ECOWAS Activates Standby Force to Restore Constitutional Order in Niger

Abuja, Nigeria – August 10, 2023: In a significant move to ensure stability in West Africa, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has declared the activation of its regional "standby force" with the intention of reinstating constitutional governance in Niger. The decision was made following a high-profile meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, subsequent to a one-week ultimatum given to the military junta of Niger.
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Nigerien service members practice squad movements during a small unit tactics class as part of Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, Mar. 1, 2017. (Picture source U.S. DoD)

ECOWAS, founded in 1975 with the primary objective of fostering economic integration among West African nations, has increasingly evolved into a pivotal entity for ensuring peace and stability in the region. Its involvement in resolving regional issues such as civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone, political disturbances in Guinea, and the ongoing conflict in Mali attests to its expanded role.

Reports from the Army Recognition editorial team have indicated that Nigeria, Côte d'Ivoire, and Senegal are prepared to offer military assistance under the aegis of ECOWAS to support President Mohammad Bazoum's authority. There is also potential military aid from neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso, which could further bolster Niger's defense.

The Niger Army, as of 2023, comprises 33,000 personnel. This includes two special operations companies and nine intervention commando battalions, 14 combined arms infantry battalions, and a unique amphibious riverine company. While being combat-experienced and relatively well-trained, the army's armored capabilities are somewhat outdated, with most armored vehicles being over two decades old.

The military's primary roles encompass both internal and border security, especially given the looming threat from extremist groups. Niger, as part of the G5 Sahel group and the Multi-National Joint Task Force, has actively combatted Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin. The country has collaborated with international forces, including France, Germany, and the US, in counter-terrorism operations.

Niger's land forces' equipment includes:

- Armored Vehicles: 35 , 7 VBL-20/AML-60, 90 AML-90, Bastion Patsas
- Armored Personnel Carrier, Vehicle: 15 IAG Guardian Xtreme, 57 Mamaba, Mk7, 21 Puma M26,, some Puma M36
- Anti-tank Weapons:: 6 M20 75mm, 8 M40 106mm
- Artillery: 19 Brandt mortar 81mm, 170 Brandt mortar 120mm
- Air Defence: 10 Panhard M3 20mm VDAA, 290 towed 20mm anti-aircraft guns

Niger's Air Force aircraft includes:

- Combat Aircraft: 2 Su-25 Frogfoot,
- Reconnaissance aircraft: 4 Cesna 208 Caravan, 2DA42 MPP twin Star
- Transport aircraft: 2 C-130H Hercules, 1 An-26, 2 Cessna 208 Caravan, 1 Do-28 Skyservant, 1 Do-228-201, 1 B-737-700 VIP
- Helicopters: 2 Mi-35P Hind, 2 Mi-17 Hip, and 3 SA342 Gazelle.

Defense News August 2023