National Armed Forces of Côte d'Ivoire

National Armed Forces of Côte d'Ivoire
Republican Forces of Côte d'Ivoire
Minister of Defense Guillaume Soro
Active personnel 6,500 (estimate as of 1962)[1]
14,920 (as of 1987)
9,000 (estimate as of 2005)
Budget $94 million (fiscal year 1996)
$541 million (fiscal year 2009)
Percent of GDP 1.5% (fiscal year 2009)
Related articles
History First Ivorian Civil War
Second Ivorian Civil War

The Republican Forces of Côte d'Ivoire (French: Force Republiques de Cote d'Ivoire; "FRCI") are the armed forces of Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and serve the Forces Nouvelles de Côte d'Ivoire (FNCI), the political coalition that triumphed in the Second Ivorian Civil War.[2] The FRCI were formerly known as the Armed Forces of the New Forces (FAFN). As of September 2011, the government is attempting to form what is called the Forces Armées Nationales de Côte d'Ivoire (FANCI), which aims to merge 5,000 former rebels of the FRCI with 30,000 veterans of the former regular army (Forces de défense et de sécurité - FDS).[3]

The country became independent on 7 August 1960. In 1962 the total strength of the armed forces was about 6,500, about 4,000 being conscripts doing their military service.[1] The authors of the U.S. Army's Area Handbook series said at the time that '..the Army and Gendarmery (sic) were effective forces in being, but the Navy and Air Force were token forces primarily for prestige and with little actual defense value.'

The army had three infantry battalions and an engineer battalion in 1979, as well as a light tank squadron, a reconnaissance company, and an artillery battery. At that time the active forces consisted of 4,900 men, of which 450 were in the navy or the air force. The 1979 air force had only transport and liaison aircraft. The army at that time operated AMX-13 light tanks, AML H60 and H90 armored cars, French 105mm howitzers, and mortars of 81mm and 120mm caliber.[4]

In 2011, the FRCI, with assistance from French forces and the UN's mission ONUCI, defeated the army of the former government of Côte d'Ivoire. While the pre-2011 structure of the armed forces was well documented, the structure of the FRCI armed forces since the victory of the FNCI is unclear.

French forces and the Opération des Nations Unies en Côte d'Ivoire are a significant military factor in the country as of late 2011 (see International Forces below).



Côte d'Ivoire military units and bases in 2008
Source: Jane's World Armies Issue 23 - 2008
Numbers in brackets indicate parent military regions.
Note: French forces of battalion strength[5] are stationed near Abidjan, as well as over 7,000 troops under U.N. command. In 2011, rebel forces overran the country during the Second Ivorian Civil War.

In 1987 Côte d'Ivoire was divided into five military regions, each commanded by a colonel.[6] The First Military Region controlled the concentration of forces in and around Abidjan, its principal units there being a rapid intervention battalion (airborne), an infantry battalion, an armored battalion, and an air defense artillery battalion. The Second Military Region was located in Daloa and comprised one infantry battalion. The Third Military Region was headquartered in Bouaké and was home to an artillery, an infantry, and an engineer battalion. The Fourth Military Region maintained only a Territorial Defense Company headquartered in Korhogo The Fifth Military Region was formerly known as the Western Operational Zone, a temporary command created to respond to the security threat caused by the Liberian Civil War. There were a total of 14,920 active troops.

Long-time President Houphouët Boigny, in power since the 1960s, passed away in December 1993, unleashing a succession crisis which quickly involved the power institutions of the state. The army seized power on 24 December 1999. By a decree of 27 December 1999, the constitution was suspended and all the institutions of government were dissolved. A collective body, the National Council of Public Safety (CNSP), presided over by Brigadier General Robert Guéi, took control. Following a constitutional referrendum of July 2000, the president of the CNSP decided to run for president, and indeed declared himself president after the elections of 22 October 2000. Finally, however, after popular unrest Laurent Gbagbo became president and was sworn in on 26 October 2000.

A succession of military coups followed, which gave rise to an rebellion which began on 19 September 2002. From 2002 until 2011 Cote d'Ivoire was split by the rebellion between the existing government in the south and the Forces Nouvelles in the north. As of July 2011, General Soumaïla Bakayoko is the chief of staff of the army, and colonel-major Gervais Kouakou Kouassi is the Chief of the Gendarmerie.[7]

As of October 2011, previously active units around Abidjan reportedly included the:[8]

  • 1st Infantry Battalion - (1er Bataillon d’infanterie des forces armées terrestres ivoiriennes), at Akouédo (new camp)
  • Armoured Battalion - (Battaillon Blinde), at Akouédo (new camp). The new camp at Akouedo had reportedly been almost completely destroyed. fr:Akouedo appears to be at 5' 21 7 N, 3' 26 30 W.
  • 1st Parachute Commando Battalion - 1er Bataillon des Commandos Parachutistes (1er BCP), old camp at Akouedo, on the route to the village Ébrié.

