There are 745 generals in the SPLA. That’s 41 more than in the four U.S. services combined, and second only to Russia’s 887 generals and admirals in the world.

SPLA generals and flag officers

The following graph represents the best estimate for the numbers on the SPLA payroll, plus the Southern Sudan Police Service (which numbers 48,000-50,000). The prison service and wildlife, which also function as a paramilitary reserve, add up to a further 40,000.

South Sudan security forces

At the time of the CPA, there was an unquestioned assumption that SPLA soldiers would have the same terms of service as their counterparts in the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF). But in 2006, the Southern Sudanese Legislative Assembly voted to double the base pay of an infantryman, to $150/month. In April 2011, the value of the South Sudanese Pound having depreciated, the wage was doubled again, to $220/month.

The payroll represents by far the largest element in the defence budget: about 80% of annual expenditure, with operations and capital the remaining 20%. (In most armies the proportions are roughly 1/3 each.) But there are many ghost soldiers—the SPLA’s own audit identified 40,000, and the investigation did not go down to divisional, brigade or battalion level.

The SPLA is expensive!

SS defence spending

Another way of looking at these figures is to compare defense spending against GDP. South Sudan spends three times as much as Ethiopia, and 5-10 times as much as a proportion of GDP.

comparative defense spending


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