Botswana Defence Force

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Botswana Defense Force
Botswana Defence Force Flag.gif
MottoThebe Ya Sechaba
Current form2018
Service branchesBotswana Ground Force
BDF Air Wing
WebsiteBDF Website
PresidentMokgweetsi Masisi
Minister of Defence, Justice, and SecurityShaw Kgathi
Lieutenant GeneralPlacid 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

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]


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]


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 training[edit]

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 Wing[edit]

The Air Wing comprises an estimated 500 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 operations[edit]

  • 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 cooperation[edit]

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 Equipment[edit]

Type Make Photo Quantity.[11]
Light Tank SK-105 Kurassier 0033FSDF.JPG 52[12]
Reconnaissance vehicle FV101 Scorpion Scorpion CRVT (4119399295).jpg 60[12]
Armoured personnel carrier FV103 Spartan FV103 Spartan IFOR.jpg 20[13]
Infantry mobility vehicle Véhicule Blindé Léger Véhicule Blindé Léger At Bagram Air Base Afghanistan.JPG 40[12]
Infantry mobility vehicle RAM MK3 IAI RAM MK3 MGP.png 42[12]
Armoured personnel carrier RAM-2000 RAM2000vehicle.jpg 20[12]
Armoured personnel carrier BTR-60 Transporter opancerzony by sh.jpg 150
Armoured personnel carrier Cadillac Gage Commando LAV-150 MP Commando2.jpeg 50[12]
Armoured car Mowag Piranha III MOWAG (4120180412).jpg 50[12]
Armoured car ACMAT 2014-05-27 Camion ACMAT.jpg 50
Infantry mobility vehicle Tomcar Tomcar Defence-331.jpg ?
Infantry mobility vehicle Land Rover Wolf Lrwolf2.jpg 500[14]
Infantry mobility vehicle Oshkosh M1070 ?
Artillery ATMOS 2000 Atmos 2000.jpg 18[12]
Artillery Soltam M-71 M-71-cannon-deployed.JPG 22[12]
Artillery 105mm Royal Artillery Firing 105mm Light Guns MOD.jpg 18[12]
Artillery L118 light gun Soldier from 4 RIFLES Fire 105mm Artillery on Exercise in Kenya MOD 45152934.jpg 18[12]
Artillery OTO Melara Mod 56 Spanish-marines-man-105mm-howitzer-19811001.jpg 10[12]
Missile MICA (missile) VL MICA[15][16] MBDA MICA VL Lanceur terrestre Paris Air Show 2015.JPG ?[12]
Missile Mistral (missile) 54RA-IMG 9142.jpg ?[12]
Mine flail Aardvark JSFU[15][16] Aardvark demining vehicle.JPEG ?[12]
Assault rifle AK-47[17] AK-47 type II Part DM-ST-89-01131.jpg
Assault rifle FN FAL[18] FN-FAL belgian.jpeg
Assault rifle SAR 21[18] SAR 21 (cropped).png
Assault rifle IMI Galil[18] Imfdb galil.jpg
Assault rifle Uzi[18] Uzi of the israeli armed forces.jpg
Assault rifle Heckler & Koch G3[18] Heckler & Koch G3 Swedish trial specimen 001.jpg
Assault rifle M16 rifle[18] Sam16a1.jpg
Assault rifle AKM[18] AKM automatkarbin - 7,62x39mm.jpg
Handgun Browning Hi-Power[18] High power Inglis (6971784217).jpg
Submachine Gun Sterling submachine gun[18] Sterling SMG2.JPG
Machine Gun FN MAG[18] FN MAG.jpg
Machine Gun Bren light machine gun[18] Bren1.jpg
Anti materiel rifle Barrett M82[18] M82A1 barrett.jpeg
Anti-tank missile BGM-71 TOW Hires 090509-A-4842R-001a.jpg 18
Anti-tank missile Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle Carl Gustav recoilless rifle.jpg 50
Anti-tank missile MILAN[3] MILAN P1220770.jpg ?
Anti-tank missile RPG-7 RPG-7 detached.jpg
Anti-aircraft gun M167 VADS 20mmVADS 2.JPG 8
Mortar (weapon) 81 mm mortar A U.S. Army mortarman hangs an 81mm mortar training round into an M252 81 mm mortar system and waits for the command of "fire" 121212-A-ZZ999-128.jpg 40
Mortar (weapon) 120-PM-43 mortar JGSDF 120mm mortar RT-transport(20080113).JPG 14

Air Force Equipment[edit]

