Algerian Military Development

The Professionalization of a Guerrilla Army

by William B. Quandt


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Examines some factors behind the transformation of the 130,000-man Algerian popular army into a 60,000-man professional army. Guerrillas are too independent and undisciplined to constitute a reliable post-independence army. While continuing to advise people's war and support for guerrillas abroad, Boumedienne replaced his "army of the poor" with a unified, modernized military establishment, with French and Russian training and equipment. Indonesia and Yugoslavia passed through this stage and then returned to a form of popular defense, motivated by the high cost of a modern army and the political liabilities of dependence on outside suppliers. Lacking a military threat, Algeria may never go beyond the professional army stage, but much of her sophisticated weaponry is unused. Large, heavily equipped Soviet-style divisions were succeeded by motorized brigades and an 8,000-man gendarmerie for internal security; the military is expected to help in economic development. Appended are an analysis of Algerian force structure and excerpts from pertinent documents.

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