Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Saturday, November 16, 2013

How the Congolese army perceives itself

During the recent military escalation in the Kivus, the Congolese army fared far better than in the past, defeating a weakened M23. While the army leadership made an effort to streamline the chain of command and to ensure adequate supplies, army reform will have to be far more deep-rooted.

It is interesting to see how Congolese officers themselves see the challenge. In February of this year, the army high command invited around 120 senior officers to Kinshasa for a seminar on army reform––it was an excuse to remove them from the field, where they were clogging up the military hierarchy and, in the case of some, embezzling funds. But many of them are highly qualified officers, and when they were asked to produce an analysis of the army's defeat to the M23 in Goma in November 2012, they came up with a telling and damning document.



Ann Garrison said...

I saw this photograph on a Facebook page celebrating the FARDC. I had seen the same photograph a year or two ago in Stars and Stripes, a U.S. Armed Forces publication. It's a picture of the 391st Light Infantry, trained by U.S. forces at the de facto U.S. base in Kisangani. Picture #2 here: I also heard Johnnie Carson talking about the 391st in Congressional hearings on Congo in December 2012.

Unknown said...

I am not sure why you are surprised that the U.S. forces are training the FARDC. A while ago the same U.S. forces were training and providing military equipments to the Rwandan Army, with which they solidified their campaign in aiding the M23 in Congo. To me, it seems that the U.S. forces have realized that to keep their interests, they must deal directly with the Congolese. Le monde a l'envers, madame!

Unknown said...

@Ann Garrison

If you are Ann Garrison at “San Francisco Bay View”, God Bless you!

While almost all your colleague reporters chose the bandwagon of conformity and (proKagame) propaganda, you were the lonely voice in the US media to stick to the TRUTH in the desert of lies vis-à-vis the African Great Lakes region. Now that finally the TRUTH is out, you are gloriously vindicated. Check how those your colleague reporters have either gone quiet or been replaced!

Your kind make us believe as ever in Humanity. Thank you!


dimandja said...

Nice article. But let's talk about the elephant in the room.

Everyone and their mother just knows what DR Congo ought to do. Negotiate with M23, they said. That took a whole year of nothing but killings, rapes, looting by M23 under the nose of the whole world. M23 was never interested in negotiating anything.

Then M23 was thoroughly defeated by FARDC. Again, geniuses everywhere just know what DR Congo must do. Sign a peace treaty with M23, they said. Never mind the fact that no country in the world has ever done that with a militarily defeated rebellion. M23 is not a country. If anything, DR Congo should be signing a Security Treaty with Rwanda and Uganda. Those two countries were the real losers in this latest war.

Mind bogglingly, nobody seems interested in breathing down Rwanda's and Uganda's neck to start peace talks between them and their rebellions.

It seems, as long as FDLR and ADF/NALU are terrorizing only DR Congo, nobody cares. Maybe DR Congo should help those rebels go back to their countries of origin? It's only fair.

Anand said...

Important discussion here. Political reform is needed in DRC. But not in the tired way of trying to slowly improve a system that ultimately entrenches leaders. The Congolese people need to be empowered to conduct their own political reform. With a good leadership that truly represents the people's interests, borders can be secured, FARDC can be truly reformed, and rebellions can be ended. I agree that some sort of understanding is needed at the moment regarding Rwanda and Uganda, but ultimately, DRC shouldn't wait for others. Change from within, by the people affected, is the greatest catalyst for peace and progress. Congolese have changed political conditions before, but the country's progress was cut short by western interference and assassination. But we know from history, and the obvious nature of Congolese resilience, that the people can create meaningful political reform from within. Then the people can be truly certain that leadership will deal with neighboring countries in a way that benefits the Congolese people instead of continuing this stream of lack luster "solutions." I don't think that the international community truly supports and independent and free Congo. It is up to the Congolese to make it happen.

Unknown said...

@Ann Garrison: one word to you THANK YOU! (for standing up for the truth and justice in Congo when the Kagame de facto surrogates who called themselves journalist publishing in the Huffingtonpost and the NYTimes especially have either gone silent,with shame, I supposed or have been replaced, as someone pointed out. So on behalf of Congolese and peace loving people in the Great Lakes region, thank you Ms Ann Garrison, I got accustomed to your writing style and I know it is you who posted here. A big thank you!

congo man said...

I hope our government doesn't get fooled by this FDLR drum that is now being beaten by Kagamists and enemies of the village , City ...or any territory anywhere in the great Lakes is under the Control of a rebel group called the FDLR or The LRA. Those 2 non existent movements are just pretext used by Paul Kagame and his backers to keep us
distracted . The urgency of now is to contain or end the Ruthless tyrannical dictatorship of PAUL KAGAME. This is the only way to bring lasting peace to the region. 2 decades of Paul Kagame=2decades of death and destruction in this this region. The root cases of instability in the region is none other than the ruthless bloody dictatorial regime of PAUL KAGAME. It's now time that the so called international community put pressure on the Kagame junta to free pro democracy activist VICTOIRE INGABIRE and all the political prisoners that are languishing inside Kagame's death kamps and torture chambers . pressure has to be applied on the Rwandan Junta to also stop harboring war criminals like LAUREN NKUNDA who is the former boss of both BOSCO NTAGANDA and Thomas LUBANGA.wile those 2 criminals are in the Hague facing charges for their war crimes, their bosses including LAUREN NKUNDA are still free in Kigali and together with JEAN MARIE RUNIGA and VIANEY KAZARAMA all those war criminal are being protected by the Kagame JUNTA.if the ICC want some kind of credibility with Africans. They need to start going after those real war criminals whose war crimes are well documented.

