Military History Of Chad
When Chad became independent in 1960, it had no armed forces under its own flag. Since World War I, however, southern Chad, particularly the Sara ethnic group, had provided a large share of the Africans in the French army. Chadian troops also had contributed significantly to the success of the Free French Forces in World War II. In December 1940, two African battalions began the Free French military campaign against Italian forces in Libya from a base in Chad, and at the end of 1941 a force under Colonel Jacques Leclerc participated in a spectacular campaign that seized the entire Fezzan region of southern Libya. Colonel Leclerc's 3,200-man force included 2,700 Africans, the great majority of them southerners from Chad. These troops went on to contribute to the Allied victory in Tunisia. Chadians, in general, were proud of their soldiers' role in the efforts to liberate France and in the international conflict.
The military involvement also provided the country's first taste of relative prosperity. In addition to the wages paid its forces, Chad received economic benefits from three years of use as a major route for Allied supply convoys and flights to North Africa and Egypt. By 1948 about 15,000 men in French Equatorial Africa (Afrique Equatoriale Française, AEF) were receiving military pensions. Many Chadian southerners, finding military life attractive, had remained in the French army, often becoming noncommissioned officers (NCOs); a few had earned commissions as well. The French wars in Indochina (1946–53; see First Indochina War) and Algeria (1954–62; see Algerian War) also drew on Chadians in great numbers, enlarging the veteran population still further. Those men receiving pensions tended to form the economic elite in their villages. As southerners they did not become involved in later insurgent movements that developed in central and northern Chad.
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