In 2000 the South African defense force consisted of the permanent force, the citizen force, and the commandos. The permanent force is the regular professional nucleus. All medically fit white male citizens of South Africa are required to serve for 12 months in the armed forces; nonwhites serve on a voluntary basis. After fulfilling this service, conscripts are allotted to the citizen force, which consists of reservists who may be called up in case of war, training, internal disorders, or other national emergencies. The commandos are an armed civilian paramilitary force used to defend their home areas.
In 2002 South Africa had nearly 60,000 active military personnel including 8,681 women. The army had 40,250 troops, with some 168 main battle tanks. The total strength of the navy was 5,000 personnel equipped with seven patrol and coastal combatants, two submarines, and 36 additional vessels. The air force, with 9,250 personnel, had 85 combat aircraft and several armed helicopters. There is also a medical corps of 5,500. South Africa maintained forces in Burundi, and participated in two peacekeeping missions in Africa. In 2001 South Africa spent $1.8 billion on defense, or about 1.6% of GDP.