Military History of Chad - Military Under Hissène Habré

Military Under Hissène Habré

The growing unpopularity of the country's first president, François Tombalbaye, impelled him to strengthen further the internal security forces and to employ a unit of Moroccan troops as his personal bodyguard. During the early 1970s, Tombalbaye doubled the size of the National and Nomad Guard and augmented the National Gendarmerie considerably. At the same time, he neglected and downgraded FAT, which the force interpreted as a lack of trust. These actions ultimately contributed to the decision by a small group of officers to carry out a coup in 1975 that resulted in Tombalbaye's death and a new government under Malloum's presidency.

Malloum's military regime insisted on the departure of the French troops. FAT, however, found itself increasingly unable to cope with the insurgency in the north, and, as a consequence, Malloum was obliged to invite the French back in 1978. As part of an effort at conciliation with one of the rebel factions, Habré was brought into the government. Habré rejected, however, the plan to integrate his FAN troops into the army, and his force soon demonstrated its superior resolution and strength by expelling Malloum's army from N'Djamena.

By the late 1980s, Chad's national security establishment was a conglomeration of former rebel armies under the command of Habré, whose troops were mostly from the north. The evolution of the national security establishment from an army of mostly southerners was rapid. This change occurred between April 1975, when Malloum assumed power, and early 1979, when the combined northern forces of Habré and Goukouni drove the southern-dominated FAT from N'Djamena.

Internecine conflict in the late 1970s and early 1980s, however, prevented Chad from achieving political or military unity. Erstwhile comrades Habré and Goukouni became bitter adversaries, and, with Libyan backing, Goukouni evicted Habré from the capital in 1980. Although forced to flee, Habré had fought his way back to N'Djamena by mid-1982. His occupation of the city was followed by victories in the south against his divided opponents). With most regions of the country now under his authority, Habré assumed the presidency, promulgated a provisional constitution, the Fundamental Law of 1982, and introduced a cabinet and other institutions broadly representative of the existing political forces.

The Fundamental Law, which remained in effect as of 1988, declares that the president is the supreme commander of the army and is authorized to appoint high-ranking military officers, such appointments to be subject to implementing decrees approved by the Council of Ministers (presidential cabinet). Article 21 of the Fundamental Law states that "under the authority of the President of the Republic, the Chief of State, and the government, the national army has the task of defending the national independence and unity, sovereignty, territorial integrity, the security of the country, and its preservation from subversion and any aggression. The army participates in the work of national reconstruction."

Habré, who had personally commanded the major element of the northern forces during most of the Chadian Civil War, retained the title of supreme commander and a large measure of control over the military establishment. In addition to his positions as president and supreme commander, Habré had assumed the ministerial portfolio of national defense, veterans, and war victims. In a practical sense, however, in 1988 the Ministry of National Defense, Veterans, and War Victims was not a fully staffed government department independent of the military command structure.

At the head of the military chain of command in 1988 was Hassane Djamouss, the commander in chief of FANT and the battlefield commander during the succession of military victories over Libya. His senior deputy with responsibility for administration and logistics was Zamtato Ganebang. The second deputy, Adoum Yacoub, formerly commander of the People's Armed Forces (Forces Armées Populaires, FAP), a rebel army in the north, was responsible for tactics and operations. Another former rebel leader, Oki Dagache Yaya, was the senior representative of the FAP units that had been integrated into FANT.

The creation of a five-member military cabinet attached to the presidency, on which several of the ethnic groups composing FANT were represented, was one of the measures adopted by Habré to provide a governmental role for his former opponents. The extent to which Habré relied on its advice on matters of military policy was not certain; some observers believe that Habré's former adversaries had been given symbolic positions having no real influence. The headquarters staff of FANT totaled about twenty officers and was composed of a number of bureaus patterned after those of the French military. Included were personnel (B-1), intelligence (B-2), operations (B-3), logistics (B-4), and communications (B-5). Others bureaus were tactics and recruitment. French advisers were detailed to all but the intelligence bureau.

The Presidential Guard (Sécurité Presidentielle, SP) was responsible for the personal security of the president and performed other internal security duties as well. Although the Presidential Guard participated in combat missions, it functioned as an independent wing of the armed forces. The Presidential Guard depended on FANT headquarters for administration and was officially part of FANT's structure, but it operated as a separate army, often in semisecrecy. Dominated by soldiers of Habré's ethnic group, the Daza, it enjoyed many privileges and was assigned the most modern transportation equipment and weaponry. In 1987 the 3,600-man force was commanded by Ahmed Gorou.

Except for the north, which had been organized into a separate military region, the country was divided into twelve military zones, each with headquarters in a major town. The senior officer, generally a major of the Presidential Guard, held command responsibility for any military units within his designated zone. Subzones were located in smaller communities, usually under a lieutenant.

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