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Nepali Army

Nepali Army
नेपाली सेना
Emblem of the Nepali Army
Founded1560 (1560)
RoleLand operations
  • 98,000 (active)
  • 82,000 (reserve)
Part ofNepalese Armed Forces
GarrisonJangi Adda, Bhadrakali, Kathmandu, Bagmati state
Nickname(s)The Gurkhas
Motto(s)Better to die than to be a coward
AnniversariesMaha Shivratri[1][2]
Chief of Army StaffGeneral Prabhu Ram Sharma
Vice Chief of Army StaffLieutenant General Saroj Pratap Rana
Assistant Chief of Army StaffLieutenant General Sitaram Khadka
Nepal Army's Guruju Paltan (a ceremonial infantry company) in traditional uniform
Khukuri, Karda and Chakmak. Khukuri is the symbolic weapon of the Nepali Army

The Nepali Army (Nepali: नेपाली सेना, romanized: Nēpālī Sēnā), also referred as the Gorkhali Army (गोरखाली सेना, Gōrakhālī Sēnā; see Gorkhas), is the land service branch of the Nepali Armed Forces. After the Gorkha Kingdom was founded in 1559, its army was established in 1560, and was accordingly known as the Gorkhali Army. The army later became known as the Royal Nepali Army (RNA) following the Unification of Nepal, when the Gorkha Kingdom expanded its territory to include the whole country, by conquering and annexing the other states in the region, resulting in the establishment of a single united Hindu monarchy over all of Nepal. It was officially renamed simply to the Nepali Army on 28 May 2008, upon the abolition of the 240-year-old Nepalese monarchy, and of the 449-year-old rule of the Shah dynasty, shortly after the Nepalese Civil War.

The Nepali Army has participated in various conflicts throughout its history, going as far back as the Nepali unification campaign launched by Prithvi Narayan Shah of the Gorkha Kingdom. It has engaged in an extensive number of battles within South Asia, and continues to take part in global conflicts as part of United Nations peacekeeping coalitions.

The Nepali Army is headquartered in Kathmandu and the incumbent Chief of Army Staff is General Prabhu Ram Sharma.


Nepali national soldiers by Gustave Le Bon, 1885

The Nepal unification campaign was a turning point in the history of the Nepali army. Since unification was not possible without a strong army, the management of the armed forces had to be exceptional. Apart from the standard Malla-era temples in Kathmandu, the army organized itself in Gorkha. After the Gorkhali troops captured Nuwakot, the hilly northern part of Kathmandu (Kantipur) in 1744, the Gorkhali armed forces came to be known as the Royal Nepali Army.

Their performance impressed their enemies so much that the British East-India Company started recruiting Nepali troops into their forces. The native British soldiers called the new soldiers "Gurkhas". The Gurkha-Sikh War began shortly after, in 1809. In 1946, the Royal Nepali Army troops were led by Commanding General Baber Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana at the Victory Parade in London.

Prior to 2006, the Royal Nepali Army was under the control of the King of Nepal. Following the 2006 Democracy Movement (Nepali: लोकतन्त्र आन्दोलन, romanized: Loktantra Āndolan) on 18 May, a bill was passed by the Nepali parliament curtailing royal power, which included renaming the army to simply the Nepali Army.[3]

In 2004, Nepal spent $99.2 million on its military (1.5% of its GDP). Between 2002 and 2006, the RNA was involved in the Nepali Civil War. They were also used to quell pro-democracy protesters during the 2006 democracy movement.


Nepal Army soldiers on Army Day

The Nepali Army has about 95,000 infantry army and air service members protecting the sovereignty of Nepal. In August 2018, The Himalayan Times estimated total army forces to be around 96,000[4] while The Kathmandu Post estimated it to be 92,000.[5]

Supreme Command

The position of the Supreme Commander of the Nepalese Army is the President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. Until 2006, the King of Nepal (monarchy abolished) was in control of all military forces in the country. The National Army was renamed from Royal Nepalese Army to Nepalese Army after the recent national conversion from a monarchy to a republic on 4th Jestha 2063 B.S.

