Military Wiki
Namibian Defence Force (NDF)
Founded 21 March 1990 (Namibian Independence)
Service branches Namibian Army
Namibian Navy
Namibian Air force
Headquarters Windhoek
Commander-in-Chief President Dr.Hifikepunye Pohamba
Defence Minister Nahas Angula[1]
Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Epaphras Denga Ndaitwah[2]
Military age 18-25 years
Active personnel c.15,200
Percent of GDP 3.7% (2006 estimate)[1]
Foreign suppliers  Brazil[3]
 South Africa[4]
United States[3]
Related articles
History Caprivi Conflict
Second Congo War
United Nations Mission in Liberia

The Namibia Defence Force was created when South West Africa gained full independence from South Africa in 1990. The new constitution of Namibia defines the role of the military as "defending the territory and national interests."

Namibia's Defence Force comprises two of the former enemies in a 23-year bush war: the Peoples Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) and South West African Territorial Force (SWATF). The British formulated the force integration plan and began training the NDF, which consists of five battalions and a small headquarters element.[5] The United Nations Transitional Assistance Group (UNTAG)'s Kenyan infantry battalion remained in Namibia for three months after independence to assist in training the NDF and stabilize the north. Martin Shalli and Charles 'Ho Chi Minh' Namoloh were involved in the negotiations that allowed the Kenyan infantry battalion to remain for that period.


The main roles of the Namibia Defence Force are to ensure the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country by guarding against external aggression, both conventional and unconventional; prevent violation of Namibia’s territorial integrity; and provide assistance to civil authorities in guarding and protecting government buildings and key installations as provided in the Defence Act.[6] However Berman and Sams said in 2000 that effectiveness was limited: basic skills are limited and troops suffer from a 'range of diseases.'[7] This may imply that capability is greatly hampered by extensive HIV/AIDS infection amongst soldiers.

According to the Namibian Defence Ministry, enlistments of both men and women will number no more than 7,500. Defence and security account for less than 8% of government spending.[citation needed] In addition to the figures in the infobox, earlier defence spending and percentage of GDP included $90 million in 1997/98, 2.6% of GDP. The 73.1 million figure in 2002 was 2.4% of GDP. These figures are almost certainly CIA World Factbook estimates.


Major General A W Dennis, CB, OBE (rtd), British Army, previously Director of Military Assistance Overseas, made the following comments on the initial phase in Namibia at a conference in Pretoria, South Africa on 6 August 1992:[8]

You will no doubt recall that the Angola accords were signed in Luanda on 22 December 1988. In November 1989 SWAPO won 57% of the votes in the Namibian General Election and immediately requested the help of a British Military Advisory and Training Team following independence on 21 March 1990. The team, initially 55 strong, was duly deployed on 26 March 1990 and the first leaders cadre, for the 1st and 2nd Battalions, was run from 17 April to 2 June. By 1 July, the 1st Battalion, about 1 000 men strong, accompanied by 5 BMATT Advisors, had deployed to the northern border. By November 1990, only four months later, the 5th Battalion had deployed and in early 1991 the 21st Guards Battalion had also been formed, four staff courses had been run, support weapons and logistics training was well advanced (indeed a logistics battalion deployed as early as July 1990) and an operational test exercise had been conducted. In addition the Ministry of Defence, a mixture of civilian and military personnel, was operating as a department of state. No-one would pretend that everything was working perfectly, nevertheless, a great deal had been achieved in the first year following independence. Most people would probably agree that at some 7 500 strong the Army is unnecessarily large, but sensible plans will need to be made for the employment of any surplus soldiers before they are discharged. Integration has not been easy to achieve, at least in part, because of the need to use several interpreters to cope with the wide variety of languages involved. Battalions are made up of approximately 70% ex-PLAN and 30% ex-SWATF. This mixture could have proved explosive but hounded by their BMATT instructors they united in a common task (or perhaps in the face of a common enemy!) and soon realised that they could work well together. At the higher levels, integration has been more patchy, at least in part because of the departure of most white South African and SWATF officers. But the Government's intentions seem clear in that it decided to split the four MOD directorates evenly, appointing two white and two black (ex PLAN) directors. In all this, BMATT Namibia has played a role remarkably similar to that of BMATT Zimbabwe.

In August 1999, a separatist Lozi faction in the Caprivi Strip launched a coup attempt (see Caprivi conflict) which was summarily put down by the Namibian Defence Force.[9] The army has conducted security operations along the northern border with Angola. In the process of these operations, there were allegations in 2001 that the army has tortured people suspected of being UNITA sympathisers.[10] IRIN reported that the Ministry of Defence had admitted that two Namibian soldiers died fighting suspected UNITA rebels in southern Angola in July 2001.[11] The Namibian Defence Force assists in putting out wildfires.[12]

As of 13 October 2010, Sibbinda councillor Felix Mukupi has requested a meeting with the regional army commander in order to request 'the NDF to deploy its troops [on the Namibia/Zambia border area] stretching from Wenela to Kongola' in order to curtail stock thefts by gangs of cattle thieves from Zambia.[13]

On 24 May 2010, Chen Bingde, Chief of the General Staff Department of the People's Liberation Army and member of the Central Military Commission, met Charles Namoloh and Peter Nambundunga, acting commander of the Namibian Defence Forces, in Windhoek.[14] At their meeting, the two sides had in-depth discussions on further strengthening exchanges and cooperation between the two armed forces. Chen Binghe was accompanied by the chief of staff of the Second Artillery Corps and two PLA Military Region chiefs of staff. Chen Binghe also met President Pohamba that day.

