Somali Armed Forces
|Somali Armed Forces
Ciidamada Qalabka Sida
القوات المسلحة صومالية
Flag of the Federal Republic of Somalia
|Service branches|| Somali National Army
Somali Air Force
Somali Police Force
National Intelligence and Security Agency
|Commander-in-Chief||Hassan Sheikh Mohamud|
|Minister of Defense||Mohamed Sheikh Hassan|
|Chief of Army||Abdullahi Anod|
|2,261,704 (2010 est.; males)
2,217,584 (2010 est.; females), age 18–49
|1,328,567 (2010 est.; males)
1,386,971 (2010 est.; females), age 18–49
|99,919 (2010 est.; males)
99,771 (2010 est.; females)
|Percent of GDP||0.9% (2005)|
|Foreign suppliers|| European Union
The Somali Armed Forces (SAF), also known as the Somalia National Security Forces (SNSF), are the military forces of Somalia, officially known as the Federal Republic of Somalia. Headed by the President as Commander in Chief, they are constitutionally mandated to ensure the nation's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.
The SAF was initially made up of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Police Force. In the post-independence period, it grew to become among the larger militaries in Africa. Due to patrimonial and repressive state policies, the military had by 1988 begun to disintegrate. After the start of the civil war in 1991, the Somali National Army and all related military and security forces disbanded. In 2004, the gradual process of reconstituting the military was put in motion with the establishment of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). As of January 2014, the security sector is overseen by the Federal Government of Somalia's Ministry of Defence, Ministry of National Security, and Ministry of Interior and Federalism. The Somaliland, Puntland and Khaatumo regional governments maintain their own security and police forces.
According to CQ Press' Worldwide Government Directory with Intergovernmental Organizations, Somalia's defense forces as of 2013 include the Somali National Army, Somali Air Force, Somali Navy, Somali Police Force and National Intelligence and Security Agency.
- 1 History
- 2 Somali National Army
- 2.1 Formations and units
- 2.2 Rebuilding the Army
- 2.3 Commandos and Special Force
- 2.4 Strength and units
- 2.5 Army equipment
- 2.6 Joint defence forces
- 3 Somali Air Force
- 4 Somali Navy
- 5 Somali Police Force
- 6 National Intelligence and Security Agency
- 7 Leadership
- 8 Military ranks 1977
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
Middle Ages to colonial period
Historically, Somali society conferred distinction upon warriors (waranle) and rewarded military acumen. All Somali males were regarded as potential soldiers, except for the odd religious cleric (wadaado). Somalia's many Sultanates each maintained regular troops. In the early Middle Ages, the conquest of Shewa by the Ifat Sultanate ignited a rivalry for supremacy with the Solomonic dynasty.
Many similar battles were fought between the succeeding Sultanate of Adal and the Solomonids, with both sides achieving victory and suffering defeat. During the protracted Ethiopian-Adal War (1529–1559), Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi defeated several Ethiopian Emperors and embarked on a conquest referred to as the Futuh Al-Habash ("Conquest of Abyssinia"), which brought three-quarters of Christian Abyssinia under the power of the Muslim Adal Sultanate. Al-Ghazi's forces and their Ottoman allies came close to extinguishing the ancient Ethiopian kingdom, but the Abyssinians managed to secure the assistance of Cristóvão da Gama's Portuguese troops and maintain their domain's autonomy. However, both polities in the process exhausted their resources and manpower, which resulted in the contraction of both powers and changed regional dynamics for centuries to come. Many historians trace the origins of hostility between Somalia and Ethiopia to this war. Some scholars also argue that this conflict proved, through their use on both sides, the value of firearms such as the matchlock musket, cannons and the arquebus over traditional weapons.
At the turn of the 20th century, the Majeerteen Sultanate, Sultanate of Hobyo, Warsangali Sultanate and Dervish State employed cavalry in their battles against the imperialist European powers during the Campaign of the Sultanates.
In Italian Somaliland, eight "Arab-Somali" infantry battalions, the Ascari, and several irregular units of Italian officered dubats were established. These units served as frontier guards and police. There were also Somali artillery and zaptié (carabinieri) units forming part of the Italian Royal Corps of Colonial Troops from 1889 to 1941.
1960 to 1991
Just prior to independence in 1960, the Trust Territory of Somalia sought and obtained UN permission to establish a national army to defend the nascent Somali Republic's borders. The Somali Police Force's Mobile Group (Darawishta Poliska or Darawishta) was subsequently formed. April 12, 1960 has since been marked as Armed Forces Day. British Somaliland became independent on 26 June 1960 as the State of Somaliland, and the Trust Territory of Somalia (the former Italian Somaliland) followed suit five days later. On July 1, 1960, the two territories united to form the Somali Republic, albeit within boundaries drawn up by Italy and Britain.
After independence, the Darawishta merged with the Somaliland Scouts of the former British Somaliland protectorate to form the 5,000 strong Somali National Army (SNA). The new military's first commander was Colonel Daud Abdullaahi Hersi, a former officer in the British military administration's police force, the Somalia Gendarmerie. Officers were trained in Britain, Egypt and Italy. Despite the social and economic benefits associated with military service, the armed forces began to suffer chronic manpower shortages only a few years after independence.
Merging the British Somaliland protectorate and the Italian Somaliland colony was rendered more difficult by the fact that the two former territories had hitherto been institutionally managed as separate states. The distribution of power between the two regions and among the major clans in both areas was a bone of contention. In December 1961, a group of British-trained northern junior army officers revolted after southern officers of higher rank were assigned to command their units. The rebels were subsequently detained by other northern soldiers of NCO rank, although dissatisfaction in the north lingered.
The force was expanded and modernized after the rebellion with the assistance of Soviet and Cuban advisors. The Library of Congress writes that '[i]n 1962 the Soviet Union agreed to grant a US$32 million loan to modernise the Somali army, and expand it to 14,000 personnel. Moscow later increased the amount to US$55 million. The Soviet Union, seeking to counter United States influence in the Horn of Africa, made an unconditional loan and fixed a generous twenty-year repayment schedule.'
