Nepalese Armed Forces

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Nepalese Armed Forces
Roundel of Nepal.svg
Service branchesNepalese Army
Commander-in-chiefPresident Bidhya Devi Bhandari
Minister of DefenceIshwor Pokhrel
Chief of Army StaffGeneral Purna Chandra Thapa
Military age18
Available for
military service
6,941,152 (male)
7,618,397 (female) males, age 16–49est[2],
14,600,000 females, age 16–49est[2]
Fit for
military service
11,210,000 males, age 16–49est[2],
5,260,878 (male)
5,947,512 (female) females, age 16–49est[2]
Reaching military
age annually
380,172 (male)
367,103 (female) males,
750,000 females
Active personnel96,800 (2019)[1]
Budget$US 207 Million(2011)
Percent of GDP1.4%
Foreign suppliers India
 United States
 Sri Lanka
Related articles
RanksMilitary ranks of Nepal

The Nepalese Armed Forces are the military forces of Nepal. The current Nepal Army (technically the Gorkha Army) traces its direct historic roots from the Royal Nepal Army, renamed in recognition of Nepal's transition from a monarchy to a popularly elected republic in 2006. Composed primarily of the ground-based Nepalese Army, organized into six active combat divisions, the Nepalese Armed Forces also operates the smaller Nepalese Army Air Service designed to support army operations and provide close light combat support. The Nepalese Army also operates smaller formations responsible for the organization of air defense, logistics, military communications, artillery, and airborne forces within Nepalese territory. In addition, the Armed Police Force acts as a paramilitary force tasked with maintaining internal security within Nepal.

The Nepalese Armed Forces are a volunteer force with an estimated 95,000 active duty personnel in 2010, with an estimated annual military budget of around 60 million US dollars, not including military assistance funding from the Republic of India and People's Republic of China or more recently from the United States of America. Although most of Nepal's military equipment are imports from neighboring India or China, Nepal has received 20,000 M-16 rifles, as well as night vision equipment from the United States to assist ongoing efforts in the post-September 11 global War on Terror campaign. The Nepalese Army bought 1,000 Galil rifles from Israel and received 2 V-5 helicopters from Russia.


Supreme Command[edit]

Article 144 of Interim Constitution of Nepal states that The President of Nepal is the Supreme Commander Chief of Nepal Army. Currently as the President of Nepal Bidhya Devi Bhandari who was elected president of Nepal on 28 oct 2015,[3] is the supreme commander of Nepal Army.

Before 2006 democracy movement in Nepal forced King to restore democracy in 2006, Article 119 of the 1990 constitution stated that the King is the Supreme Commander of the Royal Nepal Army. However, following the People's Power revolution in April 2006, the 1990 constitution has been replaced by an interim constitution which has removed the King from anything to do with the army. On May 28, 2008 the Monarchy was formally abolished and Nepal was declared a Republic.

The National Defence Council[edit]

Nepal's Interim Constitution's Article 145 has envisioned National Defence Council which includes Prime Minister, Defence Minister, Home Minister and other three minister appointed by Prime Minister which recommends to the Council of Ministers on mobilization, operation and use of the Nepal Army. Upon Council of Ministers recommendation, President authorizes mobilization, operation and use of Nepal Army.

Before Interim Constitution replaces Constitution of Kingdom of Nepal 1990, 1990 constitution has prosion for defence council. This Council used to have three members, the Prime Minister, the Defence Minister, and the Chief of the Army Staff. In accordance with the Constitution, the King (as Supreme Commander) used to "operate and use" the "Royal Nepal Army on the recommendation" of this council.

Battles of Unification campaigns[edit]

Nepalese army fought various battles on the national unification campaigns of the 18th century. These battles of Nepal unification helped the Royal Nepalese army to gain more experience while helping to unify Nepal.


Battle against Mir Qasim[edit]

The fortress of Makawanpur has a historical and military significance for the Nepalese. It was here that the Nepalese defeated superior forces of Mir Qasim in 1763 and seized 500 guns and two cannons. Later on, these weapons were used by Nepalese troops and four companies were established regular, namely, Srinath, Kalibox, Barda Bahadur (Bardabahini) and Sabuj. (Purano) Gorakh Company was established a few months later. It was the first rank and file system beginning a proper organizational history for the Royal Nepalese Army. The battle against Mir Qasim troops was the first battle of the Royal Nepalese Army against a foreign power.

