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The nation is officially the République de Côte d'Ivoire or Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, although it has historically been called the
Ivory Coast in English. The region had played an important role in both the Ghana and Mali Empires, but in the early 18th
century the localized Kong Empire took hold in the northeast and remained in power until 1895. Between 1843 and 1844
several treaties were signed with local kings creating French protectorates of their traditional territories. As greater numbers of
Europeans moved into the region, more and more territory came under French control. Côte d'Ivoire was made a French colony
in 1893, having been given its name (Ivory Coast) by merchants who found the region a rich source for ivory. Additional crops,
such as coffee, cocoa, palm oil and bananas were cultivated by French settlers in the coastal regions, who often utilized forced
labor. Further inland, meanwhile, French military contingents moved to subdue the indigenous people who resisted French
encroachment. The most formidable of these was the Wassoulou Empire established by Samori Ture, which had a well-equipped army of its own. Not until his capture in 1898 were the French successful in bringing Wassoulou land into their domain.
Between 1904 and 1958, Côte d'Ivoire was considered part of the greater Federation of French West Africa, with the standard
practice of assimilation emphasizing French language, institutions, laws, and customs, and creating an elite class of classically
educated Africans. Although all inhabitants of the Federation were considered French subjects, most were not citizens and had
no political rights, although they could be drafted into the military or forced to labor for French enterprises. Despite attempts to
create a more equalized society by removing electoral inequalities, the African population began to push towards independence
in the mid-1950s, leading in 1958 to Côte d'Ivoire becoming an autonomous member of the French community, and fully
independent in 1960.
Félix Houphouët-Boigny, son of a chief, labor organizer, and the first African appointed to the position of minister in a European
government, became the nation's first president. He retained this position until his death in 1993, by which time a multi-party
democracy had replaced the original one-party system. His successor, Henri Konan Bédié, tightened his hold on political life,
often through imprisonment or intimidation of political opponents. Bédié retained his position until a military coup d'etat in 1999
forced him into exile. Civil unrest and public demonstrations surrounded the 2000 presidential elections, in which Laurent
Gbagbo won out over General Robert Guéï who had been one of the officers in the 1999 coup.
On 19 September 2002, military personnel from the north, loyal to General Guéï, mutinied and launched attacks on several
cities, including the capital Abidjan. Although government forces maintained control over the south and the capital, insurgents
wrested control of most of the north and based themselves in the city of Bouake. France intervened, sending 2500 personnel to
maintain a peace line and requested the assistance of the United Nations, but fighting raged until late in 2004. In addition to the
National Army (FANCI), the government were supported by nationalist militias calling themselves Young Patriots, and
mercenaries recruited from Liberia and Europe. The Forces Nouvelles (FN) or New Forces, was the name taken by the
insurgent northerners. Although a peace agreement was reached in 2004, it proved short-lived as the FN refused to disarm or
give up control of the north. An ongoing peacekeeping mission to the nation, the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire
(UNOCI), has been in place since April 2004, although a new peace accord was signed in March 2007, with a transitional
government including rebel leader Guillaume Soro as prime minister. Violence erupted again following the November 2010
elections, which were contested by supporters of Gbagbo.
Up until April of 2011, the armed forces were called the Forces Armées Nationales de Côte d'Ivoire or FANCI. Under this
umbrella are included the Army (broken into five military regions), a brown-water Navy (essentially a Coast Guard) called
the Police Maritime, a largely ineffective Air Force, and the National Gendarmerie. With approximately 14,000 active duty
personnel, the FANCI were defeated during the Second Ivorian Civil War (November 2010 to April 2011) and have since been
replaced by the Forces Nouvelles de Côte d'Ivoire (New Forces), under which the armed forces themselves are now
called Force Republiques de Cote d'Ivoire or FRCI.
Camouflage Patterns of Côte d'Ivoire
The oldest camouflage patterns in service with this nation are copies of the French tenue de leópard or lizard design. Several uniform types have been documented, although they began to fall out of service in the 1990s. However, it appears a variation of the lizard pattern has been reintroduced for general service in 2010-2011.
A very unique camouflage design for this nation emerged in the 1980s, incorporating very thin black or dark green "veins" on an grey-green background.
An Asian copy of the French Europe Centre (CE) woodland camouflage design has also been in service since the 1990s.
Likewise, copies of the US m81 woodland camouflage pattern, some with modified coloration, have been in service with the FANCI throughout the present period.
