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Angola Internal Security Forces and Organization
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
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    Internal security responsibilities in Angola were distributed among the ministries of defense, state security, and interior, plus the People's Vigilance Brigades (Brigadas Populares de Vigilância-- BPV). This elaborate internal security establishment was another manifestation of endemic crises and the mass mobilization undertaken to cope with them. The Ministry of Defense's Directorate of People's Defense and Territorial Troops, established as the ODP in late 1975, had 600,000 members, with some of these personnel in virtually every village by 1979. By that time, 50,000 ODP troops were also reported to be fighting alongside the regular army against UNITA and the SADF. Estimates of the size of the ODP militia in the late 1980s varied widely, from an effective strength of 50,000, one-fifth of whom served with FAPLA, to a nominal (possibly reserve) strength of 500,000. This militia had both armed and unarmed units dispersed in villages throughout the country to guard likely UNITA targets such as bridges, power plants, wells, schools, and clinics. The ODP also cooperated with FAPLA, sometimes in joint operations, to thwart infiltration and attacks by small units in areas where UNITA or other insurgent forces were operating.

    State security functions were assigned to the Angolan Directorate of Intelligence and Security (Direção de Informação e Segurança de Angola -- DISA) in the Ministry of Interior. As the principal internal security organ with intelligence collection and political police functions, the DISA was powerful and feared. Its national security police force had wide-ranging powers and discretion to conduct investigations, make arrests, detain individuals, and determine how they would be treated. Indeed, during Colonel Ludy Kissassunda's tenure as director (1975-79), the agency came into disrepute for excesses that included torture and summary executions. In mid-1979 President Neto announced the dissolution of the DISA, the arrest of Kissassunda and several other top security officials, and the reorganization of the state security apparatus. Although officially abolished, the DISA remained the colloquial term for the state security police. Its agents were trained at a school in Luanda by East German and Soviet instructors. The DISA reportedly also operated out of the Angolan chancery in Portugal to maintain surveillance over expatriate activities and received assistance from counterparts in various communist embassies in Lisbon.

    The Ministry of State Security was created in July 1980 as part of a government reorganization by dividing the Ministry of Interior into two separate ministries. The new ministry consolidated the DISA's internal security functions with those relating to counterintelligence, control of foreigners, anti-UNITA operations, and frontier security. Colonel Kundi Paihama, the former minister of interior, became the minister of state security upon creation of the ministry, but in late 1981 Colonel Paulo succeeded Paihama.

    In early 1986, after having revitalized the party organs and formed a new Political Bureau, President dos Santos undertook to purge and reorganize the Ministry of State Security. He removed Paulo and Deputy Minister Mendes António de Castro, took over the portfolio himself, and appointed Major Fernando Dias da Piedade dos Santos, deputy minister of interior since mid-1984, as new deputy minister of state security. In March 1986, the president formed the Commission for Reorganization of the Ministry of State Security, composed of all the directors at the ministries of interior and state security, under Piedade dos Santos's leadership. After the arrest and jailing of several senior state security officials for abuse of their positions, corruption, and other irregularities, the commission was disbanded in March 1988. In May 1988, President dos Santos relinquished the state security portfolio to Paihama, who also retained the position of minister of state for inspection and control.

    The Angolan Border Guard (Tropa Guarda Fronteira Angolana-- TGFA), under the Ministry of State Security, was responsible for maintaining security along more than 5,000 kilometers of land borders with Congo, Zaire, Zambia, and Namibia; maritime border surveillance may also have been included in the TGFA's mission. The TGFA's strength was estimated at 7,000 in 1988. Local training took place under Cuban instructors at several centers, including Omupanda, Saurimo, Negage, and Caota, although some border guards were sent to Cuba, presumably for advanced or specialized training.

    After its reorganization in 1980, the Ministry of Interior supervised the national police, provincial administration, and investigation of economic activities. Although the Ministry of State Security was responsible for administering the national prison system, certain prison camps were run by the Ministry of Interior. It was unclear how territorial administration was carried out in relation to the regional military and provincial defense councils. Colonel Manuel Alexandre Rodriques (nom de guerre Kito), who had been vice minister of interior in charge of internal order and the national police, was promoted to minister in the 1980 reorganization and was still serving in that post in late 1988. At that time, however, in response to reports that "special forces of a commando nature" had been established within the ministry without authorization, President dos Santos ordered an investigation as a prelude to a restructuring and personnel purge.

