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Botswana Military - 2024


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Military and security forces

Botswana Defense Force (BDF): Ground Forces Command, Air Arm Command, Defense Logistics Command (2023)

note: both the BDF and the Botswana Police Service report to the Ministry of Defense and Security; the Botswana Police Service has primary responsibility for internal security; the BDF reports to the Office of the President through the minister of defense and security and has some domestic security responsibilities

Military expenditures

2.8% of GDP (2022 est.)
3% of GDP (2021 est.)
3% of GDP (2020 est.)
2.8% of GDP (2019 est.)
2.8% of GDP (2018 est.)

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 9,000 active BDF personnel (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the BDF has a mix of mostly older weapons and equipment, largely of Western/European-origin; in recent years, it has received limited amounts of material from several European countries and the US (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18 is the legal minimum age for voluntary military service for men and women; no conscription (2023)

Military deployments

approximately 300 Mozambique (Southern African Development Community force) (2023)

Military - note

the BDF’s key functions include defending the country's territorial integrity on land and in the air, ensuring national security and stability, and aiding civil authorities in support of domestic missions such as disaster relief and anti-poaching; it participates in regional and international security operations; the Ground Force has five small brigades of infantry, light armor, and artillery, plus commandos and a marine unit with boats and river craft for patrolling Botswana's internal waterways and supporting anti-poaching operations; the Air Arm has a small squadron of ageing fighters, as well as some multipurpose helicopters

Bechuanaland/Botswana did not have a permanent military during colonial times, with the British colonial administrators relying instead on small, lightly armed constabularies such as the Bechuanaland Mounted Police, the Bechuanaland Border Police, and by the early 1960s, the Police Mobile Unit (PMU); after independence in 1966, Botswana militarized the PMU and gave it responsibility for the country’s defense rather than create a conventional military force; however, turmoil in neighboring countries and numerous cross-border incursions by Rhodesian and South African security forces in the 1960s and 1970s demonstrated that the PMU was inadequate for defending the country and led to the establishment of the Botswana Defense Force (BDF) in 1977 (2023)

NOTE: The information regarding Botswana on this page is re-published from the 2024 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Botswana 2024 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Botswana 2024 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 04 May 24, Copyright © 2024 ITA all rights reserved.