Armed Forces of Senegal


The Armed Forces of Senegal (French: Forces armées du Sénégal) consists of about 17,000 personnel in the army, air force, navy, and gendarmerie. The Senegal 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.

Senegalese Armed Forces
Forces armées du Sénégal
Service branches
PresidentMacky Sall
Minister of DefenceSidiki Kaba
Chief of the General StaffGeneral of Air Corps Birame Diop
Available for
military service
1,158,893 (2000 est.), age 15–49 (2,218,920 (2000 est.))
Fit for
military service
109,381 (2000 est.), age 15–49 (2,218,920 (2000 est.))
Reaching military
age annually
(2,218,920 (2000 est.))
Active personnel17,000
Budget~ $350 million (FY2018)
Percent of GDP~1.5% (FY2018 est.)
Foreign suppliers France
 United States
Related articles
HistoryMauritania–Senegal Border War
Casamance conflict
Gulf War
Guinea-Bissau Civil War
Insurgency in the Maghreb
2008 invasion of Anjouan
Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen
Invasion of the Gambia
RanksMilitary ranks of Senegal

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.

Senegal also 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.

As one of the largest troop contributors in Africa (per capita) to African Union missions, United Nations missions, and other regional security organizations, the Senegalese military has proven itself to be one of the most effective and reliable militaries on the African continent. This is remarkable given that Senegal is poorer than the average Sub-Saharan African country. Most importantly, the army of Senegal is multi-ethnic, not coup-proofed, and has never attempted a coup d'état, which is a rarity in Africa. Harmonious Senegalese civil-military relations since independence have permitted the creation of an effective 'military enclave' that is a capable institution not a threat to the political leadership in Dakar.[1]

Summary of past military actionsEdit

Commando battalion of Thiès.
  • In October 1980 and August 1981, the Senegalese military was invited into the Gambia by President Dawda Kairaba Jawara to put down a coup attempt.[2]
  • In August 1989, Senegalese-Gambian military cooperation ceased with the dissolution of the Senegambian Confederation.
  • In 1990, 500 Senegalese troops were deployed to Saudi Arabia to take part in the Gulf War. 92 of them were killed after the end of the conflict in a plane crash on 21 March 1991.
  • In 1992 1,500 men were sent to the ECOMOG peacekeeping group in Liberia.
  • In 1994, a battalion-sized force was sent to Rwanda to participate in the UN peacekeeping mission there.
  • Senegal intervened in the Guinea-Bissau civil war in 1998 at the request of former President Vieira.[3]
  • A Senegalese contingent deployed on a peacekeeping mission to the Central African Republic in 1997.
  • In 2017, Senegal deployed troops into the Gambia to support newly elected President Adama Barrow, an action legally justified by UN resolution 2337.

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.


Senegalese commandos 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 Tirailleurs sénégalais. In 1978, Senegal dispatched a battalion to the Inter-African Force in Zaire, in the aftermath of the Shaba II fighting. The Senegalese contingent was under the command of Colonel Osmane Ndoye.[4] The Senegalese force comprised a parachute battalion from Thiaroye.

The Army 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 the 22nd, 24th, and 25th (at Bignona) and the 26th Bataillon de reconnaissance et d'Appui at Kolda; there are six infantry battalions numbered 1st to 6th.[5] 3rd Battalion may have been at Kaolack with 4th at Tambacounda at one point.[6]

Also reported is the 12th Battalion of the 2nd Military Zone at Saint Louis (Dakhar Bango),[7] along with the 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 GendarmerieEdit

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 patrol boat Fouladou
Senegalese patrol vessel Poponquine training with a United States Coast Guard vessel off the coast of Senegal

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 286-nautical-mile (530-kilometre) Atlantic coastline which is strategically located on the extreme west of the African continent. The coastline is divided in two by The Gambia. The navy was created in 1975.[8] The Navy operates two bases, one at Dakar and the other at Elinkine. The navy also patrols the 12-nautical-mile (22-kilometre) territorial waters as well as a declared 200-nautical-mile (370-kilometre) exclusive economic zone.[9][10]

The Navy is divided into three branches known as "groupings":[11]

  • 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 ForceEdit

Air Force Roundel.

The air force (Armée de l'Air) is orientated towards providing support for ground forces and resembles an army aviation corps. It possesses air-to-air combat aeroplanes, Mil Mi-24 gunship helicopters, as well as transport and reconnaissance aircraft.

Military zonesEdit

Senegal's Military zones.

At the present time, there are seven military zones:[12]

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.


Armored carsEdit

RAM Mk3 armored cars of the 1st Infantry Battalion training in Thiès before deployment to Mali with MINUSMA.

Armoured personnel carriersEdit

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


Senegalese naval personnel (training mission in 2011).


Anti-tank weapons:

  • 4 MBDA MILAN ATGM Launchers
  • 31 LRAC F1 89mm Light Anti-Tank Rocket Launcher

Air defence weapons:

  • 21 53-T-2/M-693 20mm AAGs
  • 12 Bofors L-60 40mm AAGs

Source: IISS Military Balance 2012, 450.

Infantry weaponsEdit



  1. ^ Matisek, Jahara (March 2019). "An Effective Senegalese Military Enclave: The Armée-Nation "Rolls On"". African Security. 12: 62–86. doi:10.1080/19392206.2019.1593004. S2CID 150559462.
  2. ^ Ndiaye, Ndèye Fatou; Sané, Chamsidine (17 January 2017). "Opérations en Gambie : Il était une fois "Fodé Kaba 1" et "Fodé Kaba 2"". (in French).
  3. ^ "Guinea: Senegal Sends Troops To Bissau". 12 June 1998.
  4. ^ "Le Potential". Archived from the original on 2014-03-29. Retrieved 2014-03-29.
  5. ^ IISS Military Balance 2012, 449.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-03-29. Retrieved 2012-06-30.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ Gonzalez, Flor (28 January 2020). "U.S. Africa Command continues to develop Senegal's Enlisted Development Strategy". United States Africa Command. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  9. ^ Gardiner, Chumbley & Budzbon 1995, p. 330.
  10. ^ Saunders 2009, p. 717.
  11. ^ Bryden & N'Diaye (eds), 'Security Sector Governance in Francophone West Africa, DCAF, 2011, 207.
  12. ^ État Major des Armees, Zones militaires Archived July 26, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, accessed August 2009
  13. ^ "Turkish armored vehicles showcased in Senegal".
  14. ^ Archived from the original on 2021-12-24. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ "Armée Sénégalaise - Page 7".
  16. ^ Binnie, Jeremy; de Cherisey, Erwan (2017). "New-model African armies" (PDF). Jane's. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 May 2021.
  17. ^ "Defence Notes - Shephard Media". Archived from the original on 2017-03-25. Retrieved 2017-07-02.
  18. ^ "Senegal compra fuzis e submetralhadoras da Taurus". Forças Terrestres - ForTe (in Brazilian Portuguese). 2020-05-28. Retrieved 2021-05-22.
  19. ^ Retrieved 2021-05-22. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)

Part of this article is derived from the equivalent article at French Wikipedia


  • Gardiner, Robert; Chumbley, Stephen & Budzbon, Przemysław, eds. (1995). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1947–1995. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-132-7.
  • Saunders, Stephen, ed. (2009). Jane's Fighting Ships 2009–2010 (112 ed.). Alexandria, Virginia: Jane's Information Group Inc. ISBN 978-0-7106-2888-6.

External linksEdit

  • Website of the Armed Forces of Senegal.