The 2nd Infantry Battalion appears to have been based at Daloa for some time. A 2003 change of command usshered in the 16th commander of the unit,[9] and there are also reports from 2009 and 2011.


The gendarmerie is roughly equivalent in size to the army. It is a national police force which is responsible for territorial security, especially in rural areas. In times of national crisis the gendarmerie could be used to reinforce the army. The gendarmerie is commanded by a colonel-major and comprises four Legions, each corresponding to one of the four numbered military regions, minus the temporary military operational zone on the western border.


Côte d'Ivoire has a brown-water navy whose mission is coastal surveillance and security for the nation's 340-mile coastline.

Equipment includes:[citation needed]

  • 1 Patra patrol craft - 147 tons full load - commissioned 1978
  • 2 CTM LCM - 150t - commissioned 1968
  • 2 Rodman 890 fishery protection - commissioned 1997

Air Force

The Air Force's official name, Ivoirian Air Transport and Liaison Group (Groupement Aérien de Transport et de Liaison--GATL), reflects an original mission focused more on logistics and transport rather than a combat force.[10]

In 2004, following an air strikes on French peacekeepers by Ivorian forces, the French military destroyed all aircraft in the Air Force of Côte d'Ivoire, including two Sukhoi 25 ground-attack aircraft and three Mil Mi-24 helicopters.[11] Since then, the Air Force of Côte d'Ivoire has been rebuilt.[12]

Since 2004, efforts to put together some form of inventory led to possibly as many six aircraft being in service by the end of 2006.[citation needed] It is unknown whether any of these aircraft are truly operational.

Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service[13] Notes
Antonov An-32  Ukraine tactical transport 1
Cessna 421 Golden Eagle  United States utility 1
Eurocopter SA 365 Dauphin  France utility helicopter AS 365C 2
Gulfstream III  United States VIP 1
Mil Mi-24  Russia attack helicopter 1
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23  Bulgaria fighter 2 [1]

International forces

A mutual defense accord signed with France in April 1961 provides for the stationing of Franch Armed Forces troops in Côte d'Ivoire.[14] The 43rd Marine Infantry Battalion (fr:43e bataillon d'infanterie de marine) was based in Port Bouet adjacent to the Abidjan Airport from 1979 and has more than 500 troops assigned until 2011, when it appears to have been disbanded. The French military also maintains a force as part of Operation Licorne.

From summer 2011, Operation Licorne, the French force, previously over 5,000 strong, is roughly 700, and consists of Licorne headquarters, Battalion Licorne (BATLIC), seemingly made up of elements of the 2nd Marine Infantry Regiment and the Régiment d'infanterie-chars de marine, and a helicopter detachment.[5]

Currently the United Nations has the peacekeeping mission ONUCI in the country. On 28 February 2011 ONUCI consisted of 7,568 troops, 177 military observers, and numerous international civilians and Police; the mission had received helicopter and infantry reinforcement from UNMIL during the stand-off since the late 2010 elections which had been won by Alassane Ouattara.[15]


  1. ^ a b Area handbook for the Ivory Coast. Washington, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1962, Chapter on the Armed Forces
  2. ^ CIA Factbook
  3. ^
  4. ^ Keegan, pp. 381-382
  5. ^ a b (French) French Ministry of Defence, Les forces françaises en Côte d'Ivoire, 28 September 2011, accessed November 2011
  6. ^ Library of Congress, Cote d'Ivoire Country Study, circa 1987, accessed January 2009
  7. ^
  8. ^, accessed November 2011
  9. ^, accessed 2011
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Ivory Coast seethes after attack". BBC News. 2004-11-04. Retrieved 2007-10-10. 
  12. ^ "Ivory Coast seethes after attack". BBC News. 2004-11-04. Retrieved 2007-10-10. 
  13. ^ "World Military Aircraft Inventory", Aerospace Source Book 2007, Aviation Week & Space Technology, January 15, 2007.
  14. ^ Boubacar N'Diaye, 'Ivory Coast's Civilian Control Strategies 1961-68: A Critical Assessment,' Journal of Political and Military Sociology Special Issue on West Africa, Vol. 28, No. 2, Winter 2000, p.253
  15. ^ See United Nations Security Council Resolution 1967 and United Nations Security Council Resolution 1968

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