Military Wiki
People's National Armed Forces
الجيش الوطني الشعبي الجزائري (Arabic)
Aserdas Aghelnaw Agherfan Adzyari(Berber)
People's National Army emblem
Newly graduated officers on parade in Cherchell, Algeria
Founded 1954 (Armée de Libération Nationale)
Current form 1962 (Armée Nationale Populaire)
Service branches Army
Air Force
Territorial Air Defense Force
Headquarters Algiers
Commander-in-Chief President Abdelaziz Bouteflika
Minister of National Defense General of the Army Ahmed Salah Gaid
Conscription 19-30 years of age
18 month term[1]
Available for
military service
9,736,757 males, age 16-49[1],
9,590,978 (2008 est.) females, age 16-49[1]
Fit for
military service
8,317,473 males, age 16-49[1],
8,367,005 (2009 est.) females, age 16-49[1]
Reaching military
age annually
375,852 males,
362,158 (2009 est.) females
Active personnel 511,000 (2012 est.)
Reserve personnel 400,000 (2012)
Budget $10.58 billion (2012)
Percent of GDP 4.3% of GDP (2012)
Domestic suppliers


Foreign suppliers  Russia
United States
Related articles
History Military history of Algeria
Algerian War of Independence
Sand War
Yom Kippur War
Western Sahara War
Algerian Civil War
Insurgency in the Maghreb
In Aménas hostage crisis

The Algerian People’s National Army (APNA) is the armed forces of the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria. Algeria has a large and reasonably well-equipped military to counter foreign and domestic threats. The People's National Army include ground forces, an air force, navy, and an air defense command.

The National Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Nationale), a paramilitary body, is used mainly as a police force in rural areas.


The army, in the process of being reorganized into four divisions in 1993, also has numerous independent brigades and battalions. Its antecedents were the conventional military units formed in Morocco and Tunisia during the War of Independence from France. Except for brief clashes with Morocco in 1976, the armed forces have not been involved in hostilities against a foreign power. Their combat capabilities in defense of the country has thus remained untested.

The Algerian military élite has played a dominating role in Algerian politics ever since independence in 1962, when the army emerged as the only effective powerbroker in a shattered political landscape dominated by weak and competing political factions. Many high-ranking officers have held public office, and it is generally recognized that the army has been, and still is, consistently involved in national policy from behind the scenes. Under Col. Houari Boumediène (1965–1979) state and army leadership was joined under his dominant and highly authoritarian presidency, but after his death, factionalization and rivalries within the military and political élites has been a major factor in Algerian politics.

After being structured as a politicized "people's army" in the Boumédiène era, and retaining its allegiance to the FLN during the single-party years of Algerian history, the military forces were formally depoliticized in 1988, as a multi-party system was introduced. This, however, did not end military influence over Algerian politics. In 1995, fearing the installation of Sharia Law, which would result in Algeria becoming an Islamic State, the Algerian Army stopped free elections that were likely to bring an Islamist party to power. This triggered the Algerian Civil War, a conflict which is believed to have claimed 100-350,000 lives during the 1990s. Both the armed forces and Islamist insurgents have been severely criticized by outside observers for their conduct of the war on humanitarian and human rights grounds. The state and army Islamist resistance in the late 1990s, but local and sporadic fighting persists in 2009, along with occasional bomb attacks against government targets in major cities. The most active insurgent group is al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, formerly known as GSPC. Since major fighting subsided in about 1997, the army has been engaged in refitting itself for the tasks of a conventional army, after more than a decade of anti-guerrilla action.

The major part of Algeria's armed forces are directed towards the country's western border with Morocco and Western Sahara, where Algeria supported a guerrilla war (1975–1991) against Moroccan control by the Polisario Front, a national liberation movement of Sahrawi Bedouin exiled in Algeria's Tindouf province. Algeria has had longstanding border disagreements with Morocco, due to the non-recognition of the colonial borders by the Moroccan regime, which, although now basically resolved, continue to linger as a factor in the consistently troubled but generally non-violent relations between the two neighbouring nations. The Algerian-Moroccan land border has been closed since 1994. Both countries's armed forces have engaged in costly equipment upgrades in recent years, clearly viewing each other as the principal threat to their sovereignty, and equally reluctant to let the other nation gain the upper hand militarily.

