Congo Democratic Republic of the Military - 2023


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Military and security forces

Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Forces d'Armees de la Republique Democratique du Congo, FARDC): Land Forces, National Navy (La Marine Nationale), Congolese Air Force (Force Aerienne Congolaise, FAC); Republican Guard (2023)

note 1: the Congolese National Police are under the Ministry of Interior

note 2: the Republican Guard is a division-size element consisting of approximately 5 regiments; it is regarded as the country’s best equipped and trained military unit and is under the direct control of the president

Military expenditures

0.6% of GDP (2022 est.)

0.7% of GDP (2021 est.)

0.7% of GDP (2020 est.)

0.9% of GDP (2019 est.)

0.8% of GDP (2018 est.)

Military and security service personnel strengths

limited and widely varied information; approximately 100,000 active troops (mostly Army, but includes several thousand Navy and Air Force personnel, as well as about 10,000 Republican Guard; note -  Navy personnel includes naval infantry) (2022)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the FARDC is equipped mostly with Soviet-era weapons systems and equipment (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18-45 years of age for voluntary military service for men and women; 18-45 years of age for compulsory military service for men; it is unclear how much conscription is used (2023)

note: in eastern Congo, fighters from armed groups, and in some cases government security forces, have been accused of forced recruitment of child soldiers

Military - note

the FARDC’s primary focus is internal security; while the FARDC is large on paper, with an estimated 18 operational infantry brigades, it struggles to provide security in large portions of the country; the FARDC is widely assessed to suffer from insufficient training, low equipment readiness, poor morale and leadership, ill-discipline, and widespread corruption; it was created out of the armed factions of the Congo wars that ended in 2003, incorporating various militia, paramilitary, and rebel formations; the DRC’s most effective military force, the Republican Guard, is overseen by the office of the presidency rather than the FARDC and focuses largely on protecting the president and government institutions and enforcing internal security

the FARDC is actively conducting operations against a variety of illegal armed groups (IOGs) operating in the DRC, particularly in the eastern provinces of Ituri, North Kivu, and South Kivu, where more than 15 significant and cohesive IOGs operate; there is also violence in Maniema, Kasai, Kasai Central, and Tanganyika provinces; some estimates place over 100 IOGs operating in the country, including organized militias, such as the Nduma Defense of Congo-Renewal (NDC-R), which controls a large portion of North Kivu; Mai Mai groups (local militias that operate variously as self-defense networks and criminal rackets); and foreign-origin groups seeking safe haven and resources, such as the Ugandan-origin Allied Democratic Forces (ADF; aka Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham in the DRC), the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), multiple groups originating from Burundi, the Lords Resistance Army (LRA), and the March 23 Movement (aka M23 or Congolese Revolutionary Army), which the DRC has accused Rwanda of backing; the FARDC has been accused of collaborating with some IOGs, such as the NDC-R; in 2023, the East Africa Community deployed a regional force to oversee the withdrawal of the M23 rebel group from the country; countries sending troops include Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, and South Sudan

the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) has operated in the central and eastern parts of the country since 1999; as of early 2023, MONUSCO had over 14,000 personnel assigned; MONUSCO includes a Force Intervention Brigade (FIB; 3 infantry battalions, plus artillery and special forces), the first ever UN peacekeeping force specifically tasked to carry out targeted offensive operations to neutralize and disarm groups considered a threat to state authority and civilian security (2023)

Maritime threats

the International Maritime Bureau reported one incident in the territorial waters of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2022, the same number of attacks as in 2021; the Niger Delta and Gulf of Guinea remain a very high risk for piracy and armed robbery of ships; past incidents have been reported where vessels were attacked and crews kidnapped; these incidents showed that the pirates / robbers in the area are well armed and violent; pirates have robbed vessels and kidnapped crews for ransom; in the past, product tankers were hijacked and cargo stolen; the Maritime Administration of the US Department of Transportation has issued a Maritime Advisory (2023-001 - Gulf of Guinea-Piracy/Armed Robbery/Kidnapping for Ransom) effective 3 January 2023, which states in part, "Piracy, armed robbery, and kidnapping for ransom continue to serve as significant threats to US-flagged vessels transiting or operating in the Gulf of Guinea"

NOTE: The information regarding Congo Democratic Republic of the 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 Congo Democratic Republic of the 2023 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Congo Democratic Republic of the 2023 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 06 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.