Tanzania People's Defence Force


Tanzania People's Defence Force
Jeshi la Ulinzi la Wananchi wa Tanzania
Tanzania People’s Defence Force.svg
Emblem of Tanzania People's Defence Force
Founded1 September 1964; 57 years ago (1964-09-01)
Service branches
HeadquartersUpanga(Ngome), Dar es Salaam
WebsiteOfficial website
Commander-in-ChiefSamia Suluhu
Minister of Defence and National ServiceStergomena Tax
Chief of Defence ForceVenance Salvatory Mabeyo
Military age18
Conscription2 years
Available for
military service
9,985,445, age 16–49 (2010)
Fit for
military service
5,860,339 males, age 16–49 (2010),
5,882,279 females, age 16–49 (2010)
Reaching military
age annually
512,294 males (2010),
514,164 females (2010)
Active personnel27,000[1] (ranked 85th)
Reserve personnel80,000
Budget$827 million (2019)
Foreign suppliers
Related articles
HistoryThe Tanganyika Rifles
Uganda–Tanzania War (1978-79)
Mozambican Civil War
2008 invasion of Anjouan
M23 rebellion
Insurgency in Cabo Delgado
RanksRank and insignia of the Tanzanian Armed Forces

The Tanzania People’s Defence Force (TPDF) (Swahili: Jeshi la Ulinzi la Wananchi wa Tanzania) is the armed forces of the United Republic of Tanzania. It was established in September 1964, following a mutiny by the former colonial military force, the Tanganyika Rifles. From its inception, it was ingrained in the troops of the new TPDF that they were a people’s force under civilian control. Unlike some of its neighboring countries, Tanzania has never suffered a coup d'état or civil war.

The TPDF was given a specific mission: to defend Tanzania and every Tanzanian, especially the people and their political ideology. Conscripts are obligated to serve 2 years as of 2004.


Zanzibar, 12 Jan. 2004, celebration of 40 years' of the Revolution

After an aborted mutiny in January 1964, the existing army was disbanded. The new force was titled the 'Tanganyika Military Force', from 25 January 1964 - 26 April 1964.[2] The Tanzanian government concluded that the former British model was not appropriate for the needs of an independent African state.[3] Fresh recruits were sourced from the Tanganyika African National Union youth wing.[4] After the merge of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, the force was renamed the United Republic Military Force from 27 April 1964.[2]

For the first few years of the TPDF, the army was even smaller than the disbanded 2,000 strong Tanganyika Rifles, the air force was minuscule, and no navy had yet been formed. It appears that the new TPDF had three battalions by August 1965, stationed at Nachingwea, Colito Barracks (five miles outside Dar es Salaam), and Tabora, plus the yet to be fully integrated Zanzibari force of about 1,000.[5] However the army was four battalions strong by 1967.[6]

From 1964 to 1974, the TPDF was commanded by Mrisho S.H. Sarakikya, trained at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, who was promoted from lieutenant to brigadier in 1964 and became the force's first commander.[7] He was succeeded by Major General Abdallah Twalipo in 1974.[8] Twalipo was still a Major General in 1975,[9] but then promoted to Lieutenant General by 1978 (Kaplan, 1978, 249) and then later full General.

In 1972, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) listed the army with 10,000 personnel, four infantry battalions, 20 T-59, 14 Chinese T-62 light tanks, some BTR-40 and BTR-152, Soviet field artillery and Chinese mortars. 'Spares [were] short and not all equipment was serviceable.'[10]

The Uganda–Tanzania War happened in 1978–1979.

In 1992, the IISS listed the army with 45,000 personnel (some 20,000 conscripts), 3 division headquarters, 8 infantry brigades, one tank brigade, two field artillery battalions, two Anti-aircraft artillery battalions (6 batteries), two mortar, two anti-tank battalions, one engineer regiment (battalion sized), and one surface-to-air missile battalion with SA-3 and SA-6.[11] Equipment included 30 Chinese Type 59 and 32 T-54/55 main battle tanks.

