Nepali Army

(Redirected from Nepalese Army)

The Nepali Army (Nepali: नेपाली सेना, romanized: Nēpālī Sēnā), technically the Gorkhali Army (गोरखाली सेना, Gōrakhālī Sēnā; see Gorkhas), is the land service branch of the Nepali Armed Forces. After the Gorkha Kingdom was founded in 1559, its army was established in 1560, and was accordingly known as the Gorkhali Army. The Gorkhali Army later became known also as the Royal Nepali Army following the Unification of Nepal, when the Gorkha Kingdom expanded its territory, to include the whole of the country, by conquering and annexing the other states in the region, resulting in the establishment of a single united Hindu monarchy in the whole Nepal. It was officially renamed simply to the Nepali Army on 28 May 2008, upon the abolition of the 240-year-old Nepalese monarchy, and of the 449-year-old rule of the Shah dynasty in Nepal, shortly after the Nepalese Civil War.

Nepali Army
नेपाली सेना
Nepali Army Unit Insignia Image.png
Emblem of the Nepali Army
Founded1560 AD (1560 AD)
RoleLand operations
Size98,000 active-duty
Part ofNepalese Armed Forces
GarrisonJangi Adda, Bhadrakali, Kathmandu, Bagmati Pradesh
Motto(s)Better to die than to be a coward
AnniversariesMaha Shivratri[1][2]
Chief of Army StaffGen. Prabhu Ram Sharma
Vice chief of Army StaffLieutenant General Saroj Pratap Rana
Assistant Chief of Army StaffLieutenant General Sitaram Khadka
Nepal Army's Guruju Paltan (a ceremonial infantry company) in traditional uniform
Khukuri, Karda and Chakmak. Khukuri is the symbolic weapon of the Nepali Army

The Nepali Army has participated in various conflicts throughout its history, going as far back as the Nepali unification campaign launched by Prithvi Narayan Shah of the Gorkha Kingdom. It has engaged in an extensive number of battles within South Asia, and continues to take part in global conflicts as part of United Nations peacekeeping coalitions.

The Nepali Army is headquartered in Kathmandu, Nepal and the incumbent Chief of Army Staff is General Prabhu Ram Sharma.


Nepali national soldiers by Gustave Le Bon, 1885

The Nepal unification campaign was a turning point in the history of the Nepali army. Since unification was not possible without a strong army, the management of the armed forces had to be exceptional. Apart from the standard Malla era temples in Kathmandu, the army organized itself in Gorkha. Technicians and experts had to be brought in from abroad to manufacture war materials. After the Gorkhali troops captured Nuwakot, the hilly northern part of Kathmandu (Kantipur) in 1744, the Gorkhali armed forces came to be known as the Royal Nepali Army.

Their performance impressed their enemies so much that the British East-India Company started recruiting Nepali troops into their forces. The native British soldiers called the new soldiers "Gurkhas". The Gurkha-Sikh War began shortly after, in 1809. In 1946, the Royal Nepali Army troops were led by Commanding General Sir Baber Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana at the Victory Parade in London.[citation needed]

Former Indian Army Chief of Staff Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw once stated that: "If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or he is a Gorkhali."

Prior to 2006, the Nepali Army was known as the Royal Nepali Army and was under the control of the King of Nepal. Following the Loktantra Andolan (People's Movement for Democracy) on May 18, 2006, a bill was passed by the Nepali parliament curtailing royal power, which included renaming the army.[3]

In 2004, Nepal spent $99.2 million on its military (1.5% of its GDP). Since 2002, the RNA had been involved in the Nepali Civil War. They were also used to quell the pro-democracy protesters in April 2006 Loktantra Andolan.


Nepal Army Soldiers at Army Day

The Nepali Army has about 95,000 infantry army and air service members protecting the sovereignty of Nepal. In August 2018, The Himalayan Times estimated total army forces to be around 96,000[4] while The Kathmandu Post estimated it to be 92,000.[5]

Chiefs of the Nepali ArmyEdit

The Chief of the Nepali Army have been mostly drawn from noble Chhetri families from Gorkha such as "Pande dynasty", "Kunwar family", "Basnyat dynasty", and "Thapa dynasty" before the rule of "Rana dynasty".[6] During the Shah monarchy, the officers were drawn from these aristocratic families.[6] During the Rana dynasty, Ranas overtook the position as birthright.[6] The first army chief of Nepal was King Prithvi Narayan Shah who drafted and commanded the Nepali (Gorkhali) Army.[7] The first civilian army chief was Kaji Kalu Pande who had significant role in the campaign of Nepal.[7] He was considered as army head due to the undertaking of duties and responsibilities of the army but not by the formalization of the title.[7]