The National Defence Council

This Council has seven members, the Prime Minister, the Defence Minister, the Chief of the Army Staff, Foreign Minister, Finance Minister, Home Minister and the Chief Secretary.

The President of Nepal is the Supreme Commander-In-Chief.


The Nepalese Army is divided into eight divisions, one each in the seven states and one in the Kathmandu Valley.

In addition there are at least 7 independent units:

  • Army Aviation Directorate
  • Special Forces Brigade
  • VVIP Security
  • Artillery Brigade
  • Signals Brigade
  • Engineers Brigade
  • Air Defense Brigade

Chiefs of the Nepali Army

The Chiefs of the Nepali Army have mostly been drawn from noble Chhetri families from the Gorkha Kingdom such as the Pande dynasty, Kunwar family, Basnyat dynasty, and Thapa dynasty before the rule of the Rana dynasty.[6] During the Shah monarchy, the officers were drawn from these aristocratic families.[6] During the Rana dynasty, Ranas claimed the position as their birthright.[6] The first army chief of was King Prithvi Narayan Shah who drafted and commanded the army.[7] The first civilian army chief was Kalu Pande, a Kaji who had a significant role in the unification campaign.[7] He was considered head of the army due to his undertaking of army duties and responsibilities, not by a formal title.[7]

Bhimsen Thapa, Mukhtiyar from 1806 to 1837, was the first person to be given the title Commander-in-Chief as head of the army.[8] King Rajendra Bikram Shah appointed Bhimsen to the post and praised him for his long service to the nation.[9] However, on 14 June 1837, the King took over command of all battalions put in charge of various courtiers, and became the commander-in-chief.[10][11] Immediately after the incarceration of the Thapas in 1837, Dalbhanjan Pande and Rana Jang Pande were the joint heads of the military administration.[12] Rana Jang was removed after three months in October 1837.[13][14][15][16]

Since the command of Mukhtiyar Bhimsen, only seven army chiefs were non-Rana Chhetris, including Shahs, until 1951.[8] The commander-in-chief title was replaced by Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) from the reign of General Pratap Singh Shah.


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Conflicts defending the Kingdom of Nepal

Battles during the unification of Nepal

International conflicts

International operations

The Nepali Army has contributed more than 100,000 peacekeepers to a variety of United Nations-sponsored peacekeeping missions such as:

US-Nepal military relations

Mahabir Ranger with a US soldier

The US-Nepali military relationship focuses on support for democratic institutions, civilian control of the military, and the professional military ethic to include respect for human rights. The US would support Nepal with arms, ammunition and additional commandos and soldiers if war began with neighboring China, but resisted giving any support if war broke out with India as it is an essential US ally in the Asia-Pacific region against China. Nepal also signed the COMCASA agreement with the US in the 2+2 meeting in September 2018. Both countries have had extensive contact over the years. Nepali Army units have served with distinction alongside American forces in places such as Haiti, Iraq, and Somalia.

US-Nepali military engagement continues today through the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, Enhanced International Peacekeeping Capabilities (EIPC) program, Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), and various conferences and seminars. The US military sends many Nepali Army officers to America to attend military schools, such as the Command and General Staff College and the US Army War College. The IMET budget for FY2001 was $220,000.

The EIPC program is an inter-agency program between the US Department of Defense and US Department of State to increase the pool of international peacekeepers and to promote interoperability. Nepal received about $1.9 million in EIPC funding.[when?]

The US Commander in Chief, Pacific Command (CINCPAC) coordinates military engagement with Nepal through the Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC). The ODC Nepal is located in the American Embassy in Kathmandu.


