Tonga Defence Services
The Tonga Defense Services (TDS) is the armed force of Tonga. It is composed of three operational command components, two support elements (logistics and training groups).
The mission of the Tonga Defence Services is to: Defend the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Tonga.
The TDS is partially supported by defense cooperation agreements with Australia, United States, China, United Kingdom, India and New Zealand. These Security Cooperation aim at capacity development through training of TDS personnel in leadership, academic and trades while support for infrastructure development is another part of these Security Cooperation.
In recent years, members of the TDS have supported Coalition of the Willing in Operation Iraqi Freedom, the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, and the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands.
The Tongan Defense Service is organized in a unified command system. It consists of three forces; the Regular Force, the Territorial Force, and the Active Reserve. The three main component units of the Regular Force are the Land Force, Support Tongan Defense Service, and Navy.
- Tonga Defence Services Headquarters
- Joint Force Headquarters
- Territorial Forces
- Land Force
- Tonga Royal Guards
- Tongan Navy
- Royal Tongan Marines
- Air Wing
- Training Wing
- Support Unit
The TDS Maritime Force
The TDS Air Wing
International Defense Organizations
The TDS is a member of the following international defense organisations:
- Pacific Armies Management Seminar (PAMS)
- Pacific Area Senior Officers Logistics Seminar (PASOLS)
- Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS)
- International Hydrographic Organization (IHO)
- South Pacific Hydrographic Commission (SPHC)
- NATO Codification, where though Pacific Codification System (PCS), Tonga and Fiji are sponsored by Australia
History of Tonga Armed Forces
The Tonga Defense Force (TDF) came into existence at the beginning of World War II in 1939. In 1943 New Zealand helped train two Tongan contingents of about 2000 troops, who saw action in the Solomon Islands. In addition, New Zealand and US troops were stationed on Tongatapu, which became a staging point for shipping.
At the end of World War II, the TDF was disbanded, but was reactivated in 1946.
Former Prime Minister Prince Lavaka Ata 'Ulukalala joined the naval arm of the Tonga Defense Service in 1982 and became Lieutenant-Commander of the defense force in 1987. From 1990 to 1995 he commanded the PPB VOEA Pangai and his time in charge included peacekeeping operations in Bougainville.
In 2002, TDS soldiers were deployed as part of a multi-national regional peacekeeping force in the Solomon Islands. In July 2004, a 45-member contingent of the TDS served in the Solomon Islands. A third contingent was sent in July 2005. This contingent consisted of 33 TDS troops, and was expected to remain four months.
In March 2003 Military to Military talks began between Tonga and the United States about Tonga providing troops for the Multinational force in Iraq. Support arrangements were finalized in May 2004. 45 Royal Tongan Marines led by the Chief of Defense of the Tonga Defense Services, Colonel Tau'aika 'Uta'atu, departed Tonga on 13 June 2004. From July 2004, the Royal Tonga Marines were augmenting the 1st Marine Expeditionary Forces (MEF) in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq. The Royal Marines supported the 1st Marine Division's security and stabilization mission at Camp Blue Diamond. Tonga first served with the 1st MEF on the Solomon Island during World War II. The Royal Tongan Marines returned from Iraq in December 2004.
In 2006, TDS soldiers, in cooperation with local police, were deployed to deal with the Nuku'alofa riots.
In 2010, Tongan troops began training with the RAF Regiment, in preparation for operations in Afghanistan; the first troops deployed to Afghanistan during February 2011. Tongan troops were tasked with base-perimeter guard duty during the September 2012 Camp Bastion raid. Prior to the attack there were complaints that Tongan troops were prone to falling asleep while on post. 
In April 2014, the Royal Tongan Marines ended their mission supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
Equipment of the Tongan Army
- Israel IMI Galil
- Israel Uzi
- United States M4 carbine
- United States M16 rifle
- Belgium FN FNC
- United Kingdom Lee-Enfield
- United States M2 Browning Machine Gun
- United States Colt M203
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tonga Defence Services.|
- "TDS Organisation". Tonga Defence Services. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
- "Tonga". The World Fact Book. Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
- Moore, John (1984). Jane's All The World's Fighting Ships. Jane's Publishing. p. 465. ISBN 0710607741.
- Flight International, 16-22 November 2004, Directory: World Air Forces (p. 90).
- Fournier, Dennis (2014-05). "State begins partnership with Kingdom of Tonga". National Guard 68 (4) (National Guard Association of the United States). p. 39. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
- Susman, Tina (December 5, 2008). "Tonga troops end Iraq mission". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-12-05.
- "RAF trains Tongan troops for Afghanistan". Retrieved 2010-12-02.
- Solomone Savelio (2004). "Peacekeeping Debut Royal Tongan Marines Help US Comrades in Arms". Coalition Bulletin 14 (July): 7.
- Royal Tongan Marines are Camp Blue Diamond (Photo)
- US Department of State Background Note: Tonga
- Ted Harris, "Digger History - An unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Services", 2004
- Tongan Defense Homepage