Mukhtiyar Bhimsen Thapa was the first person to use Commander-in-Chief as the title of army chief.[8] King Rajendra Bikram Shah appointed Bhimsen to the post of Commander-in-Chief and praised Bhimsen for long service to the nation.[9] However, on 14 June 1837, the King took over the command of all the battalions put in charge of various courtiers, and himself became the Commander-in-Chief.[10][11] Immediately after the incarceration of the Thapas in 1837, Dalbhanjan Pande and Rana Jang Pande were the joint head of military administration.[12] However, Rana Jang was removed after 3 months in October 1837.[13][14][15][16]

Since the regime of Mukhtiyar Bhimsen, only seven army chiefs of Nepal were non-Rana Chhetris including Shahs while others were all Ranas till 1951.[8] Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) was replaced by Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) from the reign of General Singha Pratap Shah.


Battles defending the Kingdom of NepalEdit

Battles during the unification of NepalEdit

International conflictsEdit

International operationsEdit

The Nepali Army has contributed more than 100,000 peacekeepers to a variety of United Nations-sponsored peacekeeping missions such as:

A member of the Nepali Quick Reactionary Force (QRF) stands ready with a variant of the Galil assault rifle.
  • MINUSMA – For the first time,[17][18] the Nepali Army has a company of EOD of 140 personnel specially dedicated for improvised explosive device (IED) and ordnance disposal mission in Mali.

U.S./Nepal military relationsEdit

Mahabir Ranger

The U.S.-Nepali military relationship focuses on support for democratic institutions, civilian control of the military, and the professional military ethic to include respect for human rights. The US would support Nepal with arms, ammunition and additional commandos and soldiers if war began with its neighboring China but resisted giving any support if war broke out with India as in is an essential ally to the US in the Indo-Pacific against China and has also signed COMCASA with the US in the 2+2 meeting in September 2018. Both countries have had extensive contact over the years. Nepali Army units have served with distinction alongside American forces in places such as Haiti, Iraq, and Somalia.

U.S.-Nepali military engagement continues today through IMET, Enhanced International Peacekeeping Capabilities (EIPC), Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), and various conferences and seminars. The U.S. military sends many Nepali Army officers to America to attend military schooling, such as the Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Army War College. The IMET budget for FY2001 was $220,000.

The EIPC program is an inter-agency program between the Department of Defense and the Department of State to increase the pool of international peacekeepers and to promote interoperability. Nepal received about $1.9 million in EPIC funding.

Commander in Chief, Pacific (CINCPAC) coordinates military engagement with Nepal through the Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC). The ODC Nepal is located in the American Embassy Kathmandu.


The first four army units of the Nepali Army are the Shreenath, Kali Baksh (Kalibox), Barda Bahadur, and Sabuj companies founded in August 1762 by the King Prithvi Narayan Shah with Khas/Chhetri and Thakuri clans well before the Gorkha conquest of Nepal. The Purano Gorakh Company was founded in February 1763 and is the fifth oldest unit of the Nepal army.[19]

