Armed Forces


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Æ Mongol Empire and Post-Imperial

Main articles: Mongol military tactics and organization and Mongol Empire § Military setup


As a unified state, Mongolia traces its origins to the Mongol Empire created by Genghis Khan in the 13th century. Genghis Khan unified the various tribes on the Mongol steppe, and his descendants eventually conquered almost the entirety of Asia, the Middle East, and parts of Eastern Europe. The military of the Mongol Empire is regarded to be the first modern military system.

The Mongol Army was organized into decimal units of tens, hundreds, thousands, and ten thousands. A notable feature of the army is that it was composed entirely of cavalry units, giving it the advantage of maneuverability. Siege weaponry was adapted from other cultures, with foreign experts integrated into the command structure.


Name for military unit size

Number of men








Tens of Thousands


Marco Polo (~*1254-†1324) writes about the badges of rank (leaving out the Arban but adding the commander of 100,000):

For a commander of 100 has a tablet of silver; a commander of 1000 a tablet of gold, or rather of silver gilt; and a commander of 10,000 a tablet of gold with a lion’s head. The tablets of command over 100 or 1000 weigh 120 saggi (=  425 g) apiece, those with a lion’s head weigh 220 (= 780 g). On all these tablets is written a command in these words: ‘By the might of the Great God and the great grace he has given to our Emperor, blessed be the name of the Khan, and death and destruction to all who do not obey him.’

... As for the commander of 100.000, or generalissimo of a great army, he has a tablet of gold weighing 300 saggi (= 1063g.), with an inscription such as I have mentioned; and at the foot of the tablet is portrayed the lion, and above it is an image of the sun and moon.

In addition he has warrants of high command and great authority. And whenever he goes riding he must carry an umbrella over his head in token of his exalted rank; and when he sits he must sit on a silver chair. To these dignitaries the Great Khan also gives a tablet with the sign of the gerfalcon;...   [1]


This last is the T’ang-Chinese and Gök-turk  He emblem of generals.


The obverse and reverse of a silver Paizah (Гэрэгэ), or symbol of authority, which, together with a written document, was given by the Mongol Khans to high military, civil and ecclesiastical officials, who where thereby empowered to demand money, animals and service from any and every one of the king’s subjects. The inscription is in the Mongolian tongue.

Although paizas were popularized by the Mongols, they were not (contrary to common claim) a Mongol innovation. Similar such passports were already in use in northern China under the Liao dynasty, and their use was continued under subsequent kingdoms such as the Jin Dynasty and the Tangut kingdom of Xi-Xia. The Jin paiza had seven different ranks


Paizah with lions’ head

of a commander of a Tümen of 10.000

from the Golden Horde


Paiza with (crouching) lion of a generalissimo

Coll. Metmuseum

Period: Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)

Date: late 13th century

Culture: China

Medium: Iron with silver inlay

Dimensions:  18.1 cm Î W. 11.4 cm

Classification: Metalwork

Credit Line: Purchase, Bequest of Dorothy Graham Bennett, 1993

Accession Number: 1993.256



The openwork inscription on this circular plaque has been filled with silver to the extent that the characters project from the surface of the plaque on both sides; the inscription on the reverse is thus inverted. The type of script—used early on to write the Mongol language—is named for its inventor, Phakpa (1235–1280), the Tibetan monk and scholar who served as the imperial preceptor for the Mongol court during the reign of Khubilai Khan (1215–94). The inscription reads, “By the strength of Eternal Heaven, an edict of the Emperor [Khan]. He who has not respect shall be guilty.” The form of the pass (paiza), with its animal mask decoration, is similar to that of a Tibetan mirror for reflecting evil.


Silver, casting, forging, engraving, gilding. An Arabic script on the plate displays the text:

"By the command of the eternal sky, the decree of the khan of Uzbek (Golden Horde) A person who does not submit to the Mongols is guilty, and must die."


Arban-u Darga , meaning “Commander of an Aravt”. An aravt was a military unit of 10 troops.

Jagutu-iin Darga , meaning “Commander of a Zuut”. A zuut was a military unit of 100 troops.

Mingghan-u Noyan , meaning “Commander of a Mingghan”. A mingghan was a military unit of 1,000 troops.

Tumetu-iin Noyan, meaning “Commander of a Tümen”. A tümen was a military unit of 10,000 troops. There were initially only nine tümens in the Mongol Empire in 1206, but by 1368 there were 40 Mongol tümens and four Oirat tümens.


Cherbi, a title for a Kheshig (imperial guard) commander.

Bey, a Turkish term meaning "Chieftain".


