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Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF)

The Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) was previously a liberation force known as the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA). The Law No 19/2002 of 17/05/2002 renamed the RPA as the Rwanda Defence Force. Since 2002, the RDF adopted a Joint Structure with a Chief of Defence Staff at the helm of the Defence Force. He is the Joint Commander. The Structure and Force design offer flexibility required to respond to a variety of contingencies.

The RDF comprises of the Rwanda Army (Land Forces), the a small, rotary-wing Rwanda Air Force (Air Forces), the Rwanda Reserve Force and Special Units. The RDF Structure reflects a Joint Headquarter; Commands and Institutions placed directly under the CDS; Service Headquarters and various staff groups.

The Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) is on an aggressive plan to professionalize. Following withdrawal of Rwandan Armed Forces from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in October 2009, the government completely restructured the military and launched an ambitious plan to demobilize thousands of soldiers. At end state, Rwanda will have a small, well-equipped army of 20,000 soldiers and a reserve force of more than 100,000.

The mission of the Ministry of Defence is the conduct of defence in terms of protecting Rwandas interests, territorial integrity, vital resources, her people and shared values under the ambit of the Constitution and International Law.

The overall goal of the Ministry of Defence is to generate, employ and sustain combat-ready, integrated and rapidly deployable Defence Force, capable of quick assemblage to meet varying contingencies both at home and abroad.

  • Determining the extent to which the nations strategic interests may be defended especially when it involves possible employment of the Defence Force, and advise government accordingly;
  • Designing defense policies, strategies and programs in support of the national security goals;
  • Providing clear and timely strategic guidance on the participation of the RDF in conflict prevention, crisis management, peace support operations and combating terrorism;
  • Providing resources in a way that ensures enhancement of national defence capability and professionalism in the general conduct of defence;
  • Participating in building and maintaining trust amongst other nations. The MoD seeks to implement this through defence diplomacy, and to play an effective role in support of regional and international organizations.

The Rwanda Defence Forces refers to the unified force including the Army Service, the Air Force Service and the Reserve Force service. The Army and Air Force Services comprise of regular forces enrolled for full time service. The Reserve Force refers to a part-time military service of the Rwanda Defence Forces that may be recalled whenever necessary to operate alongside the active services.

In the Rwanda Defence Forces, all military orders and instructions are issued through the chain of Command. The chain of command refers to the succession of military leaders from a superior to a subordinate, through which command is exercised.

By 1970 the military and police forces consisted of the National Guard, with more than 2,500 men, and the National Police, with approximately 1,200 personnel. Both forces were under the direct close supervision of the Minister of Police and National Guard, who reported directly to the President.

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