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Military of Guinea-Bissau


Military of Guinea-Bissau

Armed Forces of Guinea-Bissau
Emblem of Guinea-Bissau
Founded 1973
Service branches Bissau-Guinean Army
Bissau-Guinean Navy
Bissau-Guinean Air Force
Headquarters Bissau
Chief of Staff General Antonio Indjai
Conscription Selective compulsory military service
Active personnel 4,000
Budget $9.46 million
Percent of GDP 3.1%
Foreign suppliers  China
Related articles
History Guinea-Bissau War of Independence
Guinea-Bissau Civil War
2010 Guinea-Bissau military unrest
2012 Guinea Bissau coup d'état
Soldiers of PAIGC raise the flag of Guinea-Bissau in 1974.

The Armed Forces of Guinea-Bissau consist of an Army, Navy, Air Force and paramilitary forces. A 2008 United Nations Development Programme census estimated that there were around 4,000 personnel in the Armed Forces.[1] An earlier CIA World Fact Book figure was 9,250. The World Fact Book also estimated military expenditure as $9.46 million, and military spending as a percentage of GDP as 3.1%.

The World Fact Book also reports that the military service age and obligation is 18–25 years of age for selective compulsory military service; 16 years of age or younger with parental consent, for voluntary service (2009).


  • Internal culture 1
    • 2010 Guinea-Bissau military unrest 1.1
    • International drug trade 1.2
    • Angolan assistance 1.3
  • Army equipment 2
  • Air Force 3
  • Navy 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7

Internal culture

2010 Guinea-Bissau military unrest

Major General Batista Tagme Na Waie was chief of staff of the Guinea-Bissau armed forces until his assassination in 2009.

Military unrest occurred in Guinea-Bissau on 1 April 2010. Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior was placed under house arrest by soldiers, who also detained Army Chief of Staff Zamora Induta. Supporters of Gomes and his party, PAIGC, reacted to the move by demonstrating in the capital, Bissau; Antonio Indjai, the Deputy Chief of Staff, then warned that he would have Gomes killed if the protests continued.[2]

The EU ended its mission to reform the country's security forces, EU SSR Guinea-Bissau, on 4 August 2010, a risk that may further embolden powerful generals and drug traffickers in the army and elsewhere. The EU mission's spokesman in Guinea-Bissau said the EU had to suspend its programme when the mastermind of the mutiny, General Antonio Indjai, became army chief of staff. "The EU mission thinks this is a breach in the constitutional order. We can't work with him".[3]

International drug trade

The multitude of small offshore islands and a military able to sidestep government with impunity has made it a favourite trans-shipment point for drugs to Europe. Aircraft drop payloads on or near the islands, and speedboats pick up bales to go direct to Europe or onshore.[4] UN chief Ban Ki-moon has called for sanctions against those involved in Guinea-Bissau's drugs trade.[5]

Air Force head Ibraima Papa Camara and former navy chief Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto have been named "drug kingpins".[6]

Angolan assistance

Angola, at the presidency of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) since 2010, has since 2011 participated in a military mission in Guinea-Bissau (MISSANG) to assist in the reform of defence and security.[7] MISSANG had a strength of 249 Angolan men (both soldiers and police officers), following an agreement signed between the defence ministers of both countries, as a complement to a Governmental accord ratified by both parliaments.[8]

The Angolan assistance mission included a programme of technical and military cooperation focused on a reform of the Guinean armed forces and police, including the repair of barracks and police stations, organisation of administrative services and technical and military training locally and in Angolan institutions. The mission was halted by the Angolan Government, following a politico-military crisis that led to the ousting of the interim president of Guinea- Bissau, Raimundo Pereira, and the prime minister, Gomes Júnior. By 22 June 2012, the Angolan vessel Rio M'bridge, carrying the mission's equipment, had arrived back in Luanda.

Army equipment

Air Force

On leaving Bissalanca by 1973-74, the Portuguese Air Force left three North American T-6Gs.[9]

After achieving independence from Portugal, the air force was formed by officers returning from training in Cuba and the USSR. The FAGB was re-equipped by the Soviet Union with a limited aid package in which its first combat aircraft were introduced. Five MIG-17s and two MiG-15UTI trainers entered service with a single Mi-8 helicopter.

In 1978 France provided more aircraft aid in the form of a Reims-cessna FTB.337 for coastal patrol and a surplus Alouette III. A Dassault Falcon 20F was donated by the Angolan government but was soon sold to the USA. In the late 1980s a similar number of MiG 21s replaced the MiG 17s, also delivered an AN-24, a YAK-40 and another Mi-8 helicopter. In the early 90s they received ex-polish PZL-Mielec Lim-6 Fresco fighter bombers from Poland and East Germany.

The force's title was changed to Força Aérea da Guiné-Bissau (FAGB) after the outbreak of the civil war in 1998.[9] Cooper and Weinert state 'when sighted for the last time in ..1991, most of the [MiG] fleet was in 'storage' inside several hangars on the military side of Bissalanca IAP (Osvaldo Vieira International Airport), and in a deteriorating condition.'[10]

Aircraft Type Versions In service[11] Notes
Aérospatiale SA 319 Alouette III utility helicopter SA 319B 1
Cessna 337 Skymaster liaison FTB337E 1 built by Reims
Dornier Do 27 utility Do 27 1
Mil Mi-8 Hip transport helicopter Mi-8 1
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 Fighter MiG-21MF 6


In September 2010, Rear-Admiral Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto attempted a coup, but was arrested after failing to gain support. "Guinea-Bissau's navy chief, who was arrested last week and accused of trying to stage a coup, has escaped custody and fled to nearby Gambia, the armed forces said on Tuesday."[12]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Assimo Balde, "Soldiers put Guinea-Bissau PM under house arrest", Associated Press, 1 April 2010.
  3. ^ EU pull-out hits Guinea-Bissau reforms BBC
  4. ^ Africa - new front in drugs war BBC
  5. ^ BBC, G Bissau drugs sanctions threat
  6. ^ British Broadcasting Corporation, US names two Guinea-Bissau military men 'drug kingpins'
  7. ^ MENAFN, MISSANG Trains Police Staff in Guinea-Bissau, July 25, 2011
  8. ^ Military equipment used in Guinea-Bissau in Luanda
  9. ^ a b Cooper and Weinert 2010, 207
  10. ^ Cooper and Weinert 2010, 210
  11. ^ "World Military Aircraft Inventory", Aerospace Source Book 2007, Aviation Week & Space Technology, January 15, 2007.
  12. ^ retrieved on 12 August 2008, via afdevinfo, 16 September 2010
  • The Two Faces of War
  • World Aircraft Information Files. Brightstar Publishing, London. File 338 Sheet 02
  • Cooper, Tom & Weinert, Peter (2010). African MiGs: Volume I: Angola to Ivory Coast. Harpia Publishing LLC.  

Further reading

  • B Embaló, Civil–military relations and political order in Guinea-Bissau, The Journal of Modern African Studies, 2012

External links

  • September 2010
  • United Nations, Report of the Secretary-General on UNIOGBIS, S/2010/550, 25 October 2010. UNIOGBIS is the former United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS) and is closely involved in reform of the armed forces.
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