Country Listing

Belize Table of Contents




Belize Defence Force naval vessels
Courtesy Steven R. Harper

As part of moves to develop a local defense force and initiate an independent defense capability, the colony formed the BDF on January 1, 1978. The BDF drew its strength from the Belize Volunteer Guard, which had formerly acted as a police reserve, and from the paramilitary Belize Police Special Defence Force, which the BDF replaced. The Defence Ordinance of 1977, which formed the legal basis for the creation of a regular force as well as for volunteer and reserve forces, established the BDF.

In 1978 the new force comprised three active-duty elements, consisting of one rifle, one headquarters, and one training company. Three additional rifle companies and a band made up the volunteer element. The BDF was expanded in 1982, when a second rifle company was added. In 1984 very small air and maritime wings were formed. A third rifle company was added in 1987.

The BDF is charged with the defense of the nation, with support of the civil authority in maintaining order, and with "other duties as defined by the Governor." During its short history, the force has manned border defense posts in conjunction with British forces and provided interpreters and trackers for British patrols. The BDF has also conducted search-and-rescue and other operations in support of the police, customs, immigration, and fisheries departments. As part of its mission to assist the police, the BDF has helped in drug eradication and other antidrug operations. The maritime wing and the air wing have manned emergency frequencies and have launched rescue missions nationwide. The BDF has also provided assistance in times of natural disaster. In 1986 the force took responsibility for coordination of antidrug operations, and in the early 1990s performed an active counter-narcotics role.

Data as of January 1992