    The national Angolan People's Police evolved from the Portuguese colonial police and the People's Police Corps of Angola, which was set up in 1976 under the Ministry of Defense. Headquartered in Luanda but organized under provincial and local commands, the police numbered about 8,000 men and women and reportedly was supported by a paramilitary force of 10,000 that resembled a national guard. Cuban advisers provided most recruit training at the Kapolo Martyrs Practical Police School in Luanda, but some police training was also given in Cuba and Nigeria. In 1984 Minister of Interior Rodriques dismissed Fernando da Conceiç o as police director and named Piedrade dos Santos as his provisional replacement. Rodriques relieved Major Bartolomeu Feliciano Ferreira Neto as chief of the general staff of the police general command in November 1987, appointing Inspector José Adão de Silva as interim chief of the general staff pending a permanent posting. In December 1988, Armindo Fernandes do Espirito Santo Vieira was appointed commander general of the Angolan People's Police (apparently the top police post, formerly titled director). At the same time, police functions were being reorganized and consolidated within the Ministry of Interior to eliminate unauthorized activities, give the police more autonomy, and make them more responsive to party and government direction.

    Finally, President dos Santos created the BPV in August 1983 as a mass public order, law enforcement, and public service force in urban areas. Organizationally, the BPV had ministerial status, and its commander reported directly to the president. In some ways, the BPV was the urban counterpart of the Directorate of People's Defense and Territorial Troops. Unlike this directorate, however, whose members served alongside the army, the BPV was strictly defensive. Some BPV units were armed, but most performed public security and welfare duties and local political and ideological work--including intelligence gathering, surveillance and security patrols, civil defense, crime prevention and detection, and the organization of health, sanitation, recreation, beautification, and other social services--with and through local government and the field offices of central government agencies. The brigades were organized at the provincial level and below, operated in small units of up to 100 members, and expanded rapidly, particularly in areas affected by UNITA insurgency. In late 1984, a large number of FAPLA soldiers were integrated into the BPV to strengthen its numbers and technical military skills. The BPV was also reported to serve as a recruitment pool for FAPLA. By 1987 the BPV's strength was estimated by various sources to be from 800,000 to 1.5 million. A third of its members were said to be women, organized into 30,000 brigades under Colonel Alexandre Lemos de Lucas (nom de guerre Bota Militar).

    The rapid growth and diverse social composition of the BPV were illustrated by reports from Namibe and Huambo provinces. In early 1985, there were about 500 vigilantes organized into twenty-six squads in Namibe, capital of Namibe Province. These vigilante units had just been credited with neutralizing a network of "saboteurs" who were stealing and selling large quantities of food and housewares at high prices. Two years later, the Namibe provincial BPV was reported to have 11,885 men and women organized into 6 municipal and 228 intermediary brigades. Among the ranks were 305 MPLA-PT members, 266 members of the Organization of Angolan Women (Organização da Mulher Angolana--OMA), 401 members of the JMPLA, and 448 members of the National Union of Angolan Workers (União Nacional dos Trabalhadores Angolanos--UNTA). In Huambo Province, there were reportedly about 100,000 brigade members in early 1986, one-third of them women, and the authorities planned continued expansion to 300,000 by the end of that year.

    As in the case of the armed forces, the Angolan internal security organs were subject to ideological and institutional controls. They were also heavily influenced by Soviet, East German, and Cuban state security doctrines, organizational methods, techniques, and practices. Advisers from these countries were posted throughout the security ministries, where their presence, access, and influence ironically became a security problem for the Angolan government. They reportedly penetrated the internal security apparatus so thoroughly and recruited so many Angolan security officials that President dos Santos removed foreigners from some sensitive areas and dismissed several Angolan security officers for "collaboration" with foreign elements. A security school, staffed entirely by Angolan personnel, also opened in late 1987, thereby reducing the need and attendant risks of sending officers abroad for training.

    Data as of February 1989

    NOTE: The information regarding Angola on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Angola Internal Security Forces and Organization information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Angola Internal Security Forces and Organization should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.

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Revised 10-Nov-04
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