Organization and Structure

The Chief Of Defence Force is the highest-ranking officer and exercises overall command of the force. File:Namibian Defence Force Structure.jpeg

  • Chief of Defence Force:Lt Gen Epaphras Denga Ndaitwah
    • Army Commander: Major General John Mutwa
    • Air Force Commander: Air Vice Marshall Martin Pinehas
    • Navy Commander:Rear Admiral Peter Vilho
      • Chief of Staff;Operations & Training: Maj Gen P.S. Kamati
      • Chief of Staff; Human Resources:Brig Gen K.C. Ndjoba
      • Chief of Staff; Defence Intelligence:Brig Gen P Heita
      • Chief of Staff; Defence Medical Health Services:Brig Gen Dr. S.S. Ndeitunga
      • Chief of Staff; Information &Communication Technology:Brig Gen S.N Haihambo
      • Chief of Staff; Logistics:Brig Gen J.H. Kakoto
      • Chief of Staff; Finance:Brig Gen J.E. Kambonde
      • Chief of Staff; Legal services:Brig Gen V. Kavungo
      • Defence Inspector General: Brig Gen S.S Shilongo

Chiefs of Defence Force

The first chief of the NDF was Dimo Hamaambo. He was previously the leader of PLAN, and a survivor of the Battle of Cassinga. Hamaambo was the first to be laid to rest at the Heroes' Acre memorial outside Windhoek, a few days after its official opening in 2002. Solomon Huwala replaced Hamaambo as Chief of the NDF on Hamaambo's retirement. After Huwala retired in October 2006, Martin Shalli headed the NDF.[15]

President Hifikepunye Pohamba suspended Lieutenant General Martin Shalli from his post as Chief of Defence Force in 2009 over corruption allegations, dating back to the time when Shalli served as Namibia’s High Commissioner to Zambia.[16] During the time of the suspension, Peter Nambundunga acted as Chief.[17] Shalli was eventually forced to retire in January 2011; the post of Chief of the NDF was given to Epaphras Denga Ndaitwah.[2]

As of February 2012, it was reported that a Chinese company paid US $499,950 into Shalli's account in Zambia while he was the NDF chief.[18] Poly Technologies was supplying equipment to the NDF at the time.

NDF Sergeant Major

The current NDF Sergeant Major is Warrant Officer Class 1(WO1) Isak Nankela,He took over from Namibian Navy WO1 D.J. Angolo who retired.

Previous Sergeant Major are

  • 1990 – 1997 WO1 retired K. Lossen
  • 1997 – 2000 Late WO1 retired A.H.Vatileni
  • 2000 – 2007 WO1 retired E.K. Mutota
  • 2007 – 2011 WO1 retired D.J. Angolo
  • 2011 - Current WO1 Isak Nankela

Defence Health Services

The Force's Medical Unit consists of a Hospital in Windhoek. The Medical Health Services also have received a mobile field Hospital from Germany.[19] The Mobile hospital is rated as a United Nations Level II hospital.


The Namibian Army consists of:[20][21]

  • 6 motorised infantry battalions;
  • 1 Presidential Guard battalion; (21st Guard Battalion(?))
  • 1 anti-tank regiment
  • 1 combat support battalion;
  • 1 reconnaissance company;
  • 1 engineering company;
  • 1 artillery group (likely to be "4 Arty" at Otjiwarongo)[22]
  • 1 air defence regiment
  • 1 logistics support brigade.

As of 2008, Jane's reported that the force included:[23]

  • Grootfontein: Army Headquarters and Army HQ Command Company; Combat Support Battalion;
  • Rundu: 1 Battalion Headquarters[24] - Allegedly involved in disappearances, 2000.[25]
  • Mpacha: 2 Battalion Headquarters
  • Oshakati: 3 Battalion Headquarters - Danger Ashipala was in command of this battalion as a lieutenant colonel until he retired in 1995.[26]
  • Oamites: 4 Battalion Headquarters

In 2007 the IISS Military Balance said that the MOD planned to build new military bases around the country, including at Luiperdsvallei outside Windhoek, Osana near Okahandja, and Karibib.[21]

The current commander of the army is Major General John Mutwa

Army equipment

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Tanks and Armoured vehicles:


  • ZiS-3 76mm Towed Artillery (×12),
  • G2 140mm Gun (×24),
  • BM-21 122mm MRLS (×5) artillery pieces,
  • ZU-23-2 23mm AAGs (x12)

Light Infantry weapons:

Machine guns:

  • 12.7mm heavy machine gun
  • Browning M2.50 calibre machine gun?

