The Nepalese army had long been intertwined with the monarchy; the 1990 constitution, however, changed the relationship between the military and the king. For the first time, the military no longer was solely an instrument of the king; it was also subordinate to the authority of Parliament. Although under the constitution the king retained his title as the supreme commander of the army, the functional commander in chief is appointed on the recommendation of the prime minister. Although both the king and the government are responsible for implementing national security and military policy, the king's power to declare a state of national emergency and to conduct foreign affairs has national security implications.
Following the sudden attack in Dang Barrack on Nov 23, 2001, the government declared a state of emergency in Nepal and mobilized the Nepalese Army (NA) in addition to the hard-pressed Police and Armed Police Force. During the resultant counter insurgency operations, in spite of efforts to operate within the domestic laws, some incidents of human rights violations did occur. However, these acts were either unintentional mistakes made in the fog of battle or the criminal act of an individual. They were not policy driven. Such violations were nevertheless unacceptable to the NA and as a result, the need for a Human Rights Organization within the Army was visualized.
Nepal's military by 2008 consisted of an army of about 70,000 troops. The army was organized into three divisions - eastern, central, and western - with 16 infantry brigades, including the Royal Palace, Artillery, Engineer, Signal, Parachute, Logistics, Transportation, and Air Transportation. There were 4 independent companies, 37 battalions, 15 brigades, and 3 divisions in the Nepalese Army. US training assistance was provided via an annual International Military Education and Training program (IMET) grant. Nepal also purchased US military equipment through Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programs. Other military hardware and training assistance was provided by India, China Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the United Kingdom.
By 2012 the nearly 95,000-strong Nepalese Army (NA) was organized into six divisions (Far-Western, Mid-Western, Western, Central, Eastern, and Valley Divisions) with separate aviation, parachute, and security brigades as well as brigade-sized directorates encompassing air defense, artillery, engineers, logistics, and signals that provide general support to the NA. According to amendments to the interim constitution, the President is the Supreme Commander of the NA. General Chhatra Man Singh Gurung is Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), and also the senior commissioned officer of the NA. In November 2011, agreement was reached on the rehabilitation and integration of former Maoist combatants into Nepal's security forces.
Since 1958, the NA has contributed over 75,500 peacekeepers to 35 peacekeeping missions such as the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the UN Protection Force (UNPROFOR) in the former Yugoslavia, the UN Operation in Somalia II (UNOSOM II), the UN Mission in Haiti (UNMIH), and the UN Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET). During peacekeeping missions, 57 Nepalis have been killed and 58 disabled. NA units are presently serving in UN missions in Sudan (UNAMID), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), and Haiti (MINUSTAH), among others. The NA has approximately 4,271 peacekeepers deployed in 13 missions around the world, making Nepal the sixth-largest troop-contributing nation in the world. Approximately 3,400 Nepalese Gurkha soldiers serve in the British Army, and 40,000 serve in the Indian Army.
The U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) coordinates U.S. military engagement and security assistance with Nepal through the Office of Defense Cooperation. Cumulative U.S. military assistance to the NA has consisted of $22.56 million in grant assistance: $10.7 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF), $6.26 million in professional and technical training provided under the International Military Education and Training Program (IMET in FY 2011 was $1 million), and approximately $5.6 million for Global Peace Operations Initiative funding to increase the pool of international peacekeepers and promote interoperability. Many NA officers attend U.S. military schools, conferences and seminars such as those provided by the National Defense University (NDU), Marshall Center, and the Asia Pacific Center for Strategic Studies (APCSS).
By 2004 India was Nepal's biggest donor of military hardware to the Royal Nepali Army, with six helicopters, mine-protected vehicles, assault rifles and large quantities of ammunition. In October 2013, ending an eight-year-old ban on military supplies, India handed over some of the equipment, including vehicles and arms, it had pledged to provide to Nepal ahead of crucial polls to be held in November 2013. Over 360 vehicles, including 25 mine-protected vehicles, have already arrived while arms and ammunition, which are in the pipeline, will come soon, sources in the Nepal Army headquarters said 23 October 2013. This was the first time that military equipment is being provided to Nepal by India after ending a ban on the supply of such gear, including lethal arms, that was imposed when former King Gyanendra seized executive powers in February 2005. The equipment provided by India so far includes 216 light vehicles, 154 heavy vehicles and some arms. Among the heavy vehicles are 58 trucks with a capacity of 7.5 tonnes, four ambulances and 25 mine-protected vehicles.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|