Military Reform: Lomé Peace Agreement


1. The restructuring, composition and training of the new Sierra Leone armed forces will be carried out by the Government with a view to creating truly national armed forces, bearing loyalty solely to the State of Sierra Leone, and able and willing to perform their constitutional role.

2. Those ex-combatants of the RUF, CDF and SLA who wish to be integrated into the new restructured national armed forces may do so provided they meet established criteria.

3. Recruitment into the armed forces shall reflect the geo-political structure of Sierra Leone within the established strength.

Implementation History


Intermediate Implementation

Military reform in Sierra Leone started well before the Lomé Agreement. “By September 1998, the government’s plans for reform of the army and police had taken shape. They involved an army of 5,000 (the army under the AFRC was at least twice as large) and rigorous screening of members of the old armed forces before they could be allowed to join. The government had also accepted advice from the Commonwealth Police Development Task Force (mainly funded by DFID) on radical reform of the police. At the same time the President made it clear that the Civil Defence Forces (CDF) would continue to play a key role in security.1

“The Sierra Leone government had explored many options in its drive to restructure and reform the armed forces. At one point, it considered the Costa Rica model – no army, but a well-trained and equipped police force. This option was not popular, in view of the security threat posed to Sierra Leone by the Liberian conflict and the then volatile Guinean security situation in the Mano River sub-region.2

 “The UK developed various programmes to increase the effectiveness and accountability of the Sierra Leonean forces, including military training assistance, reintegration, and specific SSR measures designed to ensure that the security institutions had a sufficient legal basis. Though the greatest slice of these funds was devoted to the military training and assistance programmes, there was also a specific effort to implement legal and structural reforms. MOD-UK, MODAT and IMATT have also been involved in the training of future trainers of the AFRSL – platoon commanders and sergeants under the Short Term Training Teams (STTT). The 12-week training course focused on such key areas as international humanitarian law, civil–military relations, the rights of the child, budget management, and regional and sub-regional security” (Gbla 2006, 83).

  • 1. Brian Thomson, "Sierra Leone: Reform or Relapse? Conflict and Governance Reform." Chatham House Report, 2007, accessed October 26, 2010, page 6,
  • 2. Gbla Osman, “Security sector reform under international tutelage in Sierra Leone," International Peacekeeping 13, no.1 (2006): 83.

Intermediate Implementation

In 2000, the British helped establish a new Sierra Leonean Ministry of Defense with a mission to “formulate, implement, monitor and evaluate a strategic defence policy for the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces that is effective and fostered within a framework of democratic governance.3The new ministry provides a framework for a closer and more efficient working relationship between civilians and the military. Unlike in the past, civilians now occupy senior positions in the military administration. The Deputy Minister of Defence and the Director General of the MOD, the equivalent of a UK Permanent Secretary, are civilians. The Director General is the government’s principal adviser on defense matters and holds primary responsibility for policy, finance, procurement and administration. The Director General is also the Principal Accounting Officer responsible to the Minister of Defence for the overall organization, management and staffing of the department. The Director is personally responsible to Parliament for the expenditure of all public money allocated for defense 4

“On 28 January 2000, Mr. Koroma submitted his resignation to President Kabbah from the Sierra Leone Army. While he would remain the leader of the AFRC, his faction would be dissolved with the impeding reinstatement of ex-sierra Leone Army elements into the current armed forces.”5

1,148 ex-armed combatants have been encamped and are waiting the screening process in order to be reinstated, if qualified.6

In his latest report to the Security Council (December 2000), the UN Secretary General informed that the newly trained Sierra Leone Army began security responsibilities in several strategic areas of the country. The United Kingdom Military trained approximately 3,000 Sierra Leonean Army personnel, with 1,000 more expected to undergo training in late December.7

Note: Though the screening process was rigorous, government reinstated thousands of ex-AFRC soldiers, who committed terrible atrocities during the war, into the army during the summer of 2000 in order to repulse the RUF’s attack towards Freetown.

  • 3. "Time for a New Political and Military Strategy," International Crisis Group, Sierra Leone, ICG Africa Report No.28, Freetown/London/Brussels, 11 April 2001, p.7.
  • 4. Gbla Osman, “Security sector reform under international tutelage in Sierra Leone,” International Peacekeeping, 2006, 13 (1): 83.
  • 5. "Report of the Secretary General on the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone," (S/2000/186), March 7, 2000, page 1-2.
  • 6. "Report of the Secretary General on the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone," (S/2000/186), March 7, 2000.
  • 7. "Report of the Secretary General on the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone," (S/2000/1199), December 15, 2000.

Intermediate Implementation

The British continued supporting security sector reform in Sierra Leone through its training of the armed forces. As of September 2001, there were 600 British trainers, which was expected to drop to 300-400 once the government expanded its control of the country.8

Through the Military Reintegration Programme (MRP), the UK-led International Military Advisory and Training Team (IMATT) undertook a series of training programs and assisted the Sierra Leone Armed Forces’ instructors at the Armed Force Training Center. MRP was “designed to integrate former RUF and CDF combatants who have been through the disarmament and demobilisation process, into the new RSLAF.9.The size of RUF and CDF combatants to be integrated was said to be fairly modest, but the actual numbers are unavailable.

