A short history of the first 25 years


On the 1st October, 1995, the AFM celebrated the 25th anniversary of their establishment. In this last quarter of the century, our military have transitioned from an artillery regiment within the British Army, to a small army under the Government of Malta.

The change brought with it many diverse circumstances and duties different from those accustomed to in the past. There was the need to meet the country's exigencies and set new foundations so as to be a national armed force for the future.

It can be said that with the efforts, work dedication and good will of all its members these last 25 years, this commitment has been carried out very satisfactorily, and it is considerd that the attained level of administration, training, dsicipline and efficiency within the Force promises a good future based on sound grounding. The role of AFM members of past, present and future continue to encourage greater progress in the contributions the Force can make to our motherland.

What is to follow is not an erudite and detailed Military History. It is a collection of events and reminiscence which hopes to provide pleasure and perhaps nostalgia to the reader on the salient points in our brief history.

1970 - RMA becomes Malta Land Force (MLF) and becomes the responsibility of the Government of Malta.

With an Act of Parliament in August 1970, the Armed Forces of Malta came into being with some 500 officers and men plus equipment transitioning from the British Army to the Maltese Government's responsibility. Around 100 other men from the Royal Engineers Malta also opted to join on their disbandment plus another number from the Royal Signals. The established Malta Land Force saw the merger of HQ RMA with HQ MLF on October 1st, having received its regular compliment along with 1st Regiment RMA and the RMA Band. On this same day, a farewell was also made, on disbandment, to the 3/11th AD Regt. RMA (T) and to the 1 Battalion The King Own Malta Regt. which compromised the two remaining units of the Territorial part of the MLF.

The experience of the highly skilled men gained over the years of peace and conflict was immediately put to good use, particularly in Explosive Ordinance Disposal on land and afterwards underwater, and in manning and maintenance of two ex-USA Government fast patrol boats for anti-contraband and other inshore duties.

In 1971, 14 soldiers were sent for 6 weeks training with members from the Malta Police Force for helicopter pilot training in the Federal Republic of Germany on Bell 47 G2 helicopters. This heralded Maltese light army aviation in the local military scenario.

On 22nd May, 1972, volunteers were enlisted into the Emergency Labour Corps for one year, after which they were offered automatic engagement into the Pioneer Corps.

1973 - Armed Forces of Malta succeed Malta Land Force (new responsibilities included the raising of the Malta Pioneer Corps (MPC) and Dirghajn il-Maltin)

On 19th April, 1973, the title Malta Land Force was legally changed to Armed Forces of Malta (AFM). This was not merely a change of designation, it was meant to reflect the increased responsibilies and expansion of its manpower strength to some 4,000, organized into four major units (namely 1st Regiment RMA and three battalions of the Pioneer Corps). By the end of June, 1973, the 1st Battalion Malta Pioneer Corps was formed.

In March, 1975, the pioneers of 2 MPC were distributed between 1 and 3 PC. On formation of the new corps Dirghajn il-Maltin, HQ 2 MPC became the new corps HQ. The remaining two battalions now had a strength of approximately 1,650 men. On 16th January, 1975, the two remaining MPC battalions were amalgamated into one unit of 3,000 men.

1980-1988: The Armed Forces were divided into two separate units known as the Armed Forces of Malta and the Task Force, each commanded by a Colonel (The Dejma labour corps replaces the MPC/ DiM from 1981 to 1989)

What had hitherto been 1st Regiment AFM was on 1st April, 1980 under a separate command. It included an infantry company, the Maritime Squadron, and the Helicopter Flight, totalling to some 500 men. A number of Police personnel were transfered to augment this strength and help fulfill the role for which it was set up. Later, other military sections were embraced into the force: the Ammunition Depot, the Explosives Ordinance Disposal and the Airport Company.

On 3rd September, 1982, the first 70 female soldier recruits marched in the first ever parade by female soldiers on the Islands. In all, 300 young women were recruited into the Dejma.

Between 1970 and 1986, no officer-cadet intakes were made. Prior to 1970, officer-cadets completed their training in the United Kingdom at the Royal Miliatry Academy Sandurst in Camberley. In April, 1987, ten officer-cadets held their pass-out at AFM HQ in Luqa Barracks. Their locally organised training included five-months at the National Sevicemen's School of Infantry and Cavallry in Rome, Italy.

1988 - The two units were re-amalgamated into the AFM under the command of a Brigadier

Units forming part of the Task Force were re-amalgamated with units from 2 Regt AFM and the AFM Depot on 11th May, 1988. The Task Force colours (presented on 28th March, 1981) were later laid up in St. John's Co-Cathedral, hanging among the Colours of former regiments in the Oratory.

Later, on 23rd June, 1988, new National and Regimental Colours were presented to the AFM. This was the first time the re-amalgamated AFM had their own Colours.

On 04th February, 1992, the AFM took delivery of its first ever fixed-wing aircraft. Five former USA single-engined Cessna Bird Dog 19-F spotters were purchased for coastal patrol, maritime search operations and pilot training.

On 02nd April, 1992, a new Long Service and Efficiency Medal was presented to 253 officers and other ranks for over 18 years of service having a clean conduct sheet. Those with over 30 years service get a medal with two clasps. A medal with one clasp is given to those having served between 25 and 30 years.

On 01st May, 1998, members of the Air Traffic Control Corps and others from the Airport Company (inclusive the Luqa Fire Services and the Meteorological Office) were absorbed into the Malta International Airport plc. on disbandment.

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Last updated: July 2007