Tanzania Military

Tanzania is a country located in East Africa and is known for its strong military and defense. The Tanzania People’s Defence Force (TPDF) is the military branch of the country and consists of four branches: Ground Forces, Air Force, Navy, and National Service. The total active personnel stands at around 30,000 with an additional reserve force of around 10,000 personnel. Tanzania has a lower defense budget compared to its GDP as it spends about 1.7% of its GDP on defense. The country also imports weapons from countries such as China, Russia, South Africa, and the United States. Tanzania also has strong ties with other countries in the region such as Kenya which allows them to cooperate militarily when needed. As a result of this strong military presence in the region Tanzania has become an important regional player in security issues and is able to maintain peace and stability within East Africa effectively.┬áSee naturegnosis to learn more about the country of Tanzania.


The defense is based on military service with an initial service including civilian duties of 24 months. It covers (2006) about 27,000 men and is organized into six brigades, six smaller fighters and 19 fighter aircraft. Semi-military security forces amount to 1,400 men. The reserves comprise 80,000 men. The material is outdated and of Soviet and Chinese origin. Defense costs fell from 4.4% to 2.5% of GDP in 1985-96 and (2006) to 1.2% of GDP. Tanzania has occasional UN observers in the Ivory Coast, Ethiopia/ Eritrea and Sudan. To see related acronyms about this country, please check ABBREVIATIONFINDER where you can see that TZA stands for Tanzania.

Tanzania Army

The total force numbers for Tanzania’s armed forces are around 27,000 active personnel, with a reserve of 80,000 personnel (2018, IISS). In addition, around 1400 semi-military police forces are arriving.

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The army has a strength of about 23,000 active personnel. Materials include 45 tanks (30 T-54 and T-55, and 15 type 59), 57 light tanks (30 Scorpion, 25 type 62 and two type 63), ten light trucks, and 14 armored personnel vehicles. In addition, the army has medium-heavy artillery.

Air Force

The Air Force has a force of about 3000 active personnel. Materials include eleven fighters category F-7, one reconnaissance twelve transport aircraft, nine trainers (six of which can also be used as light combat aircraft), and three helicopters. In addition, the Air Force has short-range air defense missiles and anti-aircraft artillery.

The Navy

The navy has a force of about 1,000 active personnel, 14 patrol vessels, and three landings.

International operations

In 2018, Tanzania participated in UN operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) with one infantry battalion and special forces (1003 personnel), and two observers, in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) with one infantry battalion (445 personnel), in Lebanon (UNIFIL) with 159 personnel, and in Sudan (UNAMID), with one infantry battalion (818 personnel) and five observers.


The United Republic of Tanzania, formed by Tanganyika and the island of Zanzibar, is one of the most dynamic countries in East Africa. During the last century, Tanganyika was the object of the expansionist aims of Germany, of which it became a colony. After the First World War, the region was entrusted to the British Mandate. With the decolonization it achieved independence in 1961 and in 1964 it united with Zanzibar to better contain the widespread instability on the island. The post-independence phase was characterized by leadership by Julius Nyerere, first president and very active in the movement of non-aligned countries. Tanzania has had a multi-party system since 1995, even if the political landscape appears to be dominated by the majority party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM, in Swahili ‘Party of the Revolution’), which has almost the characteristics of a party-state. The Constitution bans coalitions between political parties, making it impossible to create a united front of opposition. Compared with the rest of East Africa, however, Tanzania has on average higher levels of democratization and respect for political and civil rights. For example, 48 parliamentary seats are reserved for women.

On the regional level, Tanzania is very active, also thanks to the proven international experience of its president, Jakaya Kikwete, who previously held the position of foreign minister for ten years and, between January 2008 and February 2009, he was president of the African Union (Au). Tanzania has taken on an important mediating role in the conflicts that have affected neighboring countries in recent years. Its role is also enhanced by its participation in the organization of the East African Community (EAC) and, the only country among the members of the EAC, by its membership of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc). Still at the regional level, tensions remain with Kenya: Nairobi would not have liked Tanzanian reluctance to support the request for a postponement of the trial for crimes against humanity of President Uhuru Kenyatta in the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Internationally, Tanzania has good relations with the former colonial powers (Germany and the United Kingdom), with the Scandinavian countries, China and, in recent years, also with the United States and Japan.