Sardar Nandu Shah was the fortress Commander of Makawanpur with 400 troops, some guns and home-made traditional weapons like Dhanu, Khukuri, Talwar, Ghuyatro etc. They devised different hit-and-run strategies to surprise the enemy. A spoiling attack base was set up on the Taplakhar mountain ridge for night operations.

Mir Qasim's renowned warrior, Gurgin Khan was the commander on the other side with approximately 2,500 troops with cannons, guns, ammunition and a very good logistics back up. Their attack base was at the bottom of the Makawanpur Gadhi hill. They had planned a night attack. When the enemy's heavy forces marched in December 1762 and arrived at Harnamadi in January 1763, they found all the local houses already evacuated and the area short of food provisions. Makawanpur Gadhi was on top of a mountain, about nine kilometers uphill from the Harnamadi area. Although the Nepalese had physically occupied all the fortresses en route, the enemy was able to initially push them back to the Makawanpur Gadhi area.

About 300 enemy launched a strong attack on 20 January 1763 putting the Nepalese still more on the defensive. But they were totally surprised when they were resting in Taplakhar, as Kaji Vamsharaj Pande led a downhill attack on them Kaju Naharsigh Basnyat led an uphill attack from below them and Nandu Shah led a frontal attack. The smooth coordination among the three, leading their, by now battle-hardened, troops in the dark of the night, led the bewildered enemy to scatter. About 1700 of them died and 30 Nepalese soldiers were lost in that battle. The Nepalese captured 500 rifles and two cannons with other military equipment. More importantly, the battle led to the beginning of a proper organization of the Royal Nepalese Army.[4]

Other major engagements[edit]

The relations started forming sour after the Malla rulers started to mint impure silver coins just before their downfall. The Tibetans demanded that the coins be replaced by pure silver ones. When Prithvi Narayan Shah took over, he found that it would be a great loss to him if he conceded to the Tibetan demands. That case remained unsolved due to his untimely demise. Queen Mother Rajendra Laxmi, the Regent of minor King Rana Bahadur Shah, inherited the coinage problem which reached the culminating point in 1888 AD. Another sore point in Nepal-Tibet relations was Nepal's decision to provide refuge to Syamarpa Lama with his 14 Tibetan followers. He had fled from Tibet to Nepal on religious and political grounds. Yet another cause for conflict was the low quality salt being provided by Tibetans to Nepal. All salt came from Tibet in those days. Tibet ignored the Nepalese ultimatums and that promoted the preparations for war. Nepal was soon preparing to launch multi-directional attacks.

Kerung Axis: Kaji Balbhadra Shah was the main Commander of the offensive attack from Kerung axis. Kaji Kirtiman Singh Basnyat, Sardar Amar Singh Thapa and Kapardar Bhotu Pande were the subordinate commanders under him. Approximately 6,000 troops and 3,200 porters were despatched for this operation. Their main objective was to capture Dirgacha through Kerung. The march of the troops was delayed because Balbhadra Shah became seriously ill. They crossed Kerung on 20 July 1788 and captured Jhunga on the 3rd of August 1788. Kapardar Bhotu Pande was captured by the Tibetans. The Nepalese troops were reinforced with 2,000 more troops and Kapardar Bhotu Pande was freed from the Tibetans on 14 October 1788.

Kuti Axis (I):Shree Krishna Shah was the Commander and Kaji Ranajit Pande, Sardar Parath Bhandari, Captain Harsa Panta, Captain Naharsingh Basnyat and Captain Shiva Narayan Khatri were the subordinate commanders under him. About 5,800 soldiers and 3,000 porters were allotted for the offensive operation. Later on, Kaji Abhimansingh Basnyat and Ranajit Kunwar also joined this offensive. The Dalai Lama was taken by surprise and to protect his sovereignty, he initiated a parallel approach whereby he asked military help from Sovan Shahi, the King of Jumla in West Nepal, and requested him to launch guerrilla activities and revolt against the Nepalese Army in and around Jumla. Sovan Shahi did revolt at Humla and captured some fortresses. The Dalai Lama also asked for military help from the Chinese Emperor. Additionally, he himself and Panchen Lama of Dirgacha wrote a secret letter to the East India Company seeking military assistance. The Tibetans also initiated propaganda about having constructed a new road through the Tigri valley and establishing a post at the front. They also rumoured that they had assembled an Army of 1,25,000 men. But the Tibetans could get nothing from Jumla, China or the East India Company.

