Military of Sierra Leone

Military of Sierra Leone

Infobox National Military
name= Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces
headquarters= Freetown, Sierra Leone
commander-in-chief= President Ernest Bai Koroma
minister= Major General Edward Sam M’boma
minister_title = Chief of the Defence Staff
active= 15,500
reserve= 500
amount= $10.6 million (2006 est)
percent_GDP= 1.5% (2002)
founded= 1961
current_form= 2002
branches= unified structure
age= 17
manpower_age= 17–49
available= 1,228,664 (2003 est.)
fit= 596,617 (2003 est.)
reaching= unknown
annual exports=
annual imports=
history=Sierra Leone Civil War
Second Liberian Civil War
World War II
(former British Imperial units only)

The Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces is the armed forces of Sierra Leone responsible for the territorial security of Sierra Leone's border and defending the national interests of Sierra Leone within the framework of its international obligations. The armed forces were formed after independence in 1961, on the basis of elements of the former British Royal West African Frontier Force present in the country. The Sierra Leone Armed Forces currently consist of around 15,500 personnel.

President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah announced in January 2002 that the Sierra Leone Army (SLA) would be unified with the tiny Sierra Leone Air Force and the moribund Sierra Leone Navy to form a reconstituted force known as the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF). [ [ Armed forces (Sierra Leone) Jane's Sentinel Security Assessments] , June 2008]

Before Sierra Leone gained independence in 1961 the military was known as the Royal Sierra Leone Military Force. On 19 April 1971, when Sierra Leone became a republic, the Royal Sierra Leone Military Forces were renamed the Republic of Sierra Leone Military Force (RSLMF). [ [ Partners: Sierra Leone Armed Forces] ]

The RSLMF remained a single service organization until 1979 when the Sierra Leone Navy was established. It then remained largely unchanged for 16 years until in 1995 when Defence Headquarters (DHQ) was established and the Sierra Leone Air Wing (SLAW) formed. This gave the need for the RSLMF to be renamed the Armed Forces of the Republic of Sierra Leone (AFRSL).

Following the long Sierra Leone civil war which the Sierra Leonian government fought against the Revolutionary United Front from 1991 - 2002, in which over 15,000 perished, new armed forces are being formed. The Armed Forces currently consist of around 13,500 personnel, according to the IISS Military Balance 2007. The British military, in the shape of a roughly 100-strong training team, is assisting in the formation of the new armed forces.

Head of the Military

Major General Edward Sam M’boma is currently the Chief of the Defence Staff of the Republic of the Armed Forces, the professional head of Sierra Leone Armed Forces. He is responsible for the administration and the operational control of the Sierra Leonean military. It is the highest rank military position in the country. However, the power of the Chief of the Defence Staff does not confer command over the military, this power belongs exclusively to the President of Sierra Leone as being the Commander in Chief.

Peace support operations

As stability and peace continue to be consolidated in Sierra Leone, the RSLAF is poised to participate and contribute to wider and international peace support operations. To this end the RSLAF has targeted 2007 as the base year to initiate a Company for Peace Support Operations in ECOWAS, AU and the UN. This would be gradually increased to a battalion strength by 2010. As a demonstration of this desire, a Peace Support Operations Course has been introduced into the curriculum of the Horton Military Academy in Freetown. The course is intended to enhance capacity building, and to train and prepare officers of the RSLAF for their future role and participation in the international peace support operations, and especially for the proposed West African Peace Keeping Force.

RSLAF HIV/AIDS programme

The RSLAF has been very active in complementing the efforts of government in the campaign against the spread of HIV/AIDS. [ [ Partners: Sierra Leone Armed Forces ] ]

The RSLAF HIV/AIDS programme has been very proactive and successful in its campaign against the spread of HIV/AIDS within and among soldiers, their spouses and dependents, and the general public.

At the height of the civil war there was an increase in the number of combatants admitted with HIV/AIDS related symptoms, like profuse diarrhoea, persistent fever, chest pains and tuberculosis.

Since then a massive campaign launched has reduced the incidence of HIV/AIDS. Col Dr. J. Samba, is the current RSLAF HIV/AIDS Coordinator.


The Republic of Sierra Leone Army (RSLA)

By far the largest branch of The Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, and is mainly responsible for protection of the state borders, the security of administered territories and defending the national interests of Sierra Leone within the framework of its international obligations.

The Army is modelled on the United Kingdom armed forces and came into existence after independence in 1961. It has an active force of about of 13,300 personnel. military service age eligibility is from 18-49 years.


Sierra Leone's military equipment is limited. It should be noted though, that the black market network in the country offers a wide variety of foreign illegally imported arms. The Army's current equipment includes:
* T-72 main battle tank - 2, acquired from Poland;
* OT-64 SKOT APCs - unknown number;
* BMP-2 - few
* 9K32 Strela-2 MANPADS
* FN FAL- standerd infantry rifle
* AK-47
* RPG-7

The Republic of Sierra Leone's naval component

The RSLN was an arm of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces that is responsible sea patrol of Sierra Leone's Territorial waters. In 2002 it was merged with the other service branches. Today the naval force has about 500 personnel and operates several small patrol craft and barges. Their primary responsibility is to protect and safeguard the territorial integrity of Sierra Leone's sea. Sierra Leone naval officers are trained by British forces. They received financial support from Britain and China.

On September 25, 2007, eight Guineans Naval officers were arrested by the Sierra Leone Navy for an act of piracy against locally-licensed fishermen inside Sierra Leonean waters. [BBC, [ S Leone Captures Guinea 'Pirates'] , accessed March 2008] British-trained Sierra Leone naval officers interrupted the high-seas hold-up by armed men in two launches on Sunday, 18 nautical miles off the capital Freetown inside the country's 200-mile (320-km) economic exclusion zone. One of the attacking speedboats escaped north towards Guinea, while the other was seized. The eight men arrested were found with AK-47 automatic rifles and bags of fish, including high-value snapper, taken off the Sierra Leone-licensed vessels.

ierra Leone's Air Arm

The Republic of Sierra Leone Air Force was merged with the other services to form the RSL Armed Forces from 2002. Sierra Leone has a very small air component with a limited offensive capability. The status of its equipment is unknown, but the aircraft are probably operable.
* Mi-24 gunship - 3
* Mi-8/Mi-17 transport helicopters;
* MFI-17 Mushshak trainers/light attack aircraft - 2

ources and links

*IISS Military Balance 2007, p.290-91
* - official site
* - British led IMATT SL
* [ - Sierra Leone Expenditure Review]

Further reading

*E D A Turay & A Abraham, 'The Sierra Leone Army: A Century of History,' MacMillan Publishers, London & Basingstoke, 1978, accessible via the School of Oriental and African Studies, London

ee also

*Sierra Leone Army (RSLA)
*1992 Sierra Leonean coup d'état
*Chief of the Defence Staff (Sierra Leone)

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