The army was tested in 1964 when the conflict with Ethiopia over the Somali-inhabited Ogaden erupted into warfare. On 16 June 1963, Somali guerrillas started an insurgency at Hodayo, in eastern Ethiopia, a watering place north of Werder, after Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie rejected their demand for self-government in the Ogaden. The Somali government initially refused to support the guerrilla forces, which eventually numbered about 3,000. However, in January 1964, after Ethiopia sent reinforcements to the Ogaden, Somali forces launched ground and air attacks across the border and started providing assistance to the guerrillas. The Ethiopian Air Force responded with punitive strikes across its southwestern frontier against Feerfeer, northeast of Beledweyne and Galkayo. On 6 March 1964, Somalia and Ethiopia agreed to a cease-fire. At the end of the month, the two sides signed an accord in Khartoum, Sudan, agreeing to withdraw their troops from the border, cease hostile propaganda, and start peace negotiations. Somalia also terminated its support of the guerrillas.
During the power vacuum that followed the assassination of Somalia's second president, Abdirashid Ali Shermarke, the military staged a coup d'état on 21 October 1969 (the day after Shermarke's funeral) and took over office. Major General Mohamed Siad Barre, who had succeeded Hersi as Chief of Army in 1965, was installed as President of the Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC), the new government of Somalia. The country was renamed the Somali Democratic Republic, and Barre became the spokesman and leader of the new Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC). In 1971, he announced the regime's intention to phase out military rule.
In July 1976, the International Institute for Strategic Studies estimated the army consisted of 22,000 personnel, 6 tank battalions, 9 mechanised infantry battalions, 5 infantry battalions, 2 commando battalions, and 11 artillery battalions (5 anti-aircraft). Two hundred T-34 and 50 T-54/55 main battle tanks had been estimated to have been delivered. The IISS emphasised that 'spares are short and not all equipment is serviceable.' Three divisions (the 21st, 54th, and 60th) were formed, and later took part in the Ogaden War. While the IISS did not list them in July 1976, there is evidence that they were formed as early as 1970 or earlier: Mohamud Muse Hersi has been listed by somaliaonline.com as commander of the 21st Division from 1970 to 1972, and Muse Hassan Sheikh Sayid Abdulle as commander 26th Division in 1970–71.
Under the leadership of General Abdullah Mohamed Fadil, Abdullahi Ahmed Irro and other senior Somali military officials were mandated by Barre's government in 1977 with formulating a national strategy in preparation for the Ogaden campaign in Ethiopia. This was part of a broader effort to unite all of the Somali-inhabited territories in the Horn region into a Greater Somalia (Soomaaliweyn). At the start of the offensive, the SNA consisted of 35,000 soldiers, and was vastly outnumbered by the Ethiopian forces. Somali national army troops seized the Godey Front on July 24, 1977, after the SNA's 60th Division brigades defeated the 4th Ethiopian Infantry Division. Godey's capture allowed the Somali side to consolidate its hold on the Ogaden, concentrate its forces, and advance further to other regions of Ethiopia. The invasion reached an abrupt end with the Soviet Union's sudden shift of support to Ethiopia, followed by almost the entire communist world siding with the latter. The Soviets halted their previous supplies to Barre's regime and increased the distribution of aid, weapons, and training to Ethiopia's newly communist Derg regime. General Vasily Ivanovich Petrov was assigned to restructure the Ethiopian Army. The Soviets also brought in around 15,000 Cuban troops to assist the Ethiopian military. By 1978, the Somali forces were pushed out of most of the Ogaden, although it would take nearly three more years for the Ethiopian Army to gain full control of Godey.
Following the 1977–78 Ogaden campaign, Caabud-Waaq became the base for the SNA's 21st Division. The shift in support by the Soviet Union motivated the Barre regime to seek allies elsewhere. It eventually settled on Russia's Cold War arch-rival, the United States, which had been courting the Somali government for some time. The U.S. eventually gave extensive military support.
After fallout from the unsuccessful Ogaden campaign of the late 1970s, the ruling socialist government of the Somali Democratic Republic under Major General Barre began arresting government and military officials under suspicion of participation in the abortive 1978 coup d'état. Most of the people who had allegedly helped plot the putsch were summarily executed. However, several officials managed to escape abroad where they formed the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF), the first of various dissident groups dedicated to ousting Barre's regime by force. Among these opposition movements were the Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM) and Somali Democratic Alliance (SDA), a Gadabuursi group which had been formed in the northwest to counter the Somali National Movement (SNM) Isaaq militia.
According to the Library of Congress's Country Study, one of three corps headquarters for the ground forces in 1981 was situated at Hargeisa in the northwestern Woqooyi Galbeed region. Others were believed to be garrisoned at Gaalkacyo in the north-central Mudug region and at Beled Weyne in the south-central Hiiraan region. The ground forces were tactically organized into seven divisions. Allocated among the divisions were three mechanized infantry brigades, ten anti-aircraft battalions, and thirteen artillery battalions.
In 1984, the government attempted to solve the manpower shortage problem by instituting obligatory military service. Men of eighteen to forty years of age were to be conscripted for two years. Opposition to conscription and to the campaigns against guerrilla groups resulted in widespread evasion of military service. As a result, during the late 1980s the government normally met manpower requirements by impressing men into military service. This practice alienated an increasing number of Somalis, who wanted the government to negotiate a peaceful resolution of the conflicts that were slowly destroying Somali society.
In an effort to hold on to power, Barre's ruling Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC) became increasingly authoritarian and arbitrary. This caused opposition to his regime to grow. Barre in turn tried to quell the unrest by abandoning appeals to nationalism, relying more and more on his own inner circle. He thereafter filled key positions in the army and security forces with members of three Darood clans closely related to his own reer: the Marehan, Dulbahantes, and Ogaadeens. According to Compagnon (1992), generals and colonels were part of Barre's personal patronage network and had to remain loyal to him and his family, whether they temporarily held ministerial posts or were in military service. The critical posts of commander of the 2nd Tank Brigade and 2nd Artillery Brigade in Mogadishu were both held by Marehan officers, as were the posts of commander of the three reserve brigades in Hargesia in the north.
