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Malaysia Military - 2024


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Military and security forces

Malaysian Armed Forces (Angkatan Tentera Malaysia, ATM): Malaysian Army (Tentera Darat Malaysia), Royal Malaysian Navy (Tentera Laut Diraja Malaysia, TLDM), Royal Malaysian Air Force (Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia, TUDM) (2024)

note 1: the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP or Polis Diraja Malaysia, PDRM) are under the Ministry of Home Affairs; the PRMD includes the General Operations Force, a paramilitary force with a variety of roles, including patrolling borders, counter-terrorism, maritime security, and counterinsurgency; the Ministry of Home Affairs also includes the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA; aka Malaysian Coast Guard)

note 2:
Malaysia created a National Special Operations Force in 2016 for combating terrorism threats; the force is comprised of personnel from the ATM, the PRMD, and the MMEA

Military expenditures

1.1% of GDP (2022 est.)
1% of GDP (2021)
1.1% of GDP (2020)
1% of GDP (2019)
1% of GDP (2018)

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 110,000 active-duty troops (80,000 Army; 15,000 Navy; 15,000 Air Force) (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the military fields a diverse array of mostly older weapons systems along with a modest mix of modern equipment; its inventory originates from a wide variety of suppliers across Europe, Asia, and the US; in recent years it has received military equipment from approximately 20 countries with South Korea as one of the leading suppliers (2023)

Military service age and obligation

17 years 6 months of age for voluntary military service for men and women (younger with parental consent and proof of age); maximum age of 27 to enlist; mandatory retirement age 60; no conscription (2023)

note: in 2020, the military announced a goal of having 10% of the active force comprised of women

Military deployments

830 Lebanon (UNIFIL) (2023)

Military - note

the Malaysian military is primarily focused on internal and maritime security and responding to natural disasters; maritime security has received increased emphasis in recent years, particularly anti-piracy operations in the Strait of Malacca and countering Chinese incursions in Malaysia’s Economic Exclusion Zone, as well as addressing identified shortfalls in maritime capabilities; as such, Malaysia has undertaken efforts to procure more modern ships, improve air and maritime surveillance, expand the Navy’s support infrastructure (particularly bases/ports) and domestic ship-building capacities, restructure naval command and control, and increase naval cooperation with regional and international partners; as of 2023, for example, the Navy had five frigates on order (due in 2026-2029), which would increase the number of operational frigates from two to seven, and complement its small inventory of littoral combat ships (comparable to light frigates in capabilities) and offshore patrol vessels; in addition, the Navy conducts air and naval patrols with Indonesia and the Philippines; it also cooperates with the US military, including on maritime surveillance and training

the Army’s force structure reflects its traditional focus on counterinsurgency operations and terrorist threats; its four divisional commands are comprised largely of infantry brigades; it also has separate brigades of airborne, security, and special operations forces; Malaysia does not have a marine corps, but places considerable emphasis on amphibious capabilities for some of its Army ground units; the Air Force has a mix of about 50 combat aircraft and helicopters 

Malaysia is a member of the Five Powers Defense Arrangements (FPDA), a series of mutual assistance agreements reached in 1971 embracing Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the UK; the FPDA commits the members to consult with one another in the event or threat of an armed attack on any of the members and to mutually decide what measures should be taken, jointly or separately; there is no specific obligation to intervene militarily (2023)

NOTE: The information regarding Malaysia 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 Malaysia 2024 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Malaysia 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.