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Mali Military - 2024


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Military and security forces

Malian Armed Forces (Forces Armées Maliennes or FAMa): Land Forces (l’Armée de Terre), Air Force (l’Armée de l’Air); National Guard (la Garde Nationale du Mali or GNM); General Directorate of the National Gendarmerie (la Direction Générale de la Gendarmerie Nationale or DGGN) (2024)

note 1: the Gendarmerie and the National Guard are under the authority of the Ministry of Defense and Veterans Affairs (Ministere De La Defense Et Des Anciens Combattants, MDAC), but operational control is shared with the Ministry of Internal Security and Civil Protection which also controls the National Police; the National Police has responsibility for law enforcement and maintenance of order in urban areas and supports the FAMa in internal military operations

note 2: the Gendarmerie's primary mission is internal security and public order; its duties also include territorial defense, humanitarian operations, intelligence gathering, and protecting private property, mainly in rural areas; it also has a specialized border security unit

note 3: the National Guard is a military force responsible for providing security to government facilities and institutions, prison service, public order, humanitarian operations, some border security, and intelligence gathering; its forces include a camel corps for patrolling the deserts and borders of northern Mali

note 4: there are also pro-government militias operating in Mali, such as the Imghad Tuareg Self-Defense Group and Allies (GATIA); the leader of GATIA is also a general in the national army

Military expenditures

3.5% of GDP (2022 est.)
3.5% of GDP (2021 est.)
3.4% of GDP (2020 est.)
3.1% of GDP (2019 est.)
3.1% of GDP (2018 est.)

Military and security service personnel strengths

information varies; estimated 35-40,000 total active military and paramilitary personnel, including approximately 20-25,000 FAMa (up to 2,000 Air Force), 5-7,000 Gendarmerie, and 10,000 National Guard (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the FAMa's inventory consists primarily of Soviet-era equipment, although in recent years it has received limited quantities of newer armaments from more than a dozen countries, especially China and Russia (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for men and women for selective compulsory and voluntary military service; 24-month compulsory service obligation (2023)

Military deployments

note: until announcing its withdrawal in May of 2022, Mali was part of a five-nation anti-jihadist task force known as the G5 Sahel Group, set up in 2014 with Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, and Niger; Mali had committed 1,100 troops and 200 gendarmes to the force

Military - note

the FAMa is responsible for defense of the country’s sovereignty and territory, but also has some domestic security duties, including the maintenance of public order and support to law enforcement if required, as well as counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations; it also participates in socio-economic development projects; the military has traditionally played a large role in Mali’s politics; prior to the coup in August 2020 and military takeover in May 2021, it had intervened in the political arena at least five times since the country gained independence in 1960; two attempts failed (1976 and 1978), while three succeeded in overturning civilian rule (1968, 1991, and 2012)

the FAMa and other security forces are actively engaged in operations against several insurgent/terrorist groups affiliated with al-Qa'ida and the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS), as well as other rebel groups, communal militias, and criminal bands spread across the central, northern, and southern regions of the country; the government is reportedly in control of only an estimated 10-20% of the country's central and northern territories, and attacks are increasing in the more heavily populated south, including around the capital Bamako; the Macina Liberation Front (FLM), part of the Jama’at Nusrat al Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) coalition of al-Qa'ida-linked terror groups, has played a large role in a surge in violence in Mali’s central and southern regions; in the north, ISIS in the Greater Sahara (ISIS-GS) has regained strength in recent years

the FAMa and the remainder of the security forces collapsed in 2012 during the fighting against Tuareg rebels and Islamic militants and have since been rebuilt with considerable external assistance, including the EU, France, and the UN; for example, the EU Training Mission in Mali (EUTM) from 2013-2022 trained as many as 15,000 Malian soldiers and eight combined arms battalions/battlegroups (Groupement Tactique InterArmes, GTIA), each of which was structured to be self-sufficient with its own motorized/mechanized infantry, light armor, commandos, artillery, engineers, and other support forces; EUTM suspended its training program in 2022, citing issues with the ruling military government, including human rights abuses and the presence of Russian private military contractors; over the same period, the French military provided considerable assistance to the Malian security forces and conducted counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations in Mali; the French suspended operations in 2021 and in August 2022 withdrew the last of its forces while also citing issues with the military government; the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) has operated in the country since 2013 with the mission of providing security, rebuilding Malian security forces, protecting civilians, supporting national political dialogue, and assisting in the reestablishment of Malian government authority; however, in June 2023, the UN Security Council voted to end the MINUSMA mission after the ruling junta demanded the withdrawal of foreign forces and aligned itself closer to Russia; the MINUSMA mission officially ended on 11 December 2023, although a “liquidation phase” involving activities such as handing over remaining equipment to local authorities will stretch into 2024
in addition to the EU-trained GTIAs, the Army has commandos and special forces, as well as recently created motorcycle-mounted reconnaissance units; the Air Force has small numbers of combat aircraft and helicopters, as well as a few armed UAVs; the Gendarmerie and National Guard field company-sized paramilitary units, including camel-mounted forces in the National Guard; they also have special anti-terrorism and intervention forces

the military government has increased security ties with Russia; Russia has provided military equipment, and in December 2021, Mali contracted with a Russian private military company to provide training for local armed forces and security to senior Malian officials; the contractors have also participated in security operations and been accused of war crimes; as of 2023, there were an estimated 1,000 Russian military contractors in Mali (2023)

NOTE: The information regarding Mali on this page is re-published from the 2024 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Mali 2024 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Mali 2024 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 04 May 24, Copyright © 2024 ITA all rights reserved.