By 1987 the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency estimated the army was 40,000 strong (with Ethiopian army strength estimated at the same time as 260,000). The President, Mohamed Siad Barre, held the rank of Major General and acted as Minister of Defence. There were three vice-ministers of national defence. From the SNA headquarters in Mogadishu four sectors were directed: 26th Sector at Hargeisa, 54th Sector at Garowe, 21st Sector at Dusa Mareb, and 60th Sector at Baidoa. Thirteen divisions, averaging 3,300 strong, were divided between the four sectors – four in the northernmost and three in each of the other sectors. The sectors were under the command of brigadiers (three) and a colonel (one).
By the mid-1980s, more resistance movements supported by Ethiopia's communist Derg administration had sprung up across the country. Barre responded by ordering punitive measures against those he perceived as locally supporting the guerillas, especially in the northern regions. The clampdown included bombing of cities, with the northwestern administrative center of Hargeisa, a Somali National Movement (SNM) stronghold, among the targeted areas in 1988. According to Daniel Compagnon, after that year's summer, a period began that was characterized by political repression against targeted clans. Former soldiers and units in the disintegrating military also engaged in private violence, and the distinction with public coercion became blurred.
In September 1990, Human Rights Watch reported that the rebel forces had briefly captured the Mudug province's capital Galkayo in mid-November 1989. They reportedly seized a lot of military equipment at the 4th Division Headquarters, including tanks, 30 mobile anti-aircraft guns and rocket launchers. However, the rebels were unable to take most of this equipment so they incinerated it. Government forces thereafter launched massive reprisals against civilians residing in the regions corresponding with the 21st, 54th, 60th and 77th military sectors. The impacted towns and villages included Gowlalo, Dagaari, Sadle-Higlo, Bandiir Adley, Galinsor, Wargalo, Do'ol, Halimo, Go'ondalay and Galkayo.
The various rebel movements eventually succeeded in ousting the government altogether in the ensuing civil war that broke out in 1991. The Somali National Army and all related military and security forces concurrently disbanded, with indeterminate elements reconstituted as irregular regional forces and clan militias. In 1992, the 15-member Security Council imposed an arms embargo via United Nations Security Council Resolution 733 in order to stop the flow of weapons to feuding militia groups.
From 2004 to 2004, Ismail Qasim Naji served as the military chief of the Transitional National Government (TNG). He was given the rank of Major General. During this time, the TNG was opposed militarily and politically by the rival Somalia Reconciliation and Restoration Council (SRRC), backed by Hussein Mohamed Farrah Aidid (son of the late faction leader Mohamed Farrah Aidid), Mohamed Dhere, and others. Eventually the leadership of the SRRC and the TNG reconciled.
After a two-year consultation process, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) was formed in 2004 by Somali politicians in Nairobi under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The process also led to the establishment of the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs), and concluded in October 2004 with the election of Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed as President. The TFG thereafter became Somalia's internationally recognized government.
In the first half of 2005, disagreements arose between Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Ghedi and Parliament Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden over where to base the TFG. Ghedi preferred Jowhar while Adan favored Baidoa. In an effort to persuade President Yusuf, Adan and a group of legislators and ministers visited Mogadishu to mobilize support from the local business community. The two leaders, President Yusuf and members of parliament also met in Kenya to work out a compromise. Concurrently, the TFG sent official delegations to Jowhar and Baidoa to assess the suitability of each city as a temporary headquarters for the TFG before an eventual relocation of government offices to Mogadishu. In June–July 2005, the Transitional Federal Government established an interim seat in Jowhar due to ongoing insecurity in the capital. The TFG later moved its temporary headquarters to Baidoa.
In order to stabilize the security situation, President Yusuf requested that the African Union deploy military forces in Somalia. However, as the AU lacked the resources to do so over the short term, Ahmed enlisted soldiers from his own constituency. Ethiopia concurrently provided military training for the new troops. These developments along with the U.S. funding the ARPCT coalition of faction leaders alarmed many individuals in south-central Somalia, and provided the ascendant Islamic Courts Union (ICU) with substantial recruitment opportunities.
A battle for Mogadishu followed in the first half of 2006 in which the ARPCT confronted the ICU. However, with local support, the ICU captured the city in June of the year. It then expanded its area of control in south-central Somalia over the following months, assisted militarily by Eritrea. In an effort at reconciliation, TFG and ICU representatives held several rounds of talks in Khartoum under the auspices of the Arab League. The meetings ended unsuccessfully due to uncompromising positions retained by both parties. Hardline Islamists subsequently gained power within the ICU, prompting fears of a Talibanization of the movement.
In December 2006, Ethiopian troops entered Somalia to assist the TFG against the advancing Islamic Courts Union, initially winning the Battle of Baidoa. On December 28, 2006, the allied forces recaptured the capital from the ICU. The offensive helped the TFG solidify its rule. Ethiopian and TFG forces forced the ICU from Ras Kamboni between January 7–12, 2007. They were assisted by at least two U.S. air strikes. On January 8, 2007, for the first time since taking office, President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed entered Mogadishu from Baidoa to engage in consultations with local business, religious and civil society representatives as the TFG moved its base to the national capital. The interim administration had just established control over much of the central and southern parts of the country. Government members and officials from the International Contact Group on Somalia conurrently began planning broad-based reconciliation talks, deployment of a peacekeeping force, disarmament, and a national development strategy. According to AMISOM, the TFG gained widespread acceptance and made significant progress in the areas of political institutionalization.
On 20 January 2007, with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1744, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) was formally authorised, which would provide much-needed backing for central government forces. On 10 February 2007, Abdullahi Ali Omar became Chief of Army for the Transitional Federal Government. He had previously been the Chief of Staff of the armed forces of Puntland. 700 Ugandan troops, earmarked for AMISOM, were landed at Mogadishu airport on 7–8 March 2007.
