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Pages 62-86 | Published online: 27 Mar 2019
Original Article

An Effective Senegalese Military Enclave: The Armée-Nation “Rolls On”



Senegal is viewed as one of the most stable countries in Africa. Many have hypothesized that this is a product of Senegalese culture, Sufi Islam, and/or French trusteeship. This article contends that Senegal has avoided civil wars and coup d’état due to a critical juncture in civil–military relations in 1962. This created a new path dependence of Armée-Nation ideology, allowing for the creation of a “military enclave”—a strong army in a weak state. Since then, the Senegalese Armed Forces developed bureaucratic-institutional competence that contributed to state-building and improved military effectiveness, all without being a threat to the state or society.


For comments and suggestions I am grateful to Will Reno, Bill Murphy, Dan Szarke, Marina Henke, Paul Staniland, and the two anonymous reviewers of African Security for their feedback on this article. The research, fieldwork, and interviews were ethically and properly conducted in accordance with Northwestern University IRB ID #STU00205105.

Disclosure statement

The views presented in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of the Air Force, U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Department of Defense, or U.S. Government.


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108. It can also be spelled Ndiabot. The best way to describe Djobot is that family relations in society are applied to the army. It becomes so engrained in effective military units to the point that they name the kids after one another or fulfill family roles in their extended family. This sort of informal institution is beyond the typical “brother in arms” observed in Western armies.

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Additional information


This article has benefited from generous funding from the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) Dissertation Proposal Development program and four organizations at Northwestern University: Buffett Institute for Global Studies, Department of Political Science, Program of African Studies (PAS), and the Graduate School (TGS).

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