Gabonese Republic (Gabon)
The West African nation of Gabon is officially known as the Gabonese Republic (République Gabonaise). It is believed the earliest inhabitants were Pygmies, who were later transplanted by the Bantu-speaking tribes that came to dominate the region. Between the 16th and 19th centuries, Gabon was claimed by no particular nation, although French and Portuguese explorers had established settlements there. France officially claimed the nation as part of the French Empire in 1885, and by 1910 it would become one of four territories in French Equatorial Africa. All four territories were granted independence in 1960, with Gabon electiing its first president, Léon M’ba, in 1961.
Gabon's first presidential regime was run as a dictatorship, with suppression of the press, political opposition, and freedom of expression. When a military coup sought to remove M'ba in 1964 and restore parliamentary democracy, the French government intervened militarily, imprisoned the opposition, and restored its favored politician to power. Omar Bongo Ondimba replaced M'ba as president when it died in 1967, and declared Gabon a one-party state as an effort to subvert the regional and tribal rivalries that traditionally divided African national politics. Partisan politics would gradually make their way back into Gabon, but despite political opposition and some violent protests, Bongo has been re-elected as president in 1975, 1979, 1986, 1993, 1998, and 2005. He died in 2009 of cardiac arrest, and his son Ali Bongo Ondimba declared winner of the presidential election in October of that year.
The armed forces of Gabon consist of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Presidential Guard, National Gendarmerie, and the National Police. There are approximately 5000 active duty personnel.
Camouflage Patterns of Gabon
- As with many former French colonies, the oldest camouflage design in use by Gabon was a copy of the tenue de leópard or lizard pattern, which was a fairly common uniform from the 1980s onwards.
- In recent years, the lizard camouflage pattern has largely been replaced from the late 1990s by a copy of the French CE woodland design, worn by Army personnel.
- A tricolor variation of the CE woodland pattern, unique to Gabon, has been issued recently also, incorporating dark brown and olive green shapes on a sandy background. This variation is issued to the Garde Republicaine.
- A slightly different version of this pattern has a pale green background is worn by the Land Forces.
- Members of the National Police and Gendarmerie wear two types of camouflage, with either a blue (Police) or grey colorway (Gendarmerie).
- The Military Health Services of Gabon wear a variation of the French CE woodland pattern with a reddish colorway, seen here.
- Also documented in recent years has been a copy of the m81 woodland camouflage pattern.
- Although not a military organization, the federal Agence Nationale Des Parcs Nationaux or National Parks Agency of Gabon do have their own camouflage pattern seen here. In addition to leaf and twig shapes common to camouflage designs around the world, this pattern seems to also incorporate images of local flora and fauna.