In 2007 Tanzania pledged forces for the SADC Standby Brigade of the African Standby Force.[12]

Land Force Command

A Tanzanian soldier (right) with his Kenyan counterpart

On March 9, 2009 the land force command was officially created by then president Jakaya Kikwete. The Land force command was separated from the Army and an official commander was appointed to run the operations of the Land Forces.[13] In 2013, the other separated half of the army was officially incorporated as a new branch of the military to oversee strategic planning and administration of all the branches of the military called the Defence Force HQ Command.[14]

As of 2012, the army is gradually modernising and restructuring. Much of the inventory is in storage or unreliable.[15]

  • 5 × infantry brigades
  • 1 × armoured brigade
  • 3 × artillery battalions
  • 2 × air defence artillery battalions
  • 1 × mortar battalion
  • 2 × anti-tank battalions
  • 121st Engineer Regiment (battalion size; unit identification from usaraf.army.mil and Flickr)
  • 1 × central logistic/support group


Air Force Command

TPDF honour guard

Tanzania established its air force as the "Air Wing" (Kiswahili: Usafirishaji wa Anga) of the TPDF Air Defence Command in 1965.[16] As it was following an international policy of non-alignment,[17] Tanzania procured aircraft and trainers from a variety of countries, most notably China, Canada,[18] and the Soviet Union.[19] By 1978, the Tanzanian Air Wing possessed 14 MiG-21MFs, two MiG-21UMs, 22 Shenyang J-5s (F-5), 12 Shenyang J-6s (F-6), as well as several transport and trainer aircraft.[19][a] Furthermore, the country's Air Defence had access to SA-3 surface-to-air missiles,[19] SA-7 MANPADS,[22] 14.5mm and 36mm or 37mm anti-aircraft guns,[20][23] and ground support equipment—including early-warning radars.[19]

The Air Wing was eventually organised into three Kikosi cha Jeshi or KJ Brigades, with each brigade focusing on one particular element of air warfare: aircraft and helicopters (601 KJ), technical support (602 KJ), and air defence (603 KJ). The fighter aircraft unit of 601 KJ, known as "Squadron 601", was based at Mwanza Air Base (MiG-21s) and Ngerengere Air Force Base (F-5s, F-6s).[24] In 1978 the Air Defence Command employed approximately 1,000 personnel.[21][20]

The current Commander of the now-Tanzania Air Force Command is Major General William Ingram, who replaced Major General Joseph Kapwani upon the latter's retirement in January 2016. During a visit to Zimbabwe in March 2014, Kapwani commended Zimbabweans for 'remaining resolute and firmly safeguarding the country's sovereignty despite the suffering brought on by illegal Western sanctions.'[25] He made the remarks when he paid a courtesy call on Air Force of Zimbabwe Commander Air Marshal Perrance Shiri at AFZ headquarters in Harare on 12 March 2014. General Kapwani, who was then the chair of the SADC Standing Aviation Committee, said he was in Zimbabwe to share experiences and strengthen relations.

A few of the Tanzanian air wing's transport remain serviceable. However, its Shenyang F-5s, and Chengdu F-7s are reported to fly only on rare occasions because of airworthiness problems.[26] Tanzania's long coastline means that transports are also used for patrol flights.

A TPDF soldier

On 14 November 2013, Helmoed-Römer Heitman reported for Jane's Defence Weekly that a 'usually reliable source' had informed Jane's that the TPDF had replaced its 12 old CAC J-7 fighters with 14 new J-7s, twelve single-seat and two dual-seat. Deliveries were completed in 2011. Heitman also reported that the aircraft were fully operational at Dar es Salaam and Mwanza air bases.[27]

Recent estimates (2014) suggest that Tanzania's air force command operates 32 aircraft in 3 different types. It is believed they are operating 14 fighters, 11 fixed-wing attack aircraft and 7 transport aircraft. On October 1, 2015 a K-8 trainer jet of Tanzania Air Force Command crashed into the sea killing both pilots.[28]

Naval Command

The navy operates 9 fast attack craft and 12 patrol boats.

The current Commander of the Naval Command is Rear Admiral Richard Mutayoba Makanzo.

The closing ceremony of the joint Tanzanian-Chinese exercise Beyond/Transcend 2014 was held on November 14, 2014, at Kigamboni Naval Base attended by guests that included China’s ambassador to Tanzania, the Chief of the TPDF, and the heads of the navy and air force. The exercise between the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy and the TPDF began on October 16 in Dar es Salaam, with more than 100 navy officers and seamen participating.

Jane's Defence Weekly wrote in August 2017 that '..a People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) flotilla consisting of a destroyer, a frigate, and a supply vessel visited Dar es Salaam on 16–20 August.'[29] Rear Admiral Makanzo said during the visit that Tanzania currently has two marine infantry companies, both of which were trained by the PLAN, with the training of a third company planned to begin with Chinese assistance. The admiral said that Tanzanian marines were deployed at the time in peacekeeping operations in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan.

