Sultan Omar Ali, who first organised the unit, at first called it simply the “Brunei Malay Regiment.” The adjective “Royal” was added by the same sultan four years later. Brunei gained full independence from the U.K. in 1984, and the name was then changed to “Royal Brunei Armed Forces.”
When first formed, Brunei’s army had only 60 soldiers, but today, it has some 9,000 members. The RBAF began with land forces only, but today, it includes naval and air forces as well. Only those of Malay descent are allowed to join the armed forces, and all members have joined voluntarily. The RBAF’s military equipment is mostly imported, the U.K., France, and the U.S. being its major suppliers.
Some activities those in Brunei on RBAF Day may wish to take part in include:
- Attend the official celebration in the main city, where you will see a military parade, a mock battle, and other demonstrations. There are also smaller parades in other localities in the country.
- Visit the Brunei Museum, where you will see art and cultural exhibits as well as an extensive History Gallery. The section on the history of the Bruneian Empire and the conflicts with Spain and Portugal is especially interesting.