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Belize Defence Force

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Belize Defence Force
Flag of the Belize Defence Force
MottoShoulder To Shoulder
Founded1 January 1978; 46 years ago (1978-01-01)
Service branches
HeadquartersPrice Barracks, Ladyville
Commander-in-ChiefCharles III, King of Belize, represented by Froyla Tzalam, Governor-General of Belize
Minister of National Defence and Border SecurityFlorencio Marin Jr.
Commander of the Defence ForceBrigadier General Azariel Loria[1]
Military age18–23 years
ConscriptionLaws allow for conscription only if volunteers are insufficient.
Available for
military service
121,249, age 18–49 years (2007)
Fit for
military service
87,871, age 18–49 years (2007)
Reaching military
age annually
6,313 (2007)
Active personnel1,630 (2016 approx)[2]
Reserve personnel850 (2016 approx)[2]
Budget1.6% (2020) [3] US$32 million (2012)[2]
Foreign suppliers
Related articles
RanksMilitary ranks of Belize

The Belize Defence Force (BDF) is the military of Belize, and is responsible for protecting the sovereignty of the country. The BDF is under the Ministry of National Defence and Border Security, which is currently headed by Hon. Florencio Marin Jr.; the BDF itself is commanded by Brigadier General Azariel Loria. In 2012, the Belizean government spent about $17 million on the military, constituting 1.08% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).[4]



The military of Belize dates back to 1817, when the Prince Regent Royal Honduras Militia, a volunteer organization, was founded.

Between 1817 and 1978, the military force in Belize has had ten different names:[5]

  • The Prince Regent's Royal Militia (1817-1866)
  • The Belize Volunteer Force (1866-1868)
  • The Belize Volunteer Corps (1868-1883)
  • The Belize Light Infantry Volunteer Force (1897-1905)
  • British Honduras Volunteers (1905-1916)
  • British Honduras Territorial Force (1916-1928)
  • British Honduras Defence Force (1928-1944)
  • British Honduras Home Guard (1942-1943)
  • British Honduras Volunteer Guard (1943-1973)
  • Belize Volunteer Guard (1973-1977)

The BDF was founded in 1978 following the disbanding of the Belize Volunteer Guard and the Police Special Force the year before.[6]

After Belize achieved independence in 1981 the United Kingdom maintained the deterrent British Forces Belize in the country to protect it from invasion by Guatemala. During the 1980s this included a battalion and No. 1417 Flight RAF of Harriers. The main British force left in 1994, three years after Guatemala recognised Belizean independence, but the United Kingdom maintained a training presence via the British Army Training and Support Unit Belize (BATSUB) and 25 Flight AAC until 2011 when the last British Forces left Ladyville Barracks, with the exception of seconded advisers.[6] The BDF Maritime Wing became part of the Belize Coast Guard Service in November 2005.[7]

On October 15, 2011, the BDF changed their issued military uniforms from American-based to digital versions since October due to concerns that criminals can easily acquire them.[8][9]

In October 2015, due to rising tensions between Belize and Guatemala and the British cutback on military bases worldwide to focus on the War On Terror in 2011, Belize asked the UK to bring BATSUB back;[10][11] the British Government brought BATSUB to Belize once again.[12]


EMR camouflage wearing BDF soldiers training from 2nd. Battalion

The BDF consists of:[13][14]

  • Headquarters
  • Service/Support Battalion
  • Two Regular Battalions
  • One Volunteer Battalion
  • Air Wing
  • Special Boat Unit
  • Support Group
  • Cadets
  • BDF Band

First Battalion


The First Infantry Battalion came into existence in 1993. This was as a direct result of the British Government decision to withdraw British Forces from Belize and handing over the Defence of Belize to Belizeans. Since that time, the battalion participated in extensive military exercises in Belize as well a selected part of its staff going abroad to participate in United Nations Peace Operations in Haiti. The battalion consists of three infantry companies and a small HQ staff. It operates in the entire country alternating from the south to the north of the country. Presently, it is stationed at Fairweather Camp, Punta Gorda in the Toledo District with its two companies and in Belize City maintaining a presence to accomplish its task as stipulated in the Defence Act. Every February, the battalions alternate between Ladyville and Punta Gorda. The Battalion is equipped with small arms, a fleet of transportation, its integral logistics slice, and its own signalers. Other support is received from the Logistics unit in Price Barracks. Recruiting for the unit is done by the BDF Headquarters and its leaders are trained by the Logistics Company’s sub-unit, Training Company. The leaders then train their subordinates to maintain its training standards. The companies also conduct live firing in the Mountain Pine Ridge Training Area periodically.[15]