The first four army units are the Shreenath, Kali Baksh (Kalibox), Barda Bahadur, and Sabuj companies, founded in August 1762 by King Prithvi Narayan Shah with the Chhetri and Thakuri clans, well before the unification of Nepal. The Purano Gorakh Company was founded in February 1763 and is the army's fifth oldest unit.[19]

Flag of Purano Gorakh
  • Shree Nath Battalion – established 1762
  • Shree Kali Buksh Battalion – established 1762
  • Shree Barda Bahadur Battalion – established 1762
  • Shree Sabuj Battalion – established 1762
  • Shree Purano Gorakh Battalion – established 1763
  • Shree Devi Datta Battalion – established 1783
  • Shree Naya Gorakh Battalion – established 1783
  • Shree Bhairavi Dal Battalion – established 1785
  • Shree Singhanath Battalion – established 1786 (commando)
  • Shree Shreejung Battalion – established 1783
  • Shree Ranabhim Battalion – established 1783
  • Shree Naya Shree Nath Battalion – established 1783
  • Shree Vajradal Company – established 1806
  • Shree Shree Mehar Battalion – established 1779
  • Shree "The Famous" Mahindra Dal Battalion – established 1844
  • Shree Rajdal Regiment (Artillery) (currently expanded to three additional independent Artillery regiments)
  • Shree Ganeshdal Battalion – established 1846 (signals and communications)
  • Shree Ranabam Battalion  – established 1847
  • Shree Nepal Cavalry – established 1849, Household Cavalry ceremonial unit since 1952
  • Shree Durga Bhanjan Campany – established 1862
  • Shree Kali Prasad Battalion (Engineers) – established 1863
  • Shree Bhairavnath Battalion – established 1910 (parachute battalion)
  • Shree Bhagvati Prasad Company – established 1927
  • Shree Khadga Dal Battalion – established 1937
  • Shree Parshwavarti Company – established 1936 (served as PM's bodyguard unit and disbanded in 1952)
  • Shree Gorkah Bahadur Battalion – established 1952 (infantry unit, then developed for royal guard duty)
  • Shree Jagadal Battalion (air defence)
  • Shree Yuddha Kawaj Battalion (mechanized infantry)
  • Shree Mahabir Battalion (Rangers Battalion, equivalent to the US Army Rangers (part of the Nepali Army Special Operation Force))
  • Shree Chandan Nath Battalion – established 2004 (infantry unit)
  • Shree Tara Dal Battalion – established 2002 (infantry unit)
  • Shree No 1 Disaster Management Battalion – established 2012
  • Shree No 2 Disaster Management Battalion – established 2012


  • Nepalese Army Command and Staff College, Shivapuri
  • Nepalese Army War College, Nagarkot
  • Nepalese Military Academy, Kharipati
  • Nepalese Army Recruit Training Center, Trishuli
  • Nepalese Army Jungle Warfare School, Amlekhgunj
  • Nepalese Army High Altitude and Mountain Warfare School, Mustang
  • Nepalese Army Intelligence School, Kharipati
  • Nepalese Army Logistics School, Chhauni
  • Birendra Peace Keeping Operation Training Center, Panchkhal
  • Nepalese Army Para Training School, Maharajgunj
  • Nepalese Army EME school, Kharipati

Women Participation in Nepal Army

The unofficial participation of women in Nepal Army was first during the Anglo-Nepalese War on Battle of Nalapani. Battle of Nalapani was the first battle of the Anglo-Nepalese War of 1814–1816, fought between the forces of the British East India Company and Nepal, then ruled by the Gorkha Kingdom. Nepalese women were heavily involved in this battle supporting the male Gurkha warriors. With no automatic weapons in hands Nepalese women fought with British troops with stones and woods. According to Nepal Army YouTube channel "Nepali Army" programme Nepali Senama Mahila Sahabhagita (documentary) - Episode 405, the official participation of women in Nepal Army started in 1961 in the post of Nurse. The timeline of official women's participation in Nepal Army is as follow:

  • 1961 - Nurses
  • 1965 - Parachute folding women team
  • 1969 - Medical doctors
  • 1998 - Lawyers
  • 2004 - Engineering
  • 2011 - Aviation

Notable Female Officers of Nepal Army

  • Brigadier General Dr. Radha Shah - First woman to become Brigadier General of Nepal Army
  • Brigadier General Dr. Narvada Thapa - First female staff of Nepal Army to get doctorate degree (P.Hd)
  • Colonel Dr. Sarita K.C - First Nepalese army female personnel to join UN Peacekeeping mission (UNIFIL)
  • Major Kriti Rajbhandari - First woman observer military liaison officer from Nepal Army
  • Colonel Yvetta Rana - First woman officer of Judge Advocate General Department of Nepal Army
  • Colonel Sovana Rayamajhi - First woman officer (Computer Engineer) to join the Information Technology Department of Nepal Army
  • Major Niru Dhungana - One of the first female military pilots
  • Major Anita Ale Magar - One of the first female military pilots
  • Major Shristhi Khadka - First woman company commander of Nepal Army


