Open main menu

The Botswana Defence Force (BDF, Setswana: Sesole Sa Botswana), the military of Botswana, formed in 1977. The commander-in-chief is Mokgweetsi Masisi. The main force is the army; there is also an air wing, but no sea-going navy, although there is a river contingent attached to the ground forces, with 10 Panther airboats and 2 Boston Whaler Raider class.[1][2][3]

Botswana Defense Force
BDF emblem.svg
Botswana Defence Force emblem
MottoThebe Ya Sechaba
Current form2019
Service branchesBotswana Ground Force
BDF Air Wing
Logistics Command
WebsiteBDF Website
PresidentMokgweetsi Masisi
Minister of Defence, Justice, and SecurityShaw Kgathi
BDF CommanderLieutenant General Placid D. Segokgo
Military age18
Available for
military service
1,230,000, age 18–44
Fit for
military service
871,381 males, age 18–44,
co females, age 18–44
Reaching military
age annually
Active personnel24,000 (ranked 136th)
Reserve personnel?
Deployed personnel50
Domestic suppliersLockheed Martin Botswana
Botswana Defense Agency
Krauss-Maffei Wegmann
Foreign suppliers Germany
 United States
Related articles
HistoryMilitary history of Botswana
RanksMilitary ranks of Botswana


At independence in 1966, Botswana made a decision to not establish a standing military and focus instead on development and poverty alleviation, and instead created a small military police force for security.[4] However, cross border incursions by Rhodesian and South African security forces in the mid-1970s led the government to conclude that the country needed a military to protect its sovereignty.[citation needed] The BDF was established in 1977. Following political changes in South Africa and the region, the BDF's missions have increasingly focused on anti-poaching activities, disaster-preparedness and response (including search and rescue), support to civil authorities and foreign peacekeeping. A well respected institution trusted by the political leadership, the BDF has seen its role increase over time to include non-traditional missions such as disaster response and reinforcement of the police during the holiday season and high crime periods. The BDF's professionalism and ability to successfully accomplish any task the government gives it has, at times, resulted in over tasking in support to civil authorities.[citation needed] In 2015 the BDF recruited its first female privates.[5]


The Botswana Defense Force Band in 2012

Botswana Defence Force consists of three separate service components each of which is commanded by a major general:

  • 1BDE GROUP, consists of 15inf, 12inf, 114medium artillery and 114 service support battalion.
  • Air Arm command, has its own signals, logistics(HQ at Thebephatswe Air Base) and
  • Defence Logistics Command (HQ at Sir Seretse Khama Barracks (SSKB) in Gaborone).
  • 3 brigade group, based in glen valley consist of 111 mar, 177 mechanised battalion and its logistics

The BDF Command and Staff College is located at Glenn Valley.[6]

The BDF ground forces consists of the following units:[7]

  • 1 Armoured brigade
  • 2 Infantry brigades (one armoured reconnaissance regiment, four infantry battalions, one commando unit, two air defence artillery regiments, one engineer regiment and one logistics battalion.)
  • 1 Artillery brigade
  • 1 Air Defence brigade
  • 1 Engineering company
  • 1 Signals company

Military education and trainingEdit

U.S. International Military Education and Training funds from the USA remain important to Botswana's officer training programme. Over 50 Botswana officers receive military training in the US each year; by 1999 approximately 85% of the BDF officers are said to have been trained through this arrangement.

BDF Air WingEdit

The Air Wing comprises an estimated 1500 trained personnel.[7]

  • Thebephatshwa/Molepolole – FBTP
    • Z.1 Air Transport squad
    • Z.7 Training squad
    • Z.10 Air Transport squad
    • Z.21 Helicopter squad
    • Z.23 Helicopter squad
    • Z.28 FGA squad
  • Gaborone Sir Seretse Khama International Airport – FBSK
    • VIP Flight
  • Francistown – FBFT
    • Z.3 Air Transport squad
    • Z.12 Air Transport squad
    • Z.18 FGA squad
  • Bagram Air Base

Domestic operationsEdit

  • 1995 – BDF undertook rescue missions during floods that hit major parts of the country.[8]
  • 1996 – BDF deployed soldiers and equipment at Sua Pan in 'Operation Save Sua' to save the berm wall of Botswana Ash (Botash) plant, which was being threatened by heavy floods. The soldiers laid 90,000 sandbags and 12,000 tires in the operation.[8]
  • 2006 – In the floods that hit Ramotswa and its surrounding areas in February 2006, BDF teams carried out rescue missions and saved hundreds of lives.[8]
  • 2009 – BDF provided assistance during the flooding that affected a large community around the Kasane area.[8]
  • 2014 – Anti-poaching operations.

