Mali’s military forces consist of an army, which includes land forces and air force, as well as the paramilitary Gendarmerie and Republican Guard, all of which are under the control of Mali's Ministry of Defence & Veterans, headed by a civilian. The military has generally kept a low profile since the democratic transition of 1992.
The military is underpaid, poorly equipped, and in need of rationalisation. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Tuareg Rebellion, the Army has struggled to maintain its size, despite recent military aid from the United States. Organisation has suffered from the incorporation of Tuareg irregular forces into the regular military following a 1992 agreement between the government and Tuareg rebel forces. It is organised into two tank battalions, four infantry battalions, one Special Forces battalion, one airborne battalion, two artillery battalions, one engineer battalion, two AD artillery batteries, and one SAM battery.
The Mali Air Force operates 16 MiG-21MF Fishbed-J, MiG-17F Fresco fighters, Antonov An-24, Antonov An-26, Aero L-29 Delfin, two Yak-18A Max, one MiG-15UTI Midget trainer aircraft, 1 Ecureuil, 2 Z-9 (AS-365N) Dauphin 2, and Mi-24 Hind and Mi-8 Hip helicopters.
Mali is one of four Saharan states which will create a Joint Military Staff Committee, to be based at Tamanrasset in southern Algeria. Algeria, Mauritania, Niger, and Mali will take part.
Military branches :
Malian Armed Forces: Army, Republic of Mali Air Force (Force Aerienne de la Republique du Mali, FARM), National Guard (2008)
Military service age and obligation :
18 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; conscript service obligation - 2 years (2010)
Manpower available for military service :
males age 16-49: 2,848,412
females age 16-49: 2,981,106 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military service :
males age 16-49: 1,825,779
females age 16-49: 1,968,563 (2010 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually :
female: 159,733 (2010 est.)
Military expenditures :
1.9% of GDP (2006)