Idriss Déby was born in Fada, a village in the Ennedi province of eastern Chad in 1952. His father was a shepherd of the Zughawa ethnic group. He achieved his baccalaureate and then joined the military officers school in N'Djamena. In 1976, he traveled to northern France where he obtained a professional pilot's license at l'Institut Aeronautique Amaury de la Grange at Hazebrouck. After returning to Chad, he became a second lieutenant in the Forces Armées du Nord (FAN) that successfully brought Habré to power in 1982. He became commander in chief of the Chadian armed forces, Forces Armées Nationales Tchadiennes (FANT), where he achieved great success against Libyan troops in 1983. The French were so impressed with his desert fighting tactics that they began to call him the "cowboy of the desert." His military success began to make Habré fear him as a possible rival. Déby therefore quietly arranged for additional military training in France. He was replaced as chief of the armed forces by his cousin, Hassan Djamous. Upon completion of his training course, he returned to Chad and was appointed advisor for security and defense, with his cousin Djamous remaining as chief of the armed forces. Déby is married with four wives, one of whom was the wife of his deceased father—an obligatory custom of the Zughawa. He is the father of 10 children.