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SPLA renamed South Sudan Defense Force in a major army shake up

Official flag of the SPLA, South Sudan

President Salva Kiir issued several decrees last night creating major changes within the army, including changing the name of the SPLA to South Sudan Defense Force.

The new name of the army is as per the constitution and the 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan.

The changes are also based on the resolutions of the 5th SPLA Command Council conference held last year.

A Defense Structural Review Committee was established to review the structures of the Ministry of Defense and Veteran Affairs, and align it with the SPLA “White Paper” of 2008.

In the biggest shake up of the national army since 2011, President Kiir as the Commander-in-Chief, created three divisions or service arms of the new Defense Forces.

The structures of the army will now include; Ground Force, Air Force and Air-Defense, and Riverine units.

These units will be led by only three commanders.

In the military hierarchy, President Kiir restructured the leadership of the army into 10 chains of sub-command.

The new chain of command starts with the Commander-in-Chief at the helm, followed by the Minister of Defense and Veteran Affairs as his deputy.

He also replaced the title of the Chief of General Staff with a new title that shall be known as the Chief of Defense Forces, CoDFs.

The Chief of Defense Forces shall be deputized by the CoDFs -Inspector General.

Within the administration of the army, there shall now be 3 assistant Chiefs of Defense Forces. They include that of Administration, Personnel and Finance, that of Operations, Training and Intelligence, and the Assistant for Logistics and Procurement.

In a separate decree, President Kiir also recommissioned Major General Dau Aturjong into the army.

Dau fell out with the government in 2010, over the nomination of General Paul Malong as the SPLM candidate for the governor of former Northern Bahr el Ghazal state.

He contested the nominations process, but the SPLM chose Malong instead.

In 2013, he joined the SPLM-IO under Dr. Riek Machar, but later rejoined the army during the July 2016 clashes in Juba.

These changes which are believed to be part of the reforms required within the SPLA were announced last year by the Transitional Government of National Unity, when it promised to complete the reforms by May 2017.

Last week, President Salva Kiir dismissed General Paul Malong Awan from the position of the SPLA Chief of General Staff, after serving in that post for 4 years.

He immediately appointed General James Ajong’a Mawut, who will now lead the day-to-day activities of the South Sudan Defense Force.

He was appointed to professionalize the army based on the existing officials documents.

General Ajong’a promised to return stability across the country, and observe the implementation of the peace agreement.