Kuwait Military - 2023


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Military and security forces

Kuwaiti Armed Forces (KAF): Kuwaiti Land Forces (KLF), Kuwaiti Navy, Kuwaiti Air Force (Al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Kuwaitiya; includes Kuwaiti Air Defense Force, KADF), 25th Commando Brigade, and the Kuwait Emiri Guard Authority; Kuwaiti National Guard (KNG) (2023)

note 1: the Emiri Guard Authority and the 25th Commando Brigade exercise independent command authority within the Kuwaiti Armed Forces, although activities such as training and equipment procurement are often coordinated with the other services; the 25th Commando Brigade is Kuwait's leading special forces unit; the Emiri Guard Authority (aka Emiri Guard Brigade) is responsible for protecting Kuwait's heads of state

note 2: the Kuwaiti National Guard reports directly to the prime minister and the amir and possesses an independent command structure, equipment inventory, and logistics corps separate from the Ministry of Defense, the regular armed services, and the Ministry of Interior; it is responsible for protecting critical infrastructure and providing support for the Ministries of Interior and Defense as required

note 3: the police, Kuwait State Security, and Coast Guard are under the Ministry of Interior

Military expenditures

6.8% of GDP (2021 est.)

6.3% of GDP (2020 est.)

5.6% of GDP (2019)

5.1% of GDP (2018)

5.6% of GDP (2017)

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 17,000 active duty armed forces personnel (12,500 Army, including the Amiri Guard and 25th Commando Brigade; 2,000 Navy; 2,500 Air Force); approximately 6,500 National Guard (2022)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the military's inventory consists of weapons from a wide variety of sources, including Western Europe, Russia, and the US; the US has been the leading supplier of arms to Kuwait (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18-26 years of age for voluntary military service; Kuwait reintroduced 12-month mandatory service for men aged 18-35 in May 2017 after having suspended conscription in 2001; mandatory service is divided in two phases – 4 months for training and 8 months for military service; women were allowed to volunteer in 2021 (2023)

note: the National Guard is restricted to citizens, but in 2018, the Army began allowing non-Kuwaitis to join on contract or as non-commissioned officers; that same year, it also began allowing stateless people (Bidoon) to join

Military - note

the Kuwaiti Armed Forces (KAF) are responsible for external defense; the independent National Guard is responsible for protecting critical infrastructure and providing support for the Ministries of Interior and Defense as required; the National Guard and the Ministry of Interior are the Kuwaiti Government’s lead counterterrorism organizations; Kuwait’s primary security concerns are potential threats emanating from Iran, including regional militias loyal to Iran, and Islamic terrorist groups

the KAF is a professional military that participates in bilateral and multilateral exercises, as well as a limited number of multinational security operations such as maritime patrols in the Persian Gulf; it also provided a few fighter aircraft to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen in 2015; the KAF is part of the military arm of the Gulf Cooperation Council; the Land Forces have approximately 6 small armored or mechanized brigades, plus the separate Emiri Guard and Commando brigades; the National Guard, which would support the Land Forces in a conflict, is comprised of a mix of security, light armored, and special forces battalions; the Air Force has less than 50 combat aircraft, while the Navy and Coast Guard operate a small force of missile-armed patrol craft and patrol boats
Kuwait's key security partner since the 1991 Gulf War has been the US; the US has approximately 13,000 military personnel as well as logistics and training facilities in Kuwait as part of a 1991 Defense Cooperation Agreement and a 2013 Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement; the KAF conducts bilateral exercises with the US military and would look to US assistance in the event of an external attack; Kuwait has Major Non-NATO Ally status with the US, a designation under US law that provides (2023)

NOTE: The information regarding Kuwait 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 Kuwait 2023 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Kuwait 2023 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 06 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.