Sudan reinstates GIS’s Special Operations Forces
September 1, 2023 (KHARTOUM) – The General Intelligence Service (GIS) issued a call for its former Special Operations Forces members to return to service, signalling the revival of these units notorious for their friction with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
The GIS released an announcement on August 29, urging former agency members interested in rejoining to register their names at local administrative or security units, using the provided forms.
This development confirms the return of numerous Special Operations Forces members to service, which began shortly after the outbreak of armed conflict in Khartoum in April 2023. Many of these disbanded unit members joined the Sudanese army following a general mobilization call by army commander-in-chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.
The Special Operations Forces were dissolved in July 2019 after the dissolution of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) and the establishment of the General Intelligence Service. At that time, the 13,000 fighters declined an offer to join the RSF and vocally criticised the then-GIS Director, Lt Gen Abu-Bakr Damlab.
The Special Operations Forces members staged a rebellion approximately five months after their dissolution, on January 14, 2020, voicing their demands for equitable compensation.
RSF leader and Deputy Head of the Sovereign Council, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (Hemetti), at the time, accused former NISS Director Salah Gosh of masterminding the rebellion. Hemetti alleged that the GIS had failed to retrieve weapons from discharged personnel.
The special operations units were originally established in 2005 by the former NISS under Lt Gen Salah Gosh.
Hemetti believed that this predominantly northern and central Sudanese force remained loyal to Gosh. Following its dissolution, the RSF assumed its duties, securing oil fields, strategic sites, patrolling borders, and combating human trafficking.
In September 2021, calls grew louder for the restoration of the special force after GIS members were killed while confronting a terrorist cell in the Jabra suburb, south of Khartoum. However, Hemetti remained opposed to this idea.