Malawian Defence Force
|Malawian Defence Force|
Coat of arms of Malawi
|Service branches||Army (includes Air Wing and Naval Detachment)|
Police (includes paramilitary Mobile Force Unit)
|Commander-in-Chief||President Lazarus Chakwera|
|Commanding General||Peter Lapken Namathanga|
|Active personnel||25,500 (ranked 140th)|
|Budget||$9.5 million (FY00/01)|
|Percent of GDP||0.76% (FY00/01)|
|Foreign suppliers|| United Kingdom|
|History||Mozambican Civil War|
The Malawi Rifles was a unit in the Malawi Army formed on the country's gaining independence from the United Kingdom in 1964. Its first battalion was formed from the 1st Battalion, King's African Rifles. On independence the battalion became 1st Battalion, The Malawi Rifles (King's African Rifles). They were based (and elements still may be based) at Cobbe Barracks, Zomba. On 6 July 1966 Malawi became a republic and Kamuzu Banda became the first president of the new republic. After the swearing in ceremony his first duty was to present the battalion with his own presidential colour and the new regimental colour. It was under the leadership of Brigadier Paul Lewis, a British expatriate. In 1964, at Malawi's independence, the Malawian Army consisted of one battalion with 2,000 soldiers at Cobbe Barracks in Zomba.
Malawi was allied with Portugal during the Mozambican War of Independence, and the Malawian Army consequently cooperated with the Portuguese military to secure the Mozambican-Malawian border and arrest FRELIMO rebels. Following FRELIMO's victory and the independence of Mozambique, several Portuguese colonial secret police agents as well as FRELIMO deserters joined the Malawian Army.
The Malawi Army is now made up of two rifle regiments and one parachute regiment. The military is organized under the purview of the Ministry of Defence. State Department IMET training documentation from FY 2003 indicates the United States trained army personnel from the 2nd Battalion, Malawi Rifles, 3rd Battalion, Malawi Rifles (Moyale Barracks), the Parachute Battalion, and the Combat Support Battalion (Mvera).
In 1993, the army played a vital role in dismantling the dictatorship of Kamuzu Banda. After Banda announced multi-party elections, the army intervened by dismantling Banda's paramilitary wing, the Malawi Young Pioneers in one night during an operation called "Bwezani" which means "taking back" or "returning". This event marked a vital point in the ideology of the Malawi Army that was to follow. The Malawi Army was shown to have no political aspirations themselves, and allowed the democratic process to ensue in Malawi as guided by civilians.
On 5 April 2012 when President Bingu wa Mutharika died, there were rumours of an attempted constitutional coup intended to prevent vice-president Joyce Banda from becoming president as outlined by the constitution. The military, under General Henry Odillo, stepped in and vowed to support and uphold the constitution of Malawi. They reportedly stationed security members at Banda's residence during the news of Mutharika's death. This level of professionalism had a direct impact on the smooth transition of power.
The Malawi Air Force (MaAF) was established with German help in 1976 with the delivery of six single engined Dornier Do 27s and eight Do 28 light twins in 1976-1980. Also in the same era the air force received an Alouette III, an AS 350 and an AS 355 Ecureuil, as well as three SA 330 H/L Puma Helicopters from France. A single BAe 125-800 was delivered in 1986. Four Dornier Do 228 light twin turbo props were acquired between 1986 and 1989 in part to allow disposal of the older Dornier products. In 1990 two Douglas C-47s and PT6A turboprops were delivered from the US.
|Dornier Do 228||Germany||transport||3|
|Eurocopter AS350||France||light utility||2|
|Aérospatiale Gazelle||France||light attack||SA341||2|
|Aérospatiale SA330||France||utility / transport||2|
Previous aircraft that have been place in storage or removed from service include the Basler BT-67, British Aerospace 125, Hawker Siddeley 125, King Air 90, AS365 Dauphin, and the Alouette III.
As a landlocked country, Malawi has a very small Navy with no sizeable military craft. Malawi's naval force only operates on Lake Malawi and is based at Monkey Bay. The Malawi Navy was organized in the early 1970s, with the help of the Navy of Portugal that ceded part of its boats of the Nyassa Flotilla operating from the then Portuguese province of Mozambique. In some cases, the gunboats of the Malawian Navy were initially crewed by Portuguese. In 2007, the navy had 220 personnel, and operated the following vessels:
- Patrol boats
- Service craft
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