Maldives National Defence Force

Maldives National Defence Force

Maldives National Defence Force emblem
Service branches

Coast Guard
Marine Corps
Special Forces
Service corps

Corps of Engineers
Headquarters Bandaara Koshi
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom
Minister of Defence and National Security Adam Shareef
Chief of Defence Force Major General Ahmed Shiyam
Budget $45m (ranked 131st)
Percent of GDP 5.5% [1] (2005 est.)

The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) is the combined security organisation responsible for defending the security and sovereignty of the Maldives, having the primary task of being responsible for attending to all internal and external security needs of the Maldives, including the protection of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and the maintenance of peace and security.[2]


Origin of the Security Force

Hagubeykalun the first known reference to the Maldivian defenders dates back prior to the reign of Sultan Al-Gazi Mohamed Thakurufaan. Here the three bearers of high office designated as Maafaiy, Faamuladheyri, and Dhaharaadha were responsible for organising the security of the country.[3]

Sultan Al-Gazi Mohamed Thakurufaan reorganised the existing security force at that time and appointed a "Dhoshimeynaa Wazir" (a Minister) as the head of the security force.[3]

The origin of the current security force can be traced from the initiatives of Sultan Ibrahim Nooraddeen Iskandhar who reigned from 1888 to 1892. The Sultan was impressed by a group of young men practicing marching in step while they were at the Sultans Palace to learn a traditional form of martial arts. The Sultan gave his blessings to their new drill and facilitated their training. The group of men thereafter began to accompany the Sultan on his ceremonial processions.[3]

During Sultan Ibrahim Nooraddeen Iskandhar's brief reign, he enlisted selected youths and taught them Hevikan (a Maldivian form of martial arts) and made them participate in royal ceremonies. On 21 April 1892, a new security force was established by a royal decree. The Sultan became the Commander-in-Chief of the security force. This new force was authorised to carry arms and the Palace afforded special privileges to them.[3]

Evolution of the Security Force

Since the establishment of a security force, it has served as a combined force except for two brief periods. A police force was formed on 29 March 1933, during the reign of Sultan Mohamed Shamsuddeen III, but it was soon disbanded. The police force was re-established on 13 March 1972, as a branch of the security force, which was then known as National Guards, functioning under the Ministry of Public Safety.[3]

On 10 January 1979, after years of evolution and progress, the Ministry of Public Safety and the National Guards were renamed as the Ministry of Defence and National Security and the National Security Service (NSS) respectively. The police remained as an integral part of it until it was declared a civil body under Ministry of Home Affairs and renamed as the Maldives Police Service on 1 September 2004.

The National Security Service (NSS) remained a multi-functional force, directly under the command, direction and supervision of the Minister of Defence and National Security. The President was the Commander-in-Chief of the NSS, and the Minister of Defence and National Security was the Deputy Commander-in-Chief.[3]

Maldives National Defence Force

With the separation of police as a civil body, the mission and duties of the NSS had to be revised. This revision envisaged a totally different turn for the organization. Hence, to carryout the newly derived mission and tasks, the core of its structure had to be modified and redesigned. All these new implementations created more of an infantry organization and was renamed the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), on its 114th anniversary, on 21 April 2006 by the president Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom.[2]

Organizational structure

Maldive's soldiers of the 20th Special Task Force, share food, and music with U.S. marines and sailors with Combat Logistics Battalion 11 and Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion

Coast Guard

Main article: Maldivian Coast Guard

Maldives being a water bound nation much of the security concerns lay at sea. Almost 90% of the country is covered by sea and the remaining 10% land is scattered over an area of 415 km x 120 km, with the largest island (altogether 1192 islands) being not more than 8 km². The geographic location and formation of the country provides ideal conditions for the smugglers to carry out their activities taking Maldives as a covert route to their destinations.[4]

Therefore, the duties assigned to the MNDF of maintaining surveillance over our waters and providing protection against foreign intruders poaching in the EEZ and territorial waters, are immense tasks from both logistical and economic view points. Hence, for carrying out these functions, it is the Coast Guard that plays a vital role. To provide timely security its patrol boats are stationed at various MNDF Regional Headquarters.[4]

Coast Guard is also assigned to respond to the maritime distress calls and to conduct search and rescue operations in a timely manner. Maritime pollution control exercises are conducted regularly on an annual basis for familiarization and handling of such hazardous situations.[4]

Coast Guards also undertakes armed sea transport of troops and military equipment around the country.[4]


Marine Corps

Main article: MNDF Marine Corps

Marine Corps (formerly known as Rapid Reaction Force) are established at various strategic locations and vulnerable areas to enhance the force projection to provide their services throughout the country. The Marine Corp is composed of Marine Deployment Units (MDUs).[5]

A Maldives service member fires his rifle during an annual rifle qualification on the island of Girifushi, Maldives

They are deployed for the purpose of maintaining security in their key areas of responsibility and their operational conduct involves;

Marine Corps is often assigned on non-combat missions such as providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.[5]

Special Forces

The Special Forces (SF) are the elite combat units of the MNDF. They are trained to perform their duties in all conditions at any time, in any part of the country. Specifically their involvement comes in situations where it is impediment to regular infantry forces.[6]

