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Backgrounds: Cote d'Ivoire Defense
The 17,000-man Ivoirian armed forces (FANCI) include an army, navy, air force, and gendarmerie. The Joint Staff is assigned to the FANCI headquarters in Abidjan. A two-star officer serves as the chief of staff and commander of the FANCI. Cote d'Ivoire is broken down into five military regions, each commanded by a colonel.
The army has the majority of its forces in the First Military Region concentrated in and around Abidjan, its principal units there being a rapid intervention battalion (airborne), an infantry battalion, an armored battalion, and an air defense artillery battalion. The Second Military Region is located in Daloa and is assigned one infantry battalion. The Third Military Region is headquartered in Bouake and is home to an artillery, an infantry, and an engineer battalion. The Fourth Military Region maintains only a Territorial Defense Company headquartered in Korhogo. The fifth region is the Western Operational Zone, a temporary command created to respond to the security threat caused by the civil war in neighboring Liberia.
The gendarmerie is roughly equivalent in size to the army. It is a national police force, which is responsible for territorial security, especially in rural areas. In times of national crisis the gendarmerie could be used to reinforce the army. The gendarmerie is commanded by a colonel-major and is comprised of four legions, each corresponding to one of the four numbered military regions, minus the temporary military operational zone on the western border.
Cote d'Ivoire has a brown-water navy whose mission is coastal surveillance and security for the nation's 340-mile coastline. It has two fast-attack craft, two patrol crafts, and one light transport ship. It also has numerous smaller vessels used to control immigration and contraband within the lagoon system.
The Ivoirian Air Force's mission is to defend the nation's airspace and provide transportation support to the other services. Within its inventory are at least 5 Alpha jets, 12 transport/utility aircraft, and 2 helicopters, though additional aircraft were purchased in 2003, following the September 2002 coup attempt/mutiny.
A mutual defense accord signed with France in 1961 provides for the stationing of French forces in Cote d'Ivoire. The 43rd Marine Infantry Battalion is based in Port Bouet adjacent to the Abidjan Airport and has more than 500 troops assigned.
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