In Mogadishu, residents belonging to the same Hawiye clan as the ousted ICU resented the Islamic Courts Union's defeat. They distrusted the TFG, which was at the time dominated by individuals from the Darod clan, believing that it was dedicated to the advancement of Darod interests in lieu of the Hawiye. Additionally, they feared reprisals for massacres committed in 1991 in Mogadishu by Hawiye militants against Darod civilians, and were dismayed by Ethiopian involvement. Critics of the TFG likewise charged that its federalist platform was part of a plot by the Ethiopian government to keep Somalia weak and divided. During its first few months in the capital, the TFG was initially restricted to key strategic points, with the large northwestern and western suburbs controlled by Hawiye rebels. In March 2007, President Ahmed announced plans to forcibly disarm militias in the city. According to the ISA, a coalition of local insurgents led by Al-Shabaab subsequently launched a wave of attacks against the TFG and Ethiopian troops. The allied forces in return mounted a heavy-handed response.
Human Rights Watch alleged that all of the warring parties were responsible for widespread violations of the laws of war, as civilians were caught in the ensuing crossfire. Insurgents reportedly deployed militants and established strongholds in heavily populated neighborhoods, launched mortar rounds from residential areas, and targeted public and private individuals for assassination and violence. Although TFG forces played a secondary role to the Ethiopian troops, they were in turn alleged to have failed to efficaciously warn civilians in combat zones, impeded relief efforts, plundered property, in some instances engaged in murder and violence, and mistreated detainees during mass arrests. According to HRW, the implicated TFG forces included military, police and intelligence personnel, as well as the private guards of senior TFG officials. Victims were often unable to identify TFG personnel, and confused militiamen aligned with TFG officials with TFG police officers and other state security personnel. However, where they were able to implicate TFG military forces, they suggested that these units had been trained by and were acting under the command of or in concert with Ethiopian National Defense Force officers. HRW also alleged that the TFG forces lacked formal command-and-control structures, with soldiers often alternately serving within the army, clan militias, and autonomous armed groups. Ethiopian forces were similarly reported to have indiscriminately fired mortars, rockets and artillery shells into densely populated areas, looted property, and in some instances shot and executed civilians.
In December 2008, the International Crisis Group alleged that officers belonging to the same Majerteen clan as President Ahmed had been appointed to strategic positions within the army in order to assure loyalty. Along with the National Security Agency (NSA) led by General Mohamed Warsame ("Darwish"), these well-armed units were said to have comprised around 2,000 soldiers. They reportedly carried out a number of counter-insurgency operations with minimal coordination with other security agencies, which the ICG suggested alienated other units and resulted in high desertion rates. These particular units were also blamed for some of the instances of illegal detention and torture in the capital and other areas. Additionally, some civilians took exception to what they perceived to be arrogance on the unit members' part, and felt that they operated as though they were above the law.
Al-Shabaab and other radical elements of the ICU subsequently regrouped and continued their insurgency. As a truce in March 2009, Somalia's coalition government led by Sharif Sheikh Ahmed announced that it would re-implement shari'a as the nation's official judicial system. However, conflict continued in the southern and central parts of the country. Within months, the coalition government had gone from holding about 70% of south-central Somalia's conflict zones, territory which it had inherited from the previous Yusuf administration, to losing control of over 80% of the disputed territory to the Islamist insurgents.
In April 2009, donors at a UN-sponsored conference pledged over $250 million to help improve security in the country. The funds were earmarked for AMISOM and supporting Somalia's security, including the build-up of a security force of 6,000 members as well as an augmented police force of 10,000 men. In June 2009, the Somali military received 40 tonnes worth of arms and ammunition from the U.S. government to assist it in combating the insurgency.
In November 2010, a new technocratic government was elected to office, which enacted numerous reforms. In its first 50 days in office, the new administration completed its first monthly payment of stipends to government soldiers, and aimed to complete a full biometric register for the security forces within a window of four months. By August 2011, the new government and its AMISOM allies had managed to capture all of Mogadishu from the Al-Shabaab militants.
In October 2011, following a weekend preparatory meeting between Somali and Kenyan military officials in the town of Dhobley, a coordinated operation between the Somali Armed Forces and the Kenya Defence Forces began against the Al-Shabaab group of insurgents in southern Somalia. The mission was officially led by the Somali army, with the Kenyan forces providing a support role. In early June 2012, Kenyan troops were formally integrated into AMISOM. According to China Daily, regional analysts expected the additional AU troop reinforcements to help the Somali authorities gradually expand their territorial control.
In January 2012, Somali government forces and their AMISOM allies launched offensives on Al-Shabaab's last foothold on the northern outskirts of Mogadishu. The following month, Somali forces fighting alongside AMISOM seized Baidoa from the insurgent group. By June 2012, the allied forces had also captured El Bur, Afgooye, Afmadow, and Balad.
The Federal Government of Somalia was established in August/September 2012. By November of the year, the new administration had, according to UN Special Envoy to Somalia Augustine Mahiga, managed to secure control of around 85% of the country.
The United Nations Security Council later unanimously approved United Nations Security Council Resolution 2093 during its 6 March 2013 meeting to suspend the 21-year arms embargo on Somalia. The endorsement officially lifts the purchase ban on light weapons for a provisional period of one year, but retains certain restrictions on the procurement of heavy arms such as surface-to-air missiles, howitzers and cannons.
On 13 March 2013, Dahir Adan Elmi was appointed Chief of Army at a transfer ceremony in Mogadishu, where he replaced Abdulkadir Sheikh Dini. Abdirisaq Khalif Hussein was appointed as Elmi's new Deputy Chief of Army.
In early March 2014, Somali security forces and AMISOM troops launched an intensified military operation to remove Al-Shabaab from the remaining areas in southern Somalia under its control. According to Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, the government subsequently launched stabilization efforts in the newly liberated areas, which included Rab Dhuure, Hudur, Wajid and Burdhubo. The Ministry of Defence was providing ongoing reassurance and security to the local residents, and supplying logistical and security support. Additionally, the Ministry of Interior was prepared to support and put into place programs to assist local administration and security. A Deputy Minister and several religious scholars were also dispatched to all four towns to coordinate and supervise the federal government's stabilization initiatives. By March 26, the allied forces had liberated ten towns within the month, including Qoryoley and El Buur. UN Special Representative for Somalia Nicholas Kay described the military advance as the most significant and geographically extensive offensive since AU troops began operations in 2007.
