The Malaysian Armed Forces (Angkatan Tentera Malaysia) consists of three branches, which are the the Royal Malaysian Navy (Tentera Laut Diraja Malaysia), the Malaysian Army (Tentera Darat Malaysia) and the Royal Malaysian Air Force (Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia). Malaysia does not have conscription, and the required age for voluntary military service is 18.
In the early 1990s, Malaysia undertook a major program to expand and modernize its armed forces. However, budgetary constraints imposed by the 1997 financial crisis held many of the procurements. The recent economic recovery may lead to relaxation of budgetary constraints on the resumption of major weapons purchases. In October 2000, the Defence Minister also announced a review of national defence and security policy to bring it up to date. The review addressed new security threats that have emerged in the form of low intensity conflicts, such as the kidnapping of Malaysians and foreigners from resort islands located off the east coast of the state of Sabah and risk rising territory dispute with several neighbour countries. Currently, 1.9% of Malaysia's GDP is spent on the military, which hires 1.23% of Malaysia's manpower.
The Five Power Defence Arrangement between Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, is a regional security initiative which has been in place for almost 40 years. It involves joint military exercises held between the five countries. Joint exercises and war games have been held with Indonesia for years. Malaysia and the Philippines have agreed to host joint exercises between their security forces, in order to secure their maritime border and tackle issues such as illegal immigration.
There are fears that unrest in the Muslim areas of the southern Philippines and southern Thailand could spill over into Malaysia.
The main theatres of operations were within Malaysian borders, primarily to fight an insurgency led by the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) in what was known as the Emergency. The only foreign incursion of Malaysian territory in modern times were in World War II by Japan (Malaya was then not a unified political entity and consisted of the British Crown Colony of the Straits Settlements, and the British protected Federated Malay States and Unfederated Malay States) and during the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation by Indonesia under the leadership of President Sukarno. Operations on foreign soil have mainly been peacekeeping operations under the auspices of the United Nations. In 2005, Malaysia provided support to 10 UN peacekeeping missions. Australia provides a small training mission.
Military branches :
Malaysian Armed Forces (Angkatan Tentera Malaysia, ATM): Malaysian Army (Tentera Darat Malaysia), Royal Malaysian Navy (Tentera Laut Diraja Malaysia, TLDM), Royal Malaysian Air Force (Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia, TUDM) (2010)
Military service age and obligation :
18 years of age for voluntary military service (2005)
Manpower available for military service :
males age 16-49: 7,501,518
females age 16-49: 7,315,999 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military service :
males age 16-49: 6,247,306
females age 16-49: 6,175,274 (2010 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually :
female: 254,812 (2010 est.)
Military expenditures :
2.03% of GDP (2005 est.)