The ‘Know Your Region’ series is designed to support unit and individual professional military education on the Indo-Pacific region. It’s important for all serving members of our military to have a foundational knowledge of the countries and issues in our region.

On this page:

  • Military capability
  • International Cooperation
  • cooperation with Australia

Military Capability

The Royal Brunei Armed Forces was formed on 31 May 1961 and consists of the Royal Brunei Land Forces, the Royal Brunei Navy, and the Royal Brunei Air Force. The Royal Brunei Land Forces has a Brigade sized Army formation and is the largest of the three services. The Royal Brunei Navy is made up of thirty-six vessels primarily used for search and rescue operations and naval deterrence against sea-borne forces. The Royal Brunei Air Force consists of a small number of rotary wing and fixed wing aircraft in support of the other two services. While Brunei has a relatively small military capability, the nation is host to both British and Singaporean military bases.

In the 2024 financial year, Brunei increased military spending by 31.6 percent to 796.3 million Brunei dollars. According to the secondary Defence Minister, Halbi bin Mohammad Yussof, the additional spending is to be invested in intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance. Attention will also be directed towards “monitoring and detecting underwater threats to maintain the territorial integrity and economic interests of Brunei.”

International Cooperation

Amid South China Sea disputes, Brunei has taken a balanced approach that includes a range of international partnerships and agreements. Modernisation efforts and alliances with the US, Singapore, and Malaysia have reinforced the country as a player in the region. The five-power defence arrangements (FPDA) amplify regional collaboration, fostering ties with Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand.

Cooperation with Australia

Brunei and Australia have a longstanding military relationship dating back to 1945 when Australia conducted a series of amphibious landings to expel the Japanese from Borneo and the surrounding islands. Since that time, the two countries have enjoyed a close relationship that includes visits, professional exchanges, exercises, training, and courses.

Brunei contributes to Exercise INDO-PACIFIC ENDEAVOUR (IPE) which began in 2017 and has been conducted annually since. The aim of the exercise is to promote security and stability in Australia’s near region, to demonstrate Australia’s commitment towards humanitarian and security efforts, and to strengthen regional partnerships and friendships. The most recent exercise (IPE 2022) involved the demonstration of a joint amphibious beach assault at Penanjong Beach.

Both militaries regularly exchange skills through Brunei led jungle navigation training. The training helps to improve interoperability and the building of professional relationships at the soldier level.

A Defence Adviser position was established in 2021 which reflects the deepening engagement on security related issues between Australia and Brunei.

For further information on the Brunei military, see the resources below:


  1. Ministry of Defence – Brunei Darussalam
  2. Defence News – Brunei defense budget surges by 32%, with focus on intel, targeting
  3. Australian Government – ADF maintains bonds with Brunei on Indo-Pacific Endeavour