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Tunisia Military - 2024


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Military and security forces

Tunisian Armed Forces (Forces Armées Tunisiennes, FAT): Tunisian Army (includes Air Defense Force), Tunisian Navy, Tunisia Air Force

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

note: the National Police has primary responsibility for law enforcement in the major cities, while the National Guard (gendarmerie) oversees border security and patrols smaller towns and rural areas

Military expenditures

2.5% of GDP (2023 est.)
2.7% of GDP (2022 est.)
3% of GDP (2021 est.)
3% of GDP (2020 est.)
3.8% of GDP (2019 est.)

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 35,000 active-duty personnel (25,000 Army; 5,000 Navy; 5,000 Air Force); estimated 10,000 National Guard (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the Tunisian military's inventory includes mostly older or second-hand NATO-standard (US and European) equipment; in recent years, the US has been the leading supplier of arms to Tunisia (2023)

Military service age and obligation

20-23 years of age for compulsory service for men with a 12-month service obligation; individuals engaged in higher education or vocational training programs prior to their military drafting are allowed to delay service until they have completed their programs (up to age 35); exemptions allowed for males considered to a family's sole provider; 18-23 years of age for voluntary service for men and women (2023)

note 1: approximately 20-25,000 active military personnel are conscripts

note 2: women have been allowed in the service since 1975 as volunteers; the Tunisian Government has discussed the possibility of conscripting women as recently as 2018; as of 2023, women constituted about 8% of the military and served in all three services

Military deployments

775 Central African Republic (MINUSCA) (2023)

Military - note

the FAT is responsible for territorial defense and internal security; its operational areas of focus are countering Islamic terrorist groups and assisting with securing the border; it is conducting counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations against militant groups linked to al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Islamic State of ash-Sham (ISIS) who are fighting a low-intensity insurgency, mostly in the mountainous region along the border with Algeria, particularly the Chaambi Mountains near the city of Kasserine; the military has the lead role for security in this area and also routinely conducts joint operations with Algerian security forces against these groups, as well to counter smuggling and trafficking activities; the FAT in recent years also has increased its role in securing the southern border against militant activity, smuggling, and trafficking from war-torn Libya; in the remote southern areas of the border with Libya, buffer/exclusion zones have also been established where the military has the lead for counterterrorism efforts; outside of these border areas, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) has the responsibility for counterterrorism, particularly for urban areas; the National Police Anti-Terrorism Brigade and the National Guard Special Unit have the lead for MOI counterterrorism operations

the FAT has historically remained largely apolitical and stayed out of the country’s economy; following Tunisia’s 1956 independence, FAT officers were legally prohibited from joining political parties, and the military did not intervene to prop up BEN ALI in 2011; nevertheless, President SAIED’s use of military courts to try civilians and placement of military troops outside of the parliament building after he dissolved the Assembly in 2021 has raised concerns of military politicization
the FAT conducts bilateral and multinational training exercises with a variety of countries, including Algeria and other North African and Middle Eastern countries, France, and the US, as well as NATO; it also participates in UN peacekeeping operations; the Army has five combat brigades, including three mechanized infantry, a desert patrol, and a special forces brigade, as well as an armored reconnaissance regiment; the Navy is a coastal defense force with a limited inventory of offshore patrol ships complemented by a mix of small, fast attack and patrol craft; the Air Force largely supports the Army’s operations; it has a handful of older US-made fighter aircraft and a few dozen combat helicopters, mostly of French and US origin 

Tunisia has Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) status with the US, a designation under US law that provides foreign partners with certain benefits in the areas of defense trade and security cooperation (2023)

NOTE: The information regarding Tunisia 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 Tunisia 2024 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Tunisia 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.