Royal Moroccan Armed Forces


Royal Moroccan Armed Forces
Royal Moroccan Armed Forces
القوات المسلحة الملكية
Armed Forces of Morocco.svg
Founded 1956
Service branches -Royal Moroccan Air Force
-Royal Moroccan Army
-Royal Moroccan Navy
-Royal Moroccan Gendarmerie
-Auxiliary Forces
-Moroccan Royal Guard
Leadership
Supreme Commander and Chief-of-Staff King Mohammed VI
Inspector General General de Corps d'Armee Abdelaziz Bennani (February 2010)[1]
Manpower
Active personnel 185,800 (2010) (ranked 25th)
Reserve personnel 150,000 (2002 est.)
Expenditures
Budget 26.605 billion MAD (3.256 billion $)[2]
Percent of GDP 4.3%
Industry
Foreign suppliers  France
 United States
 Russia
 Spain
Related articles
History Military history of Morocco
Ranks Military ranks of Morocco

The Royal Moroccan Armed Forces are the summation of the armed forces of the kingdom of Morocco.

It was founded in 1956 (except the Royal Navy founded in 1960) after Morocco's independence from France and Spain. Before the French and Spanish occupation of Morocco, which started in 1912, the country's defence force was made of a regular Makhzen army, and of a less organized but much more powerful Berber tribes' militias. These Berber militias were able to resist the French and Spanish armies for over 30 years, from 1907 to 1933.

The U.S. Embassy in Rabat commented in 2008 that: 'Civilian control, if ascribed to the person of the King, is complete, but there is no real Defense Ministry. Outside the FAR, there is only a small administration. The military remains plagued by corruption, an inefficient bureaucracy, low levels of education in the ranks, periodic threats of radicalization of some of its soldiers, political marginalization, and the deployment of most of its forces in the Western Sahara.'[3]

Contents

Branches

The modern Moroccan military is structured into six different branches.[4]

Branch: Personnel Founded
Flag of the Royal Moroccan Army.svg Royal Army 185,800 1956
Roundel of the Royal Moroccan Air Force.svg Royal Moroccan Air Force 14,000 1956
Flag of the Royal Moroccan Navy.svg Royal Navy 45,000 1960
Flag of the Royal Moroccan Gendarmerie.svg Royal Gendarmerie 24,000 1956
Flag of the Moroccan Royal Guard.svg Royal Guard 3,000 1956
* Total 271,800 -

This data is from the Finance Law 2009. However, the U.S. Embassy Rabat cable linked above gives different figures for some of the armed services. Most significantly, they list the Navy with 7,800 personnel, but also say that the Gendarmerie consists of about 22,000 personnel.[3]

Origins

During the period of the French protectorate of Morocco (1912–1956) large numbers of Moroccans were recruited for service in the Spahi and Tirailleur regiments of the French Army of Africa. During World War II more than 300,000 Moroccan troops (including goumier auxiliaries) served with the Free French forces in North Africa, Italy, France and Austria. The two world conflicts saw Moroccan units earning the nickname of "Todesschwalben" (death swallows) by German soldiers as they showed particular toughness on the battlefield . By the end of the World War II, Moroccan troops took part of the French Expeditionary Force engaged in the First Indochina War from 1946 to 1954.

The Spanish Army also made extensive use of Moroccan troops recruited in the Spanish Protectorate, during both the Rif War of 1921-26 and the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39. Moroccan Regulares, together with the Spanish Legion, made up Spain's elite Spanish Army of Africa. A para-military gendarmerie, known as the "Mehal-la Jalifianas" and modelled on the French goumieres, was employed within the Spanish Zone.

The Royal Armed Forces were created on 14 May 1956, after the French Protectorate was dissolved.[5] Fourteen thousand Moroccan personnel from the French Army and ten thousand from the Spanish Armed Forces transferred into the newly formed armed forces. This number was augmented by approximately 5,000 former guerrillas from the "Army of Liberation" (see below). About 2,000 French officers and NCOs remained in Morocco on short term contracts, until crash training programs at the military academies of St-Cyr, Toledo and Dar al Bayda produced sufficient numbers of Moroccan commissioned officers.

Four years later, the Royal Moroccan Navy was established in 1960.

The Royal Moroccan Army fought on the Golan front during the Yom Kippur War of 1973 (mostly in the battle for Quneitra) and intervened decisively in the 1977 conflict known as Shaba I to save Zaire's regime. The Armed Forces also took a symbolic part in the Gulf War among other Arab armies.

But the Moroccan Armed Forces were mostly notable in fighting a 25-year war against the POLISARIO, an Algerian backed rebel national liberation movement seeking the independence of Western Sahara from Morocco. From the mid-1980s Morocco largely managed to keep Polisario troops off by building a huge berm or sand wall (the Moroccan Wall), staffed by an army roughly the same size as the entire Sahrawi population, enclosing within it the economically useful parts of Western Sahara (Bou Craa, El-Aaiun, Smara etc.). This stalemated the war, with no side able to achieve decisive gains, but artillery strikes and sniping attacks by the guerrillas continued, and Morocco was economically and politically strained by the war.

On 14 July 1999, the Moroccan Armed Forces took part in the Bastille Day parade on the Champs-Élysées, which was exceptional for a non-French armed forces, at the invitation of then French President Jacques Chirac.[6]

It is today taking part in several peace keeping missions: MONUC, ONUCI, EUFOR, KFOR and MINUSTAH. Previous peace-keeping missions included the Somalia operation, in which Moroccan personnel served as part of UNOSOM I,[7] the Unified Task Force, and the follow-on UNOSOM II mission.

Army of Liberation

A Moroccan soldier trains with United States Marines

The Army of Liberation (Berber: Aserdas n Uslelli, Arabic: جيش التحرير‎) was a force fighting for the independence of Morocco. In 1956, units of the Army began infiltrating Ifni and other enclaves of Spanish Morocco, as well as the Spanish Sahara. Initially, they received important backing from the Moroccan government. In the Spanish Sahara, the Army rallied Sahrawi tribes along the way, and triggered a large-scale rebellion. In early 1958, the Moroccan king reorganized the Army of Liberation units fighting in the Spanish Sahara as the "Saharan Liberation Army"[citation needed].

The revolt in the Spanish Sahara was put down in 1958 by a joint French and Spanish offensive. The king of Morocco then signed an agreement with the Spanish, as he asserted control over the rebellious southern border areas, and parts of the Army of Liberation was absorbed back into the Moroccan armed forces.

Nationalistic Moroccans tend to see the Army of Liberation battles in Western Sahara as a proof of Western Sahara's loyalty to the Moroccan crown, whereas sympathizers to the Polisario Front view it only as an anti-colonial war directed against Spain. Sahrawi veterans of the Army of Liberation today exist on both sides of the Western Sahara conflict, and both the Kingdom of Morocco and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic celebrate it as part of their political history.

References

External links


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