Congo: Army Falls Apart

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Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

March 4, 2006: The newly organized army units are being withdrawn from action, and given more training. The troops have proven unreliable, and too prone to act like the militiamen and bandits many of them had been previously. Army troops tend to have had years of experience as irregular fighters, and only a few months formal, and quite recent, military training. The weakest link is the low level leadership (NCOs and junior officers what command platoons and companies.) Creating these junior leaders can take years.

March 2, 2006: Fighting broke out between the Congolese Army (FARDC) and the Congo Resistance Movement (MRC) militia. The fighting occurred around the town of Tchei (northeastern DRC, south of Bunia). The situation became even more complicated when the militia rebels took 8000 civilians as hostages. The militia used the people as "human shields." Congolese Army mutineers in Aveba attacked a UN helicopter that was trying to land near the village.

March 1, 2006: Fifty government soldiers mutinied, looting a UN camp in the village of Aveba (south of Bunia in Ituri province).

So far, six militiamen had been killed in operations against the MRC. One Pakistani troop serving with the UN force has been wounded in the operation. Because of superior training and experience, Pakistani and South African troops usually man UN "rapid reaction" units in the eastern Congo.

February 27, 2006: Belgium and Sweden said they would contribute troops to an enhanced UN peacekeeping operation in the Congo. The enhanced force would deploy in time to help protect and facilitate the elections scheduled for June. France and Germany have already agreed to provide additional troops. The Congo was once a Belgian colony and was known as the Belgian Congo.

UN troops and the Congolese Army began an offensive operation against the MRC, with some 2,500 army, and 500 UN, troops participating in the operation.

 

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