Republic of Niger
Much of the area of the present day Republic of Niger (République du Niger) was incorporated into the Songhai Empire from 1340 to 1591 CE, at one time a vassal state of the Mali Empire. When Songhair collapsed, the Dendi Kingdom arose out of its ashes, incorporating much of present day Niger into its domain over the course of its relatively unstable existence. By 1901, the region had officially come under control of France, which administered the new territory of Niger (named after the river) through its governor in Dakar, Senegal. The country became an autonomous state within the French Community in 1958, and two years later was granted full independence.
During the first years of independence, Niger was governed by a single-party regime, but corruption and mismanagement brought about a military coup d'etat in 1974 which continued to govern the nation until 1990. A transitional government was established in 1991, but political rivalry prevented a permanent democratic administration from making any progress, and in 1995 the government was again overthrown by the military under the leadership of Col. Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara. Colonel Baré reputedly engineered his own victory in a "democratic" election, and assumed the presidency until 1999, when he was killed in a coup led by Maj. Daouda Malam Wanké. A new constitution was drafted in 1999, and for the first time Niger held truly democratic elections resulting in the election of Mamadou Tandja. However, in February 2010 another coup d'etat wrested power from Tandja when he was accused of extending his political term through constitutional manipulation.
The Forces Armées Nigeriennes (FAN) are the armed forces of Niger, consisting of the Army, Air Force, National Gendarmerie and a Republican Guard with approximately 12,000 active duty personnel. The only major military operation in the modern era has been a counter-insurgency campaign against ethnic Tuareg that began in 1985 and led to the organization of two primary rebel organizations in 1990, the Front for the Liberation of Aïr and Azaouak (FLAA) and the Front for the Liberation of Tamoust (FLT). Peace accords were finally signed in 1995, ending most of the fighting, but a second Tuareg rebellion instigated by the Mouvement des Nigeriens pour la Justice (MNJ) began in 2008.
In 1991 the FAN sent a small 400-man military contingent to join American-led allied forces during the Persian Gulf War. The Armed Forces have also participated in a number of peacekeeping missions, including those with ECOMOG (Liberia and Guinée-Bissau), the African Union (Burundi - MIOB, Comoros - MIOC), and the United Nations (Saudi Arabia - Iraq War, Rwanda - MINURCA, Democratic Republic of Congo - MONUC).
Camouflage Patterns of Niger
- Certainly the oldest known camouflage pattern worn by military troops in Niger is the French tenue de leópard or lizard design. Various uniform styles have been worn over the years, from the TAP Mle 1947/56 and F1 to the present day BDU style, and presumably several variations of the pattern as well. Although largely replaced by more contemporary designs among operational personnel, the lizard design continues to see use in units such as the Color Guard.
- The contingent from Niger to the Persian Gulf War in 1991 were issued with the same six-color chocolate chip desert pattern uniforms as the American troops. The pattern has continued to be worn, although more recently the uniforms have been sourced from Asian providers.
- In service with Niger since the 1990s have been various copies (as well as original, ex-USA surplus) of the m81 woodland camouflage pattern.
- Also in service since the late 1990s have been copies of the US tricolor desert pattern.
- In the current era, some personnel from Niger are now wearing a copy of the French CE woodland pattern, probably sourced in Asia.
- United Nations peacekeepers from Niger have deployed recently wearing uniforms of the Chinese-made lizard pattern copy, worn throughout many parts of the Africa.