An article in the political blog community Daily Kos compares the Egyptian and the Lybian militaries and how their differences in structure affected their response to the anti-government protests in both countries. The author contends that in authoritarian countries such as Lybia, Iraq under Saddam Hussein and many other Middle Eastern regimes, the military tends to be divided between the general bulk of the army, recruited or conscripted from the general populace, and an elite Inner Circle, comprised of men picked for their unswerving loyalty to the Leader. Often they have family connections to the Leader. Nearly always the Inner Circle has connection with the State's Secret Police (and there always is a Secret Police).
In Egypt, the author says, the military does not seem to have such Inner Circles, and thanks to reforms in the military (ironically instituted by President Mubarak himself), the officer class of the Egyptian Army is chosen by merit rather than fealty, and tends to be well-educated professionals, giving them a different view of the role of the military in society than, say, an officer in Hussein's Republican Guard.
The article also touches on the history of some of the regimes of the Middle East that have been facing political unrest.
Game and Story Use
- If your PCs are going to fight an Evil Overlord, they're going to have to deal with his army. This article gives a look at how a authoritarian regime's military might be structured.
- Worth checking what you define as an "Army" - the men still fighting for Qadafi are mostly paramilitaries; part of his MO was to keep the Army weak and counterbalance it with strong tribal and political militias. Both Tunisia and Egypt had traditional armies … who traditionally refuse to attack demonstrators.
- I don't see this as invalidating the article's contention, that in many of these countries there is an Outer Circle comprising the National Armed Forces and an Inner Circle which is basically the Dictator's Private Army, (or "Army" if you prefer), loyal solely to him.
- Depending on the Dictator and the country, this Elite Guard could be hardened mercenaries, fantatical shock troops, or just show troops who wear fancy uniforms and look impressive goose-stepping across a parade ground.
- Or they could be an Amazon Brigade. Gaddafi has one of those too!