The majority of equipment used by the army is imported from other countries. India is the army's largest supplier of arms and ammunition as well as other logistical equipment, which are often furnished under generous military grants.[20] Germany, the United States, Belgium, Israel, and South Korea have also either supplied or offered arms to the Nepali Army.[21]

The army's first standard rifle was the Belgian FN FAL, which it adopted in 1960.[21] Nepali FALs were later complemented by unlicensed, Indian-manufactured variants of the same weapon, as well its British counterpart, the L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle.[21] Beginning in 2002 these were officially supplemented in army service by the American M-16 rifle, which took the FAL's place as the army's standard service rifle.[21] Nevertheless, the FAL and its respective variants remain the single most prolific weapon in Nepali army service, with thousands of second-hand examples being supplied by India as late as 2005.[20]

Small arms

Weapon Image Origin Type Calibre Notes
Hi-Power  Belgium Semi-automatic pistol 9×19mm FN P-35 variant.[22]
Submachine guns
MP5[20]  West Germany Submachine Gun 9×19mm
Sten[22]  United Kingdom Submachine Gun
Uzi[23]  Israel
Rifle and Carbines
INSAS rifle[21]  India Assault rifle 5.56×45mm The Nepali Army had about 25,000 INSAS rifles in 2006.[24]
G36  Germany
M-16  United States Standard service rifle of the Nepali Army.[21]
CAR-15[20] Carbine
M4 carbine Carbine
IMI Galil[20]  Israel Assault rifle
IWI Tavor Assault rifle Used by Army Special Forces, Ranger Battalion.
Tavor X95 Assault rifle Used by Army Special Forces, Ranger Battalion. Often seen with GL40 UBGL, shown to be OTB compatible.
IWI ACE Assault rifle 7.62×39mm Limited use by Military Police.[25]
AKM  Soviet Union Assault rifle Confiscated from Maoist guerrillas during insurgency.[20]
Type 56  China Assault rifle 300 purchased from China in 2010.[20]
L1A2 SLR  United Kingdom Battle rifle 7.62×51mm Unlicensed Indian variant designated 1A1.[21]
FN FAL[21]  Belgium
PSG1[20]  Germany Sniper rifle
Ishapore 2A1  India Bolt-action rifle Indian licensed copy of the No. III Enfield, modified for use with 7.62 NATO. New production action and barrel, recycled buttstock from No. III Enfields.[20]
Machine guns
FN Minimi  Belgium Light machine gun 5.56×45mm 5,500 purchased from Belgium in 2002.[21] Principal LMG/SAW
M249  United States 300 supplied as military aid from the US.[20] Functionally identical to FN Minimi
Bren L4A4[22]  United Kingdom 7.62×51mm Used in outposts and basic automatic fire training
FN MAG[22]  Belgium General Purpose Machine Gun Principal GPMG, used on vehicle mounts.

Heavy weapons

Weapon Origin Type Calibre Notes
Air defence
Bofors L/70[26]  Sweden Anti-aircraft gun 40mm
QF 3.7-inch AA gun[26]  United Kingdom 94mm 45 in service.
OTO Melara Mod 56  Italy Pack howitzer 105mm 14 in service.[27]
120-PM-43  Soviet Union Mortar 120mm 70 in service[28]
M 29  United States Mortar 81mm [28]


Vehicle Origin Type Quantity Notes
Armoured cars
Daimler Ferret  United Kingdom Scout car 40[28] Ferret Mk4 variant.[28]
Armoured personnel carriers
Casspir  South Africa MRAP 37[29]
Aditya  India ~124[28]
VN-4  China 63
OT-64  Czechoslovakia Armoured personnel carrier 8
WZ551  China Infantry fighting vehicle 5 Acquired from China in 2005.