United Nations missions

Tanzanian special forces training for the Monsuco FIB mission

As of 30 June 2019, the TDPF is involved in the following United Nations peacekeeping missions:[30][31]

Mission Location Number
United Nations Force Intervention Brigade (MONUSCO) Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo 970
United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) Darfur, Sudan 700
MINUSCA Bangui, Central African Republic 445
United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Lebanon 159
United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) South Sudan 10
United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) Abyei 5


Current Commanding Officers

  • Chief of Defence Forces (CDF): General Venance Salvatory Mabeyo[32]
  • Chief of Staff: Lieutenant General Yakub Mohamed[32]
  • TPDF Sergeant Major: Warrant Officer Class One (WO1) Martine Peter Kaziro
  • Commander of Military Headquarters: Brigadier General Mwaisaka
  • Commander of Land Forces: Major General J.J. Mkunda
  • Commander of Air Forces: Major General William Ingram [33]
  • Commander of Naval Forces: Rear Admiral Richard Makanzo [34]
  • Chief of National Service: Major General Charles Mbuge [33]

Chief of Defence Force

No. Portrait Name
Term of office Ref.
Took office Left office Time in office
1 General
Mirisho Sarakikya
8 January 1964 12 February 1974 10 years, 35 days [35][36]
2 General
Abdallah Twalipo
13 February 1974 8 November 1980 6 years, 269 days [35]
3 General
David Musuguri
(born 1920)
9 November 1980 1 September 1988 7 years, 297 days [35]
4 General
Ernest M. Kiaro
1 September 1988 27 January 1994 5 years, 148 days [35]
5 General
Robert P. Mboma
28 January 1994 30 June 2001 7 years, 153 days [35]
6 General
George M. Waitara
1 July 2001 13 September 2007 6 years, 74 days [35]
7 Davis Mwamunyange.png General
Davis Mwamunyange
(born 1959)
13 September 2007 2 February 2017 9 years, 142 days [35][32]
8 General
Venance Salvatory Mabeyo
(born 1956)
2 February 2017 Incumbent 4 years, 354 days [32]

See also


  1. ^ According to Lagarde, the TPDF had 29 combat aircraft in 1979: 11 MiG-21s, 15 MiG-19s, and 3 MiG-17s.[20] According to Paxton, it possessed 12 Shenyang F-8s (MiG-21s), 15 F-6s (MiG-19s), and 3 F-4s (MiG-17s).[21]


  1. ^ "CIA World Factbook: Tanzania". The World Factbook. 11 February 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
  2. ^ a b Tungaraza, Casta. (1998). The transformation of civil-military relations in Tanzania, in Hutchful and Bathily The Military and Militarism in Africa. Dakar: CODESRIA.
  3. ^ Keegan, John (1979). World Armies. p. 698. ISBN 0-333-17236-1.
  4. ^ For the rebuilding programme, see Lee, J. M. (1969), African Armies and Civil Order, International Institute for Strategic Studies/Chatto and Windus, 1969, 149-150.
  5. ^ United Republic of Tanzania, Assessment of Defence Forces, August 1965, on file DO 185/42, Integration, training and deployment of Tanzania People's Defence forces, Commonwealth Relations Office, 1965, held UK The National Archives
  6. ^ Parsons, 2003, 168.
  7. ^ Irving Kaplan, Tanzania: A Country Study, Library of Congress Country Studies, First Edition, 1978, p. 248–249, and General Sarakikya attends Royal Military Academy's 50th reunion in Sandhurst Archived 2013-07-24 at the Wayback Machine, Arusha Times, 13–19 August 2011.
  8. ^ Irving Kaplan, Tanzania: A Country Study, Library of Congress Country Studies, First Edition, 1978, p. 249.
  9. ^ U.S. Embassy Dar Es Salaam Personnel changes, 1975, Cable 75DARES0200
  10. ^ IISS, 1972-73, p. 40
  11. ^ IISS Military Balance 1992-93, p. 211.
  12. ^ Jane's Defence Weekly
  13. ^ "Tanzania Land Force Command". Tanzania Peoples Defence Force.
  14. ^ "Tanzania Defence Force HQ Command". Tanzania Peoples Defence Force.
  15. ^ "Tanzania". Janes World Armies. Archived from the original on 26 January 2013. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
  16. ^ Cooper & Fontanellaz 2015, p. 14.
  17. ^ Cooper & Fontanellaz 2015, p. 13.
  18. ^ Cooper & Fontanellaz 2015, pp. 14–15.
  19. ^ a b c d Cooper & Fontanellaz 2015, p. 19.
  20. ^ a b c Lagarde 1979, p. 8.
  21. ^ a b Paxton 2016b, p. 1169.
  22. ^ Cooper & Fontanellaz 2015, p. 25.
  23. ^ Legum 1981, p. B-333.
  24. ^ Cooper & Fontanellaz 2015, p. 20.
  25. ^ Zimbabwe: Tanzania Commander Hails Zimbabweans Archived 2015-05-02 at the Wayback Machine, The Herald (Zimbabwe) via AllAfrica, 13 March 2014.
  26. ^ "OrBat Tanzania - MilAvia Press.com: Military Aviation Publications". www.milaviapress.com. Archived from the original on 2008-03-27. Retrieved 2008-03-24.
  27. ^ Helmoed-Römer Heitman (Pretoria), Tanzania swaps old J-7 fighters for new ones, IHS Jane's Defence Weekly, 14 November 2013.
  28. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident 01-OCT-2015 Hongdu K-8 Karakorum". aviation-safety.net. Archived from the original on 2017-02-02. Retrieved 2016-03-08.
  29. ^ de Cherisey, Erwan (23 August 2017). "China steps up training for African militaries". Jane's Defence Weekly.
  30. ^ "UN Mission's Summary detailed by Country" (PDF). Page 33, UN. 30 June 2013. Archived (PDF) from the original on 12 October 2013. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
  31. ^ "Tanzania". United Nations Peacekeeping. Retrieved 2020-06-13.
  32. ^ a b c d DAILY NEWS REPORTER (3 February 2017). "JPM appoints Mabeyo new CDF". dailynews.co.tz. Archived from the original on 3 February 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2021.
  33. ^ a b Abdu, Fatma (1 February 2016). "Tanzania: President Picks New TPDF Chief of Staff". Archived from the original on 28 January 2017. Retrieved 22 February 2017 – via AllAfrica.
  34. ^ "Rear Admiral R S Laswai, Commander, Tanzanian Navy Visits India from 29 Aug to 01 sep 16". pib.nic.in. Archived from the original on 2017-02-23. Retrieved 2017-02-22.
  35. ^ a b c d e f g "Historia ya Viongozi" (in Swahili). Archived from the original on 24 November 2011. Retrieved 6 October 2021.
  36. ^ Ghulila, Anderson, George Mwashiga, Joseph Masanja, Mohamed Adam, Sylvester Mangure, and Jane Kipengele. TPDF: An Operational History. Dubai: Creo Ltd, 2012, 123.