Second Battalion


Second Infantry Battalion, a combination of male and female soldiers, was formed on 1 October 1994. The Battalion at that time had three Infantry Companies: Sierra, Alpha and Echo Company. For the period 31 October 2000 to 31 August 2002, the Battalion nomenclature was revoked and redesignated a Land Command. Becoming either Land Command South (LCS) or Land Command North (LCN) depending on the rotation. LCN comprises the Cayo District, a partition of the Hummingbird Highway, Belize, Orange Walk and Corozal Districts. LCS comprises the Toledo and Stann Creek Districts and a portion of the Hummingbird Highway. These are now presently designated Battalion Tactical Areas of Responsibility (Bn TAOR) and Command HQs were based on rotation between Price Barracks and Fairweather Camp in Punta Gorda.

On the 31 August 2002, LCS and LCN was reverted to being Second Infantry Battalion. This was under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Reynolds Lewis. However, this time the Coys were Hotel, Gulf and Sierra Companies. During the tenure of Lieutenant Colonel R J Lewis, the idea of a Battalion Logo and Flag was originated. The idea was presented out within the Battalion and as a result produced the logo and Bn Emblem. The finished product was the result of the combined efforts of RSM 2 Bn, WO1 D O Castillo then a WO2, Pte August G, Pte Coc J and the artist Pte Cho D, not to overlook the efforts of Sgt L Sho and Sgt A Sho (Button) then Cpl for final graphics.

The Battalion Logo depicts all the colours of the Companies in the Battalion. Red and Green for Hotel Company, Red and Orange for Gulf Company and Black and White for Sierra Company. The grey background was the original Battalion colour, which was changed to blue as seen on the Bn Flag. The Cross Rifles signifies that we are Infantry personnel. The Jabiru was chosen as the Battalion Bird. The versatility of the Jabiru is what Second Battalion stands for. She nests high above the others both male and female incubate eggs thereby having an overview of all situations. She has one of the widest wing spans which produces ease in her soaring and a quick and graceful stream line for the attack. Her long legs support her and enable her to work in any terrain and conditions.[15]

One volunteer Battalion


In 1866, the detachment of the 4th West Indian Regiment was defeated in battle by the Indians near Orange Walk. Volunteers were enrolled at Belize and sent to the Hondo to deal with Indian raids locally. In January 1881, the volunteers were formed into four companies, A, B, C and D. In 1897, the Belize Light Infantry Volunteers was formed. On the 25th November, 1904, a mounted Infantry Company was formed. This Company justified very early its existence by providing the volunteers with a valuable mobile force during the Indian disturbances in the Western District.

Belize army M16A2 assault rifle

On 4 August, 1914, the astounding news reached Belize that Great Britain had declared war on Germany in defence of Belgium. The force was immediately called out for active service. Later when another offer of men was accepted, 100 men under Lieutenant R. H. Furness was dispatched to England. These men made so good an impression that more men were asked for and a second contingent of over 400 men was sent over.

Men eager to serve but debarred from going overseas for one reason or another joined the volunteers and swelled the strength to over 1000. Companies were formed in Corozal, Stann Creek, El Cayo and Orange Walk, and detachments at Benque Viejo and Hill Bank.