Anti Tank weapons:

Recently the South African Army has trained the Namibian Army's artillery corps in the use of the G2 (140mm) medium gun.[27]

Other vehicles used by the NDF:

  • Nissan Navara/Nissan Frontier
  • Audi A6(senior Transport)
  • Bmw x5(senior Transport)
  • Toyota Fortuner
  • Toyota Landcruiser single cab pickup
  • Toyota Prado

Chief of Defence Force direct command

There are some units that report directly to the Chief of Defence Force. These are the:

  • Military School
  • Composite Depot,
  • Military Police Battalion
  • Signal Regiment.[28]

Army Ranks

Officer Ranks

General Officer Ranks

Senior Officers

Junior Officers

Non Commissioned Officer Ranks/Other ranks

Warrant Officers

  • Warrant Officer Class 1
  • Warrant Officer Class 2

Non Commissioned Officers

  • Staff Sergeant
  • Sergeant

Other rank

  • Corporal
  • Lance Corporal
  • Private

Air Force

The Namibian Air Force is small, but was bolstered with deliveries of some fighter jets in 2006 and 2008.[29]

Current aircraft inventory

Air defense missiles

Strela 2 (SA-7a Grail) MANPAD launchers (Russia

Air Force Bases

  • Grootfontein Air Force Base, Grootfontein
  • Keetmanshoop Air Force Base, Keetmanshoop
  • Karibib Air Force Base, Karibib (under consctruction)

Expansion of the Air Force base at Keetmanshoop is planned.[31]


Development of the Namibian Navy has been slow, and the force was only formally established in 2004, 14 years after independence. Today, it numbers 350 personnel and deploys a small number of lightly armed patrol vessels. Extensive Brazilian aid assisted in its development.



  • Naval Base Captain PN Sacharia, Walvis Bay


  1. 1.0 1.1 MilTech 2012, p.324
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ndjebela, Toivo (25 January 2011). "NDF hails new chief". Archived from the original on 11 January 2013. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 [1]
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Scramble for the Congo - Anatomy of an Ugly War". ICG Africa. 2000-12-20. Retrieved 2013-06-18. 
  5. Retrieved June 2009
  6. Namibian Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Defence - Introduction. Retrieved September 2009
  7. Berman, Eric G.; Sams, Katie E., Peacekeeping In Africa : Capabilities And Culpabilities - Geneva, Switzerland : United Nations Publications, 2000, p.415-457
  8. Alasdair Dennis, "The Integration of Guerrilla Armies into Conventional Forces: Lessons Learnt from BMATT in Africa," South African Defence Review 5 (1992). Retrieved June 2012. Paper presented at a conference on Changing Dynamics: Military-Strategic Issues for a Future South Africa, hosted by the Institute for Defence Politics in conjunction with the Hanns Seidel Foundation, CSIR conference centre, Pretoria, 6 August 1992.
  9. Source Lonely Planet
  10. Cape Argus/, Namibian army faces abduction, torture claims, 2001
  11. IRIN SA Weekly Roundup Covering the Period 4–10 August 2001
  12. Wildfires cause destruction in Okakarara
  13. New Era, Cattle bandits besiege region - by Chrispin Inambao, 13 October 2010
  15. Shalli New NDF Chief New Era, 23 October 2006
  16., 21 October 2010
  17. "President Pohamba fires Lieutenant-General Martin Shalli as Chief of NDF". Namibian Broadcasting Corporation. 20 January 2011. 
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 IISS Military Balance 2007, Routledge, London, 2007, p.285, ISBN 978-1-85743-437-8 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "IISS" defined multiple times with different content
  22. Carlos Kambaekwa Windfall for Mighty Gunners,, 3 July 2008
  23. Jane's World Armies, 21 January 2008
  24. Retrieved September 2009
  25. Christof Marletsky, United Nations says it can act on mass graves, The Namibian, 25 February 2010
  26. Danger Ashipala dies. Retrieved August 2010
  27., Lack of funds harming army, 1 December 2010
  28. Shilumbu, P (April 2010). "Deputy Minister Calls for Support and Cooperation". p. 8. 
  29. Hopwood, Graham (February 2012). "Flying high". insight Namibia. 
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 30.3 Hoyle, Flight International 13–19 December 2011, p. 44
  31. Parliament of Namibia, Summary of Development and Investment Expenditure by Vote, Inside/Outside SRF - Vote Code 8: Defence. Retrieved August 2010

Further reading

  • Stephen F. Burgess, 'Fashioning Integrated Security Forces after Conflict', African Security, 1: 2, 69 — 91 (2008)
  • Greg Mills, BMATT and Military Integration in South Africa, South African Defence Review, Issue 2, 1992 Covers reformation of Namibian Defence Force and British involvement
  • Case studies in war-to-peace transition: the demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants in Ethiopia, Namibia, and Uganda
  • Thomas Jan Lambert, Criminal Justice in the Namibian Defence Force, LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, 2010
  • Peter Batchelor, Kees Kingma, Guy Lamb, Demilitarisation and Peace-building in Southern Africa: The role of the military in state formation and nation-building, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2004
  • Donna Pankhurst, “Namibia,” in Peacekeeping in Africa, eds. Oliver Furley and Roy May (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 1998)

External links

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