On 25 June 2014, Chief of Army Elmi's term ended, as he and his deputy General Hussein were transferred by presidential decree to other positions. The shuffle was part of a larger major national security reform. Elmi was succeeded as Chief of Army by General Abdullahi Anod, the former commander of the presidential guard unit, with General Abdullahi Osman Agey concurrently appointed as the new Deputy Chief of Army.
Somali National Army
Formations and units
As of 1 June 1989, the International Institute for Strategic Studies estimated that the Army comprised four corps and 12 division headquarters. At the time, the military had decreased considerably in size. The IISS noted that these formations 'were in name only; below establishment in units, men, and equipment. Brigades were of battalion size.' Other units and formations listed included four tank brigades, 45 mechanized and infantry brigades, 4 commando brigades, 1 surface-to-air missile brigade, 3 field artillery brigades, 30 field artillery battalions, and one air defence artillery battalion.
Rebuilding the Army
In May 2010, Turkey and the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia signed a military training agreement, officially titled the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Turkey and the Government of the Republic of Somalia on Military Training Cooperation. The pact entails training, technical and scientific cooperation in the military. It is in keeping with the provisions outlined in the Djibouti Peace Process.
Outlining training, technical and scientific cooperation, the treaty includes joint-service exercises between both national militaries and exchanges of delegations and personnel. It was announced that it would also encompass training by the Turkish Military Medical Academy and Mapping General Command, between the gendarmerie and coast guard, as well as field training and education at national military installations and institutions. Additionally, the agreement includes provisions for the mutual exchange of information on military history, publications and museology.
In February 2012, Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali and Italian Defence Minister Gianpaolo Di Paola agreed that Italy would assist the Somali military as part of the National Security and Stabilization Plan (NSSP), an initiative designed to strengthen and professionalize the national security forces. The agreement would include training soldiers and rebuilding the Somali army.
In February 2014, Chief of Staff Brigadier General Elmi signed a followup military agreement in Mogadishu with a delegation from the Turkish Ministry of Defense. The pact stipulates that the government of Turkey will soon launch a training regimen in Somalia for a portion of the Army. Some SNA soldiers will also receive training in Turkey.
Training and facilities
In November 2009, the European Union announced its intention to train two Somali battalions (around 2,000 troops), which would complement other training missions and bring the total number of better-trained Somalian soldiers to 6,000. The two battalions were expected to be ready by August 2011. In April 2011, 1,000 recruits completed training in Uganda as a part of the agreement with the EU.
According to the International Crisis Group, powerful vested interests and corrupt commanders were as of February 2011 the largest obstacles in the way of reforming the army. Attempts to improve the military's equipment were impeded by allegations that some of those arms were sold by officers. The ICG also suggested that AMISOM's efforts at assisting in formalizing the military's structure and providing training to the estimated 8,000 SNA soldiers were problematic. Resistance reportedly continued to the establishment of an effective chain of command, logical military formations and a credible troop roster. Although General Mohamed Gelle Kahiye, the respected former army chief, attempted to instill reforms, he was marginalized and eventually dimissed.
In August 2011, as part of the European Union Training Mission Somalia (EUTM Somalia), 900 Somali soldiers graduated from the Bihanga Military Training School in the Ibanda District of Uganda. 150 personnel from the EU took part in the training process, which trained around 2,000 Somali troops per year. In May 2012, 603 Somali army personnel completed training at the facility. They were the third batch of Somali nationals to be trained there under the auspices of EUTM Somalia. In total, the EU mission had trained 3,600 Somali soldiers, before permanently transferring all of its advisory, mentoring and training activities to Mogadishu in December 2013.
In September 2011, President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed laid down the foundation for a new military camp for the army in the Jazeera District of Mogadishu. The $3.2 million construction project was funded by the EU and was expected to take six months to complete.
In November 2012, implementation of the Somalia-Turkey military agreement officially began.
In June 2013, Egyptian Ministry of Defence officials arrived in Mogadishu to help reconstruct the national Ministry of Defence's offices. According to the Somali Navy commander Admiral Farah Qare, the Egyptian delegation comprised engineers, who were tasked with building new headquarters for the Somalian ministry.
In February 2014, EUTM Somalia began its first "Train the Trainers" programme at the Jazeera Training Camp in Mogadishu. 60 Somali National Army soldiers that had been previously trained by EUTM in Uganda would take part in a four-week refresher course on infantry techniques and procedures, including international humanitarian law and military ethics. The training would be conducted by 16 EU trainers. Following the course's completion, the Somali soldiers would be qualified as instructors to then train SNA recruits, with mentoring provided by EUTM Somalia personnel. A team of EUTM Somalia advisors also started offering strategic advice to the Somali Ministry of Defence and General Staff. Additionally, capacity building, advice and specific mentoring with regard to security sector development and training are envisioned for 2014.
In February 2014, Chief of Staff Brigadier General Dahir Adan Elmi announced that Somalia's Ministry of Defence began holding military training inside the country for the first time, with Somali instructors now teaching courses to units that joined the armed forces. He also indicated that SNA leaders had created new numbered units for the army, and that the soldiers are slated to have their respective name and unit placed on their uniform. Additionally, Elmi stated that the military had implemented a new biometric registration system, wherein each recently trained and armed soldier is photographed and fingerprinted.
In July 2014, the governments of the United States and France announced that they would start providing training to the Somali National Army. The decision was reportedly reached to help the Somali authorities guard against potential threats to the country's security. According to U.S. Defense Department officials, American military advisers are also stationed in Somalia.
Commandos and Special Force
In August 2011, the TFG announced the creation of a new Special Force. Consisting of 300 trained soldiers, the unit was initially mandated with protecting relief shipments and distribution centers in Mogadishu. Besides helping to stabilize the city, the protection force is also tasked with combating banditry and other vices.
