Country Listing

Belize Table of Contents


Organization and Equipment

Under the constitution, the governor general serves as commander in chief of the armed forces and exercises administrative control over the three services through the Ministry of National Defence. Since independence, the defense portfolio has usually been held by the prime minister, who has exercised his authority through the permanent secretary for defense. In practice, operational control passed through the BDF commander, assisted by the chief of staff.

The BDF was primarily a ground force, consisting essentially of a light infantry battalion made up of three rifle companies and a support company that performed administrative, training, and logistical functions. Its main base was located at Price Barracks, where the majority of personnel were stationed. Operationally, one rifle company was rotated every three months through Belizario Camp near San Ignacio, east of the border with Guatemala. One rifle platoon was also rotated on a monthly basis through Punta Gorda, and BDF personnel manned several observation posts jointly with British forces in Toledo and Cayo districts.

The BDF ground element was equipped with light infantry weapons of British origin (see table 16, Appendix A). These weapons included the L1A1 SLR 7.62mm rifle, the Sterling L2A3 9mm submachine gun, the Bren L4A1 7.62mm light machine guns, and six 81mm mortars.

The BDF had a small maritime arm whose main base was located in the harbor of Belize City. A forward operating base, located in Placentia near Big Creek, enhanced policing and patrolling of the nation's southernmost waters. Operations at Placentia centered mainly on patrolling against drug trafficking and illegal fishing. The maritime arm had fifty personnel, eight of whom were officers. A major commanded this arm, which operated two 20-meter patrol craft. These craft had too great a draft to operate in the shallow waters frequented by smugglers but were effective in search-and- rescue operations and in monitoring illegal immigration. The BDF's maritime arm shared facilities with British forces that also patrolled the nation's waters.

The BDF also had a very small air wing, which consisted of fifteen personnel and was commanded by a captain. The air wing flew two Britten Norman BN-2B Defenders, one of which was armed. These aircraft usually transported passengers and freight but were also capable of use in parachute resupply, coastal patrol, and searchand -rescue operations. The air wing also had one DO27A crop sprayer to combat drug cultivation. The air wing's main base was the Belize International Airport, but it also used a small airstrip at Punta Gorda.

As of 1991, there were approximately 350 personnel in the reserve forces. These individuals were organized into three rifle companies located at Corozal in the north, at Belize City, and at Dangriga in the south. There was also a small Volunteer Guard with detachments at Belize City, San Ignacio, Orange Walk, Corozal, Dangriga, and Punta Gorda.

Data as of January 1992