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Mauritania Military - 2024


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Military and security forces

Mauritanian Armed Forces (aka Armée Nationale Mauritanienne): National Army, National Navy (Marine Nationale), Mauritania Islamic Air Force; Gendarmerie (Ministry of Defense)

Ministry of Interior and Decentralization: National Police, National Guard (2024)

note 1: the National Police are responsible for enforcing the law and maintaining order in urban areas, while the paramilitary Gendarmerie is responsible for maintaining civil order around metropolitan areas and providing law enforcement services in rural areas; like the Mauritanian Armed Forces, the Gendarmerie is under the Ministry of Defense, but also supports the ministries of Interior and Justice

note 2: the National Guard performs a limited police function in keeping with its peacetime role of providing security at government facilities, to include prisons; regional authorities may call upon the National Guard to restore civil order during riots and other large-scale disturbances

Military expenditures

2.5% of GDP (2022 est.)
2.4% of GDP (2021 est.)
2.5% of GDP (2020 est.)
2.1% of GDP (2019 est.)
2.3% of GDP (2018 est.)

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 16,000 Mauritanian Armed Forces personnel (15,000 Army; 700 Navy; 300 Air Force); estimated 3,000 Gendarmerie; estimated 2,000 National Guard (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the military's inventory is limited and made up largely of older French and Soviet-era equipment; in recent years, Mauritania has received small amounts of mostly secondhand military equipment from a variety of suppliers, with China as the leading provider (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18 is the legal minimum age for voluntary military service; has a compulsory two-year military service law, but the law has reportedly never been applied (2023)

Military deployments

450 (plus about 320 police) Central African Republic (MINUSCA) (2023)

Military - note

founded in 1960, the Mauritanian military is responsible for territorial defense and internal security; it also assists in economic development projects, humanitarian missions, and disaster response; securing the border and countering terrorist groups operating in the Sahel, particularly from Mali, are key operational priorities; since a spate of deadly terrorist attacks on civilian and military targets in the 2005-2011 timeframe, the Mauritanian Government has increased the defense budget (up 40% between 2008 and 2018) and military equipment acquisitions, enhanced military training, heightened security cooperation with its neighbors and the international community, and built up the military’s counterinsurgency and counterterrorism forces and capabilities; equipment acquisitions have prioritized mobility, flexibility, and intelligence collection, including light ground attack and reconnaissance aircraft, assault helicopters, patrol vessels, light trucks, and surveillance radars; Mauritania has received foreign security assistance from France, NATO, and the US in areas such as commando/special forces operations, counterterrorism, and professional military education

the Army has sought to create lighter, more nimble units capable of operating in the harsh environment of the Sahel; since 2009, for example, it has enhanced existing camel-mounted nomad patrol units and created up to eight Special Intervention Groups (GSI), 200-man French-trained Army commando/counterterrorism units that are mounted on light vehicles, carry their own supplies, and operate in remote desert border areas for extended periods of time; in addition to the GSI and camel-mounted forces, the Army has multiple motorized infantry battalions, plus individual battalions of tanks, light armored reconnaissance, presidential guards, and airborne/commando forces to supplement garrison units stationed throughout the country in six military regions; the Gendarmerie has territorial-based, mobile, and specialized units such rapid reaction forces (Rapid Action Group – Surveillance and Intervention Group or GAR-SI) that conduct counterterrorism missions and work with the regular military services; the Air Force has acquired a few light attack combat aircraft in recent years, but remains small with a total inventory of about 20 patrol, transport, and trainer airplanes and helicopters; in addition to two offshore patrol vessels acquired from China in 2016, the Navy has a small force of coastal and inshore patrol craft and boats to monitor the country’s 750km-long coastline and Economic Exclusion Zone, plus a unit of marines (Fusiliers Marins); it has conducted joint patrols with the Senegalese Navy along their shared maritime border (2023)

NOTE: The information regarding Mauritania on this page is re-published from the 2024 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Mauritania 2024 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Mauritania 2024 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 04 May 24, Copyright © 2024 ITA all rights reserved.