2/23/2010 12:00:00 AM
Bhutan’s National Security apparatus consists of Royal Bhutan Army (RBA), Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) and the Royal Bodyguards (RBG). Together they employ 14,209 personnel.
Bhutan is a buffer state between India and China. Relatively poor and developing country with lesser economic development. Isolated from outside world Bhutan does not have a good communication system neither does it have good options to formulate its own security and foreign policy. While the army remains weak the country's cultural status and diplomacy proved very useful.
Royal Bhutan Army (RBA)
The RBA has traditionally been a small, conscript force, trained and armed by India. Regular recruits are trained at the Army Training Centre at Tenchholing, Wangdiphodrang District. Royal Bhutan Army cadets also attend the National Defense Academy at Pune and the Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun, from where they are commissioned as second lieutenants.
During the 87th session of the National Assembly in June 2007, Chief of Bhutan’s standing army, Batoo Tshering confirmed that the total army strength was just 9,021 soldiers. He announced a plan to reduce army strength and raise militia forces. Whether his plan did materialize is hard to say because none of the 700 militia volunteers recruited earlier had remained active.
The army’s weapons inventory consists of AK-7 (AK-47 clone) , AK-104 (2001), INSAS rifle, Heckler & Koch G3, SLR Rifles, bayonets and machine guns supplied by India; some are obsolete. The only Infantry Support Weapon comes in the form an 81 mm mortar. RBA does not maintain a separate air force, and relies on the Indian Air Force for transportation, relief, and rescue operations. There is a Royal Bhutan Army Air Wing of approximately 80 personnel who operate Mi-8 helicopters and a Dornier transport aircraft.
Figures on defense expenditures are not publicly available and is counted within general administration costs. The army’s primary mission is to secure Bhutan’s national borders but lately it has been used more frequently to suppress or evict villagers in southern Bhutan.
RBP employed 3,417 personnel in 2005. The standard police functions are law enforcement, to serve as guards at Bhutan gates throughout southern Bhutan and to act as first responders during any natural or fire calamities. The RBP is the main arm of the government in harassing the southern Bhutanese and leading to their ultimate eviction. RBP personnel have been known to target the democratic forces and engage in excessive, arbitrary treatment of these people.
Royal Body Guards (RBG)
The RBG is an elite VIP protection unit responsible for the security of the King and the members of Royal family. Some RBG cadres have received counter insurgency and jungle warfare training from the Indian College of Combat and the Indian Military Academy in Mizo Hills, India.
Bhutan has also embarked on ‘non-military security alternatives’ in the form of ‘Cultural Cohesion’. In other words, Buddhism, gho, kira and the Dzongkha language are the new elements of Bhutan’s security apparatus. Bhutan says ‘Cultural cohesion’ not ‘political integration’ is the need of the hour. According to Rakesh Chhetri, ‘Cultural cohesion’ is a totalitarian concept which also means ‘cohesion of opinions and views’ with the State. It was invented to underpin compliance and subservience to an archaic, feudal and undemocratic system’.