Tonga Military - 2023


Military and security forces

His Majesty's Armed Forces Tonga (aka Tonga Defense Services): Joint Force headquarters, Tonga Royal Guard, Land Force (Royal Tongan Marines), Tonga Navy, Training Wing, Air Wing, and Support Unit; Ministry of Police and Fire Services: Tonga Police Force (2023)

Military expenditures

2.1% of GDP (2020 est.)

2.4% of GDP (2019 est.)

1.5% of GDP (2018 est.)

2.1% of GDP (2017 est.)

1.7% of GDP (2016 est.)

comparison ranking

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 650 personnel (2022)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the Tonga military's inventory includes mostly light weapons and equipment from Australia, European countries (primarily the UK), and the US (2022)

Military service age and obligation

voluntary military service for men and women 18-25 (16 with parental approval for non-combat positions); no conscription (2022)

Military - note

the HMAF’s primary missions are protecting the King and Tonga’s sovereignty; the HMAF has also contributed small numbers of personnel to multinational military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Solomon Islands; it is a small force comprised of a royal guard company, a marine battalion, and a few naval patrol boats 

Tonga participated in World War I as part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, but the Tonga Defense Force (TDF) was not established until 1939 at the beginning of World War II; in 1943, New Zealand helped train about 2,000 Tongan troops who saw action in the Solomon Islands; the TDF was disbanded at the end of the war, but was reactivated in 1946 as the Tonga Defense Services (TDS); in 2013, the name of the TDS was changed to His Majesty’s Armed Forces of Tonga (HMAF); Tongan troops deployed to Iraq from 2004-2008 and Afghanistan to support UK forces from 2010-2014

Tonga has a "shiprider" agreement with the US, which allows local maritime law enforcement officers to embark on US Coast Guard (USCG) and US Navy (USN) vessels, including to board and search vessels suspected of violating laws or regulations within Tonga's designated exclusive economic zone (EEZ) or on the high seas; "shiprider" agreements also enable USCG personnel and USN vessels with embarked USCG law enforcement personnel to work with host nations to protect critical regional resources (2023)

NOTE: The information regarding Tonga on this page is re-published from the 2023 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Tonga 2023 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Tonga 2023 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 22 Aug 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.