In August 1928, this force was disbanded and a new force of four platoons renamed the British Honduras Defence Force was formed. This force made its first public appearance on the 4th February 1929, immediately after the great hurricane of 1931 which destroyed the City of Belize. The defence force rendered most valuable services. Some of the finest examples of discipline, loyalty and esprit de corps were demonstrated when men had lost their homes and in some cases their families quickly made their way to the drill hall before the fury of the devastating winds had abated in answer to the “Fall in” call of the bugle. The force was organized into rescue squads and all sorts of services were performed, from rescuing trapped persons, collecting the injured and the dead, to caring and feeding of babies. Men of all walks of life in Belize, members of the legislature, Heads of Government, department clerks and the ordinary laborer, seeing what organization and discipline could do, joined the defence force. [15]

One Support Battalion


The Support Battalion commands the specialist platoons of the force. They are the Administrative Company, Mortar Platoon, Signal Platoon, Reece Platoon and the Combat Engineer Platoon. The Combat Engineer Platoon, formerly referred to as the Assault Pioneers in the early days of the BDF, has heavy equipment at its disposal and is trained to renovate and erect buildings as well as engage in construction. Part of the engineer unit is an Explosive Ordnance Device Team. Its role is to defuse or destroy bombs and engage in demolition work.[13]

Air Wing


Special Boat Unit


The SBU's mandate includes mainly the entire country of Belize, all the rivers and the coast lines, which operates under the Air Wing.[16] The unit is in charge of making sure that no illegal activities occur within the country of Belize in the rivers and the coastline. They have a variety of boats which includes outboards and jet drive, however they are moving more into the riverine capabilities because their mandate includes mostly rivers.

To distinguish them from the Belize Coast Guard, because their uniform is similar, people from the special boat unit, wear blue digitals whereas the coast guard use full blue. The coast guard are mainly found along the seas whereas they restrict their presence to mainly the riverine areas.[17]

Special Assignment Group


The Belize Special Assignment Group is the BDF's special forces unit.

Belize Defence Force Band


The BDF Band was formed on 1 January 1978 from the former Belize Volunteer Guard Band, under the mastership of the late Warrant Officer Class 1, Walter P. Lamb. The band was originally formed in 1947 from the North Caribbean Force (Battalion of Belize) fundamentally as a Drum & Bugle Corps, at Mount Pleasant Creek, Central Farm in the Cayo District. In 1952, it added the brass section to the Drums & Bugles Corps that was the nucleus of what would evolve into the existing BDF Band.[13]

Three reserve companies


As of 2012, there are also 40 British Army personnel stationed in Belize.[2]



Infantry weapons

Name Origin Type Variant Notes
Small Arms
Browning Hi-Power Belgium Semi-automatic pistol FN35 Standard side arm[18]
Sterling submachine gun[18] United Kingdom Submachine gun L2A3
M4 carbine[18][19] United States Assault rifle M4A1
M16 rifle[18] United States Assault rifle M16A2
FN MAG[18] Belgium General-purpose machine gun
FN Minimi[18] United States Light machine gun M249[19]
M2 Browning United States Heavy machine gun Used on patrol boats[20]
Remington 700[19] United States Sniper rifle Bolt action rifle
Heavy Weapons
L16 mortar United Kingdom Mortar 6 units[2]
Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle Sweden Recoilless rifle 6 units[2]


Name Origin Type In Service Notes
Hino 500 Japan logistical 11 donated by the US[21]
Bedford TM United Kingdom logistical 17[22] donated by the British upon BATSUB’s departure in 2011[23]
Jeep J8 United States utility vehicle 6[24] gifted by the US
Ford F250 United States utility truck 10[25][26] 8 assigned to the Defence Force and two to the Belize Coast Guard.
Ford F450 United States Utility truck 2 assigned to the Special Boat Unit.[27]
Mahindra Scorpio Getaway India All terrain Utility truck 10[28]
Toyota Land Cruiser Japan Military ambulance 2[21]
Jeep J8 United States Military ambulance 1[24]
Polaris United States All-terrain vehicle 6[29]


Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
BN-2 Islander United Kingdom utility 1[30]
Bell UH-1 United States utility UH-1H 1[30]




