Armed Forces of Belarus

Armed Forces of Belarus
Military of Belarus
Ministry of Defense Republic of Belarus.jpg
Current form 1992
Service branches Army
Air Force
Commander-in-Chief President Alexander Lukashenko
Minister of Defense LtGen Yurij Zhadobin
Available for
military service
4,831,438 (2010 est.)[1], age 18 years
Reaching military
age annually
100,615(2010 est.)[2]
Active personnel 79,800[3]
Reserve personnel 289,500[4]
Deployed personnel 4,560 (Around the borders)[5]
Percent of GDP 1.4% (FY2010 est.)
Foreign suppliers  Russia

The Armed Forces of Belarus (Belarusian: Узброеныя сілы Рэспублікі Беларусь - УС РБ, Uzbrojenyja sily Respubliki Bielaruś, Russian: Boopyжённыe cилы Pecпyблики Бeлapycь, Vooruzhennye sily Respubliki Belarus) consist of the Army and the Air and Air Defense Forces, all under the command of the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Belarus. Lieutenant general Yurij Viktorovich Zhadobin is the Minister of Defense since December 4, 2009.[6] Being a landlocked country, Belarus has no navy.

The previous Belarusian National Republic of March 1918 to 1919 did not have time to create armed forces in its brief existence, although attempts to create a military have been documented.[7] The Republic of Belarus has conducted effective military reforms within the last decade which have reshaped its armed forces as a relatively effective force for a small state in somewhat difficult economic conditions.[8]

The Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Belarus (Russian: Министерство обороны Республики Беларусь, Belarusian: Мiнiстэрства абароны Рэспублікі Беларусь) is the government organization that is charged with the duties of raising and maintaining the Armed Forces of Belarus. The formation of the ministry began in 1992, a year after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Belarus becoming an independent state.



On September 20, 1991 the Supreme Soviet of Belarus passed resolution "On the formation of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus" and on January 11, 1992 resolution "On the Armed Forces deployed in the territory of the Republic of Belarus." Practical steps followed the declarative resolutions. On March 18, 1992 the parliament passed resolution "On the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus" that bound the government "to start the formation of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus as of March 20, 1992" and "to submit to the Supreme Soviet for approval the suggested structure of the Armed Forces, their size and order of their material and technical supplies".

On November 3, 1992, Belarus passed the law "On the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus" defining the status, structure and guiding principles of the Armed Forces.[9] After the introduction of presidency the law was amended twice: on September 4, 1996 and on November 9, 1999 but on the whole the law retains its initial contents.


Until 1992 the Belorussian Military District of the USSR comprised the 5th Guards Tank Army, the 7th Tank Army, the 28th Army, the 120th Guards Motor Rifle Division, the 51st Guards aviation division, the 72nd Guards United Training Center and logistical units and formations. In addition to these troops Belarus was the area of deployment for units subordinated directly to the USSR Defence Ministry and chiefs of different Soviet Armed Forces services, namely the 103rd Guards Airborne Division, the 38th Guards Airborne Brigade, the 11th corps of the 2nd Separate Air Defence Army, the 26th Air Army and also units and formations of the Strategic Rocket Forces, Long Range Aviation, the Navy and special forces.

In May 1992 the Belorussian Military District was abolished, and on January 1, 1993 all service personnel on Belarussian soil were required to either take an oath of loyalty to Belarus, or leave. This oath however did not alleviate concerns regarding loyalty to Russia in time of crisis, especially since nearly 50% of all military personnel were ethnically Russian at the end of 1992.

Current personnel in the armed forces number 72,940 (IISS 2007), although a reduction to 60,000 is planned. Most soldiers are conscripts serving for a period 12 months (with higher education) or 18 month (without). The branches are as follows[10]:

Belarusian Ground Forces

The Library of Congress said that in 1994 Belarus had ground forces of 52,500.[11] They were organised into three corps headquarters, two motor divisions, one airborne division, one artillery division, three mechanized divisions, one airborne brigade, three surface-to-surface missile brigades, two antitank brigades, one special duties brigade, and seven surfaceto -air missile brigades. Equipment included 3,108 main battle tanks (seventy-nine T-54, 639 T-55, 291 T-62, 299 T-64, eight T80 , and 1,800 T-72), 419 medium-range launchers, sixty surface to-surface missiles, and 350 surface-to-air missiles.

