Military Wiki
Senegalese Armed Forces
Service branches Army, Navy, Air Force, National Gendarmerie, National Police (Sûreté Nationale)
Available for
military service
males age 15-49: 2,218,920 (2000 est.), age 18
Fit for
military service
males age 15-49: 1,158,893 (2000 est.), age 18
Reaching military
age annually
males: 109,381 (2000 est.)
Active personnel 19,000
Budget $68 million (FY97)
Percent of GDP 1.4% (FY97)
Foreign suppliers  France
Related articles
History Mauritania–Senegal Border War
Casamance conflict
Guinea-Bissau Civil War
Insurgency in the Maghreb
2008 invasion of Anjouan

The Senegalese armed forces consist of about 19,000 well-trained and disciplined personnel in the army, air force, navy, and gendarmerie. The Senegalese military force receives most of its training, equipment, and support from France and the United States. Germany also provides support but on a smaller scale.

Military noninterference in political affairs has contributed to Senegal's stability since independence. Senegal has participated in many international and regional peacekeeping missions. Most recently, in 2000, Senegal sent a battalion to the Democratic Republic of Congo to participate in MONUC, the United Nations peacekeeping mission, and agreed to deploy a United States-trained battalion to Sierra Leone to participate in UNAMSIL, another UN peacekeeping mission. (The training operation was designated Operation Focus Relief and involved U.S. Army Special Forces from 3rd Special Forces Group training a number of West African battalions, including Nigerian ones.)

Senegal intervened in the Guinea-Bissau civil war in 1998 at the request of former President Vieira.

A Senegalese contingent deployed on a peacekeeping mission to the Central African Republic in 1997, while in 1994, a battalion-sized force was sent to Rwanda to participate in the UN peacekeeping mission there.

In 1992 1,500 men were sent to the ECOMOG peacekeeping group in Liberia.

In August 1981, the Senegalese military was invited into the Gambia by President Dawda Kairaba Jawara to put down a coup attempt. In August 1989, Senegalese-Gambian military cooperation, which began with the joint Senegalese-Gambian efforts during the 1981 coup attempt, ceased with the dissolution of the Senegambian Confederation.

The Four Forces

The four forces are the army, navy, air force and gandarmerie. The Army (Armée de Terre) is the leading force within the Senegalese armed forces and provides the chief of staff and the Inspecteur général des forces armées. Only the army and gendarmerie are important enough to have general officers, although the navy has been commanded by a flag officer in the past.


Senegalese soldiers enter a building during a training exercise.

Since independence the army has gone through a large number of reorganisations. The army's heritage includes the prestigious Tirailleurs sénégalais. It currently consists of two divisions, the Operations Division and the Logistic Division. The IISS estimated in 2012 that the Army had a strength of 11,900 soldiers, three armoured battalions (French Wikipedia listed 22nd, 24th, 25th (may have been at Bignona?) and 26th (Kolda?) Bataillon de reconnaissance et d'Appui) and six infantry battalion (French Wikipedia lists 1st-6th).[1] 3rd Battalion may have been at Kaolack with 4th at Tambacounda at one point.[2]

Also reported is the 12th Battalion of the 2nd Military Zone at Saint Louis (Dakhar Bango),[3] along with the fr:Prytanée militaire de Saint-Louis, a military (secondary school?).

Although the Senegalese air force is geared towards supporting it, the army may have previously maintained its own very small aviation branch, called the "Aviation Légère de l'Armée de Terre" (like the French army's equivalent), which may have counted up to five light helicopters and two SA330 Puma transport helicopters. The IISS Military Balance 2012 does not list any helicopters in army service.


National Gendarmerie

The Gendarmerie is a military force which provides policing and security. It includes a Territorial Gendarmerie with general policing duties, and a Mobile Gendarmerie for special tasks and serious public disorder. The Senegalese gendarmerie evolved out of a French colonial Spahi detachment sent to Senegal in 1845. This detachment (which became today's Red Guard of Senegal) was the cadre around which the "Colonial Gendarmerie" was formed. On independence this became the National Gendarmerie. The commander is General Abdoulaye Fall (a different person from the current Armed Forces Chief of Staff of the same name), whose rank is Divisional General, and whose full job title is "High Commander of the Gendarmerie and Director of Military Justice".


The Senegalese Navy vessel Poponquine.

The navy (marine), also known as the Armée de mer, is of small size and is commanded by a Ship-of-the-Line Captain. It is responsible for securing Senegal's Atlantic coastline which is strategically located on the extreme west of the African continent. The navy was created in 1961.

The Navy is divided into three branches known as "groupings":[4]

  • The Operational Naval Grouping (Groupement Naval Opérationnel), which is divided into three flotillas and one group: the High Seas Patrol Boats (Patrouilleurs de Haute Mer), the Coastal Surveillance Vessels (Bâtiments de Surveillance Côtière), the Fast Coastal Boats (Vedettes Côtières Rapides) and the Transport Group (groupe de transport).
  • The Naval Support Grouping (Groupement de Soutien de la Marine) responsible for ports, repairs, training, and logistics
  • The Fluvial-Maritime Surveillance Grouping

Air Force

The air force (Armée de l'Air) is orientated towards providing support for ground forces and resembles an army aviation corps. It has no air-to-air combat aircraft, but possesses Mil Mi-24 gunship helicopters, transport helicopters and aeroplanes, and reconnaissance helicopters and aeroplanes. This small force is commanded by a colonel.

Military zones

At the present time, there are seven military zones:[5]

  • Zone n°1 - Dakar
  • Zone n°2 - Saint-Louis
  • Zone n°3 - Kaolack
  • Zone n°4 - Ziguinchor
  • Zone n°5 - Tambacounda
  • Zone n°6 - Kolda
  • Zone n°7 - Thiès

Each zone comprises a garrison office which caters to military issues and a social service office. The IISS Military Balance listed four zones in 2007.


  • Reconnaissance vehicles: 118. 30 Panhard AML-60 4x4 ARVs, 74 Panhard AML-90 90mm gun 4x4 ARVs, 10 Greyhound M-8 with 37mm gun, 4 M-20 6x6 ARVs
  • Armoured personnel carriers: 36+. 12 Half-truck M-3 APCs, 24 Panhard M3 4x4 APCs, 8 Casspir
  • Artillery: 6 M-101 105mm howitzers, c.6 M-50 155mm Howitzers
  • Mortars: 16. 8 Brandt 81mm medium mortar, 8 Brandt 120mm heavy mortar.
  • Anti-tank weapons: 4 MBDA Milan ATGM Launchers, 31 Larc-89\Strim 89mm Light ATRLs RL.
  • Air defence weapons: towed guns: 33. 21 53-T-2/M-693 20mm AAGs, 12 Bofors L-60 40mm AAGs

Source: IISS Military Balance 2012, 450.

Other 'soft-skin' military vehicles not listed by the IISS:

  • Ford M-151 Jeep 4x4
  • Reo M-35 6x6 trucks
  • Reo M-44 6x6 trucks
  • ACMAT trucks
  • M-809 6x6 trucks



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