A variation of woodland pattern with a stenciled FANCI logo incorporated into the design was adopted by this nation circa 2007. The uniform was worn during the civil war period by government forces, in order to better identify the Armed Forces from insurgent fighters, many of whom wore older camouflage uniforms also in woodland patterns. This camouflage design appears to have been phased out of use by 2012.
The Brigade Anti-Emeute (Anti-riot Brigade) of the Gendarmerie has worn a "zebra stripe"-like design seen here consisting of midnight blue or black stripes on a white or pale grey background. A variation of the pattern with a pale blue background was still being worn in 2017. Evidence suggests the pattern is only worn for public appearances such as parades.
The Police Maritime wear a unique "blue lizard" camouflage design, of which at least two variations have been documented. One version has the "Police Maritime" logo stamped over the camouflage design itself.
The Gendarmerie Nationale have in recent years worn a blue-green woodland derivative pattern, incorporating the national coat-of-arms into the design. This design is likely to be fully replaced in the coming years, with the adoption of a new series of patterns for the GN (see below).
Circa 2010-11, members of the FRCI (particularly members of the Garde Republicaine) have adopted a copy of the Universal Camouflage Pattern or UCP designed in the USA.
Some members of the FRCI and the Gendarmerie have recently been documented wearing commercial tiger stripe patterns such as these.
In mid-2012, a new pattern for Ivory Coast appeared in public for the first time, inspired by the splinter camouflage designs first developed by the Germans during the Second World War. The first of these patterns features black and light brown splinter shapes on a grass green background, with the national coat-of-arms incorporated into the design in black ink. A second version of this colorway has been documented featuring a reduction of the overall shape size by at least 50%. Both the Army andGendarmerie Nationale appear to wear versions of this design, but sources in country confirmed this was the standard issue uniform of the Army in 2015.
Another pattern of the GN can be seen here, with light brown and black splinter shapes on a white background. This colorway has also been produced with a reduction of the overall size of the shapes by at least 50%. Research indicates this colorway is worn by the Presidential Guard (Garde Presidentielle)
A third variation is seen here, with mid-brown and tan splinter shapes on a sandy background. A fourth variation, with red and black on a pale blue background, has also been documented. A more recent variation, with shape size reduced by 50%, is also in circulation.
For operational deployment, the Brigade Anti-Emeute (Anti-riot Brigade) of the Gendarmerie wear a fourth variation of the splinter pattern with a grey colorway. The splinter shapes in this version are solid black with additional shapes in a composite of black dots, both on a pale blue or light grey background.
Yet another Gendarmerie variation is documented featuring dark red, black and grey splinter shapes. This version has also been produced with a 50% reduction of shape size.
An additional variation of the splinter pattern, also in use with the Gendarmerie Nationale is shown here, having a primarily dark blue-black colorway with pale blue contrasting background. As with most other splinter variants, this one has been produced in both large and reduced size versions.
Keeping with the splinter theme adopted by other branches of service, the Police Maritime have their own variation of this design incorporating blue and medium brown shapes on a pale grey background, with the coat of arms embedded into the design as in other versions.
First observed in 2013, a variation of the French Army tricolor desert pattern with the Ivorian coat-of-arms embedded into the design is worn by at least one unit of the Armed Forces.
Another camouflage design adopted recently by some units of the Armed Forces is Multicam, which first appeared in 2013.
In addition to their standard midnight blue and black-colored fatigue uniforms, some members of the Police Nationale (under the Ministry of the Interior) wear camouflage-like dark striped print pattern uniform. The design actually incorporates the title Police Nationale RCI into the design, the title being printed in light grey or pale blue on a midnight blue background. It is worth noting, however, that some versions appear to have larger lettering than others.
In service since at least 2013, agents of the Ministry of Water and Forests (Ministre des Eaux et Forêts) wear a unique camouflage design with a primarily green colorway.
The Customs Service of Ivory Coast (Douanes de Côte d'Ivoire) issue a unique camouflage-like uniform having a yellow-green colorway. This uniform is worn by regular personnel of the Customs Service. Two versions of the pattern have been documented, one having a brighter concentration of yellow.
Members of the Customs Service Special Brigade have their own camouflage uniforms, either in a copy of the USMC MARPAT design, or what appears to be a copy of the Colombian Army pixelado pattern. Some personnel have also been seen wearing the commercial "desert tiger stripe" pattern. All three designs are worn by members of the Brigade.
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