Kuti Axis (II):Kaji Damodar Pande was leading his troops with subordinate commanders Bom Shah, Dev Dutta Thapa and others. He was given about 4,000 troops and his objective was to capture Dirgacha via the Kuti axis. The Battles Nepalese troops, having crossed the Himalayas captured Chhochyang and Kuti in June 1788 and Sikarjong on 3 August 1788, in spite of many difficult logistic limitations. Later, Bahadur Shah was able to provide some reinforcements and improve some logistics arrangements. Still that was not enough and progress was slow. When the Nepalese were about to capture Dirgacha via both Kuti and Kerung, the Tibetans started to make compromises with Nepalese commanders. Bahadur Shah started negotiations, ultimately arriving at a solution. Prisoners were handed back to the Tibetans. Tibet was ready to pay tributes to the tune of Rs. 50,000 in silver coins per annum to Nepal and a treaty was signed on 2 June 1789 in Kerung. The treaty is called the ‘Treaty of Kerung’ by historians Rasuwa Gadhi and Timure were the firm bases in the first Nepal-Tibet war. Syabru Besi and Rasuwa Gadhi were Strategic points in this war. Likewise, Listi and Duguna villages were the main bases for offensive operations against Tibet. They were the forward most dumping places of the Royal Nepalese Army. Although Rasuwa Gadhi and Duguna Gadhi Fortresses were not constructed at the time, the places themselves were important because of their military significance.

Foreign Involvements[edit]

Domestic Operations[edit]

In 1974, The Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) was mobilized to disarm the Tibetan Khampas who had been using Nepalese soil to engage guerilla war against the Chinese forces. The Khampas had secretly created their base in Mustang (north-west Nepal) and were operating from there against China. The RNA, under immense diplomatic pressure from China and the international community, moved nine infantry units towards the Khampa post in Mustang and gave them an ultimatum to either disarm themselves and surrender, or face consequences. The terms and conditions of their surrender was that they would be given Nepalese citizenship, land, and some money. The Khampa commander Wang Di agreed to surrender but eventually fled the camp. He was later killed in Doti, far-western Nepal by RNA forces while trying to loot a Nepal Police post. This was first time that the RNA was mobilized in such a large number domestically.

International Operations[edit]

A Nepalese UN peacekeeper

Nepal Army's long association with UN Peace Support Operations began with the deployment of five Military Observers in the Middle East, Lebanon (UNOGIL/ United Nations Observer Group in Lebanon) in 1958. And the first Nepalese contingent, Purano Gorakh battalion was deployed in Egypt in 1974. Nepal's participation in the UN peacekeeping operations spans a period of 50 years covering Nepal army involved UN Missions are 42,of which latest being UNSMIL in Libya, in which over sixty thousand six hundred and fifty two (60,652) Nepalese soldiers have served in support of UN peacekeeping endeavors. The Nepal Army has contributed Force Commanders, military contingent, military observers and staff officers. Nepalese troops have taken part in some of the most difficult operations, and have suffered casualties in the service of the UN. To date, the number of those lost on duty with the UN is 54, while 57 were seriously wounded.

Its most significant contribution has been of peace and stability in Africa. It has demonstrated its capacity of sustaining large troop commitments over prolonged periods. Presently, Nepal is ranked as the sixth largest troop contributing country (TCC) to the UN.

A member of the Nepalese Quick Reactionary Force (QRF) stands ready with a variant of the Galil assault rifle.

U.S./Nepal military relations[edit]

The U.S.-Nepali military relationship focuses on support for democratic institutions, civilian control of the military, and the professional military ethic to include respect for human rights. Both countries have had extensive contact over the years. Nepali Army units and Nepalese Army Air Service units have served with distinction alongside American forces in places such as Haiti, Iraq, and Somalia.

U.S.-Nepali military engagement continues today through IMET, Enhanced International Peacekeeping Capabilities (EIPC), and various conferences and seminars. The U.S. military sends many Nepalese Army officers to America to attend military schooling such as the Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Army War College. The IMET budget for FY2001 was $220,000.

The EPIC program is an interagency program between the Department of Defense and the Department of State to increase the pool of international peacekeepers and to promote interoperability. Nepal received about $1.9 million in EPIC funding.