In February 2014, the Federal Government concluded a six-month training course for the first Commandos, Danab ("Lightning"), since 1991. The unit is modeled after the U.S. Rangers. Training had been jointly carried out by Somali military experts and U.S. government personnel. The Army Chief of Staff Brigadier General Dahir Adan Elmi said that the new Commandos hail from different parts of the county. The Commandos will have full military equipment and will be headquartered at the former Balli Dogle air base (Walaweyn District, Lower Shebelle). The training of the first Danab unit had begun in October 2013, and included 150 soldiers. As of July 2014, training of the second unit was underway. According to General Elmi, the special training is geared toward both urban and rural environments, and is aimed at preparing the soldiers for guerrilla warfare and all other types of modern military operations. Former Minister of Defence Abdihakim Mohamoud Haji-Faqi also indicated that the soldiers were receiving training for intelligence gathering and rescue operations. Additionally, Elmi said that a total of 570 Commandos are expected to have completed training by U.S. security personnel by the end of 2014.
Strength and units
According to an AMISOM official, the SNA as of March 2013 comprises six trained brigades, two of which were deployed at the time. Each brigade includes three to six battalions of around 1000 soldiers apiece, or 18,000 to 36,000 troops in total. Of these, an estimated 6,000 to 12,000 soldiers are currently in service.
According to the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea, the six SNA brigades in the Banaadir area were as of July 2013 largely composed of officers from various Hawiye sub-clans, with some Marehan-Darod and minorities also present in certain units. Of the brigades, five primarily consisted of Abgaal, Murosade and Hawadle soldiers. The 3rd Brigade over the same period comprised 840 troops, most of whom belong to the Hawiye-Habar Gidir/Ayr clan. The unit was around 30% to 50% smaller in size than the other five brigades that are garrisoned in the larger Banaadir region. Led by General Mohamed Roble Jimale 'Gobale', it occupied an area outside of Mogadishu and Merka and along the Afgoye corridor. Additionally, the Monitoring Group suggested that many soldiers integrated within the 3rd Brigade had been drawn from around 300-strong militias controlled by Yusuf Mohamed Siyaad 'Indha Adde', a close associate of Jimale and the former Eritrean-backed chief of defence for the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia-Asmara. However, Siyaad was by then no longer part of the SNA's official military structures.
As of May–June 2014, the Somali National Army reportedly consists of an estimated 20,000 soldiers. Of these, the majority are men, with around 1,500 female SNA officials.
According to EUTM Somalia, the 5th and 6th Brigades form the core of the army's combat units. They have played a pivotal role in the battle against Al-Shabaab, such as in Mogadishu and Afgoye. With a post-training drop-out rate of around 10%, the vast majority of the EUTM-trained soldiers have continued to serve in the Somalia national security forces after their initial period of training abroad, and their units have remained intact. The standard of the EUTM-trained troops is regarded as being high relative to the other army units. Overall, the Somali armed forces' combat capability has strengthened due in part to having both more combat experience and international support, including training, leadership and planning facilitation. Coordination with AMISOM has also improved; it provides mentorship in terms of overall command, intelligence and maintenance support.
Military hardware, 1981
The following were the Somali National Army's major weapons in 1981:
Military hardware, 1989
Previous arms acquisitions included the following equipment, much of which was unserviceable ca. June 1989: 293 main battle tanks (30 Centurion from Kuwait 123 M47 Patton, 30 T-34, 110 T-54/55 from various sources). Other armoured fighting vehicles included 10 M41 Walker Bulldog light tanks, 30 BRDM-2 and 15 Panhard AML-90 armored cars (formerly owned by Saudi Arabia). The IISS estimated in 1989 that there were 474 armoured personnel carriers, including 64 BTR-40/BTR-50/BTR-60, 100 BTR-152 wheeled armored personnel carriers, 310 Fiat 6614 and 6616s, and that BMR-600s had been reported. The IISS estimated that there were 210 towed artillery pieces (8 M-1944 100mm, 100 M-56 105mm, 84 M-1938 122mm, and 18 M198 155 mm towed howitzers). Other equipment reported by the IISS included 82mm and 120mm mortars, 100 Milan and BGM-71 TOW anti-tank guided missiles, rocket launchers, recoilless rifles, and a variety of Soviet air defence guns of 20mm, 23mm, 37mm, 40mm, 57mm, and 100mm calibre. As of 1 June 1989, the IISS also estimated that Somali army surface-to-air defense equipment included 40 SA-2 Guideline missiles (operational status uncertain), 10 SA-3 Goa, and 20 SA-7 surface-to-air missiles.
Military exercises between the United States and the Siad Barre regime continued during the 1980s. The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit participated in Exercise Eastern Wind in August 1987 in the area of Geesalay.
After the start of the civil war in 1991, the Somali National Army disbanded. Much equipment was left in situ, deteriorating, and was sometimes discovered and photographed by intervention forces in the early 1990s.
Military hardware, 2014
In May 2012, the Somali National Army was presented with over thirty-three vehicles at a handover ceremony in Mogadishu. The military hardware was originally donated by the U.S. government as part of its broader contribution toward reconstructing the Somali National Security Sector. The vehicles include 16 Magirus Trucks, 4 Hilux Pickups, 6 Land Cruiser Pickups, 1 Water Tanker, and 6 Water Trailers.
In April 2013, former Prime Minister of Somalia Abdi Farah Shirdon signed a military agreement with the government of Djibouti. The Djiboutian Prime Minister Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed subsequently presented Shirdon with 15 armoured military vehicles. The delivery is Somalia's first receipt of weapons since the UN Security Council lifted the arms embargo on the nation.
On April 9, 2013, the U.S. government approved the provision of defense articles and services by the American authorities to the Somali Federal Government. It handed over 15 vehicles to the new Commandos in March 2014.
Joint defence forces
Arab League Joint Defence Council
As a member of the League of Arab States, Somalia is officially a party to the Joint Defence and Economic Co-operation Treaty (officially the Treaty of Joint Defence and Economic Co-operation of the League of Arab States). The 1950 accord established two of the principal institutions of the Arab League: the Economic Council (renamed Economic and Social Council in 1980) and the Joint Defence Council, both of which report to the Council of the Arab League. Under the terms of the Joint Defence and Economic Co-operation Treaty (1950), the Joint Defence Council is empowered to militarily coordinate the joint defence of the Arab League member states.