  • Shree Nath Battalion – established 1762
  • Shree Kali Buksh Battalion – established 1762
  • Shree Barda Bahadur Battalion – established 1762
  • Shree Sabuj Battalion – established 1762
  • Shree Purano Gorakh Battalion – established 1763
  • Shree Devi Datta Battalion – established 1783
  • Shree Naya Gorakh Battalion – established 1783
  • Shree Bhairavi Dal Battalion – established 1785
  • Shree Singhanath Battalion – established 1786 (Commando)
  • Shree Shreejung Battalion – established 1783
  • Shree Ranabhim Battalion – established 1783
  • Shree Naya Shree Nath Battalion – established 1783
  • Shree Vajradal Company – established 1806
  • Shree Shree Mehar Battalion - established 1836
  • Shree 'The Famous' Mahindra Dal Battalion -established 1844 A.D -1901 B.S.
  • Shree Rajdal Regiment (Artillery) (Currently expanded to three additional independent Artillery regiments)
  • Shree Ganeshdal Battalion – established 1846 – signals and communications
  • Shree Nepal Cavalry – established 1849 – Household Cavalry ceremonial unit since 1952
  • Shree Kali Prasad Battalion (Engineers) – established 1863
  • Shree Bhairavnath Battalion – established 1910 – (Parachute Battalion)
  • Shree Bhagvati Prasad Company – established 1927
  • Shree Khadga Dal Battalion - established 1937
  • Shree Parshwavarti Company – established 1936 – served as PM's Body Guard unit and disbanded 1952
  • Shree Gorkah Bahadur Battalion – established 1952 (best infantry unit of NA, then was developed for special duty of Royal Guards).
  • Shree Jagadal Battalion (Air Defence)
  • Shree Yuddha Kawaj Battalion (Mechanized Infantry)
  • Shree Mahabir Battalion (Rangers Battalion. Equivalent to U.S Army Rangers (Part of Nepali Army Special Operation Force))
  • Shree Chandan Nath Battalion – established 2004 (Infantry Unit)
  • Shree Tara Dal Battalion – established 2002 (Infantry Unit)
  • Shree No 1 Disaster Management Battalion – established 2012
  • Shree No 2 Disaster Management Battalion – established 2012


The majority of equipment used by the Nepali Army is imported from other countries. India is the army's largest supplier of arms and ammunition as well as other logistical equipment, which are often furnished under generous military grants.[20] Germany, the United States, Belgium, Israel, and South Korea have also either supplied or offered arms to the Nepali Army.[21]

Army's first standard rifle was the Belgian FN FAL, which it adopted in 1960.[21] Nepali FALs were later complemented by unlicensed, Indian-manufactured variants of the same weapon, as well its British counterpart, the L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle.[21] Beginning in 2002 these were officially supplemented in army service by the American M-16 rifle, which took the FAL's place as the army's standard service rifle.[21] Nevertheless, the FAL and its respective variants remain the single most prolific weapon in Nepali army service, with thousands of second-hand examples being supplied by India as late as 2005.[20]

Small armsEdit

Weapon Origin Type Calibre Notes
Hi-Power   Belgium Semi-automatic pistol 9×19mm FN P-35 variant.[22]
Submachine guns
MP5[20]   Germany Submachine Gun 9×19mm
Sten[22]   United Kingdom Submachine Gun
Uzi[23]   Israel
INSAS rifle[21]   India Assault rifle 5.56×45mm The Nepali Army had about 25,000 INSAS rifles[24]
G36   Germany
M-16   United States Standard service rifle of the Nepali Army.[21]
M4 carbine
IMI Galil[20]   Israel
IWI Tavor Used by Army Special Forces, Ranger Battalion.
Tavor X95 Used by Army Special Forces, Ranger Battalion. Often seen with GL40 UBGL, shown to be OTB compatible.
IWI ACE 7.62×39mm Limited use by Military Police.[25]
AKM   Soviet Union Confiscated from Maoist guerrillas during insurgency.[20]
Type 56   China 300 purchased from China in 2010.[20]
L1A2 SLR   United Kingdom Battle rifle 7.62×51mm Unlicensed Indian variant designated 1A1.[21]
FN FAL[21]   Belgium
PSG1[20]   Germany Sniper rifle
Ishapore 2A1   India Bolt-action rifle Indian licensed copy of the No. III Enfield, modified for use with 7.62 NATO. New production action and barrel, recycled buttstock from No. III Enfields.[20]
Machine guns
FN Minimi   Belgium Light machine gun 5.56×45mm 5,500 purchased from Belgium in 2002.[21] Principal LMG/ SAW
M249   United States 300 supplied as military aid from the US.[20] Functionally identical to FN Minimi
Bren L4A4[22]   United Kingdom 7.62×51mm Used in outposts and basic automatic fire training
FN MAG[22]   Belgium General Purpose Machine Gun Principal GPMG, used on vehicle mounts.

Heavy weaponsEdit

Weapon Origin Type Calibre Notes
Air defence
Bofors L/70[26]   Sweden Anti-aircraft gun 40mm

QF 3.7-inch AA gun[26]

  United Kingdom 94mm 45 in service.
OTO Melara Mod 56   Italy Howitzer 105mm 14 in service.[27]
120-PM-43   Soviet Union Mortar 120mm 70 in service[28]
M 29   United States Mortar 81 mm [28]


Vehicle Origin Type Quantity Notes
Armoured cars
Daimler Ferret   United Kingdom Scout car 40[28] Ferret Mk4 variant.[28]
Armoured personnel carriers
Casspir   South Africa MRAP 37[29]
Aditya   India ~124[28]
VN-4   China 63
OT-64   Czechoslovakia Armoured personnel carrier 8
WZ551   China 5 Acquired from China in 2005.

