Military of Burundi

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National Defence Force
Force de defense nationale
Flag of Burundi.svg
Service branches Army
Headquarters Bujumbura
Commander-in-Chief President of Burundi Pierre Nkurunziza
Minister of National Defense & War Veterans Maj. General Pontien Gaciyubwenge
Active personnel 20,000 Army personnel
30,000 paramilitary[1]
Percent of GDP 3.7% (2011)[1]

The National Defence Force is the state military organisation responsible for the defence of Burundi. A general staff (État-Major Général) commands the armed forces, consisting of a joint staff (État-Major inter-armes); a training staff (État-Major de la Formation), and a logistics staff (État-Major de la Logistique). Naval and aviation commands exist, as well as specialised units.[2]

The first general in Burundian history was Michel Micombero. After his coup d’etat which deposed the monarchy, he was also commissionéd by the National Council of the Revolution (French: Conseil National de la Révolution (CNR)), and made a Lieutenant Général. In his turn, Micombero raised Thomas Ndabemeye to the grade of Major General. They were the sole generals of the First Republic.

In 2015, the BNDF remained shared between Tutsis and Hutus, based on agreements after the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi[3] that ended 12 years of war and stopped decades of ethnic killings. In the wake of the 2015 Burundian unrest, personnel faced a choice between supporting President Pierre Nkurunziza, with whom some fought when he was a military commander, or opposing him. Interviewed by Reuters on May 14, 2015, an Africa analyst at Verisk Maplecroft said moves by Major General Godefroid Niyombare, former director of the intelligence service, "starkly highlight[ed] Nkurunziza’s lack of unified support among his military chiefs," he said. "Even if Niyombare’s attempt fails, Nkurunziza’s political credibility may be damaged irreparably."[4]


Burundi troops of the Central African Multinational Force in the Central African Republic.
Mortar man with 1st Sapper Company, Burundi National Defense Force

Anti-tank weapons[edit]

Model Origin Type
RL-83 Blindicide[5] Belgium Rocket launcher
M20 Super Bazooka[5] United States Rocket launcher
MILAN (reported)[1] France/Germany Anti-tank Guided Missile
RPG 7[6] Soviet Union Rocket launcher


Model Type Origin Count
Panhard M3 Armored Personnel Carrier France 9[1]
GAZ BTR-80 Armored Personnel Carrier Russia 10[1]
Panhard AML-90 Armored Car France 12[1]
Panhard AML-60 Armored Car France 6[1]
BRDM-2 Reconnaissance Vehicle Soviet Union 30[1]
BTR-40 Armored Personnel Carrier Soviet Union 20[1]
Shorland S-52 Armored Car United Kingdom 7[1]
Walid Armored Personnel Carrier Egypt 6[1]
RG-31 Armored Personnel Carrier South Africa 12[1]
RG-31 Nyala Armored Personnel Carrier South Africa 31[1]


Anti-aircraft weapons[edit]

Aircraft inventory[edit]

The Burundi Army's air unit operates 10 aircraft, including one combat aircraft and six helicopters, of which two are non-operational as of 2012.[5]

Aircraft Type Versions In service Notes
Aérospatiale SA 342 Gazelle utility helicopter SA 342L 2[5]
Mil Mi-8 Hip
utility helicopter
2[5] Both non-operational as of 2012[5]
Cessna 150 liaison 2[5]
Douglas DC-3 Transport 2[5]
Mil Mi-24 Hind Hind-E attack helicopter 2[5]
SIAI-Marachetti SF 260

Use of child soldiers[edit]

According to the 2004 report by Child Soldiers International, Burundi's military made use of conscripted child soldiers. Children in military service were also subject to military courts which fell short of international law standards.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q IISS (2012), p. 424
  2. ^ "LOI N° 1/019 DU 31 DECEMBRE 2004 Portant Creation, Organisation, MISSIONS, COMPOSITION ET FONCTIONNEMENT DE LA FORCE DE DEFENSE NATIONALE" (PDF). Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  3. ^ Institute for Security Studies, [1] (Protocol II, Chapter 1.)
  4. ^ "Army rifts could push Burundi back to conflict after coup bid". 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n IISS (2012), p. 425
  6. ^ " : Galleries". Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  7. ^ Child Soldiers International, "2004 Africa: Regional overview"