The armed forced numbered approximately 51,000 in 2002 including the Royal Guard. There was also a paramilitary police force of 40,000 personnel. The army also included a small air wing of 320 with no combat aircraft or helicopters. Opposition forces consisted of the estimated 5,000–member Communist Party of Nepal. The United Kingdom maintained a small military presence. In 2001, Nepal spent $51.5 million on defense or about 1% of GDP.
Under separate treaty arrangements going back to 1816, gurkhas of the same mountain stock (especially Magars, Gurungs, Rais, and Limpus) are recruited in Nepal by Great Britain and, since 1947, by the Republic of India. Under British and Indian flags, and with arms, training, and officers provided by their foreign recruiters, gurkhas are among the world's most renowned fighting men with extensive service in all parts of the globe in both world wars and several UN actions of this century.