International cooperationEdit

BDF soldiers on a raid in the Bakaara Market in Mogadishu as part of the Unified Task Force in January 1993.

In 1992 and 1993, a BDF contingent participated in Operation Restore Hope, a United States led coalition of forces to restore peace in Somalia. From 1993 to 1994, a team of BDF officers participated in a UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda as observers. Those same years, BDF troops participated in United Nations Operation in Mozambique, the UN peacekeeping operation in Mozambique.[9]

The BDF also participated in Operation Boleas, a SADC military intervention in Lesotho in 1998. This operation culminated in a re-training programme for Lesotho Defence Force members. From 1998–99, 380 BDF soldiers formed part of a Southern African Development Community (SADC) task force to quell an internal uprising in Lesotho.[9] Botswana withdrew its contingent when the situation was thought to be stable enough to no longer require their presence.

The BDF has also been successfully deployed as part of the UN peacekeeping operations in both Somalia and the Darfur region of Sudan.[10]

BDF has been conducting operational exercises with Defence Forces of neighbouring countries and other friendly forces. "Exercise Thokgamo" was one such exercise conducted in June 2005 in which SADC member states participated. Currently, the BDF has its personnel serving on an African Union Liaison Mission in Ethiopia/Eritrea and has military observers in Darfur, Sudan with UNAMID.[9]


Army EquipmentEdit

Type Make Photo Quantity.[11]
Light Tank SK-105 Kurassier   52[12]
Reconnaissance vehicle FV101 Scorpion   60[12]
Armoured personnel carrier FV103 Spartan   20[13]
Infantry mobility vehicle Véhicule Blindé Léger   40[12]
Infantry mobility vehicle RAM MK3   42[12]
Armoured personnel carrier RAM-2000   20[12]
Armoured personnel carrier BTR-60   150
Armoured personnel carrier Cadillac Gage Commando LAV-150   50[12]
Armoured car Mowag Piranha III   90[12][14]
Armoured car ACMAT   50
Infantry mobility vehicle Tomcar   ?
Infantry mobility vehicle Land Rover Wolf   500[15]
Infantry mobility vehicle Oshkosh M1070   ?
Artillery ATMOS 2000   18[12]
Artillery Soltam M-71   22[12]
Artillery 105mm   18[12]
Artillery L118 light gun   18[12]
Artillery OTO Melara Mod 56   10[12]
Missile MICA (missile) VL MICA[16][17]   ?[12]
Missile Mistral (missile)   ?[12]
Mine flail Aardvark JSFU[16][17]   ?[12]
Assault rifle AK-47[18]  
Assault rifle FN FAL[19]  
Assault rifle SAR 21[19]  
Assault rifle IMI Galil[19]  
Assault rifle Uzi[19]  
Assault rifle Heckler & Koch G3[19]  
Assault rifle M16 rifle[19]  
Assault rifle AKM[19]  
Handgun Browning Hi-Power[19]  
Submachine Gun Sterling submachine gun[19]  
Machine Gun FN MAG[19]  
Machine Gun Bren light machine gun[19]  
Anti materiel rifle Barrett M82[19]  
Anti-tank missile BGM-71 TOW   18
Anti-tank missile Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle   50
Anti-tank missile MILAN[3]   ?
Anti-tank missile RPG-7  
Anti-aircraft gun M167 VADS   8
Mortar (weapon) 81 mm mortar   40
Mortar (weapon) 120-PM-43 mortar   14

