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Maldives National Defence Force

The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) is the combined security organisation responsible for defending the security and sovereignty of the Maldives. Historically Maldives had a strategic importance because of its location on the major marine routes of the Indian Ocean. the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF), with its small size and with little serviceable equipment, is inadequate to prevent external aggression and is primarily tasked to reinforce the Maldives Police Service (MPS) and ensure security in the exclusive economic zone.

For hundreds of years, Maldives had not experienced security problems and therefore had no need for a military establishment. In 1956, however, Maldives allowed Britain to establish a Royal Air Force base on Gan, an island in Addu atoll. Maldives gained independence in 1965. The British, who had been Maldives' last colonial power, continued to maintain the air base on the island of Gan in the southernmost atoll until 1976. As part of the 1965 accord, the British gained access to Gan until 1986, but budgetary retrenchment forced them to pull out in 1976. The British departure in 1976 almost immediately triggered foreign speculation about the future of the air base. In 1977 Maldives rejected a request by the former Soviet Union to lease the Gan facilities fo $1 million per year.

By the early 1980s, Maldives maintained only one security unit, the National Security Service (NSS). This organization, which numbered fewer than 1,000 personnel, performed army, police, and maritime duties. Its mission includes preserving internal security and patrolling the country's territorial waters for illegal fishing and smuggling. After the 1988 coup attempt, the government expanded the NSS to about 1,500 personnel; by 1990, the NSS had grown to approximately 1,800 personnel.

Maldives National Defence Force [MNDF] is a defence forse comprised of three primary forces [as of 2010, accrding to CIA]. The Security Protection Group, which are Special Forces as a national level strategic asset, the Marine Corps which is an amphibious oriented land component, and the National Security Service Coast Guard which is the naval component. Along with this, it also directs the establishment of an air wing to provide much needed troop mobility and aerial surveillance, search and rescue capability.

The Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) is responsible for external security and disaster relief, but the MPS at times requested its assistance in maintaining internal security and law and order. The chief of the MNDF reports to the minister of defense. The president is commander in chief of the MNDF. The Maldives Police Service (MPS), which is responsible for internal security, public safety, and law and order, is subordinate to the Ministry of Home Affairs. The MPS generally functioned effectively to fulfill its responsibilities and established internal organs and mechanisms with a human rights focus.

As part of the governments efforts in preventing the nation wide spread of dengue fever, on 01 July 2011 President Mohamed Nasheed assigned the Maldives National Defence Force to acquire the relevant information from concerned health authorities in the atolls immediately. The task of compiling all associated information from the people was entrusted for implementation to the Local Government Authority via Local Councils. The President called for the full support of the people in the governments efforts against the dengue epidemic, and appealed to every person to provide genuine information. Any person found guilty of offering false information, will be held accountable for, and taken action against, by the respective authorities.

President Mohamed Nasheed appointed Mr Thalhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu as the Minister of Defence and National Security on 21 June 2011. The President said Mr Kaleyfaanu was the most appropriate and qualified person for the post of the Minister of Defence and National Security. Mr Thalhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu joined the National Security Service in 1989. He served in the ranks of Private, Lance Corporal, Corporal, Sergeant, Staff Sergeant, Warrant Officer Grade 1, Lieutenant, and First Lieutenant at the National Security Service and later as a First Lieutenant at the Maldives National Defence Force. He was in the rank of First Lieutenant at the Maldives National Defence Force when he left the service in 2006.

President Dr Mohamed Waheed, the Commander-in-Chief of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), appointed Major General Ahmed Shiyam as the Chief of Defence Force, at a ceremony held 09 February 2012 at the Presidents Office. The President asked Major General Ahmed Shiyam to carry out his duties as the Chief of Defence Force, according to the constitution of the Maldives. The President also requested that the Major Generals first priority to be to protect and safeguard the peace and security of the country. Chief of Defence Force Major General Ahmed Shiyam previously served as Brigadier General at MNDF.

