempted to pursue economic reforms, but for several years faced debilitating internal political struggles and the disastrous Sahelian drought. A new constitution, approved in 1974, created a one-party state and was designed to move Mali toward civilian rule. However, the military leaders remained in power. Single-party presidential and legislative elections were held in June 1979, and Gen. Moussa Traoré received 99% of the votes. His efforts at consolidating the single-party government were challenged in 1980 by student-led anti-government demonstrations, which were brutally put down, and by three coup attempts. The Traore government ruled throughout the 1970s and 1980s. On March 26, 1991, after four days of intense anti-government rioting, a group of 17 military officers, led by current President Amadou Toumani Touré, arrested President Traoré and suspended the constitution. They formed a civilian-heavy provisional ruling body, and and initiated a process that led to democratic elections.[9]

The First Tuareg Rebellion began in 1990 when Tuareg separatists attacked government buildings around Gao. The armed forces' reprisals led to a full-blown rebellion in which the absence of opportunities for Tuareg in the army was a major complaint. The conflict died down after Alpha Konaré formed a new government and made reparations in 1992. Also, Mali created a new self-governing region, the Kidal Region, and provided for greater Tuareg integration into Malian society. In 1994, Tuareg, reputed to have been trained and armed by Libya, attacked Gao, which again led to major Malian Army reprisals and to the creation of the Ghanda Koi Songhai militia to combat the Tuareg. Mali effectively fell into civil war.

Current service commanders are Colonel Boubacar Togola (Armée de Terre), Colonel Waly Sissoko (Armée de l’Air), Lieutenant-Colonel Daouda Sogoba (Garde Nationale) et du Colonel Adama Dembélé (Gendarmerie Nationale).[10]

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Tuareg Rebellion, the Army has struggled to maintain its size, despite recent military aid from the United States. It is organised into two tank battalions (T-55, T-54 and T-34/85, tanks, including possibly a light armoured battalion of PT-76's and Type 62 light tanks),[11] four infantry battalions, one Special Forces battalion, one airborne battalion (possibly the 33rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, Djikoroni, in Bamako[12]), two artillery battalions, one engineer battalion (34th), 2 AD artillery batteries, and one SAM battery.[7] Manpower is provided by two-year selective conscription. Mali apparently has six military regions, according to Jane's World Armies. 1st Military Region and 13th Combined Arms Regiment may be in Gao.[13] 3rd Military Region appears to be at Kati.[14] The 4th Military Region is at Kayes [1] and the 5th Military Region is at Timbuktu.[12] The 512 Regiment was reported within the 5th Military Region in 2004.[2] On 13 April 2010, Agence France Press reported that French Armed Forces training will be given to the '62nd Motorized Infantry Regiment of the 6th Military Region, based in Sévaré (15 km from Mopti). It consists of three companies of Rapid Intervention (CIR), considered the elite troops of the Malian army.'

Mali is one of four Saharan states which will create a Joint Military Staff Committee, to be based at Tamanrasset in southern Algeria. Algeria, Mauritania, Niger, and Mali will take part.[15]

The Army controls the small navy (approx. 130 sailors and 3 river patrol boats).



Small arms reportedly include:

Anti-tank weapons reportedly include the AT-3 Sagger  Soviet Union, and the RPG-7  Soviet Union. Anti-aircraft weapons reportedly include the Soviet ZPU-2, the ZPU-4  Soviet Union, and the 57 mm AZP S-60 anti-aircraft gun. Armoured cars reportedly include the Soviet BRDM-2, and the British Shorland Armoured car. Armoured personnel carriers reportedly include the South African RG-31 Nyala and the Soviet BTR-40, BTR-60, and BTR-152. Tanks reportedly include the Chinese Type 62 and Soviet PT-76, T34/85, and T-55 tank. Artillery reported in service includes the 122 mm howitzer 2A18 (D-30) and the BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launcher.

Training establishments

The Malian armed forces have at least two significant training establishments: the Joint Military School at Koulikoro (fr:École militaire interarmes de Koulikoro) and the Alioune Blondin Beye peacekeeping training school at Bamako (fr:École de maintien de la paix Alioune Blondin Beye de Bamako). The Alioune Bloundin Beye school is the tactical-level component of a trio of three ECOWAS peacekeeping training schools: the Alioune Bloundin Beye school, the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Accra, Ghana (operational level), and the Nigerian National Defence College (strategic level).[16]

Mali Air Force

Malian army personnel guarding MiG-21s (1997)

The Mali Air Force (Armée de l'Air du Mali) was founded in 1961 with French supplied military aid this included MH.1521 Broussard followed by two C-47s until Soviet aid starting in 1962 with four Antonov AN-2 biplane transports and four Mi-4 light helicopters.[17] In the mid-1960s the Soviets delivered five MIG-17F fighters and a single MIG 15UTI trainer to equip a squadron based at Bamako/Senou initially with Soviet pilots. Two Ilyushin Il-14 transports and a Mil Mi-8 helicopter were delivered in 1971 followed by two Antonov AN-24s. In 1976 an AN-26 was acquired along with a second AN-26 in 1983. Also in the mid 1970s the first of 12 MiG-21MF and two MIG 21UM trainers were delivered. In 1983 six Aero L-29 jet trainers were delivered to form a Ecole de Pilotage (pilots school).