Rank structureEdit

Commissioned Officers
Rank group General/flag officers Senior officers Junior officers Officer cadet
  Nepali Army[30]
                    No insignia
महारथी (प्रधानसेनापती)
Mahārathī (pradhānasēnāpatī)
सहायक रथी
Sahaayak rathee
प्रमुख सेनानी
Pramukh senaanee
सहायक सेनानी
Sahaayak senaanee
अधिकृत क्याडेट
Adhikr̥ta kyāḍēṭa
COAS General Lieutenant general Major general Brigadier general Colonel Lieutenant colonel Major Captain Lieutenant Second lieutenant Officer cadet
Other ranks
Rank group Senior NCOs Junior NCOs Enlisted
  Nepali Army[30]
            No insignia No insignia
प्रमुख सुवेदार
Pramukh Suvēdār
Chief warrant officer Warrant officer class II Warrant officer class I Sergeant Corporal Lance corporal Private Followers
Other rank insignia
Sergeant Major Master Sergeant Sergeant First Class Staff Sergeant

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ "Nepali Army | नेपाली सेना". 15 February 2018. Archived from the original on 1 September 2018. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  2. ^ "Nepal Army to observe Army Day on Monday". myRepublica. 2 March 2019. Archived from the original on 20 January 2021. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  3. ^ Haviland, Charles (19 May 2006). "Erasing the 'royal' in Nepal". BBC News. Retrieved 23 September 2006.
  4. ^ "Thapa to take charge of Nepali Army as acting CoAS". 9 August 2018.
  5. ^ "New chief faces daunting task rebuilding Nepal Army's image".
  6. ^ a b c Adhikari 2015, p. 154.
  7. ^ a b c Adhikari 2015, p. 153.
  8. ^ a b Adhikari 2015, p. 155.
  9. ^ Pradhan 2012, p. 149.
  10. ^ Acharya 2012, p. 215.
  11. ^ Nepal 2007, p. 105.
  12. ^ Nepal 2007, p. 106.
  13. ^ Acharya 2012, p. 160.
  14. ^ Oldfield 1880, p. 311.
  15. ^ Nepal 2007, p. 109.
  16. ^ Pradhan 2012, p. 164.
  17. ^ "In a first, NA peacekeepers to dispose explosives under UN mission". Archived from the original on 23 October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  18. ^ "NA to deploy 140 soldiers to Mali for peacekeeping – News – :: The Kathmandu Post ::". Archived from the original on 23 October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  19. ^[bare URL]
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Legacies of War in the Company of Peace: Firearms in Nepal" (PDF). Geneva: Small Arms Survey. May 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 July 2014. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i Graduate Institute of International Studies (2003). Small Arms Survey 2003: Development Denied. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 97–113. ISBN 978-0199251759.
  22. ^ a b c d e Hogg, Ian (1991). Jane's Infantry Weapons (17 ed.). Macdonald and Jane's Publishers Ltd. p. 747. ISBN 978-0710609632.
  23. ^ Sharma, Haridev (2012). Tripathi, Devi Prasad (ed.). Nepal in Transition: A Way Forward. New Delhi: Vij Books India Pvt Ltd. p. 57. ISBN 978-9381411070.
  24. ^ "Wikileaks news: Why Nepal king Gyanendra shed power". The Economic Times. 6 September 2011. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  25. ^ "Exercise Shanti Prayas III Closing Ceremony". DVIDS. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  26. ^ a b Pretty, Ronald (1983). Jane's Weapon Systems, 1983–84 (1983 ed.). Macdonald and Jane's Publishers Ltd. p. 876. ISBN 978-0-7106-0776-8.
  27. ^ Christopher F. Foss (2001). Jane's Armour and Artillery (2002 ed.). Macdonald and Jane's Publishers Ltd. p. 740. ISBN 978-0710623096.
  28. ^ a b c d e "Trade Registers". Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  29. ^ Leon Engelbrecht (3 January 2011). "South African Arms Exports". Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  30. ^ a b Nepali Army. "Nepali Army Rank Structure". Nepali Army. Retrieved 25 August 2018.


External linksEdit