By January 1, 1995, the order of battle of the Belarusian army had changed.[11] Ministry of Defense forces included the 103rd Guards Air Assault Division and the 38th Separate Assault-Landing Brigade; the 28th Army Corps (Grodno and Brest regions), composed of headquarters at Grodno, the 6th Detached Mechanized Infantry Brigade, the 11th Detached Mechanized Infantry Brigade, the 50th Detached Mechanized Infantry Brigade, the Armament and Equipment base, and corps units (missile troops, antiaircraft, chemical and engineer troops, signals, and rear services); the 65th Army Corps (Minsk and Vitebsk regions), composed of headquarters at Barysaw, three armament and equipment bases, and corps units; and the 5th Guards Army Corps (Minsk and Mahilyow regions) made up of headquarters at Babruysk, the 30th Detached Mechanized Infantry Brigade, two Armament and Equipment bases, and corps units.

On 21 December 2001, a major reorganisation of the Ground Forces produced two operational-territorial commands, formed from two former corps headquarters.[12] All Belarus ground forces were now grouped within these two commands, the Western Operational Command at Grodno, former from the previous 28th Army Corps, the former Soviet 28th Army, and the North Western Operational Command, the former 65th Army Corps, at Borisov.

In 2007 the Land Forces consisted of 29,600 soldiers (6th Guards Mechanised Brigade (Grodno), 11th Guards Mechanised Brigade (Slonim, the former 11th Guards Tank Division) the 120th Guards Mechanised Brigade (Minsk), 38th and 103rd Mobile Brigades (organized similarly to Soviet airborne regiments, not all of them are equipped with BMD-1)[13], 5th Separate Spetznaz Brigade (Maryina Horka), five artillery brigades and four regiments, two MRL regiments, 15th, 29th, 115th, 120th and 302nd SAM Brigades, two SSM brigades, two brigades and one regiment of engineers, 8th NBC independent brigade, two signals brigades, 40th independent NBC battalion. Army equipment includes 1800 MBT, 2600 AFV/APC. The weapons and equipment storage bases include the 50th (Brest), 19th[14], 34th & 37th (former tank divisions), 3rd, and 28th (Baranovichi). Weapons storage bases that have been disbanded include the 29th, 30th, 193rd, and the storage base that used to be the 8th Guards Tank Division at Marina Gorka.

Air Force and Air Defense Forces

In 2007 the AF & ADF consisted of 18,170 personnel (two fighter/interceptor bases, four FGA/reconnaissance squadrons, one transport air base, training aircraft, and attack and support helicopters, SAM units). Air Force equipment included in 2004 260 FGA/training aircraft and 80 attack helicopters.

Training and territorial organisations

In 1995 the Military Academy of Belarus was set up on the basis of two military educational institutions - the Minsk Air Defense and Rocket School of the Air Defence Forces and the Minsk Higher Military Command School. Its 10 departments train officers of 38 specialties for practically all arms of service. Also in 1995 it was given the status of a government institution of secondary special military education for young men.

Since about 2001, territorial defence forces, which as of 2002 number around 150,000, have been forming, organized into battalions, companies, and platoons spread across Belarus.[12]

Internal Troops

The Internal Troops were formed from the former Soviet Internal Troops after the collapse of the Soviet Union. They consist of three independent brigades and seven independent battalions (consecutively numbered). Among the Internal Troops formations is the 3rd Red Banner separate special purpose Brigade (V/Ch 3214, located in Minsk, in the district Uruchcha, "Uruchenskaya Brigade").[15] This brigade performs the task of crowd control, combating terrorism, to assist border guards in case of complications of operative conditions on border. In addition, the brigade has been training for combined arms program in the event of armed conflict. It was formed in the 1990s on the base of the 334th Regiment of the 120th 'Rogachev' Guards Motor Rifle Division.[16]

Current structure


  • Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Belarus
    • Central Command Support Elements
    • General Staff of the Armed Forces
      • Ground Forces
        • Western Operational Command
        • North-Western Operational Command
      • Air and Air Defense Forces
        • Western Operational-Tactical Command
        • North-Western Operational-Tactical Command
      • Combat Support Elements of the Armed Forces
        • Reconnaissance
        • Electronic Warfare
        • Signals
        • Engineers
        • NBC Defence
        • Navigation and Topography
        • Maintenance
      • Logistic Elements of the Armed Forces
        • Material Support
        • Logistic Support
        • Medical Support
        • Veterinarian Support
        • Military Construction