From the mongol (Yüan-) era in China there are preserved some clothes embroidered with beasts we later find back in the so-called  mandarin squares of the Ming dynasty.

The beasts from the  Sung and Yüan Dynasty are:

Dragons, phoenixes, gerfalcons, griffins, lions, panthers, roosters, stags and hares. Some of these apparently are badges of militray office and others of civil office. The stag should be the badge of the highest religious office, for example of a  mongolian shaman or a buddhist lama. The gerfalcon has its counterpart in the european eagle but was replaced for the qilin (unicorn) by the Qing dynasty.


With the disintegration of the Mongol Empire in the late 13th century, the Mongol Army as a unified unit also crumbled. The Mongols retreated back to their homeland after the fall of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty, and once again delved into civil war. Although the Mongols became united once again during the reign of Queen Mandukhai and Batmongkhe Dayan Khan, in the 17th century they were annexed into the Qing Dynasty.


Period under Qing Rule

Once Mongolia was under the Qing, the Mongol Armies were used to defeat the Ming dynasty, helping to consolidate Manchu Rule. Mongols proved a useful ally in the war, lending their expertise as cavalry archers. During most of the Qing Dynasty era the Mongols gave military assistance to the Manchus.

With the creation of the Eight Banners Banner Armies were broadly divided along ethnic lines, namely Manchu (1639/42) and Mongol (1635).


Lion (Sanskrit: sinha. Tibetan: seng)

The lion has an indigeneous history as a mystic animal in Tibet, which was reinforced when Buddhism was introduced with its use of a lion throne for the Buddha. The lion can be seen in many roles in Tibetan art. It is the third of the Bon mytological animals. The lion of Buddha remains as a peripheral supporting beast for the thrones or bases of various deities, often literally supporting the base with its up-raised hand in an Atlas-like pose. There is also a rather separate concept of the snow lion as an emblem of the Tibetan state. As such it appears on the Tibetan  national flag and on the seal of the Tibetan and Mongol states.


Thunderbolt  (vajra)

Wish-Grantimg Jewel  (cintamani)

Three jewels  (tri-ratna)


Deity: Dorje Shugden (Tibetan)

Alternative name: Vajra Rudra (Sanskrit)


Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri. He took the form of a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings, especially the important teachings on the Middle Way View. Reminiscent of Manjushri’s form, Dorje Shugden carries a meandering sword and rides a snowlion that represents the fearlessness of a fully enlightened Buddha. Thus, he has great strength to overcome obstacles of the body, speech and mind, and create suitable conditions for the spiritual practice to flourish. Furthermore, he carries a jewel-spitting mongoose and a vajra hook to symbolise that he has the tremendous ability to bestow wealth and resources.



Snow Lion

lower margin of the portrait of Zanabazar

Late 17th -early 18th century



This is a picture of a Mongol commander with a sülde and his hand and sitting on a snow lion



Chinese Mandarin Square

Mandarin square: Shizi (Lion)

badge of rank of a commander of 100,000 or a (Qing-) military official of the 2nd rank

until 1911


Handle of the seal


Bogd Khanate (1911–1919)


In 1911, Outer Mongolia declared its independence as the Bogd Khaanate under the Bogd Khan. This initial independence did not last, with Mongolia being occupied successively by the Chinese Beiyang Government, and Baron Ungern's White Russian forces. The modern precursor to the Mongolian Armed Forces was placed, with men's conscription and a permanent military structure starting in 1912.


Manlaibaatar Damdinsüren (Манлайбаатар Дамдинсүрэн, first hero Damdinsüren; (*Hulunbuir, Inner Mongolia 13 03 1871 – † 27 01 1921), was a military commander, Pan-Mongolist and diplomat who led Mongolia's struggle for independence in 1911.

In 1908 he officially inherited his father's rank Zhang. While visiting the imperial court in Beijing he met with Prince Mijiddorjiin Khanddorj with whom he first broached the idea of overthrowing the Manchu domination of Outer Mongolia.

In 1911 he and other Mongolian nobility and high ranking Buddhist lamas participated in a secret congress in Ikh Khüree convened by Mongolia's religious leader, the Jebtsundamba Khutuktu, to formulate a declaration of independence from Manchu Chinese rule. Once the declaration was issued, Damdinsüren helped mobilize thousands of soldiers, seized the northern Inner Mongolian city of Hailar and offered his allegiance to the Bogd Khan. Under the Bogd Khan's government he served as counselor first class of the ministry of the army and then Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. In August 1912, his forces combined with those of Khatanbaatar Magsarjav and Ja Lama to liberate the city of Khovd in western Mongolia from Chinese occupation, for which he received the honorary title of Manlaibaatar ("Best Hero") and the princely title "beyle."

