THE ARMED FORCES
The Armed Forces (Armée) are made up of four components--Army (forces terrestres), Navy (orces de la marine), Air Force (forces de l'aviation) and National Gendarmery (gendarmerie nationale). Total strength in late 1962 was about 6,500, some 4,000 of them conscripts discharging their military service obligation. Although plans had been announced for further expansion, no action had been taken to increase the size of the military establishment. The Army and Gendarmery were effective forces in being, but the Navy and Air Force were token forces primarily for prestige and with little actual defense value.
Planning and legislation for the Armed Forces are based on obligatory military service by all male citizens, the use of professional regulars only as a framework for the forces and reliance on a trained ready reserve for any major military contingency. The necessary legislation has been enacted, but the transition to an entirely independent military establishment is still in process. The government still relies heavily on French aid; many French advisers remain in responsible positions in the military hierarchy; and French influence continues to dominate in defense matters.
In organizing its military establishment, the country adopted a plan to utilize its annual conscript classes to carry out work projects of importance to the national economy. Designated as the service civique, this function has become a basic mission of the Armed Forces and is performed as a regular duty in addition to military training. While striving to provide sufficient military instruction to turn out effective soldiers, the government hopes to capitalize on the available manpower and ease somewhat the economic drain of maintaining a sizable standing force in times of tranquility.
Service civique went into effect with the induction of the first conscript class in July 1961. After completing basic training, the recruits were assigned to small dispersed units and set to building their own camps and raising their own food before being put on more elaborate civil projects. This system is being continued, and the scope of the projects undertaken by the conscript-workers is being steadily increased. During the first year of operation, however, it became clear that the original 1-year term of compulsory service would not afford sufficient time to produce properly trained reservists and also gain from their contribution to public works. As a consequence, in June