Eastern Africa Standby Force
Somalia is a signatory to the Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of the Eastern Africa Standby Force (MOU) of April 2005, which establishes the EASF as a constituent organization of the African Standby Force (ASF). In June 2014, at the 3rd Extraordinary Meeting of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union's Eastern Africa Region in Equatorial Guinea, Prime Minister of Somalia Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed signed a communique approving the agreement on the establishment of the EASF, urging member states to ratify the agreement, directing the EASF Peace fund's Establishment to facilitate the sustainment of any future EASF missions, and authorizing the Council of Ministers of Defense and Security to sign the Memorandum of Understanding on Pledged Forces by Member States. The EASF was conceived to address security challenges and threats in the wider region.
Somali Air Force
The Somali Air Force (SAF) was originally named the Somali Air Corps (SAC), and was established with Italian aid in the early 1960s. It emerged from the Italian "Corpo di Sicurezza della Somalia" that existed between 1950 and 1960, during the trusteeship period just prior to independence. The SAF's original equipment included eight North American F-51D Mustangs, Douglas C-47s and MiG 23s, which remained in service until 1968. The air force operated most of its aircraft from bases near Mogadishu, Hargeisa and Galkayo. An air defence force equipped with Soviet surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft guns was in existence by 1992.
The following was the Library of Congress's estimate of the Somali Air Force's major equipment in 1981:1
|Type||Description||Country of manufacture||Inventory|
|MiG-17 "Fresco"||Mach 0.9 fighter-bomber||Soviet Union||9|
|MiG-21 "Fishbed"||Mach 2.1 fighter-bomber with AA-2 Atoll anti-aircraft missiles||Soviet Union||3|
|Shenyang F-6||Mach 1.3 fighter-bomber||China||30|
|Il-28 "Beagle"||Subsonic jet light bomber||Soviet Union||3|
|SF-260W||Single-engine light attack craft||Italy||6|
|An-2||Single-engine light transport||Soviet Union||3|
|An-24/-26||Twin-turboprop transport||Soviet Union||3|
|C-47||Twin-engine transport||United States||3|
|C-45||Twin-engine light transport||United States||1|
|Mi-4||Twelve-seat transport||Soviet Union||4|
|Mi-8||Twin-engine medium transport||Soviet Union||8|
|AB-204||General utility helicopter||United States/Italy||1|
|AB-212||General utility helicopter||United States/Italy||4|
|P.148||Single-engine, two-seat primary trainer||Italy||6|
|Yak-11||Single-engine, twos-seat advanced trainer||Soviet Union||20|
|MiG-15 UTI||Two-seat advanced jet trainer||Soviet Union||4|
|SM-1019||Single-engine training, observation, and light attack aircraft||Italy||62|
|1Serviceability extremely low.
2On order or being delivered, 1981.
New Air Force
In February 2012, Italy agreed to assist the Somali military to revitalize the Somali Air Force. On October 29, 2012, 40 senior SAF and Somali National Army officers participated in the three-day Improving Understanding and Compliance with International Humanitarian Law (IHL) workshop in Djibouti. Organized by AMISOM as part of the Somali Armed Forces' National Security Stabilization Plan, the program offered a refresher course on the essentials of IHL. Officials from Somalia's Ministry of Defence also took part, with the Djibouti Chief of Defence Forces opening the workshop.
According to CQ Press' Worldwide Government Directory with Intergovernmental Organizations, Somalia's reconstituted air force as of 2013 is led by Maj. Gen. Nur Ilmi Adawe.
The Somali Navy was formed after independence in 1960. Prior to 1991, it participated in several joint exercises with the United States, Great Britain and Canada. It subsequently disbanded following the outbreak of the civil war in Somalia during that year. In the 2000s, the central government began the process of re-establishing the Somali Navy.
The following was the Somali Navy's major equipment in 1981:
|Type||Description||Country of Manufacture||Inventory|
|Fast attack craft|
|Osa II-class||FAC (missile) with four SS-N-2 Styx anti-ship missiles; transferred 1975||Soviet Union||2|
|Mol-class||FAC (torpedo) with four 21-inch tubes; transferred 1976||Soviet Union||4|
|P6-class||FAC (torpedo) with two 21-inch tubes; transferred 1968||Soviet Union||4|
|Poluchat I-class||Large patrol craft; transferred 1965–66||Soviet Union||5|
|Polnochniy-class||Landing craft (tank); transferred 1976||Soviet Union||1|
|T-4-class||Landing craft (medium); transferred 1968–69||Soviet Union||4|
In June 2009, Somali naval forces were re-established with a new commander appointed, Admiral Farah Omar Ahmed. Up to 500 marines were training in Mogadishu with their training expected to finish in December 2009. They were the first batch of an expected 5000 strong navy force.
In 2011, a visiting Somali delegation to Turkey tabled a request for two search-and-rescue ships and six coast guard boats. Worth some 250 million euros, the gesture was intended to turn the new Somali navy into a stronger naval force capable of curbing piracy and protecting its coastline.
Following a Transitional Federal Government-Puntland cooperative agreement in August 2011 calling for the creation of a Somali Marine Force, of which the already established Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF) would form a part, the Puntland administration resumed training of PMPF naval officials.
On June 30, 2012, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Mohammed Gargash announced that his administration would contribute $1 million toward enhancing Somalia's naval security capacity. The funds would enable the Somali authorities in collaboration with international partners to acquire the boats, equipment and communication gear necessary for the rebuilding of the coast guard. A central operations naval command was also slated to be set up in Mogadishu.
On August 7, 2012, Prime Minister Ali announced that his government was set to re-establish the Somali Navy. Speaking to reporters in the capital, the Premier indicated that his administration wanted to create a well-trained national marine force capable of efficiently patrolling Somalia's territorial waters and putting an end to the illegal plunder of the country's resources by foreign companies and nations. He also indicated that he had asked the international community to support the Somali government's extant efforts aimed at developing its maritime defensive capacity, including the possibility of acquiring speed boats and warships to more effectively secure the country's extensive seaboard.