Type Manufacturer Photo Role In service[19][20]
Canadair CF-5/BF-5A Freedom Fighter Northrop Corporation Botswana DF CF-5D OJ 25 (14207512244).jpg Air Defence (Interceptor) & Fighter Ground Attack 15
Lockheed C-130B Hercules Lockheed Martin Botswana DF C-130B OM1 (6547885075).jpg Tactical Transport 3
CASA 212-300 Aviocar Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA CASA 212-200 ‘T.12D-74 - 54-11’ (26795714424).jpg Tactical Transport 3[21]
CASA CN-235 Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA Royal Moroccan AF - CASA CN-235-100M.jpg Tactical Transport 2
Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander Britten-Norman A2-AJA BN-2 Islander Delta Air (7689957582).jpg Light Transport 8
Britten-Norman Defender Britten-Norman ZH002 Britten-Norman Defender AL 2 British Armys 651 Sqdn landing at RAF Waddington (cropped).jpg Light Transport 2
Cessna O-2 Skymaster Cessna O-2 Skymaster of Botswana.jpg Transport & Reconnaissance 9
Grumman Gulfstream IV Gulfstream Aerospace Botswana Air Force Gulfstream Aerospace G-IV Gulfstream IV Zammit.jpg VIP Flight Transport 1
Dornier 328 Dornier Sun-Air Do-328.jpg VIP Flight Transport 1
Bombardier Global Express Bombardier Aerospace Bombardier BD-700-1A11 Global 5000, Private JP7586687.jpg VIP Flight Transport 1
Beechcraft Super King Air Beechcraft Royal Air Force King Air B200 Training Aircraft MOD 45153010.jpg VIP Flight Transport 1
Pilatus PC-7 Pilatus Aircraft Training 12
Cessna 152 Cessna G-BRNE-Cessna152.jpg Training 5
Aviatika-MAI-890[3] RSK 'MiG' Aviatika-MAI 890U.jpg Ultralight ?
Bell 412SP Bell Helicopter LAFD Bell 412 (cropped).jpg Helicopter 7
Eurocopter AS350 Écureuil Aérospatiale Squirrel - RIAT 2017 (37083827431).jpg Helicopter 10
Eurocopter EC225 Super Puma[22] Eurocopter Airbus Helicopters Bristow Puma G-ZZSK (altered).jpg Helicopter (VIP) 1
Elbit Hermes 450 Elbit Systems Hermes 450.jpg Unmanned Aerial Vehicle 4
Silver Arrow Micro-V Elbit Systems Unmanned Aerial Vehicle 3
AIM-9 Sidewinder Raytheon Company AIM 9L Sidewinder (modified) copy.jpg Air to Air Missile ?
AN/ALE-47 Raytheon Company AH1 W ALE 47 6-17-08078.jpg Airborne Countermeasures Dispenser System ?
AGM-65 Maverick Raytheon Company AGM-65 Maverick MG 1382.jpg Air to Surface Missile ?
Paveway Paveway-I Raytheon Company Paveway ILA06.JPG Laser-guided bombs ?
Zuni (rocket) Zuni 5-inch Folding-Fin Aircraft Rocket (FFAR) Bridgeport Brass Company Zuni unguided rocket.jpg air-to-air and air-to-ground operations ?
9K38 Igla[3] KB Mashinostroyeniya IGLA-S MANPADS at IDELF-2008.jpg air-to-air rocket ?
9K32 Strela-2[3] KB Mashinostroyeniya SA-7.jpg surface to air missile ?
Javelin (surface-to-air missile)[3] Thales Air Defence Javelin surface to air missile launcher.JPEG surface-to-air missile ?
Radar ? Radar-hatzerim-1-1.jpg ? 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 also[edit]


  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. ^ "BDF's P161 million waste – Botswana Guardian". Archived from the original on 9 November 2018. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 August 2017. Retrieved 18 July 2018.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ "Army Recognition – Army Recognition". Archived from the original on 25 July 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ "Botswana Defence Force Air Wing (BDAF) / XAIRFORCES". Archived from the original on 18 July 2018. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
  20. ^ "Botswana Defence Force Air Wing (BDAF) – Aviation History / XAIRFORCES". Archived from the original on 18 July 2018. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
  21. ^ "botswana-acquires-another-c212". Defenceweb. 18 April 2019. Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  22. ^ Martin, Guy (21 September 2016). "Botswana military receives Super Puma helicopter – defenceWeb". Archived from the original on 21 July 2018. Retrieved 21 July 2018.

External links[edit]

  • 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.
  • Institute for Security Studies: Botswana Note: although generally a good source, this site wrongly describes Fisher as "Major General", and misspells his given name "Matshenwenyego".
  • "Army Commander Accused Of Abuse" Mmegi Online 7 November 2005. Retrieved 25 February 2006. Example of correct title and spelling of commander's name.
  • "Production Capability (Botswana), Nuclear"[permanent dead link] Janes Information Group|Janes CBRN-Assessments 5 September 2011. Retrieved 6 June 2012.