The Belize Defence Force (BDF) is the military of Belize, and is responsible for protecting the sovereignty of the country. The BDF is under the Ministry of Defence, which is currently headed by Hon. John Saldivar; the BDF itself is commanded by Brigadier General Steven Ortega. In 2012, the Belizean government spent about $17 million on the military, constituting 1.08% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).[2]


Brig. Gen. Lloyd Gillett, addresses soldiers at a ceremony marking the completion of training with the U.S. Marine Corps

The military of Belize dates back to 1817, when the Prince Regent Royal Honduras Militia, a volunteer organization, was founded. Between 1817 and 1978, the military force in Belize has had ten different names:

  • The Prince Regent's Royal Militia (1817-1866),
  • The Belize Volunteer Force (1866-1868);
  • The Belize Volunteer Corps (1868-1883);
  • The Belize Light Infantry Volunteer Force (1897-1905);
  • British Honduras Volunteers (1905-1916);
  • British Honduras Territorial Force (1916-1928);
  • British Honduras Defense Force (1928-1944);
  • British Honduras Home Guard (1942-1943),
  • British Honduras Volunteer Guard (1943-1973),
  • Belize Volunteer Guard (1973-1977).[3]

The BDF was founded in 1978 following the disbanding of the Belize Volunteer Guard and the Police Special Force the year before.[4]

After Belize achieved independence in 1981 the United Kingdom maintained the deterrent British Forces Belize in the country to protect it from invasion by Guatemala. During the 1980s this included a battalion and No. 1417 Flight RAF of Harriers. The main British force left in 1994, three years after Guatemala recognised Belizean independence, but the United Kingdom maintained a training presence via the British Army Training and Support Unit Belize (BATSUB) and 25 Flight AAC until 2011 when the last British Forces left Ladyville Barracks, with the exception of seconded advisers.[4] The BDF Maritime Wing became part of the Belizean Coastguard in November 2005.[5]

In October 2015, due to rising tensions between Belize and Guatemala and the British cutback on military bases worldwide to focus on the War On Terror in 2011, Belize asked the UK to bring BATSUB back; the British Government brought BATSUB to Belize once again.[6]


The BDF consists of:

  • Three infantry battalions, each comprising three companies[1]
  • Three reserve companies[1]
  • One support group[1]
  • Air Wing[1]

The Belize Police Department is staffed by 1200 sworn officers and 700 civilian staff (2008).[7] The Belize Police Department and National Forensic Science Service report to the Minister of National Security.

As of 2012, there are also 40 British Army personnel stationed in Belize.[1]

Crew-served weapons

Weapon Origin Type Quantity
Recoilless rifle Sweden anti-armor anti-personal 6[1]
L16 81mm United Kingdom portable mortar 6[1]


Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Britten-Norman BN-2 United Kingdom transport / utility 1[8]
Bell UH-1 United States utility UH-1H 2[8]
Trainer Aircraft
T67 Firefly United Kingdom basic trainer M260 1[8]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j IISS (2012), p. 374
  2. ^ "Belize". CIA World Factbook. 
  3. ^ D.N.A. Fairweather, A Short History of the Volunteer Forces of British Honduras (now Belize)
  4. ^ a b Phillips, Dion E. (2002). "The Military of Belize". Archived from the original on 2012-12-11. 
  5. ^ "Belize". Channel 5. 13 December 2007. Archived from the original on 2011-05-04. 
  6. ^ "No Joke Jimmy,The Brits Are Back". 7 News Belize. Retrieved October 28, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Belize Police Department - About the Department". Police.gov.bz. Retrieved 2012-06-08. 
  8. ^ a b c "World Air Forces 2017". Flightglobal Insight. 2017. Retrieved 10 September 2017. 
Works cited
  • International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) (2012). The Military Balance 2012. London: IISS. ISSN 0459-7222. 

External links

 This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA World Factbook website https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html.