On February 2, 1913 Damdinsüren was one of the signatories to the Treaty of friendship and alliance between the Government of Mongolia and Tibet in which the two countries declared mutual recognition and allegiance. Later that month he commanded troops (including a young Darizavyn Losol) in a series of battles against Chinese forces in Inner Mongolia around Mongolia's south east border that climaxed in an unsuccessful assault on the city of Hohhot.

From September 1914 to June 1915, Damdinsüren represented the interests of Inner Mongolia at Russian-Chinese-Mongolian negotiations that resulted in the 1915 Treaty of Kyakhta which outlined, among other issues, Mongolia's geopolitical status.

In 1919 Damdinsüren began a rapprochement with the Mongolian revolutionaries. Damdinsuren said "I can defend Mongolia from China and Red Russia" after Chinese occupation of 1919. He was arrested by Chinese occupation authorities in the autumn of 1920 and died in a prison in Niislel Khüree in January 1921.


Breast patch and shoulder patches of a Mongolian high-ranking official 1911-1921[2]


The pattern consists of the soyombo surrounded by floral motifs


Mongolian People's Republic


Mongolian People´s Army

Main article: Mongolian People's Army

With Independence lost again to foreign forces, the newly created Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party created a native communist army in 1920 under the leadership of Damdin Sükhbaatar in order to fight against Russian troops from the White movement and Chinese forces. The MPRP was aided by the Red Army, which helped to secure the Mongolian People's Republic and remained in its territory until at least 1925. However, during the 1932 armed uprising in Mongolia and the initial Japanese border probes beginning in the mid-1930s, Soviet Red Army troops in Mongolia amounted to little more than instructors for the native army and as guards for diplomatic and trading installations.


Brigade Commander / Бригадын командлагч

after 1940


Corps Commander / Kорпус командлагч

After 1940


Hat badge and cuff badges: A vajra (thunderbolt) and some clouds. On the hats the arms of 1940-1955.



Hat badge

after 1939



Rank Insignia of the Mongol Peoples Army , 1936-1940


Rank Insignia of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Army until 1940


Rank Insignia (from left to right): 1 Marshal, 2 Army Commander, 3 Corps Commander, 4 Divisional Commander, 5 Brigade Commander, 6 Jurandaa, 7 Major, 8 Captain, 9 Chief Lieutenant, 10 Lieutenant, 11 Leader, 12 Chairman of the parade, 13 Branch Assistant, 14 Combatant.[3]


Mongol Uls

12.02.-1992- present


Mongolian Armed Forces (Монгол улсын зэвсэгт хүчин)




Arms: Gules a pale Azure, the Khara Sülde proper



Khara Sülde

at the Ghingghiz Khan Mausoleum


The Khara Sülde or "Chinggis Khan-nii Kharia Yikhit Khara Sülde" is also called "Dörven Khölt

Khara Sülde" (Khara Sülde with four feet).

Folk tales mention that the Khara Sülde would be raised when the Khan was at war. The Chagaan (white) Sülde was raised in peace time or in a place far away from war.

The Khara Sülde was the Khan's battlefield banner, standing for the power of the "Everlasting Blue Heaven" which can concentrate and mobilize the spirit and power of all Mongols to defeat their enemies in all time in all directions.

The place where the Khara Sülde was worshipped in Ordos was called "Shine-in Khushuu" in the former Jiun-Wang Banner where the Ulaan Muren river and Khökh Usun river meet. Later, when Chinese peasants started to cultivate the area, the Sülde was forced to move north, finally settled in today's Sülde-in Khoroo Gachaa (Gachaa, the lowest Municipal unit in Inner Mongolia) of the Bor-Toig Sumu (Sumu: township), Ejen-Khoroo Banner (Banner: Khushuu in Mongol, County). On June 14th of 1956, the Khara Sülde was moved to the new Mausoleum.

The Sülde consists of a about one Tokhoi (1 tokhoi = 32 cm) long double-edged spearhead of steel called Jelme, a plate of silver Char with 9 x 9 = 81 holes along the rim and a Shilvi - a long wooden pole that serves as the handle of the Sülde.

The Char would be fixed to the Jelme a short distance from the Jelme's lower end and the Shilvi would be inserted into a hole on the lower end of the Jelme and would be wedged by a silver wedge (Shongnuurga) and then the joint would be wrapped by white silk.