By contrast, Algeria's post-independence border disagreements with Tunisia and Libya, which were at times a cause for poor relations, both appear to have been peacefully resolved (to its advantage). The Algerian army has also, especially in later years, been highly active along the country's border with northern Mali, where various insurgent movements are based. Algeria has fought only one brief war after independence (the Sand War, a border conflict with Morocco in 1963), but the country is also, like most Arab nations, formally at war with the Israel since 1948.

Algeria has the largest defense budget in Africa. Historically, Algeria purchased weapons and military equipment from the Soviet Union. Currently, Algeria is undergoing a process of military modernization, which includes the introduction of new, more modern warships, aircraft, and tanks.[2]


The army is under the control of the president (since 1999, Abdelaziz Bouteflika), who also is minister of National Defense. The US CIA estimates that military expenditures accounted for some 3.3% of GDP in 2006.[3]

The Armed Forces of Algeria comprise:

Regular military forces are composed of conscripts; all Algerian men are required to do a year and a half of military service.

Military forces are supplemented by a 150,000-member gendarmerie and 200,000-member Sûreté nationale or Metropolitan police force under the Ministry of the Interior.[citation needed] Military intelligence, recognized to have played a major political role, was long called Sécurité militaire (Military Security, SM) but reorganized in the late 1980s and early 1990s into today's Département du renseignement et de la sécurité (Department of Intelligence and Security, DRS). The DRS and its counter-espionage branch, DCE, assumed a leading role in the fight against the Islamist insurgency of the 1990s through a number of its own special forces units, as well as by establishing joint task force commands which assumed control over specialized military and police units.

Algeria 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.[4]

Major Exercises

On 19 January 2013, the Algerian troops killed 32 Militant Hostage takers and freed the surviving hostages held at the Tigantourine gas facility, situated near In Amenas in the Illizi Province. Nearly 48 hostages are confirmed to be dead. The kidnappers said the assault on the gas plant was launched in retaliation for French intervention against Islamist groups in neighboring Mali.

Sources of equipment and support

The Russian made Rais Korfou frigate

Algeria's primary military supplier has been the former Soviet Union, which has sold various types of sophisticated equipment under military trade agreements, and the People's Republic of China.[citation needed] Since independence in the 1960s, no foreign bases are known to have been allowed in Algeria, although in the 1970s and 1980s, particularly, large numbers of Soviet military advisers were stationed in the country. Since 2001, security cooperation with the United States has increased, and US forces have taken part in training missions in the country's Saharan south.

In 2006, multi-billion dollar purchases of Russian military equipment were made in order to upgrade the country's conventional arsenal. This included a deal by the Algerian Air Force to purchase 28 Su-30MKA and 36 MiG-29SMT for up to $3.5 billion. However, those MiG-29s were returned to Russia in February 2008 because of poor quality of their airframe, after technical evaluations in Algeria.[5][6] In May 2008 the two governments agreed a new deal to replace those 36 MiG-29SMT by a new batch of 16 Su-30MKA which meet all requirements of Algerian Air Force, but the issue does not appear to be completely resolved in 2009.

As of October 2009 it was reported that Algeria cancels weapons deal over Israeli parts.[7]

Algeria also has a small domestic military industry of its own. The Army produces assault rifles AK-47 ( 7.62mm ) and AK-74 ( 5.45mm ) licensed by Russia and China as well as rocket-type RPG in the Construction Company Mechanical Khenchela. The logistics base station produces various types of AICV ( Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicle ) for the recognition and transport of troops and light armored vehicles for the maintenance of order. The air force produces two types of light aircraft for the basic training and produces its own drone reconnaissance since December 2010. The Russian company Rosoboronexport, has expressed a request for financial assistance to several countries including Algeria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE to participate in the project for the production of the T-50 (PAK-FA) 5th generation fighter aircraft.


Further reading

  • Jeremy Keenan, 'The Dark Sahara,' Pluto Press (July 7, 2009), ISBN 0-7453-2452-5. Role of Algerian armed forces in fomenting unrest in the Sahara to legitimise militarisation of Algerian politics and support for Algerian military.

See also


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