Air Force EquipmentEdit

Type Manufacturer Photo Role In service[20][21]
Canadair CF-5/BF-5A Freedom Fighter Northrop Corporation   Air Defence (Interceptor) & Fighter Ground Attack 15
Lockheed C-130B Hercules Lockheed Martin   Tactical Transport 3
CASA 212-300 Aviocar Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA   Tactical Transport 3[22]
CASA CN-235 Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA   Tactical Transport 2
Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander Britten-Norman   Light Transport 8
Britten-Norman Defender Britten-Norman   Light Transport 2
Cessna O-2 Skymaster Cessna   Transport & Reconnaissance 9
Grumman Gulfstream IV Gulfstream Aerospace   VIP Flight Transport 1
Dornier 328 Dornier   VIP Flight Transport 1
Bombardier Global Express Bombardier Aerospace   VIP Flight Transport 1
Beechcraft Super King Air Beechcraft   VIP Flight Transport 1
Pilatus PC-7 Pilatus Aircraft Training 12
Cessna 152 Cessna   Training 5
Aviatika-MAI-890[3] RSK 'MiG'   Ultralight ?
Bell 412SP Bell Helicopter   Helicopter 7
Eurocopter AS350 Écureuil Aérospatiale   Helicopter 10
Eurocopter EC225 Super Puma[23] Eurocopter Airbus Helicopters   Helicopter (VIP) 1
Elbit Hermes 450 Elbit Systems   Unmanned Aerial Vehicle 4
Silver Arrow Micro-V Elbit Systems Unmanned Aerial Vehicle 3
AIM-9 Sidewinder Raytheon Company   Air to Air Missile ?
AN/ALE-47 Raytheon Company   Airborne Countermeasures Dispenser System ?
AGM-65 Maverick Raytheon Company   Air to Surface Missile ?
Paveway Paveway-I Raytheon Company   Laser-guided bombs ?
Zuni (rocket) Zuni 5-inch Folding-Fin Aircraft Rocket (FFAR) Bridgeport Brass Company   air-to-air and air-to-ground operations ?
9K38 Igla[3] KB Mashinostroyeniya   air-to-air rocket ?
9K32 Strela-2[3] KB Mashinostroyeniya   surface to air missile ?
Javelin (surface-to-air missile)[3] Thales Air Defence   surface-to-air missile ?
Radar ?   ? 9

Chiefs of the Defence Staff (1966–present)Edit

The former heads of the Botswana Armed Forces were referred to while in office as either General Officers Commanding or Chiefs of the Defence Staff.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Pike, John. "Botswana Defence Force (BDF)". Archived from the original on 28 March 2018. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  2. ^ Pike, John. "Botswana Navy". Archived from the original on 28 March 2018. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Martin, Guy (7 February 2013). "Botswana – defenceWeb". Archived from the original on 21 July 2018. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  4. ^ "Ottawa Citizen – Google News Archive Search". Archived from the original on 2 November 2015. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  5. ^ " Botswana: BDF Recruits First Women Privates". Archived from the original on 3 February 2015. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  6. ^ BDF receives accolades for professionalism Archived 3 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine, 19 May 2013.
  7. ^ a b The Military Balance 2013 (2013 ed.). International Institute for Strategic Studies. 14 March 2013. pp. 495–496. ISBN 978-1857436808.
  8. ^ a b c d "Printing". Archived from the original on 26 August 2011.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  9. ^ a b c "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 August 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-10.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "IRIN • humanitarian news and analysis from Africa, Asia and the Middle East". IRINnews. Archived from the original on 23 March 2008.
  11. ^ "Botswana army land ground armed defense forces military equipment armored vehicle intelligence – Army Recognition". Archived from the original on 18 July 2018. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o IISS 2018, p. 463.
  13. ^ IISS 2016, p. 463.
  14. ^ {{Cite web |url=
  15. ^ "BDF's P161 million waste – Botswana Guardian". Archived from the original on 9 November 2018. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  16. ^ a b Martin, Guy (3 August 2017). "Botswana acquired 300 million euros of French weaponry in 2016 – defenceWeb". Archived from the original on 3 August 2017. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
  17. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 August 2017. Retrieved 18 July 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ "Army Recognition – Army Recognition". Archived from the original on 25 July 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Country Risk Assessments: Southern Africa". IHS Jane's Sentinel. 31 July 2018. OCLC 865566559.
  20. ^ "Botswana Defence Force Air Wing (BDAF) / XAIRFORCES". Archived from the original on 18 July 2018. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
  21. ^ "Botswana Defence Force Air Wing (BDAF) – Aviation History / XAIRFORCES". Archived from the original on 18 July 2018. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
  22. ^ "botswana-acquires-another-c212". Defenceweb. 18 April 2019. Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  23. ^ Martin, Guy (21 September 2016). "Botswana military receives Super Puma helicopter – defenceWeb". Archived from the original on 21 July 2018. Retrieved 21 July 2018.

Further readingEdit

  • Boubacar N'Diaye, The Challenge of Institutionalizing Civilian Control: Botswana, Ivory Coast, and Kenya in Comparative Perspective, Lexington Books, January 2001
  • Mpho G. Molomo, 'The Trajectory of Civil-Military Relations in Botswana,' Chapter Seven of Civil-Military Relations in Developing Countries, 2013.
  • Sharp, Paul, and Louis Fisher. "Inside the ‘crystal ball’: Understanding the evolution of the military in Botswana and the challenges ahead." Evolutions and Revolutions: A Contemporary History of Armed Forces in Southern Africa, Institute for Security Studies, 2005, 43–60.

External linksEdit