Senegal Military

Senegal is a West African nation located on the Atlantic coast. It has a population of 16 million people as of 2018. Senegal is an independent state and part of the African Union. The country has a military and defense force, including an army, navy, air force, and gendarmerie. Senegal’s defense forces are responsible for protecting the country’s borders and providing security within its borders. The country also relies on regional organizations such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for defense. The ECOWAS is a joint effort between 15 West African nations to provide security for its member states. It includes naval patrols in territorial waters, air surveillance, and various other security measures. In addition to this regional defense system, Senegal also relies on its police force to maintain law and order within its borders. The Senegalese Police Force is responsible for upholding laws within the country’s jurisdiction while also providing assistance to other members of ECOWAS when needed. See naturegnosis to learn more about the country of Senegal.


The defense, which is based on selective military duty with an initial 24-month service, comprises (2008) 14,000 men and is organized into ten battalions, nine smaller fighter ships and eight fighter aircraft. Semi-military security forces amount to 5,000 men. The equipment is relatively modern and of French origin.

Defense costs increased in 1985-2006 from 1.1% to 1.6% of GDP. There is an armed opposition, the Mouvement des Forces Démocratiques de Casamance (MFDC), during a ceasefire negotiation and comprising 2,000-4,000 men. France has stationed a 600-man naval infantry battalion with helicopter-based sea surveillance, and the United States has a few soldiers in the country.

Senegal participates in UN peacekeeping operations in Ivory Coast (United Nations Operation in Ivory Coast, UNOCI), Congo (Kinshasa) (United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MUNOC), Liberia (United Nations Mission in Liberia, UNMIL) and Sudan (including African Union Mission in Sudan, AUMIS). To see related acronyms about this country, please check ABBREVIATIONFINDER where you can see that SEN stands for Senegal.

Senegal Army

Senegal has military service after selection, with initial service of 24 months. The total force numbers for Senegal’s armed forces are 13,600 active personnel (2018, IISS). In addition, 5000 semi-military forces are coming into a gendarmerie. In 2018, France had a force of 350 personnel stationed in the country.

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The army has a strength of 11,900 active personnel. Materials include 145 lorries, 26 storm tanks, and 81 armored personnel vehicles. In addition, the army has heavy artillery and air defense artillery.

Air Force

The Air Force has a force of 750 active personnel. Materials include ten transport aircraft, seven training aircraft, and 14 helicopters (of which five Mi-24 and Mi-35 combat helicopters).

The Navy

The Navy has a force of 950 active personnel including the coastguard, five patrol vessels, two landing craft, and one aid vessel.

International operations

In 2018, Senegal participated in UN operations in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) with a combat helicopter squadron and 111 personnel, and in Mali (MINUSMA) with two infantry battalions (1095 personnel). In addition, Senegal participated with observers and a small number of personnel in UN operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), in Liberia (UNMIL), in Sudan (UNAMID), and in South Sudan (UNMISS).

Senegal also participated in ECOWAS’s operation in Gambia (ECOMIG) with 250 personnel.

In the Republic of the Senegal, constituted on August 20, 1960 at the time of the breaking up of the Federation of Mali (see App. III, 11, p. 21), power was divided, on the basis of the Constitution of August 25, 1960, between President LS Senghor and Prime Minister Mamadou Dia, an expert economist on Marxist tendencies. In contrast to Senghor, M. Dia, reacting to a motion of censure presented to the National Assembly, attempted a coup in December 1962; but the country remained loyal to Senghor while Dia and others were arrested. A new Constitution, approved in a referendum on March 3, 1963, introduced a presidential regime: the President of the Republic, holder of executive power, preeminent in the constitutional order. In December 1963 Senghor was re-elected president, while the Union Progressiste Sénégalaise (UPS), of which he was general secretary, he obtained all 80 seats in the National Assembly: the opposition of the Bloc des masses sénégalaises was defeated and the protests against alleged fraud were severely repressed. The success of the UPS was confirmed in the local elections of February 1964. Senghor tried to induce opponents to join the government of the Senegal; in 1966 the Parti du Régroupement Africain (PRA) merged into the UPS and three of its representatives became ministers (the Parti africain de indépendance, banned in 1959, survived in hiding weakened by internal conflicts). A constitutional amendment and other legislative provisions strengthened the position of the President of the Republic in June 1967, reducing the powers of the National Assembly. The economic difficulties, mainly derived from the fall in the price of peanuts, caused increasing unease and discontent in many sectors, culminating in a student protest in 1968 (also influenced by the French events in May) in the University of Dakar, which was closed for a few months. ; the situation worsened when the unions (the National Union of Workers of the Senegal, UNTS) called a general strike, but the government, promising a reform of the university systems and granting wage increases, restored order, proceeding to a ministerial reshuffle. In 1970, with a new constitutional amendment, the office of prime minister was reinstated, but wholly subordinated to the president; the young Abdou Diouf dealt with internal problems, especially economic ones;

Senghor, relieved by the prime minister of his domestic political commitments, continued to devote himself to international problems; in 1973 he was re-elected president. Armed with personal prestige, he reacted firmly in the spring of 1973 to new riots at the University of Dakar. In an effort of national pacification, in March 1974 M. Dia and other political prisoners were released; in July the Parti Démocratique Sénégalais (PDS) was born, which held its first congress in February 1976. The return to the multi-party system was consecrated with a constitutional amendment (March 1976) which also removed the limits on the renewal of presidential mandates and declared the prime minister successor to the president; the UPS and the PDS were joined by the Rassemblement National Démocratique Sénégalais (RNDS), Marxist-Leninist, led by Majhmout Diop; the opposition – which is followed by the discontent deriving from the economic difficulties experienced by the country, also due to the drought of recent years – criticizes above all the dependence of the Senegal on French aid and the excessvodevelopment of government bureaucracy. In 1978 Senghor was confirmed as President of the Republic with 82% of the votes. The same percentage was obtained in the political elections by the Parti socialiste du Sénégal (formerly UPS), admitted to the Socialist International in 1976; the PDS got 17% of the votes. The foreign policy of the Senegal, determined and conducted mainly by President Senghor, who has made visits to a large number of countries on every continent, on some occasions playing the role of authoritative mediator, was characterized by the ties of collaboration with France, renegotiated in 1973, and from joining the groupings that arose among the moderate African states – from the Brazzaville group in 1960 to the Joint African and Mauritian Organization (OCAM) – and to cooperation organizations between French-speaking states, in particular between those of West Africa. Reconciled with Mali, after a period of tension following the rupture of the federation of the same name, the Senegal Guinea, and then the Organization for the Development of the Senegal River (OMVS). Cooperation agreements were entered into with independent Gambia in 1965, followed by further agreements. In recent years, the Senegal has significantly approached the Arab countries and in October 1973 broke off relations with Israel.