In January 2013, Somalia's reconstituted Cabinet began a formal assessment and recovery process of its assets, which include ships and planes that are believed to be held in Italy, Germany and Yemen.
According to CQ Press' Worldwide Government Directory with Intergovernmental Organizations, Somalia's reconstituted navy as of 2013 is led by Adm. Farah Omar Ahmed Qare.
Somali Police Force
In 1960, the British Somaliland Scouts joined with the Police Corps of Somalia to form a new Somali Police Force, which consisted of about 3,700 men. The authorities also organized approximately 1,000 of the force as the Darawishta Poliska, a mobile group used to keep peace between warring clans in the interior. Since then, the government has considered the SPF a part of the armed forces. It was not a branch of the SNA, however, and did not operate under the army's command structure. Until its dissolution in 1976, the Ministry of Interior oversaw the force's national commandant and his central command. After that date, the SPF came under the control of the presidential adviser on security affairs.
New Police Force
The first police academy to be built in Somalia for several years opened on 20 December 2005 at Armo, 100 kilometres south of Bosaso. The Somali police also has a criminal investigations department in Mogadishu.
The United Nations continued to support the activities of the Somali Police Force, including the formulation of a strategic development plan. UNPOS facilitated the procurement of equipment and furniture for 10 police stations in Mogadishu and police headquarters and provided training to 38 Somali Police Force drivers and 5 fleet managers. UNDP continued to pay police stipends to 5,388 Somali Police Force officers on duty in Mogadishu, Baidoa and Galmudug, courtesy of the Government of Japan and the European Union. A total of 4,463 Somali Police Force officers were registered in Mogadishu using the biometric registration system, completing the registration for the capital.
In February 2014, a visiting delegation from Somalia led by Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed met in Addis Ababa with Prime Minister of Ethiopia Hailemariam Desalegn to discuss strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries. Hailemariam Desalegn pledged his administration's continued support for the peace and stabilization efforts in Somalia, as well as its preparedness to assist in initiatives aiming to build up the Somali security forces through experience-sharing and training. The meeting concluded with a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding agreeing to promote partnership and cooperation, including a cooperative agreement to develop the police force.
In August 2014, the Somali and U.S. governments reached an agreement in Washington, D.C. stipulating that the United States would, via the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), contribute $1.9 million toward security sector reform, development and capacity-building efforts in Somalia. It is primarily slated to provide support to the Somali National Police Force's Criminal Investigative Division (CID), with an emphasis on implementing policies, practices and procedures that buttress citizen services and human rights.
National Intelligence and Security Agency
The National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) is the national intelligence agency of the Federal Republic of Somalia. It was officially established in January 2013 by the new Somali federal government in place of the defunct National Security Service (NSS). Headquartered in Mogadishu, NISA is mandated with firming up on security. It is assisted in this capacity by AMISOM. According to the former Minister of State for the Presidency Abdulkadir Moallin Noor, the CIA also provided training to NISA officials during the latter agency's formative stages. Among other deployments, NISA agents have conducted security operations against Al-Shabaab elements in the capital.
According to the constitution, the President of Somalia serves as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. Following the counsel of the Cabinet, he or she has the power to appoint and dismiss the federal-level military commanders. He or she may also declare a state of emergency and war where necessary, in conformance with the law.
In July 2014, General Dahir Adan Elmi announced the completion of a review of the Somali National Army ranks. The SNA in conjunction with the federal Ministry of Defense is also slated to standardize the martial ranking system and eliminate any unauthorized military ranks as part of a broader reform.
Commander in Chief
|No.||Name||Took command||Left command|
|1||Abdiqasim Salad Hassan||21 October 2000||14 October 2004|
|2||Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed||14 October 2004||29 December 2008|
|3||Sharif Sheikh Ahmed||31 January 2009||20 August 2012|
|4||Hassan Sheikh Mohamud||16 September 2012||Present|
Minister of Defence
|No.||Name||Took command||Left command|
|1||Mohamed Abdi Gandhi||21 February 2009|
|2||Yusuf Mohammed Siad||9 June 2010|
|3||Abdihakim Mohamoud Haji-Faqi||12 November 2010||20 July 2011|
|4||Hussein Arab Isse||20 July 2011||4 November 2012|
|5||Abdihakim Mohamoud Haji-Faqi||4 November 2012||17 January 2014|
|6||Mohamed Sheikh Hassan||17 January 2014||Present|
Chief of Army
|No.||Name||Took command||Left command|
|1||Maj. Gen Ismail Qasim Naji||14 April 2005||10 February 2007|
|2||Maj. Gen Abdullahi Ali Omar||10 February 2007||21 July 2007|
|3||Brig. Gen Salah Hassan Jama||21 July 2007||11 June 2008|
|4||Maj. Gen Said Dheere Mohamed||11 June 2008||15 May 2009|
|5||Maj. Gen Yusuf Osman Dhumal||15 May 2009||10 December 2009|
|6||Brig. Gen Mohamed Gelle Kahiye||6 December 2009||18 September 2010|
|7||Brig. Gen Ahmed Jimale Gedi||18 September 2010||28 March 2011|
|8||Maj. Gen Abdulkadir Sheikh Dini||28 March 2011||13 March 2013|
|9||Brig. Gen Dahir Adan Elmi||13 March 2013||Present|
Military ranks 1977
|1||Lieutenant General||Officer||Muhammad Ali Samatar|
|2||Major General||Officer||Daud Abdulle Hirsi, Siad Barre, Abdullah Mohamed Fadil, Mohamud Muse Hersi|
|3||Brigadier General||Officer||Ali Matan Hashi, Abdullahi Ahmed Irro, Mohamed Farah Aidid, Muse Hassan Sheikh Sayid Abdulle, Dahir Adan Elmi, Abdulkadir Sheikh Dini|
|4||Colonel||Officer||Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, Mohamed Osman Irro, Jibrell Ali Salad|
|5||Lieutenant Colonel||Officer||Salaad Gabeyre Kediye|
|10||Chief Warrant Officer||NCO|
|11||Warrant Officer III||NCO|
|12||Warrant Officer II||NCO|
|13||Warrant Officer I||NCO|
|16||Private First Class||NCO|
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