Republic of Biafra
Historically a part of Nigeria, on 26 May 1967 the south-eastern and ethnically Igbo region of this large African nation seceded and declared itself the Republic of Biafra. For several years prior to the secession, ethnic violence had claimed thousands of lives as several coups d'etat vied for control of the country and military leaders vented their anger on historical rival tribes. As a result of the July 1966 coup, as many as 30,000 Igbos had been killed in northern Nigeria. Unable to reconcile their regional differences and share power, Biafra emerged as easterners attempted to take control of their own destiny. Large oil reserves that had recently been discovered in the east, however, necessitated in the minds of the Federal government that the region be restored to Nigerian control, and a military invasion (termed a "police action") was launched to that end.
At the beginning of the civil war, military resources in Biafra were minimal and only around 3,000 personnel served with the Biafran Army. Many arms and munitions were fabricated locally from scrounged resources, as no support would be openly forthcoming from any other nations. A number of Europeans and Southern Africans ultimately served with the Biafran Army, and by the war's end as many as 30,000 troops would have swelled its ranks. Frequently termed "mercenaries," a number of the more prominent figures were in fact emigres with considerable military experience who believed in the Biafran cause and were granted Biafran citizenship. Nevertheless, a fair number of foreigners were simply warriors for hire. Supported financially and militarily by the United Kingdom, USSR, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and the USA, the Nigerian Federal Army eventually defeated the Biafran forces, who surrended on January 13, 1970.
Biafran Camouflage Patterns
- The standard combat uniform of Biafran forces was olive green, but a number of troops did acquire the Nigerian-issue "vertical lizard" pattern camouflage uniform during the war.
- A locally-produced duck hunter camouflage pattern was also commonly found among some Biafran personnel.