Panama Military - 2023


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Military and security forces

no regular military forces; Ministry of Public Security: the Panama National Police (La Policía Nacional de Panamá, PNP), National Aeronaval Service (Servicio Nacional Aeronaval, SENAN), National Border Service (Servicio Nacional de Fronteras, SENAFRONT) (2023)

note: the PNP includes a special forces directorate with counterterrorism and counternarcotics units; SENAFRONT has three regionally-based border security brigades, plus a specialized brigade comprised of special forces, counternarcotics, maritime, and rapid reaction units

Military expenditures

1.2% of GDP (2022 est.)

1.3% of GDP (2021 est.)

1.4% of GDP (2020 est.)

1.2% of GDP (2019)

1.1% of GDP (2018)

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 20,000 National Police; 4,000 National Border Service; 3,000 National Air-Naval Service (2022)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

Panama's security forces are lightly armed; Canada, Italy and the US have provided equipment to the security forces in recent years (2022)

Military - note

the Panama National Police is principally responsible for internal law enforcement and public order, while the National Border Service handles border security; the Aeronaval Service is responsible for carrying out naval and air operations that include some internal security responsibilities; key areas of focus are countering narcotics trafficking and securing the border, particularly along the southern border with Colombia where most of the public security forces are deployed

Panama created a paramilitary National Guard (Guardia Nacional de Panamá) in the 1950s from the former National Police (established 1904); the National Guard subsequently evolved into more of a military force with some police responsibilities; it seized power in a coup in 1968 and military officers ran the country until 1989; in 1983, the National Guard was renamed the Panama Defense Force (PDF); the PDF was disbanded after the 1989 US invasion and the current national police forces were formed in 1990; the armed forces were officially abolished under the 1994 Constitution (2023)

NOTE: The information regarding Panama on this page is re-published from the 2023 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Panama 2023 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Panama 2023 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 06 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.