Special Forces elitists are specialized in carrying unconventional warfare, counter-terrorism, counter insurgency, hostage rescues operations. SF was recently inaugurated by former president and Commander-in-chief Mohamed Nasheed during a special ceremony held on 27 February 2009.[6]

Service Corps

The supporting units take the role of support arms in the modern armies. They are mainly responsible to facilitate the necessary equipment and services to the whole organization.[7]

The support services are the backbone of the MNDF. From the very early days, some form of a support element existed within the framework of the MNDF. Over the years, the support services have developed to cater for the changing needs and demands of the MNDF. As part of the development of the MNDF, professionals are being trained in highly specialised fields for smoother and efficient operations in completing the missions and tasks entrusted.[7]

Communication, Electronics and Information Technology Service

Communication, Electronics and Information Technology Service (CEITS) caters all communication related needs of MNDF. This also includes the servicing and repairing of communication equipment. Along with the communication assistance it is also tasked to implement and monitor the information technology needs of the organization.[8]

Transport Service

Transport Service (TS) provides land and sea transport which are vital to the prompt and efficient mobility of the MNDF. Being a sea bound and a scattered island nation, much of the communication network depends upon proper transportation.[9]

TS cater the transport needs of the organization as a whole. Some units of MNDF do have their own independent modes of transportation, but to those unit which do not own independent transportation means and for massive load carrying TS involvement is vital.[9]

Quarter Master Service

Quarter Master Service (QMS). Issue of Q items and provision of all food and ration requirement of MNDF are the main concerns of this unit. Most of these services are provided to MNDF by contracting out to private sector. Therefore, to make the necessary contracts with concerned parties and monitoring and supervision of the service provided is a responsibility of QMS.[10]


Band and Music Wing

Band and Music Wing (BMW). From the very birth of the security force, a form of ceremonial detachment was established to accompany the Sultan in his ceremonial processions. This ceremonial band has changed from a band of drums and trumpets to a modern brass band. BMW takes part in the ceremonial parades and at all the MNDF and national level ceremonies.[11]

Other Supporting Units

Corps of Engineers

Military Engineering Service

Military Engineering Service (MES)s main function is to design and build all new buildings of the MNDF and to maintain the existing infrastructure of the MNDF. Today the able men and women of MES have the potential to do everything related to construction of buildings from its designing phase to the completion of construction.[15]

Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (EME) deals with every matter related to the repair, maintenance, modification, production of spare parts, and electrical and mechanical equipment of MNDF. Apart from this they are also entitled for marine engineering, fibre glassing, air-conditioning, production of various metal structures and to bring required modifications to the weapons used in MNDF. They have the authority to check on any such item at any time which is entrusted to any unit of the MNDF.[16]

Special Protection Group

Special Protection Group (SPG) too undertakes all these responsibilities, but their primary mission remains to protect and safeguard the Head of State as well as visiting dignitaries.[17]

This unit was formally established soon after the 3 November 1988 incident. At first they were known as the Special Guards with a group of well-trained MNDF soldiers. As the forces tasks and mission expanded, the group was renamed Special Protection Group (SPG).[17]

Military Police

Article 43 of Act no: 1/2008 Armed Forces Act states that the Minister must establish military police from within the Armed Forces who shall be responsible for investigations into offences committed by members of the Armed Forces, the investigation of different problems arising within the Armed Forces and the taking of the necessary actions in such matters, the maintenance of security of the centers of the Armed Forces and of the activities carried out by the Armed Forces, the locating of service-men who desert their duties, and the administration of all matters related to captives captured during times of war.[18]

The existence of Military Police (MP) within the Armed Forces is highly crucial to the implementation of military discipline within the Armed Forces and to the discipline and conduct of members of the Armed Forces. It is for this reason that the Minister of Defense established the Military Police within the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) as required by the Armed Forces Act.[18]

The Military Police will implement the military laws and regulations during normal situations and during operational situations, and will also carry out ceremonial duties assigned to them.[18]

The establishment of a Military Police within the MNDF will further improve law enforcement, and will enable the members of the Armed Forces to enhance their respect for human rights and their trustworthiness in their national service.[18]

Branches: Maldives Military Police consists of 6 main branches. They are;

Air Wing

Maldives Air Wing roundel

The mandate of MNDF's Air Wing will be to protect and safeguard the Maldivian Airspace, to monitor the illegal and suspicious activities within Maldivian waters and to conduct search, rescue and surveillance operations.[19] In addition, the Air Wing would be responsible in transferring patients to the health centres in emergency cases. In the future, Air Wing would be used in taking Special Forces across the country to counter terrorist attacks within the area.[19]

Current inventory

Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
HAL Dhruv India SAR / utility 2[20] two aircraft donated from India[21]

In addition, the Air Wing would be responsible in transferring patients to the health centres in emergency cases. In the future, Air Wing would be used in taking Special Forces across the country to counter terrorist attacks within the area.[19]

Defence Institute for Training and Education

Defence Institute for Training and Education (DITE) is the officiating unit. Training centres are established to train MNDF personnel from basics leading up to specialized training.[22]

