Republic of Benin
The Republic of Benin (République du Bénin) was part of the Kingdom of Dahomey from the 17th to 19th centuries. It is part of a region historically known in Europe as the Slave Coast, as it played a prominent role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Dahomey was a militant society, and engaged in considerable business with Europeans selling war captives into slavery. The kingdom began to decline in the mid-19th century, which enabled France to assume administrative control over the region they called French Dahomey, part of French West Africa. Full automomy was granted to the Republic in 1958, followed by complete independence two years later.
Between 1960 and 1972, several coups and regime changes dominated the political scene in Dahomey. In October 1972, Lt. Colonel Mathieu Kérékou overthrew a presidential council created by previous political rivals and declared himself president of a Marxist state under control of the Military Council of the Revolution (CNR). On November 30, 1975 the country was renamed the People's Republic of Benin. Riots broke out in 1989 over the Kérékou regime's failure to pay its army. Shortly thereafter, the nation renounced Marxism, ratified a new constitution, and renamed the country the Republic of Benin in March of 1990. Kérékou lost the presidential election in 1991, but regained it by popular vote in 1996, and again in 2001.
The Benin Armed Forces consist of the Army, Navy, Air Force and the National Gendarmerie. Non-military governmental agencies such as the Wildlife Guards have a paramilitary law enforcement role to protect against poaching.
Camouflage Patterns of Benin
- Many units of the Benin Armed Forces wear simple olive green, but copies of the French tenue de leópard or lizard pattern camouflage have been worn by this nation since the 1980s.
- The Wildlife Guards have their own distinctive camouflage design, seen here.
- Another pattern, seen here, is apparently also worn by a governmental agency.
- The Customs Service (Douanes Béninoises) has its own camouflage design loosely based on the US-produced chocolate chip pattern, but incorporating more brown elements. Uniform designs retain the original French TAP 47/56 pattern.