  1. ^ "Brigadier General Azariel Loria Takes Command". channel5belize.com. Archived from the original on 8 April 2023. Retrieved 5 January 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e f IISS (2012), p. 374
  3. ^ "Military expenditure by country as percentage of gross domestic product, 1988-2020" (PDF). Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. 2021. Archived (PDF) from the original on 21 March 2023. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  4. ^ "Belize". CIA World Factbook. 14 November 2022. Archived from the original on 9 January 2021. Retrieved 24 January 2021.
  5. ^ Fairweather, Donald Norman Albert (1979). A Short History of the Volunteer Forces of British Honduras (now Belize).
  6. ^ a b Phillips, Dion E. (2002). "The Military of Belize". Archived from the original on 11 December 2012.
  7. ^ "Belize". Channel 5. 13 December 2007. Archived from the original on 4 May 2011.
  8. ^ "Belize Defense Force changes uniform to a digital camouflage". 16 November 2011. Archived from the original on 13 February 2023. Retrieved 13 February 2023.
  9. ^ "New uniforms for BDF soldiers | the Guardian Newspaper". Archived from the original on 15 April 2023. Retrieved 11 April 2023.
  10. ^ "The British are back!". 7 November 2015. Archived from the original on 3 October 2023. Retrieved 7 April 2023.
  11. ^ "Leaked B.D.F. Report – Escalation in Guatemalan Aggression Towards B.D.F. in the Sarstoon | Channel5Belize.com". Archived from the original on 9 April 2023. Retrieved 7 April 2023.
  12. ^ "No Joke Jimmy,The Brits Are Back". 7 News Belize. Archived from the original on 18 February 2019. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  13. ^ a b c "Dion E. Phillips: The Military of Belize". www.open.uwi.edu. Archived from the original on 4 August 2023. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  14. ^ Major B.N Garcia (2014). Challenges of Belize's security infrastructure (PDF). Canadian Forces College. Archived (PDF) from the original on 14 September 2022. Retrieved 14 April 2023.
  15. ^ a b c "Volbn - Page 2". www.bdf.mil.bz. Archived from the original on 18 April 2023. Retrieved 18 April 2023.
  16. ^ "7 News Belize". Archived from the original on 14 April 2023. Retrieved 14 April 2023.
  17. ^ "BDF Boat Unit Has To Contend With Riverine Border Safety". 12 September 2016. Archived from the original on 9 April 2023. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  18. ^ a b c d e f "Belizean Armed defense forces". armyrecognition.com. Archived from the original on 10 April 2023. Retrieved 21 January 2022.
  19. ^ a b c "JANE's Overview Of The Belize Coast Guard". Archived from the original on 1 October 2023. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  20. ^ "Military-Parade42". Archived from the original on 12 April 2023. Retrieved 26 January 2022.[better source needed]
  21. ^ a b "United States Donates Vehicles and Equipment to Ministry of National Security to Protect Border Security". U.S. Embassy in Belize. 6 August 2020. Archived from the original on 23 September 2023. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  22. ^ "BATSUB donates military vehicles to BDF". Amandala. 12 July 2013. Archived from the original on 27 September 2023. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  23. ^ Polanco, Andrea (7 November 2011). "BATSUB closes down and gives B.D.F. a parting gift". News 5. Archived from the original on 8 April 2023. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  24. ^ a b Rudon, Mike (15 November 2013). "U.S. Government gifts the B.D.F. and Coast Guard vehicles and equipment". News 5. Archived from the original on 8 April 2023. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  25. ^ "U.S. Government Donates Counter Narcotics Equipment to Belize Ministry of Defence". U.S. Embassy in Belize. 13 February 2018. Archived from the original on 23 September 2023. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  26. ^ "US Embassy Donates Heavy Duty Trucks to the Ministry of National Security". The San Pedro Sun. 24 March 2020. Archived from the original on 2 October 2023. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  27. ^ "US Donating Boats and Trucks to BDF". 8 September 2009. Archived from the original on 9 April 2023. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  28. ^ "BDF Receives Three Mahindra Vehicles and a John Deere Tractor". The San Pedro Sun. 3 November 2012. Archived from the original on 8 April 2023. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  29. ^ "BATSUB donates all-terrain vehicles to B.D.F." News 5. 15 November 2013. Archived from the original on 8 April 2023. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  30. ^ a b "World Air Forces 2023". Flightglobal Insight. 2023. Archived from the original on 7 December 2022. Retrieved 23 November 2022.

Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from The World Factbook. CIA.