  • 8. Mark Malan, Security and Military Reform, 2003. In eds. Malan, Mark, Sarah Meek, Thokozani Thusi, Jeremy Ginifer, Patrick Coker, "Sierra Leone: Building the Road to Recovery," Institute for Security Studies, 2003,Monograph 80,, page 97.
  • 9. Ibid

Intermediate Implementation

Support from Britain to train the Sierra Leone Armed Force continued. According to the Secretary General’s Report on UNAMSIL, some 1,723 ex-combatants (1,028 from RUF, 632 CDF and 63 AFRC/ex-SLA) were selected for reintegration into the Sierra Leone Army.10

According to the Secretary General’s June 2002 report on UNAMSIL, up to 7,000 ex-combatants would be recruited for reintegration projects every six months. The composition of the reintegration is not available.11 In the mean time, the Sierra Leone Armed Forces continuously received training and restructuring support from UK-led International Military Advisory and Training Team (IMATT). The restructuring process was expected to result in the reduction of the size of the armed forces from the current strength of approximately 14,000 to 10,500.12

  • 10. "Secretary General’s Report on UNAMSIL," S/2002/267, March 14, 2002.
  • 11. "Secretary General’s Report on UNAMSIL," S/2002/679, June 19, 2002.
  • 12. "Secretary General’s Report on UNAMSIL," S/2002/1417, December 24, 2002.

Intermediate Implementation

According to the Secretary General’s Report on UNAMSIL, the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces’ effectiveness improved gradually as a result of training and restructuring support from IMATT, led by the UK.13 The restructuring, which should result in the reduction of the armed force to 10,500 from 14,000, began in March 2003. The goal was expected to be met by 2007.

According to the Secretary General’s September 5, 2003 report on UNAMSIL, the army, in addition to downsizing, began reorganizing its structure in order to focus on border operations and timely deployment of reserves.14 The expected discharge date for the first group of 1,000 soldiers was January 31, 2004.15

  • 13. "Secretary General’s Report on UNAMSIL," S/2003/321, March 17, 2003.
  • 14. "Secretary General’s Report on UNAMSIL," S/2003/863, September 5, 2003.
  • 15. "Secretary General’s Report on UNAMSIL," S/2003/1201, December 23, 2003.

Intermediate Implementation

According to the Secretary General’s March 19, 2004 Report on UNAMSIL, there was, “no funding available for the next phase of the restructuring exercise, under which some 1,000 soldiers are expected to go into voluntary retirement after receiving a financial and training package."16 The funding was essential to give former soldiers job training and an economic package. Nevertheless, plans to downsize the armed forces were on track.

The recently established new military academy represents a significant step towards making RSLAF a modern military institution; and the academy’s training programs include courses for company commanders, commanding officers and senior officers. The Government is also making efforts to improve the operational focus of RSLAF."17 In spite of financial challenges, “a further reduction of 1,000 military personnel from RSLAF will commence on 1 January 2005, towards the planned goal of a strength of 10,500 personnel by 2007. There have been some public protests among military personnel against the expected downsizing. In collaboration with IMATT, UNAMSIL will continue its efforts to strengthen the capacity of RSLAF and will play an advisory role and provide training assistance to the armed forces in selected areas."18

  • 16. "Secretary General’s Report on UNAMSIL," S/2004/228, March 19, 2004, p. 4.
  • 17. "Report of the Secretary General on UNAMSIL," S/2004/536, July 6, 2004, p. 6.
  • 18. "Report of the Secretary General on UNAMSIL," S/2004/724, September 9, 2004, pp. 6-7.

Intermediate Implementation

According to the Secretary General’s April 2005 Report, troop reductions were on target to reduce the number from 13,000 to 10,500 personnel by 2007.19 The program’s heavy reliance on international support slowed the progress to restructure and reduce the size of military considerably.20

  • 19. "Report of the Secretary General on UNAMSIL," S/2005/273, April 26, 2005.
  • 20. "Report of the Secretary General on UNAMSIL," S/2005/777, December 12, 2005.

Intermediate Implementation

Sierra Leone continuously pursued programs to reform and downsize the armed forces. “The International Military Advisory and Training Team continues to restructure and train the Sierra Leone armed forces, focusing on low-level training and reducing the troop strength to the level of 10,500, as was initially approved by the Government. As of February 2006, the armed forces’ strength stood at some
10,600 military personnel. The International Military Advisory and Training Team has proposed, however, a further reduction in strength, to 8,500, which is currently under consideration by the Government."21

At the time of the Secretary General’s August 2006 Report, the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces’ strength stood at approximately 10,300 military personnel. “The Ministry of Defence, with the support of the United Kingdom-led International Military Advisory and Training Team, was conducting a review of the overall structures of the armed forces to achieve cost effectiveness and sustainability, without compromising the capacity to carry out its constitutionally mandated tasks and responsibilities."22


  • 21. "First report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Integrated Office in Sierra Leone," S/2006/269, April 28, 2006, p. 5.
  • 22. "Report of the Secretary General on UNAMSIL," S/2006/695, August 29, 2006, p. 5.

Full Implementation

The International Military Advisory and Training Team, supported by DFID, worked with UNIOSIL and the armed forces to decrease the strength of the armed forces from 10,500 to 8,500.23

It was not clear whether the number of ex-combatants integrated into the military from the RUF, CDF and ex-SLA increased from the original 1,723 ex-combatants (1,028 from RUF, 632 CDF and 63 AFRC/ex-SLA).24

  • 23. "Report of the Secretary General on UNAMSIL," S/2007/704, December 4, 2007.
  • 24. Ibid

Full Implementation

Though the reform of the armed forces was already achieved, there was an extra effort to downsize the number of forces to 8,500 personnel. Recognizing the potential difficulty of reducing troop numbers to 8,500, the Government also enacted compulsory retirement plan should the goal not be met.25

The size of the Armed Forces was 10,000 with continued efforts to further reduce the size to 8,500 personnel.26 Military reform took place and former ex-combatants were integrated. Military strength was downsized to 8,500 and the Sierra Leone Military successfully deployed its first ever peacekeeping force on a UN mission (UNAMID).27