The Botswana Defence Force was raised in April 1977 by an Act of Parliament called the 'BDF Act NO 13 of 1977.
At its formation, Lieutenant General Mompati Merafhe (now retired and Vice President of the Republic of Botswana) became its first Commander. His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Botswana, Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, then Brigadier, was the Deputy Commander.
The young force, formed from the remnants of the Botswana Police Mobile Unit (PMU), uniquely, did not inherit at its inception, a colonial military structure, facilities and expertise. We therefore, pride ourselves that the BDF, today, stands amongst a handful of militaries in the continent that were truly home grown. It is important to note that the political turmoil in the region especially the liberation struggle in the then Rhodesia and the political tension in South Africa posed major security challenges for Botswana and its young force.
It was imperative to have a BDF structure with the capacity to meet the people's expectations of a strong defence force capable of providing safety and security to the nation. The 'Lesoma Ambush' In which 15 BDF soldiers were ambushed and killed by Rhodesian rebel forces in 1978 and the 1985 raid in Gaborone by the South African Defence Force commandos in which 12 people perished served as a gruesome warning of the perils in the region.
Since its establishment in 1977, the Botswana Defence Force has undergone a steady process of restructuring. This has assisted the BDF to keep up with the ever changing tactics of modern warfare. The BDF has evolved from a home-grown Defence Force to a highly professional Defence Force that has all the capabilities to effectively defend the country. With time, it has developed from one Rifle Company on 109 Land Rovers to two full fledged, strategically placed Brigades with Mechanised Infantry Battalions, Armour and Artillery Regiments and Air assets.
BDF has kept pace with modern warfare technology and has acquired Acmat vehicles for tactical mobility and C130 Hercules for strategic mobility. In addition, it has some of the latest equipment for Air Defence, Mechanized forces, Special Forces and Infantry. Since BDF did not inherit any infrastructure and facilities at its inception, the early years were spent in temporary accommodation, tents and zozos (prefabricated structure).
To meet the growing demand for accommodation, the BDF recently shifted its focus to the legendary 100 men block. All the BDF camps are either scheduled or already have the 100 men barrack block as a long-term solution.