The role of military ranks and positions in the deadly conflict of South Sudan

Posted: December 1, 2016 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Commentary, Contributing Writers, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers, Thon Atem Ayiei

By Thon Atem Ayiei, Juba, South Sudan

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December 1, 2016 (SSB) — Around the globe there are many different ranks in the army. The ranks that a person obtained, depends on different aspects. For those who have recently enlisted in the army and didn’t receive any military training, the opportunity to command others becomes helter-skelter pretention.

In fact, the true and professional way of entering into the army, must take into accounts rules of engagement, usually you get trained as Privates and continue with systematic ranking based on your performances. The top rank in the army is a General however, only a few officers can manage to reach that level of the rank considering the global ranking systems and in some parts of the world, it is myriad.

The exact ranking that an enlisted person receives is usually based on the number of years they have served, on any promotions that they have obtained, as well as any college hours that they have completed. The more years served, the more promotions that a person has, and the more college hours that they have completed will of course contribute towards a higher ranking.

Some rankings in the army are mostly of two types and there is a distinction between these two types of rankings. Those that are non-commissioned officers (NCOs) are many times referred to as warrants officers. They can control other soldiers, but commissioned officers (COs) are always the ones who have command influence for both NCOs and PVTs.

The formation of the army structures and rankings are in many cases uniform or constitute some basic similarities and the varieties come in from the army manifestos of the certain sovereign state. This actually means, the recruitment and the promotion has to be done based on the individual credibility, interest, and fitness and area recommendation to join the training colleges and later battle fields.

The questions here are, why is it so easier in our country {south Sudan}, for anyone who rebelled against the government promote him/ herself to the rank of general, the only rank accorded a huge respect in the world’s military systems? Is it an ill intention of spoiling the SPLA? Was the rebellion of the SPLM I.O a shortcut for the illiterate persons to get into ranks and files of the national army to get paid? Was the rebellion of the SPLM I.O blessed with Nuer community only, especially the Dor-Nuer of Leer where the warlord Dr Riek-Ngundeng Biong came from?

What has actually surprised me in the recent development, many of my friends disappeared since from the first eruption of the 2013 rebellion upto date, many of our former friends whom we used to stay together before their cheap tribal decision of joining SPLM I.O obtained high military promotion not adjacent to their ages, making them becomes generals and major generals at their youthful age of thirties and forties, which is very impossible in the army manifestoes, even with academic papers.

And it’s not the first time for Dr Riek-Ngundeng Biong doing this unethically promotions of his community in all his attempts to cling into power by force in Sudan and South Sudan history of liberation struggle.  I don’t know whether it’s the simples’ way of him to recruit his community to support his doom ambition of presidency? The dreams of others to join and serve his/her people in the national army had been miserably killed by SPLM IO and Dr Riek tribal way of rewarding army ranks to the illiterate gangs of his ethnicity or killers whom he claimed to be “warriors of his generation.

This is the worse conspiracy of its kind in the rebellion history and it’s the reason why individual thinks sharply to join meaningless rebellion on the routine basis in our country over the years.  The People who claim of becoming superiors in their communities, once they are actually given fake ranks by the warlord and i believe some time to come, others will blame themselves for contributing their innocent sons and daughters to fight alongside Dr Riek- Ngundeng Biong force of Dor-Nuer clan.

Nevertheless, Dr Riek Machar in all his political attempts to the former government of President Kiir Mayardit where he was part of and his the compromise peace agreement (CPA II) made it clear that, all his 270 military generals mainly from his tribe, thousands of junior’s officers and thousands of non-commission personnel’s should be confirm with their illegal ranks unconditional if the government needs peace.

It’s important to realize that just because someone holds a position of leadership, doesn’t necessarily mean they should put another way, not all leaders are created equal and it is very clear Dr Riek Machar had proven beyond doubt his failures in leadership in his entire military and political career. The idea of arms struggle, illegally promotion of civilians into army ranks, recruitment of potential children on tribal basis, destructions incurred every time on his meaningless wars, displacement of people on routine and the increase in disability, widows and orphans, can simply justify him of which kind of leader is he.

If army ranks are rewarded to those who had rebelled against the nation, then the war will never end because it has become a college and a system of giving ranks to illiterate people. I always reserved myself when it comes as a debate of Dinka and Nuer communities, because these communities shared a lot in cultural norms and both tribes had fully contributed to independence of south Sudan, despite the hatred caused by Riek Machar with his supporters.

 In conclusion, it will never be business as usual in the national army SPLA where those who had rebelled are awarded with senior positions, countless army ranks and irrelevant reintegration into army ranks and files. The SPLA had for the first time since from the signing of the CPA (Dr. John Garang) got a committed chief of general staff who is determined both to defense the national constitutions and to reorganize the national Army.

May God bless residents of Juba and the entire people of South Sudan.

The writer is a south Sudanese national, live in Juba and a student in Kampala University. He be reached on

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made are the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing.


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