New Delhi: The first ever all-Bhutanese contingent of 180 personnel from the Royal Bhutan Army is being deployed for United Nations peacekeeping operations. The contingent is expected to begin their assignment in early September 2022.
At the request of the UN, Bhutan is contributing a Light Quick Reaction Force to support the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission for the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).
Bhutan’s King granted an audience to the contingent of Bhutanese Blue Berets and said that “the deployment is a milestone in a new era of Bhutan’s development journey, in which Bhutan is now able to contribute to global peace.”
Bhutan’s participation in UN peacekeeping missions began with three officers in 2014 contributing as military observers, staff officers, and individual police officers from the Armed Forces. Most of them were then getting training from Indian troops.
Bhutan in 2017 has become the first country to pledge rapid deployment of troops to the UN peacekeeping operations (UNPCRS), keeping them ready for participation in missions within 60 days of a request by the Secretary-General.
The UNPCRS is designed to deal with conflicts or dangerous situations immediately before they escalate instead of the regular deployment process that takes several months to put troops on the ground.
Bhutan has three branches of the armed forces: Royal Bhutan Army (RBA), Royal Bodyguards Militia (RBG), and Royal Bhutan Police. India is responsible for military training; arms supplies, and Bhutan’s air defence. Bhutan being landlocked has no navy and also no air force.
The Royal Bhutan Army has around 8,000 troops (2021). The Indian army maintains a training mission in Bhutan called as Indian Military Training Team (IMTRAT) which is responsible for the training of RBA and RBG personnel
In addition, many armed force officers are trained at the Indian Army’s officer training institutes like National Defence Academy and Indian Military Academy.