Burkina Faso Military - 2023


Military and security forces

Armed Forces of Burkina Faso ((FABF; aka National Armed Forces (FAN), aka Defense and Security Forces (Forces de Défense et de Sécurité or FDS)): Army of Burkina Faso (L’Armee de Terre, LAT), Air Force of Burkina Faso (Force Aerienne de Burkina Faso), National Gendarmerie, National Fire Brigade (Brigade Nationale de Sapeurs-Pompiers or BNSP); Homeland Defense Volunteers (Forcés de Volontaires de Défense pour la Patrie or VDP)

Ministry of Territorial Administration, Decentralization and Security (Ministère de l'Administration Territoriale, de la Décentralisation et de la Sécurité): National Police (2023)

note 1: the National Gendarmerie officially reports to the Ministry of Defense, but usually operates in support of the Ministry of Territorial Administration, Decentralization, and Security; Gendarmerie troops are typically integrated with Army forces in anti-terrorism operations; specialized counterterrorism units include the Army's special forces, the Special Legion of the National Gendarmerie, and the Multipurpose Intervention Unit of National Police

note 2: the VDP is a lightly-armed civilian defense force established in 2019 to act as auxiliaries to the Army in the fight against militants; the volunteers receive two weeks of training and typically assist with carrying out surveillance, information-gathering, and escort duties, as well as local defense, and were to be based in each of the country's more than 300 municipalities; in 2022, the military government created a "Patriotic Watch and Defense Brigade" (La Brigade de Veille et de Défense Patriotique or BVDP) under the FABF to coordinate the VDP recruits

Military expenditures

2.9% of GDP (2022 est.)

2.4% of GDP (2021 est.)

2.4% of GDP (2020 est.)

2.2% of GDP (2019 est.)

1.9% of GDP (2018 est.)

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 14,000 personnel (8,500 Army; 500 Air Force; 5,000 National Gendarmerie) (2023)

note: in 2022, the Burkina Faso Government announced a special recruitment for up to 6,000 additional soldiers to assist with its fight against terrorist groups operating in the country; it also put out a recruitment call for up to 100,000 VDF volunteers, and as of 2023 had an estimated 90,000 VDF personnel enrolled (the VDF's original recruited strength was 15,000)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the FABF has a mix of mostly older or secondhand equipment from a mix of suppliers, including France, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK, and the US (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18-26 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription; women may serve in supporting roles (2022)

Military deployments

650 (plus about 180 police) Mali (MINUSMA) (May 2022)

note: Burkina Faso is part of a four (formerly five)-nation anti-jihadist task force known as the G4 Sahel Group, set up in 2014 with Chad, Mali (withdrew in 2022), Mauritania, and Niger; it has committed 550 troops and 100 gendarmes to the force; as of 2020, defense forces from each of the participating states were allowed to pursue terrorist fighters up to 100 km into neighboring countries; the force is backed by France, the UN, and the US

Military - note

the FABF has a history of interference in the country’s politics, having conducted eight coups since its formation in 1960-61, including the most recent in September of 2022; several combat units were disbanded in 2011 following mutinies; while the FABF is responsible for external defense, it has an internal security role and can be called out to assist internal security forces in restoring public order, combating crime, securing the border, and counterterrorism; indeed, for more than a decade, its focus has largely been combatting terrorism, and it is actively engaged in combat operations to counter terrorist groups linked to al-Qa'ida and the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS), particularly in the northern and eastern regions; the FABF is struggling to contain the groups, however, and a large portion of the country—40% by some estimates—is not under government control

in the north, Jama'at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), a coalition of al-Qa'ida linked militant groups taht act as al-Qa'ida in the Land of the Islamic Magreb's (AQIM) arm in the Sahel, has exploited ethnic tensions and perceptions of state neglect, as well as grievances over corruption, patronage politics, social stratification, and land disputes; in 2022, JNIM conducted attacks in 10 of the country's 13 provinces; most of the attacks were assessed to be by the Macina Liberation Front (FLM) of the JNIM coalition; the ISIS-Greater Sahara (ISIS-GS) terrorist group operates in the eastern part of the country

the Army’s combat forces include a mix of about 8 small (battalion-sized) infantry and combined arms regiments, plus battalions of artillery and special forces historically deployed in 3 military regions; in November 2022, the military government announced it was creating 6 rapid reaction battalions (bataillon de réaction rapide or BIR), expanding the number of military regions to 6, and establishing 6 Gendarmerie “legions”; currently, the Gendarmerie has approximately 8 mobile squadrons stationed across 3 regions; in addition to its counterterrorism missions, the Gendarmerie’s Special Legion fights organized crime and provides security for high-level officials and government institutions; the Air Force’s primary mission is providing support to the Army; it has small numbers of combat aircraft, combat helicopters, and armed UAVs acquired from Turkey (2023)

NOTE: The information regarding Burkina Faso on this page is re-published from the 2023 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Burkina Faso 2023 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Burkina Faso 2023 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 10 Nov 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.