Pakistan's military, officially known as the Pakistani Armed Forces (PAF), is composed of three branches: the Pakistan Army, the Pakistan Air Force and the Pakistan Navy, together with a number of paramilitary forces. The armed forces were formed in 1947 when Pakistan became independent from the British Empire. Since then, the armed forces have played a decisive role in the history of Pakistan. A sense of national unity and identity was forged out of the wars of 1947 and 1965 against India. Border clashes with Afghanistan led to the creation of the paramilitary forces to deal with civil unrest as well as secure the border areas. The Marines were commissioned in 1971, however due to a poor performance in the 1971 war they were disbanded. In 1990, they were commissioned again and serve as part of the Navy. Following 1962, the Pakistani Armed Forces has had close military relations with China, including development and research cooperation to enhance military system, such as on the JF-17 Thunder, K-8 Karakorum, and others as well. Pakistan and China also cooperate on development in nuclear weapons and space technology programs. The armies have a schedule for organizing joint military exercises. PAF also maintains close military relation with United States and is a major non-NATO ally of the USA. It primarily imports military equipment from China and USA.
In 2010 the PAF have approximately 617,000 personnel on active duty, 513,000 in reserve and 304,000 in its paramilitary forces giving a total of almost 1,451,000 personnel. The armed forces have a large pool of volunteers and as such, conscription is not, and has never been needed.
The Pakistani Armed Forces are led by an officer corps that is not restricted by social class or nobility and are appointed from a variety of sources such as service academies and direct appointment from both civilian status and the enlisted ranks. The Pakistan Army is the best organized group in the country and is highly respected in civil society and the social ranks as an institution. Since the founding of Pakistan, the army has been key in holding the state together, promoting a feeling of nationhood and providing a bastion of selfless service.
The Pakistani Armed Forces are the largest contributors to United Nations peacekeeping efforts, with more than 10,000 personnel deployed in 2007. Other foreign deployments have consisted of Pakistani military personnel as advisers in African and Arab countries. The Pakistani military maintained division and brigade strength presences in some of the Arab countries during the Arab-Israeli Wars, and the first Gulf War to help the Coalition as well as the Somalian and Bosnian conflicts.