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Monday, February 7, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Southern Sudan builds army to meet threat
from Khartoum regime

CAIRO — The autonomous government in Southern Sudan, preparing for independence, is building its military.


Officials said the southern Sudanese government has accumulated a force of 55,000 troops, equipped with light arms, armored combat vehicles, helicopters and air transports. They said the government has deemed the Khartoum regime of President Omar Bashir the key threat.

"We are lagging somewhat regarding weapons and troops and suffer shortages in certain units," Southern Sudanese Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Philip Aqoer said.

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In an interview with the London-based A-Sharq Al Awsat, Aqoer reviewed the southern military as well as plans to prepare for independence. The spokesman said the military was procuring weapons from a range of sources and denied reports that Israel has provided trainers.

"If we have a relationship with Israel, then we will show that we have nothing to be ashamed of," Aqoer said.

[On Feb. 4, at least six people were said to have been killed in military clashes in the Upper Nile state. Officials said soldiers from the north and south employed mortars and machine gun fire in the battle in Malakal.]

The spokesman said the southern military would comprise a defensive force rather than a guerrilla unit. He said the military of 2011 differed sharply from the insurgency force that fought the Khartoum regime in 2005.

Since 2006, the militias that comprised the Sudanese People's Liberation Army have been organized into a southern military. Aqoer said all elements of the southern military have been trained and follow a formal chain of command.

"I think we are on our way to create an army structure, and over the last five years we have taken reasonable steps because the goal is clear to us," Aqoer said on Feb. 3.

The spokesman acknowledged that the Khartoum regime maintained a much larger military than the south. Aqoer said the south does not have the money to buy such platforms as main battle tanks or combat helicopters.

Instead, the southern military was said to have acquired utility helicopters designed for search-and-rescue as well as air transport missions. He did not disclose plans to purchase either combat fixed- or rotary-wing aircraft.

Aqoer said the southern military was expecting a confrontation with the Bashir regime. He said the Sudanese Army has been ordered to organize pro-Khartoum militias to destabilize the south, particularly in the Upper Nile region.

"We expect that to happen soon," Aqoer said.

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