Military of Sierra Leone

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The Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces is the armed forces of Sierra Leone, responsible for the territorial security of Sierra Leone's border and defending the national interests of Sierra Leone, within the framework of its international obligations. The armed forces were formed after independence in 1961, on the basis of elements of the former British Royal West African Frontier Force, then present in the country. The Sierra Leone Armed Forces currently consist of around 8,500 personnel.[2]

Before Sierra Leone gained independence in 1961, the military was known as the Royal Sierra Leone Military Force. Also, the military seized control in 1968, bringing the National Reformation Council into power. On 19 April 1971, when Sierra Leone became a republic, the Royal Sierra Leone Military Force was renamed as the Republic of Sierra Leone Military Force (RSLMF).[3]

The RSLMF remained a single service organisation until 1979 when the Sierra Leone Navy was established. It then remained largely unchanged for 16 years until in 1995 when Defence Headquarters (DHQ) was established and the Sierra Leone Air Wing (SLAW) formed. The RSLMF was renamed the Armed Forces of the Republic of Sierra Leone (AFRSL).

During the long Sierra Leone civil war which the government fought against the Revolutionary United Front from 1991–2002, the 1992 Sierra Leonean coup d'état brought the armed forces into power again. In 1997 the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council seized power. Over 15,000 perished during the war. However today new armed forces are being formed. The Armed Forces was slowly reduced from around 13,500 personnel in 2007[4] to 8,500 in 2010. The British military, in the shape of the roughly 100-strong International Military Assistance Training Team (IMATT), is assisting in the formation of the new armed forces.[5] IMATT is slated to down-size to 45-55 personnel by the end of 2010.

President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah announced in January 2002 that the Sierra Leone Army (SLA) would be unified with the tiny Sierra Leone Air Force and the moribund Sierra Leone Navy to form a reconstituted force known as the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF).[6]


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