President Mohamed Waheed announced 22 April 2012 that, based on international best practices, there would be fixed terms of office for Chief of Defence Force and Vice Chief of Defence Force. He added this would ensure those posts were free from political influences. The decision was taken with the recommendation of Minister of Defence and National Security.

On 29 December 2012 President Dr Mohamed Waheed transferred the Department of Immigration and Emigration under the mandate of the Ministry of Defence and National Security. It was previously under the Ministry of Home Affairs. Under the MNDF, it was expected that the administration and operation of the Department of Immigration and Emigration would be more efficient.

President Dr Mohamed Waheed decided on 11 June 2013 to reinstate the changes to the mandate and the areas of jurisdiction of the Ministry of Defence and National Security, following the Majlis rejection of his postposed changes. As per Article 116(a) of the Constitution, the President proposed the following changes to the mandate of the Ministry of Defence and National Security and sent them to the Peoples Majlis for approval:

  • To transfer the National Disaster Management Centre, that was previously functioning under the Ministry of Housing and Environment, under the Ministry of Defence and National Security
  • To transfer the Department of Immigration and Emigration, that was previously functioning under the Ministry of Home Affairs, under the Ministry of Defence and National Security
  • To establish Aviation Security Command as a separate office under the Ministry of Defence and National Security

The Peoples Majlis, however, on its fourth sitting of its second session for 2013, rejected the Presidents proposed changes. Therefore, under the powers vested on him by Article 116(a) of the Constitution, the President has decided to reinstate the above changes to the mandate and re-determine the areas of jurisdictions of the Ministry of Defence and National Security accordingly.

Speaker Abdulla Shahid sent a letter to the Chief of Defence Force Major General Ahmed Shiyam on 26 October 2013 calling to act within the confines of law, following incident of the Maldives National Defence Force entering the Majlis premises and removing Ali Azim, MP for Medhu-Henveiru from the Majlis premises. without any instructions from the Speaker, a large number of uniformed MNDF officers entered the Peoples Majlis and forcibly removed Ali Azim. Noting that the Constitution and Parliamentary Privileges Act affords the Speaker control over Majlis premises and that the MNDF is required to act on the Speakers orders within the Peoples Majlis the letter said, We note, with great sadness, that the MNDF acted against the aforementioned procedures in obstructing and arresting Member of Parliament Ali Azim.

Numerous efforts were made in 2013 to improve MNDF, including renovation of the accommodation for MNDF personnel, obtaining equipment required by MNDF, and expansion and improvement of the MNDF military hospital. MNDF Cooperative (SIFCO) will be requested for a low-cost system of accommodation for MNDF personnel and their families that go abroad for medical treatment; and special training will be provided to MNDF personnel to enhance their capability in carrying out due responsibilities.

After a fire broke out inside the Maldives Water and Sewerage Companys Generator Unit on 04 December 2014, all water supplies in the capital Mal were cut off. Over 150,000 people were instantly affected, as most households rely on The Water and Sewage Company for their daily water needs. Following the incident the Government of the Maldives declared a state of emergency, and a task force was set up to distribute free water.

Distribution of drinking water is crucial, and together with the Maldives National Defence Force (MND) and the Police, Maldivian Red Crescent has deployed 150 volunteers and 24 staff who are working in three-shifts to assist people waiting in long lines at distributions points around Mal.

In February 2015 Yameen removed Brigadier General Ahmed Mohamed from the post of vice chief of the defence force and replaced him with Brigadier General Ahmed Shahid. In late January 2015 Brigadier General Zakariyya Mansoor, who also served as the director general of counter terrorism at the Ministry of Defence, was appointed as the commander of the Aviation Security Command.

The defense ministry had earlier denied media reports that Zakariyya had also replaced the Chief of Defence Force Brigadier General Ahmed Shiyam, who was said to have retired from active duty. A reshuffling of senior positions within the military followed the January 2015 dismissal of defense minister Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim in relation to dangerous weapons charges. On 20 January 2015 President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom appointed Major General (Retired) Moosa Ali Jaleel as the Minister of Defence and National Security.





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