BeerBrotha said...

I believe the “international community” (France UK US) has been forced into a compromise in a geopolitical chess match in the DRC. Everyone knows that they have backed Kagame in his 20 year plunder of DRC because they quietly benefited from it. The chessboard is different these days. In 1998 Kagame and M7 fought SADC to a standstill that left them free to plunder DRC.....but South Africa and Tanzania were not a factor in that SADC operation. Today they very much are. SA are also very much a part of BRICS now,which means SADC is now a BRICS proxy vs Rwanda Uganda as a western proxy. The problem for the West is if a general war breaks out between RWANDA/Uganda and SADC, the outcome could be catastrophic for Kagame/M7 . Rwanda would be forced to fight a two front war, squeezed between the resurgent FARDC (and Angola?) in the west and Tanzania in the east....The prospects are not good for Kagame in that scenario. With the election of pro-BRICS and pro-SADC Uhuru Kenyatta in Kenya, M7 and Kagame are now landlocked with their only supply route in BRICS-friendly hands. No wonder the West was in so much uproar over Uhuru's election! A war in central Africa, while hugely damaging for everyone concerned, could leave DRC completely in the BRICS' sphere with the west excluded and M7/ Kagame in the history books. So to preserve the west's interests a grand bargain was made after Uhuru's election tilted the scales against them. No great war in Central Africa. The International Community will assist SADC to pacify eastern DRC. The International Community will partner with SADC and BRICS in the legal exploitation of DRC. M7 and Kagame will stand down and suck it up. The Monusco force command was given to BRICS (Brazil), and the FIB is a SDC operation. Surprise surprise! Then, Bosco Ntaganda fled to the US embassy – surprise!...He is now a club being wielded by the International Community to keep Kagame in line. “Hands-off the DRC or Terminator spills all the beans on you in the Hague”. Kagame wisely allowed M23 to wither away. His DRC reign is over. Like Mubarak, the US has cast him aside for its new partners, Kabila, Zuma and Kikwete. It wasn't an accident that President Obama ignored M7 and Kagame and paid personal visits to Zuma and Kikwete this year. They are the new sheriffs in town.

bfhend said...

@ BeerBrotha, Yes, I concur that the recent events in eastern Congo have been all about African realpolitik and a tectonic shift in the balance of power in the Great Lakes region. After well over a decade of Mandela and Mbeki trying to project South African power through moral suasion, Jacob Zuma decided that credible diplomacy required a material demonstration of force. Putting together a coalition with Tanzania and Malawi was an important demonstration of SADC solidarity with Kinshasa. I would add, that I believe there was a determination on the part of SADC leaders to enforce African norms on Museveni and Kagame after two decades of tolerating their reckless military adventurism. Destabilizing eastern Congo involved significant negative externalities for Africa as a whole as the continent positions itself in the global economy. Congolese economic take-off is a crucial component of African economic take-off - a point not lost on African leaders, China, or western investors. The opportunity costs of eastern Congo crippled by chronic instability were no longer tolerable.

For Zuma and Kikwete the objective was to send a clear signal to Museveni in particular...with a view that he is a rational actor who can be persuaded to see reason. I think Jason made the point that giving M7 and honorable exit from the difficult situation he finds himself in at present is in all the stakeholders' national interests. His cooperation is critical to future diplomatic efforts to keep the peace in the Great Lakes region. The positive externalities flowing from greater cooperation between the EAC and SADC are likewise in everyone's long-term interests.

And, yes, I concur that President Obama has a good grasp of Africa's place in the world as a confluence of emerging economic markets and the changing contours of African power politics - there are new realities that no leader can afford to ignore. Authoritarian leaders like Mobutu and Mubarak learned the hard way that US patience is not inexhaustible - change with the times or risk being swept away by the tide of history.


BeerBrotha said...

@ Bruce you are spot on about the opportunity cost of continued DRC instability. Times have changed, and there is now more to be gained (not least by the long-suffering Congolese people!) by peaceful development of the DRC's astounding mineral and hydro-power wealth, than was the case when warlords, Kagame/M7 and their corporate backers profited from the chaos. The peace dividend is potentially enormous. You will have noticed that as the last M23 strongholds were falling, Zuma was in Kinshasa sealing agreements to build Grand Inga Dam project, the astonishing 40 000 MW Congo river hydro project that could export power all the way to Europe! You are correct, a peacefully developing DRC is at the literal and figurative heart of the powerful new African economic paradigm that South Africa is pushing....See the ambitious Tripartite FTA plan to combine EAC, COMESA and SADC into a Free Trade Area by 2017....Everyone wants to participate in these ambitious projects. I think Zuma (former ANC intelligence chief and clearly a chess-player) has used SA's growing geopoltical weight expertly to get the West in particular to "pivot" to his vision in the DRC, and away from the M7/ Kagame black market war profiteering paradigm. This bodes well for the Congolese people, they must now firmly grasp this chance to turn DRC from a basket case into one of Africa's star nations. I wish them success!