The Mali Air Force operates 16 MiG-21MF Fishbed-J, MiG-17F Fresco fighters, Antonov An-24, Antonov An-26, Aero L-29 Delfin, two Yak-18A Max, one MiG-15UTI Midget trainer aircraft, 1 Ecureuil, 2 Z-9 (AS-365N) Dauphin 2, and Mi-24 Hind and Mi-8 Hip helicopters.[18]

Its inventory is thus:

Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service Notes
Aero L-29 Delfín  Czechoslovakia Advanced trainer 6 Received from USSR in 1983
Antonov An-2 Colt  Soviet Union Transport AN-2P 'Colt' 2 Received from USSR in 1962
Antonov An-24 Coke  Soviet Union Transport 2 Received from USSR in 1976
Antonov An-26 Curl  Soviet Union Tactical transport 1 Received from USSR in 1976
Basler BT-67 Turbo Dakota  United States Transport BT-67 Turbo Dakota 2
Eurocopter AS350 Ecureuil  France Utility helicopter AS 350B 1
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 Fresco  Soviet Union Advanced trainer MiG-17F 5 Received from USSR in 1965
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 Fishbed  Soviet Union Air defence
Ground attack
MiG-21BIS/MF/UM 14 Received from USSR in 1976
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 Fagot  Soviet Union Combat trainer MiG-15UTI 1 Received from USSR in 1965
Mil Mi-8 Hip  Soviet Union Transport helicopter 1
Mil Mi-24 Hind  Bulgaria attack helicopter Mi-24D 2 Received from Bulgaria in 2007 Mi-24 transaction reports
Yakovlev Yak-18 Max  Soviet Union Primary trainer 2 Received from USSR in 1983


Members of the Malian army conduct drills to instruct new recruits during exercise Flintlock 2007 in Tombouctou, Mali, Sept. 4, 2007.
  1. ^ a b c DISCOURS DE AMADOU TOUMANI TOURE, PRESIDENT DE LA REPUBLIQUE, : CINQUANTENAIRE DU 20 JANVIER (Speech by Amadou Toumani Toure, President of the Republic Demi-Centennial of 20 January),, 20 January 2011. The President of Mali's Demi-Centennial Army Day speech, with a detailed history of the formation of the Malian Armed Forces and withdrawal of French forces.
  2. ^ 49EME ANNIVERSAIRE DU 20 JANVIER, Discours de Amadou Toumani TOURE, Président de la République,(49th Anniversary of 20 January, speech by Amadou Toumani Toure, President of the Republic of Mali),, 20 January 2010. The President of Mali on the History of the Malian Armed forces.
  3. ^ a b Fete de l'armee: Beintot un demi siecle. S. Konate. L’Essor n°16365, 2009-01-19. Reprinted on
  4. ^ Mali, Algeria plan joint patrols on Saharan border, Reuters, Tiemoko Diallo, 15 July 2008.
  5. ^ Financial Times, World Desk Reference Mali Defense
  6. ^ CIA World Fact Book, 2003
  7. ^ a b IISS Military Balance 2009 p.310
  8. ^ Library of Congress,
  9. ^ Herbert Howe, Ambiguous Order: Military Forces in African States, Lynne Rienner, 2005, p.277
  10. ^ État-major général des armées : Le colonel Gabriel Poudiougou promu Général de brigade. L'Indépendant, 12/06/2008
  11. ^ May include 35ème régiment blindé in the vicinity of Kati -
  12. ^ a b United States European Command, 1/10 Special Forces Group Supports Pan Sahel Initiative, 2004
  13. ^ State Department,
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Saharan states to open joint military headquarters". BBC. 21 April 2010. Retrieved 22 April 2010. . See also - 09ALGIERS0048, on Tamanrassat committee
  16. ^, accessed September 2011
  17. ^ World Aircraft Information Files. Brightstar Publishing, London. Files 337, Sheet 04.
  18. ^ IISS Military Balance 2007, p.283

 This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA World Factbook document "2003 edition".

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