Military doctrine

The military goals of the armed forces of Belarus are to defend the interests of the Belarusian state. This however is at times ambiguous, and is made even more complex with the various agreements that have been recently signed with Russia. Membership in the Commonwealth of Independent States, as well as the 1996 treaty on the Union of Russia and Belarus and the Treaty of the Formation of a Union State in 1999, has confirmed a close partnership with Russia. Much of the air defense system is integrated into the Russian defense network, and in 2006 the two nations signed an agreement on the creation of a unified air defense system.[18]


T-72B being transported

The military forces of Belarus are exclusively armed with Soviet-era equipment inherited from the Soviet Union. Although large in numbers some Western experts consider some of it outdated. The MBTs are of Russian type T-72, T-62, and T-55, and AFVs are of Russian type MT-LB, BMP-2, BMP-1, and the BMD-1, and Russian type trucks are the GAZ-66 and the KAMAZ-6560. The Air Force is equipped with MiG-29, Su-27 fighters, Su-24, Su-25 bombers, as well as Mi-8, Mi-24, and the Polish built Mi-2 attack helicopters. In December 2005 Belarus bought 10 L-39 jet trainer aircraft from Ukraine, and plans were announced to buy 18 used Su-30K fighters. In 2006 four batteries (divizions in Russian terminology; about 6 systems each) of S-300 anti-aircraft systems were acquired from Russia to reinforce the Joint CIS Air Defense System.

Light equipment

  • Makarov PM Pistol
  • AK-74 Assault Rifle
  • AKM Assault Rifle
  • RPD Light Machine Gun
  • RPK Light Machine Gun
  • PK General Purpose Machine Gun
  • NSV Heavy Machine Gun
  • DShK Heavy Machine Gun
  • Dragunov SVD Sniper Rifle
  • RPG-7 Anti-Tank Rocket Launcher
  • AGS-17 Automatic Grenade Launcher
  • SPG-9 Recoilless Rifle

Armored Ground Vehicles


  • T-55 (29; in reserve)
  • T-62 (170; in reserve)
  • T-72 (1,465)
  • T-80 (92)



  • BM-21 Grad Multiple rocket launcher, partially upgraded to BM-21A "Belgrad"
  • D-30 122 mm towed howitzer
  • D-20 152 mm towed howitzer
  • 2A36 152 mm towed howitzer
  • 2A65 152 mm self-propelled howitzer (140)
  • 2S1 122 mm self-propelled howitzer (246)
  • 2S3 152 mm self-propelled howitzer (168)
  • 2S5 152 mm self-propelled howitzer (120)
  • 2S9 120 mm self-propelled howitzer (54)
  • 2S19 152 mm self-propelled howitzer (13)
  • OTR-21 Tochka Tactical ballistic missile (SS-21 Scarab) (one brigade)

Air Defense


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Selected Bibliography of works on the struggle for Belarusian Independence 1900-1921 in the Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library in London
  8. ^ Dr Steven J Main, The Belarusian Armed Forces: A Military-Political History 1991-2003, Conflict Studies Research Centre, RMA Sandhurst, 2003. This is the definitive work in English on the recent history of Belarus's armed forces.
  9. ^ Pavel Bykovsky & Alexander Vasilevich, Military Development and the Armed Forces of Belarus, Moscow Defence Brief, CAST, 2007
  10. ^ Routledge, IISS Military Balance 2007, p.158-159
  11. ^ a b Library of Congress Country Studies, Ground Forces, in A Country Study: Belarus, June 1995
  12. ^ a b Main, 2003
  13. ^,406.0.html
  14. ^ One of the equipment storage bases is the 19th, the former 19th Guards Tank Division at Zaslonovo in the Lepiel region. On October 1, 2003 the base has strongly added in "weight". From other bases of storage of arms and techniques now we are distinguished favourably by new structure. Besides a battalion of protection, storage and service, motor-rifle and tank battalions were added.
  15. ^ See
  16. ^,
  17. ^
  18. ^ Russia, Belarus to sign agreement on joint air defense system,, 2006

External links

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