Unknown said...

“Encore et toujours: her highness MARY ROBINSON VII”

Here goes again the queen of double-speak, the impenitent Kagame-backer ,on a bid to raise the dear dead (M23).

Mission Sinister : get TZ and Congo-BZ to persuade Congolese people to do the “inacceptable” and, in so doing, spit on the memory and sacrifice of our FARDC heroes and 8mil Congo martyrs of Kagame’s crimes. Do Mary Robinson and co. get this Congolese side of the story? What do Robinson and co. say about President Kikwete’s wise regional solution proposal?

NO. Mary Robinson is no longer an HONEST BROKER in this crisis. She has picked her side, and Congolese people are now her enemy!

Look, Congo/Africa/Humanity don’t need “agenda-peddlers” like Mary Robinson, but rather “problem/conflict-solvers” like the “Kaiser” Martin Kobler or Sec John Kerry. No more lip stick, sorry, lip service and fake smiles like before him. Sec Kerry is bringing America’s LEADERSHIP back. Going against the cynical grain and in true American spirit, he is helping solve what all said were COMPLEX and UNSOLVABLE conflicts, from Congo, Syria, Iran to even Israel-Palestine.

Look, as the “Kaiser” Martin Kobler says, NOW IS ONLY TIME FOR BUILDING PEACE IN CONGO (Kivus). That is, for the first time since Kagame’s M23 launched their terror, our IDPs are returning to their villages in Masisi, Rutshuru and Nyiragongo. Everyday, thousands of “Congolese” militiamen disarm with NO condition, let alone accord.

The SUPREME PRIORITY now should be to provide these people with jobs, (re)build the infrastructure, foster real inter-community dialogue (not elite).

This PEACE BUILDING must be Mary Robinson’s ONLY MANDATE, not wining and dining with African tyrants like “big mouth” Museveni or “attention-seeking chihuahua” Kagame!


Bismark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bismark said...


It is post Kampala and Nairobi for some reason but it is quiet on Congo Siasa. Why this silence, what happened to the vocal supporters of the "landlord of Kingakati' and his incompetent bunch on this site. Are they realizing that for the 2nd,3rd, 4th... time were are again being served the same old, cold, stale and rotting dish by the same actors. Another "deja vu"? It would be nice to read your take on the accord? Declaration?presentaion?... whatever was signed in Kampala and in Nairobi. How does this help the DRC as a nation?



congo man said...

What's more important is that PAUL KAGAME' s campaigns of terror in the Region are over, the notorious m23 terrorists etc are no longer terrorising the population, all the merchants of death who helped support and fuel that carnage for 2 decades are now looking for a bloody market elsewhere, the people are now returning back to their homes, cities and villages, and the plans for reconstruction are now taking its time for Roger Lumbala ...and all the so called Radical Congolese politicians who times and times again failed to learn from their stupid mistakes to face reality. -The second republic is history and will never come back.
-PAUL KAGAME's destabilization campaigns are over and did not help you install a tribal cult in Kinshasa like you have been dreaming.
-Now it's time for you to start using your brainns and learn how to be inclusive and make inroads outside your radical strong hold .other wise you are doomed to stay in opposition for eternity.

congo man said...

For the first time in 2deades no city, village , town or neighborhood in Eastern Congo is under the Coontrol of Rwanda , Uganda or any of their bloody proxies. The entirety of the Congoles territory is under the Control of the Congoles state. PAUL KAGAME is now very isolated and his bloody regime very weakened .Congo's enemies have been defeated and slowly Congo is now emerging as an African powerhouse .with or without Kabila, we are forging forward. Our FARDC are resurging,KAGAMISTS have been defeated, Congo's BALKANIZATION is a failed history and whatever was signed in KAMPALA or NAIROBI did not give an inche of the Congoles territory away nor allow any Kagamist spy or terrorist to integrate the ranks of the leadership of our valiant FARDC. that's what's important. All those CONGO bashers who haijacked Congo Siasa for the last 5 years or more have failed. CONGO. BASHING has not brought upon regime change in Kishasa or help the now failed attempt BALKANIZATION of the DRC .the map of the DRC will forever look the way it looked in 1959.1960 , 1990 , 2013.this is the reason why Congo's Patriots are now silently enjoying their victory and silently watching Congo's enemies funeral procession and the death of Kagamism and Congo's BALKANIZATION.

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Bismark said...

@ Bismark

I would like to wish a Happy Holidays Season to Mr Jason Stearns and to all who contribute to the discourse on Congo Siasa. Thanks Jason for the good job you do for the DRCongo on your blog, it is one of the very few places where you can read differing and challenging opinions on the DR Congo.

Thanks again


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