Commander United States Pacific Command (CDRUSPACOM) coordinates military engagement with Nepal through the Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC). The ODC Nepal is located in the American Embassy, Kathmandu.

PRC or India & Nepal military relations[edit]

India has agreed to resume the military aid to Nepal. The aid was in the pipeline before India imposed an embargo in February 2005 following the seizure of power by the then King Gyanendra. In 2009, People's Republic of China pledged military aid worth Rs100 million to Nepal.[5]


The command of the Nepalese army is divided into 8 parts namely.

Names Description
FAR WESTERN DIVISION TThe Far Western Division Headquarters, with the motto, "Bhakti Nai Sakti Ho” was established on July 5, 2004 (Ashad 21, 2061) in scenic and beautiful land of Dipayal. The flag of this division was raised on May 1, 2005 (Baisakh 18, 2062).
The North Western Division Headquarters, with the motto, "Sadaiba Samarpit Desh Prati” was established on 29thNov, 2001 (14th Mangsir, 2058) with the name of Western Division at Nepalgunj, Banke. The Western Division was renamed as Mid Western Division and was shifted to Tribhuvan Sainik Shivir, Surkhet on 23rd Oct, 2005 (6th Kartik, 2062). The Mid Western Division has been once again re-organized and renamed as the North Western Division in Nimare Barrack, Surkhet on 16th July, 2017(1st Shrawan, 2074). The Mid Western Division Headquarters, with the motto, ".............” was established on ........... (...........) with the name of Mid-Western Division at Butwal, Rupandehi. ................
WESTERN DIVISION The Western Division Headquarters, with the motto, "Rakshya Nai Dharma Ho” was established on February 13, 2003 (Falgun 1, 2059) as Central Division at Pokhara, Kaski. The Central Division was renamed to its present name as the Western Division on September 17, 2004.
MID DIVISION The Mid Divisional Headquarter, with the motto, "Atal Bhakti Desh Prati” was established on November 16, 2004 (Marga 01, 2061) at Hetauda.
VALLEY DIVISION The ‘Valley Command Office’, with the motto “Shanti Surakshya Sarbada”, was established on May 19 2003 (2060 Jestha 5). Later it was renamed as “Valley Division HQ” on December 13, 2003 (2060 Poush 15). At the beginning, the division HQ was based at Singha Durbar, Kathmandu and later it was relocated to the Narayanhiti Palace.
EASTERN DIVISION The Eastern Divisional Headquarter, with the motto,"Rastra Rakshya Param Kartabya", was raised on January 29, 2003 (2059 Magh 15 B.S) at Itahari.


Military branches: Nepalese Army (includes Nepalese Army Air Service), Armed Police Force Nepal, Nepalese Police Force

Military manpower – military age: 17 years of age

Military manpower – availability:
males age 15–49: 6,674,014 (2003 est.)

Military manpower – fit for military service:
males age 15–49: 3,467,511 (2003 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 303,222 (2003 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $57.22 million (FY02)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 1.1% (FY02)


Nepal is also notable for the Gurkhas. Significant sections of the British Army and Indian Army are recruited from Nepal. This arrangement comes from the days of the British East India Company's rule of India when Company troops tried to invade Nepal and were beaten back. Both sides were impressed with the other, and Gurkhas were recruited into the Company's forces. The Gurkhas remained loyal during the Indian Mutiny of 1857 and were kept on in the Indian Army thereafter. Upon Indian independence in 1947, some units went to British service and some to Indian service, with a Britain-India-Nepal Tripartite Agreement signed between the three nations. The Gurkhas are feared troops, and their signature weapon is the khukuri.

Army pilots training School[edit]

The Nepal Army Air service has operated a flying and helicopter pilots training school since 2004 within the 11no. Brigade, it is the only helicopter pilots training school in Nepal,(there is a fixed-wing pilot training school in Bharatpur, Nepal by private pilots training school) This school produces army air service pilots and civilian too. The school provides the Mil Mi-17, and Eurocopter Ecureuil helicopter flying training.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ IISS 2019, pp. 294
  2. ^ "The World Factbook". Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  3. ^ [1] Archived October 12, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-10-27. Retrieved 2014-10-23.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "China pledges military assistance worth Rs100 million to Nepal".

 This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA World Factbook document: "2003 edition".

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]