"Khükhüül", bunches of chestnut stallions mane, would be tied to the holes of the Char by leather strings made of black goat's skin. The Shilvi was 13.5 Tokhoi (432 cm) long and made of cedar. A 12 Tokhoi (384 cm) long yellow silk "coat" with 1000 buttons would be put onto the Sülde and a supporting Shilvi would also be fixed to the main Shilvi to ensure the main Sülde's stability. Then the Sülde's main Shilvi and the supporting Shilvi would be inserted into the holes on the back of giant stone tortoise.

Four "Elchi" (that is a messenger or courier, sometimes assistant of a Khan) Sülde (the Elchi Sülde was shorter than the main Sülde, the Shilvi of the Elchi Sülde was 9 Tokhoi) stand around the main Sülde and are fastened up to the main Sülde with a 13 Tokhoi (416 cm) long rope made of stallion mane with yellow silk coat. The four Elchi Sülde standing around the main Sülde serve as the four feet of the Khara Sülde.

Since the Sülde was said to be descended from the High Heaven, it should always be exposed to Heaven and accompany with the Heaven, and for this reason, the Sülde has been exposed in the open for hundreds of years and it should never be placed under any shelter. Also, because the Sülde was the Khan's very important Shitügen, the offering ceremonies of the Sülde have been held separately from the ceremonies of the Khan and had its unique procedures and schedules of ceremonies.

The offering ceremonies of the Khara Sülde were:

Baga Dailga (baga means small or not big, dailga means offering ceremony), held on every 1st days of a month.

Jalgamj  (continuing offering), held on every 3rd day of a month,

Juslang-in Dailga (summer time ceremony), held on the 3rd day of the 7th month of the year according to the Ordos calendar (the 7th month is the 1st month of the summer).

Yikh Dailga (grand offering), held on 14th day of the 10th month of the year of the Ordos calendar

Togshiulkh Dailga,  held on the 5th day of the first month of the winter in every Dragon year.





General Staff




Ground forces

Xуурай Замын Цэрэг




Cap badge

Sleeve patch




General (GEN)

Lieutenant General (LT GEN)

Major General (MAJ GEN)

Brigadier General (Br Gen)

Colonel (COL)

Lieutenant Colonel (LTC)

Major (MAJ)

Captain (CPT)

1st Lieutenant (1LT)

2nd Lieutenant (2LT)


Lead Sergeant (LSGT) or Command Sergeant Major (CSM)

Training Sergeany (TSGT) = (SM)Sergeant Major

Senior Sergeant (SSG)

Sergeant (SGT)

Junior Sergeant (JSGT)

Conscript soldiers

Senior Corporal (SCPL)

Corporal (CPL)

Lance Corporal (LCPL)

Private (PVT)


The current rank system was established in 2003 by introducing Sergeant major and Master sergeant ranks. In 2006 Brigadier general, General ranks were introduced and Colonel general, General of the Army ranks were abolished Current set of rank insignia introduced in 2017. Officers insignia ulzii replaced by five-pointed star and non-commissioned officers insignia pattern replaced by chevrons


See:  Mongolian Military Ranks




The Mongols rarely used naval power, with a few exceptions. In the 1260s and 1270s they used seapower while conquering the Song dynasty of China, though they were unable to mount successful seaborne campaigns against Japan due to storms and rough battles. Around the Eastern Mediterranean, their campaigns were almost exclusively land-based, with the seas being controlled by the Crusader and Mamluk forces.



The Mongolia Ship Registry (MSR) contributes to the development of the Marine Transport in Mon-golia and connect Mongolia into the global maritime transportation network.


Air Force


Air Force



On 25 May 1925 a Junkers F.13 entered service as the first aircraft in Mongolian civil and military aviation. By 1935 Soviet aircraft were based in the country. In May 1937 the air force was renamed the Mongolian People's Republic Air Corps. During 1939–1945 the Soviets delivered the aircraft. After  1966 the Soviet Union continued to deliver aircraft, and the air force was renamed Air Force of the Mongolian People's Republic.

After the end of the Cold War and the advent of the Democratic Revolution, the air force was effectively grounded due to a lack of fuel and spare parts. However, the government has been trying to revive the air force since 2001. The current Armed Forces maintains an Air Forces Defense Command (Агаарын довтолгооноос хамгаалах цэргийн командлал), under the command of the General Staff. The country has the goal of developing a full air force in the future.





Roundel 1940-1945

Roundel 1949-1992



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 © Hubert de Vries 2019-12-18




[1] Marco Polo, The Travels. Penguin classics, 1967. p. 121

[2] From:

[3] маршал, армийн командлагч, корпус командлагч, дивиз  командлагч, бригадын командлагч, журандаа, хошууч, ахмад, ахлах дэслэгч, деслегч, ахлагч, жагсаалын дарга, салааны туслах, байлдагч