Furthermore, selected personnel are trained in overseas training establishments and institutions in academic, technical and other professional areas to enhance the professionalism of the MNDF. Joint training exercises are also conducted routinely with other countries.[22]


Training Centers:

Fire and Rescue Service

Fire and Rescue Service (FRS)shoulders the responsibilities of providing fire-fighting and rescue services to the public. Presently, a timely service is given to the inhabitants of capital island Mal'e and nearby islands.[17]

However, efforts are being made to render this service to the public. Already all over the country people are trained in fire fighting skills and community based civil fire fighting sub stations are established in various regions.[17]


Medical Service

Medical Service (MS) is the authority responsible to provide medical assistance to men and women of the MNDF.[23]

Welfare of the MNDF personnel has always been of paramount importance from the early days of the establishment of the security force and an established Medical Clinic came into existence in 1992. The trained men and women of Medical Service are round the clock at the medical assistance of the service men and women of MNDF. No matter on land or sea, they are where the troops are and provide timely service.[23]

Special medical provision is made to those patients with illnesses that cannot be cured or treated in the Maldives by sending them abroad for further treatment. Furthermore, opportunities for training in the medical fields are being afforded to competent applicants as and when possible.[23]

Area Commands

Non-Military Services


The number of recruits for each year is predetermined by the President’s Office and the Ministry of Defence and National Security with the assistance of the MNDF HQ.[24]

When the advertisements seeking for potential recruits appears in the media, interested candidates can submit their “expression of interest” to the Ministry of Defence and National Security.[24]

The Ministry of Defence and National Security shall notify the time and place of interview for those who had expressed their interest. Those who do not qualify the current basic entry criteria, however, shall not be called for an interview.[24]

Basic Entry Criteria for Maldives National Defence Force:

Rank Structure

The ranking system of the MNDF is based on the traditional British military system and U.S. military system. The highest flag rank ever awarded was that of Lieutenant General, in a non-military capacity to the previous Defence Minister Abdul Sattar, although the President being the Commander in Chief also holds the rank of General in a non military capacity.[25]

Officer Corps

Warrant Officer Corps

Enlisted Corps

Medals & Ribbons



General Officers

Serving General Officers

Retired General Officers

Dismissed General Officers


  • 1 Ambaree Abdul Sattar is the only person to have held Lieutenant General rank and also served as the Minister of State for Defence and National Security.
  • 2 Commissioner of Police (Rtd.) Adam Zahir held the rank of Major General from 29 April 2004 to 1 September 2004 prior to the appointment as Commissioner at Maldives Police Service.
  • 3 Brigadier General Abdulla Shamaal was dismissed from the service for propagating discord within the ranks of MNDF.
  • 4 Colonel Ahmed Nilam held the rank of Brigadier General before he was demoted and dismissed from the service. He was dismissed for failing to act according to the responsibilities, conduct and rules of MNDF.
  • 5 Moosa Ali Jaleel is the only person who have served as both the Minister of Defence and National Security and Chief of Defence Force.

See also


  1. "The World Factbook". Retrieved 2013-09-23.
  2. 1 2 "About Us". MNDF. Archived from the original on November 18, 2011.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "History". MNDF. Archived from the original on November 18, 2011.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "Coast guard". MNDF. Archived from the original on November 18, 2011.
  5. 1 2 "Marine corps". MNDF. Archived from the original on November 18, 2011.
  6. 1 2 "Special forces". MNDF. Archived from the original on November 18, 2011.
  7. 1 2 "Service corps". MNDF. Archived from the original on November 18, 2011.
  8. "CEITS". MNDF. Archived from the original on November 18, 2011.
  9. 1 2 "Transport service". MNDF. Archived from the original on November 18, 2011.
  10. "Quarter master service". MNDF. Archived from the original on November 18, 2011.
  11. "Band and Musical Wing". MNDF. Archived from the original on November 18, 2011.
  12. "Ordnance Service". MNDF. Archived from the original on November 18, 2011.
  13. "Media and publishing". MNDF. Archived from the original on November 18, 2011.
  14. "Supply unit". MNDF. Archived from the original on November 18, 2011.
  15. "Military engineering". MNDF. Archived from the original on November 18, 2011.
  16. "Electrical and Mechanical engineering". MNDF. Archived from the original on November 18, 2011.
  17. 1 2 3 4 "Major Units". MNDF. Archived from the original on November 18, 2011.
  18. 1 2 3 4 "Military police". MNDF. Archived from the original on November 18, 2011.
  19. 1 2 3 "Air wing". MNDF. Archived from the original on November 18, 2011.
  20. "World Air Forces 2015 pg. 22". Flightglobal Insight. 2015. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  21. "India donates second Dhruv to Maldives". Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  22. 1 2 "Defence institute for training and education". MNDF. Archived from the original on November 18, 2011.
  23. 1 2 3 "Medical Services". MNDF. Archived from the original on November 18, 2011.
  24. 1 2 3 "Joining MNDF". MNDF. Archived from the original on November 18, 2011.
  25. "Ranks Used". MNDF. Archived from the original on November 18, 2011.
  26. 1 2
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