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Bahrain Military - 2024


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Military and security forces

Bahrain Defense Force (BDF): Royal Bahraini Army (includes the Royal Guard), Royal Bahraini Navy, Royal Bahraini Air Force

Ministry of Interior: National Guard, Special Security Forces Command (SSFC), Coast Guard

note 1: the Royal Guard is officially under the command of the Army, but exercises considerable autonomy 

note 2: the Ministry of Interior is responsible for internal security and oversees police and specialized security units responsible for maintaining internal order; the National Guard's primary mission is to guard critical infrastructure such as the airport and oil fields and is a back-up to the police; the Guard is under the Ministry of Interior but reports directly to the king

Military expenditures

3.2% of GDP (2022 est.)
3.6% of GDP (2021 est.)
4.2% of GDP (2020 est.)
4% of GDP (2019 est.)
4% of GDP (2018 est.)

Military and security service personnel strengths

information varies; approximately 10,000 active personnel (7,500 Army; 1,000 Navy; 1,500 Air Force); approximately 3,000 National Guard (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the military's inventory consists of a mix of equipment acquired from a wide variety of suppliers; in recent years, the US has been the leading supplier of arms to Bahrain (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for voluntary military service; 15 years of age for non-commissioned officers, technicians, and cadets; no conscription (2022)

note: the BDF hires foreign nationals, Sunni Muslims primarily from Arabic countries and Pakistan, to serve under contract; as of 2020, foreigners were estimated to comprise as much as 80% of the military; the policy has become a controversial issue with the primarily Shia population; during the 2011, the BDF reportedly deployed mostly foreign personnel against protesters

Military - note

the BDF is a small, but well-equipped military focused on territorial defense and support to internal security; its primary concern is Iran, both the conventional military threat and its support to regional terrorist groups; the BDF participates in multinational exercises and has conducted small deployments outside of the country; in 2015, for example, Bahrain joined the Saudi Arabia-led military intervention in Yemen, supplying a few hundred troops and combat aircraft; the Army’s primary combat units are an armored brigade and a mechanized brigade, plus battalions of royal guards and special forces; in a conflict, the Army would be supported by the paramilitary National Guard; the Navy’s principal warships are a US-provided secondhand frigate, two corvettes acquired from Germany, and a secondhand British offshore patrol vessel; the Air Force has small numbers of US-made combat aircraft and attack helicopters

Bahrain’s closest security partners are the US and Saudi Arabia; it hosts the US Naval Forces Central Command (USNAVCENT; established 1983), which includes the US 5th Fleet, several subordinate naval task forces, and the Combined Maritime Forces (established 2002), a coalition of more than 30 nations providing maritime security for regional shipping lanes; in 2003, the US granted Bahrain Major Non-NATO Ally status, a designation under US law that provides foreign partners with certain benefits in the areas of defense trade and security cooperation; Bahraini leaders have said that the security of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are “indivisible”; Saudi Arabia sent forces to Bahrain to assist with internal security following the 2011 uprising; Bahrain also has close security ties to other Gulf Cooperation Council  countries, particularly Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, as well as the UK (2023)

NOTE: The information regarding Bahrain on this page is re-published from the 2024 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Bahrain 2024 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Bahrain 2024 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 04 May 24, Copyright © 2024 ITA all rights reserved.