The Congo's Final Four

Monday, March 28, 2005

The Congo's Final Four

Confused about the complex on-going war in the Democratic Republic of Congo that, over the last several years, has taken an estimated 4 million lives?

Well, the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) has reprinted this handy guide to the various military organizations currently operating in the Congo
Government Forces

FARDC (Armed Forces of the DRC): The official armed forces, totaling perhaps 300,000 troops. Most are poorly equipped and poorly trained, with corrupt officers, etc. It includes former rebel/rival organizations that have now been "integrated" into the armed forces. These include the following contingents, some of which still operate independently.

ex-FAC (Armed Forces of Congo): About 70,000 men.

ex-RCD-G (Goma Faction of the Congolese Rally for Democracy): Some 20,000 men.

ex-RCD-ML (Liberation Movement Faction of the Congolese Rally . . . ): About 4,500 men.

ex-Mai-Mai (Tribal militias): At least 25,000 armed (often with spears and bows) men. Number varies depending on how many tribesmen feel like going out and raising hell.

Ituri Militia (3-4 local defense forces in the Ituri region of the northeast): About 25,000 men.

FRP (Federal Republican Forces): Congo Tutsi force of about 3,000 armed men. The Tutsi are a minority in eastern Congo, but make good soldiers.

GSSP (Special Presidential Guard): possibly as many as 13,000 troops. Probably the best armed and equipped, but poorly led by corrupt officers.

Allied Forces

FLEC (Front for the Liberation of East Congo): Kivu tribe regional militia, about 5,000 men.

North Kivu Militia: Possibly 10,000-15,000 poorly armed irregulars.

Independent Ituri Militia: several bands of irregulars totaling about 3,500 men.

Foreign Forces that are pro-FARDC

FDLR (Democratic Front for the Liberation of Rwanda): Hutu exiles, some 12,000-15,000 poorly armed men. They raid into Rwanda and Burundi, causing military and diplomatic problems for the Congo.

FNL (National Liberation Front): Burundi Hutu rebels. About a thousand in Burundi, who make occasional raids into Congo.

ADF (Allied Democratic Force): Ugandan exiles, no more than 200, operating more as bandits.

Foreign Forces that are anti-FARDC

FDR (Rwanda Defense Force): About. 1,000 of a force that formerly totaled over 25,000 and is now largely back in Rwanda. FDR troops still raid out of Rwanda from time to time, in response to FDLR raids into Rwanda. FDR are rumored to be good troops by regional standards, lightly armed, fast moving, pretty disciplined.

ARP (People's Republican Army): Ugandan exiles, only about 500 men.

International Community

UN Forces: About 10,000 troops currently in MONUC, with an additional brigade each of Indians and Pakistanis en route. The UN, already acting more aggressively against the rebels, and pro-government forces that are out-of-control. May push harder after the Indian and Pakistani troops arrive.

Training Contingents: Personnel from Angola, Belgium, South Africa, and Tanzania, working with Congolese government forces.
Got that?

While reading this I had the same feeling I get whenever I look over the NCAA tournament brackets: Utter confusion caused by the fact that I've never heard of, and don't know anything about, the vast majority of the teams listed.

In the case of the DRC, I'm putting my money on the ex-Mai-Mai - just because I like their uniforms.

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