Rank structure

Commissioned officers

Rank group General / flag officers Senior officers Junior officers Officer cadet
 Nepali Army[30]
No insignia
महारथी (प्रधानसेनापती)
Mahārathī (pradhānasēnāpatī)
सहायक रथी
Sahaayak rathee
प्रमुख सेनानी
Pramukh senaanee
सहायक सेनानी
Sahaayak senaanee
अधिकृत क्याडेट
Adhikr̥ta kyāḍēṭa
COAS General Lieutenant general Major general Brigadier general Colonel Lieutenant colonel Major Captain Lieutenant Second lieutenant Officer cadet

Other ranks

Rank group Senior NCOs Junior NCOs Enlisted
 Nepali Army[30]
No insignia No insignia
प्रमुख सुवेदार
Pramukh Suvēdār
Chief warrant officer Warrant officer first class Warrant officer second class Sergeant Corporal Lance corporal Private Followers
Other rank insignia
Sergeant Major Master Sergeant Sergeant First Class Staff Sergeant

See also



  1. ^ "Nepali Army | नेपाली सेना". 15 February 2018. Archived from the original on 1 September 2018. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  2. ^ "Nepal Army to observe Army Day on Monday". myRepublica. 2 March 2019. Archived from the original on 20 January 2021. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  3. ^ Haviland, Charles (19 May 2006). "Erasing the 'royal' in Nepal". BBC News. Retrieved 23 September 2006.
  4. ^ "Thapa to take charge of Nepali Army as acting CoAS". 9 August 2018.
  5. ^ "New chief faces daunting task rebuilding Nepal Army's image".
  6. ^ a b c Adhikari 2015, p. 154.
  7. ^ a b c Adhikari 2015, p. 153.
  8. ^ a b Adhikari 2015, p. 155.
  9. ^ Pradhan 2012, p. 149.
  10. ^ Acharya 2012, p. 215.
  11. ^ Nepal 2007, p. 105.
  12. ^ Nepal 2007, p. 106.
  13. ^ Acharya 2012, p. 160.
  14. ^ Oldfield 1880, p. 311.
  15. ^ Nepal 2007, p. 109.
  16. ^ Pradhan 2012, p. 164.
  17. ^ "In a first, NA peacekeepers to dispose explosives under UN mission". Archived from the original on 23 October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  18. ^ "NA to deploy 140 soldiers to Mali for peacekeeping – News – :: The Kathmandu Post ::". Archived from the original on 23 October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  19. ^ Nepal Army Day The Kathmandu Post 9 March 2013 [dead link]
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Legacies of War in the Company of Peace: Firearms in Nepal" (PDF). Geneva: Small Arms Survey. May 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 July 2014. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i Graduate Institute of International Studies (2003). Small Arms Survey 2003: Development Denied. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 97–113. ISBN 978-0199251759.
  22. ^ a b c d e Hogg, Ian (1991). Jane's Infantry Weapons (17 ed.). Macdonald and Jane's Publishers Ltd. p. 747. ISBN 978-0710609632.
  23. ^ Sharma, Haridev (2012). Tripathi, Devi Prasad (ed.). Nepal in Transition: A Way Forward. New Delhi: Vij Books India Pvt Ltd. p. 57. ISBN 978-9381411070.
  24. ^ "Wikileaks news: Why Nepal king Gyanendra shed power". The Economic Times. 6 September 2011. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  25. ^ "Exercise Shanti Prayas III Closing Ceremony". DVIDS. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  26. ^ a b Pretty, Ronald (1983). Jane's Weapon Systems, 1983–84 (1983 ed.). Macdonald and Jane's Publishers Ltd. p. 876. ISBN 978-0-7106-0776-8.
  27. ^ Christopher F. Foss (2001). Jane's Armour and Artillery (2002 ed.). Macdonald and Jane's Publishers Ltd. p. 740. ISBN 978-0710623096.
  28. ^ a b c d e "Trade Registers". Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  29. ^ Leon Engelbrecht (3 January 2011). "South African Arms Exports". Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  30. ^ a b Nepali Army. "Nepali Army Rank Structure". Nepali Army. Retrieved 25 August 2018.

Further reading

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Nepali Army
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