Irving Kaplan, Tanzania: A Country Study, Library of Congress Country Studies, First Edition, 1978.

  • Elise Forbes Pachter, 'Contra-Coup: Civilian Control of the Military in Guinea, Tanzania, and Mozambique.' The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 20, No. 4 (December 1982), p606 on 1975 personnel reshuffle.

Further reading

  • Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA World Factbook document: "2005 edition".
  • Tanzania Refutes Cross Border Shelling
  • Tony Avirgan and Martha Honey, 'War in Uganda,' Zed Press, London, UK, 1982
  • Simon Baynham, Civil-Military Relations in Post-Independent Africa
  • Donovan C. Chau, "Exploiting Africa: The Influence of Maoist China in Algeria, Ghana, and Tanzania," Naval Institute Press; 1st ed. (April 15, 2014)
  • Michael G. Brooks, Kendall D. Gott. Security Assistance, U.S. and International Historical Perspectives: Proceedings of the Combat Studies Institute 2006 Military History Symposium. Government Printing Office. ISBN 978-0-16-087349-2. - includes China/Tanzania study
  • Christopher Gallop, 'Letters from East Africa' Grosvenor House, UK, 2013 ISBN 978-1781486283
  • Allison Herrick, Area Handbook for Tanzania, American University, 1968
  • Irving Kaplan, Tanzania: A Country Study, Library of Congress Country Studies, Second Edition, 1987.
  • Nestor Luanda, A changing conception of defence: A historical perspective of the military in Tanzania, in Evolutions and Revolutions, 2005.
  • Murdo Morrison), ed. (2006). "World Air Forces". Flight International. Flight International (Number 5063 ed.). London: Flight Global. p. 82. ISSN 0015-3710.
  • Brian S. MacDonald (1990). "Africa armed forces". Military spending in developing countries (Number 5063 ed.). London. ISBN 978-0-88629-314-7.
  • A.H. Omari, 2001. Civil–military Relations in Tanzania. Dar es Salaam: Centre for Foreign Relations.
  • Timothy Parsons, The 1964 Army Mutinies and the Making of Modern East Africa
  • Thomas, Charles G. (May 2012). The Tanzanian People's Defence Force : an exercise in nation-building (PhD). University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved 2019-05-03.

External links

  • Official website of the Ministry of Tanzanian Defence and National Service Tanzania
  • Official website of the Tanzania People's Defence Forces
  • Tanzania Civil-military Relations and Political Stability
  • Lillian Kingazi, Enhancing Human Resource Capabilities in the TPDF