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Rwanda Military - 2024


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Military and security forces

Rwanda Defense Force (RDF; Ingabo z’u Rwanda): Rwanda Army (Rwanda Land Force), Rwanda Air Force (Force Aerienne Rwandaise, FAR), Rwanda Reserve Force, Special Units

Ministry of Internal Security: Rwanda National Police (2024)

Military expenditures

1.4% of GDP (2022 est.)
1.4% of GDP (2021 est.)
1.3% of GDP (2020 est.)
1.2% of GDP (2019 est.)
1.2% of GDP (2018 est.)

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 33,000 active RDF personnel (32,000 Army; 1,000 Air Force) (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the RDF's inventory includes mostly Soviet-era and older Western--largely French and South African--equipment; in recent years, Russia has been the top supplier of arms to Rwanda (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for men and women for voluntary military service; no conscription; Rwandan citizenship is required; enlistment is either as contract (5-years, renewable twice) or career (2023)

note: as of 2022, women comprised approximately 6% of the Rwanda Defense Force

Military deployments

4,000 Central African Republic (approximately 2,800 for MINUSCA, including 700 police; an additional 1,200 troops sent separately under a bilateral arrangement to support and train Central African military forces); up to 3,000 Mozambique (deployed mid-2021 under a bilateral agreement to assist with combating an insurgency; includes both military and police forces); 2,600 (plus about 400 police) South Sudan (UNMISS) (2023)

Military - note

the RDF is widely regarded as one of East Africa’s best trained and most experienced militaries; the Army is relatively large with four divisions that are mostly comprised of light infantry brigades; it also has separate artillery, presidential guard, and special operations brigades; the Air Force has a small inventory of combat helicopters and a handful of transport aircraft

the RDF’s principle responsibilities are ensuring territorial integrity and national sovereignty and preventing infiltrations of illegal armed groups from neighboring countries, particularly the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC); since 2021, Rwanda has deployed troops to the border region with the DRC to combat the rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), which it has accused the DRC of backing; the RDF has been accused by the DRC, the UN, and the US of making incursions into the DRC and providing material support to the March 23 Movement (M23, aka Congolese Revolutionary Army) rebel group, which has been fighting with DRC troops and UN peacekeeping forces; the RDF also participates in UN and regional military operations; over 6,000 RDF personnel are deployed in the Central African Republic, Mozambique, and South Sudan 

the Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR) were established following independence in 1962; after the 1990-1994 civil war and genocide, the victorious Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front's military wing, the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA), became the country's military force; the RPA participated in the First (1996-1997) and Second (1998-2003) Congolese Wars; the RPA was renamed the Rwanda Defense Force (RDF) in 2003, by which time it had assumed a more national character with the inclusion of many former Hutu officers as well as newly recruited soldiers (2023)

NOTE: The information regarding Rwanda 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 Rwanda 2024 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Rwanda 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.