Libyan Armed Forces

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Military of Libya
Current form2016
Service branches Libyan Ground Forces
 Libyan Navy
 Libyan Air Force
Commander-in-ChiefFayez al-Sarraj
Minister of DefenseFayez al-Sarraj
Chief of DefenseLt. Gen. Mohammed al-Shareef
Military age18 (2012)[1]
Active personnelUnknown
Foreign suppliersHistoric:
 United Kingdom
 United States
 Soviet Union

The Libyan Armed Forces is the state organisation responsible for the defence of Libya. Currently, since the start of the Second Libyan Civil War in 2014, it has been led by the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, but remains highly divided. The GNA has ground, air, naval, and coast guard forces under its command.[2] In effect, only the Libyan Navy is fully under the GNA Presidential Council's command, while the army consists of disorganised and undisciplined militia groups and the air force is split up among multiple factions, including the Libyan National Army (LNA) of the rival government in Tobruk.[3][4]

Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, the head of the unity government, is the supreme commander of the armed forces.[5] The military is under the authority of the GNA Ministry of Defense, formerly led by Colonel Al-Mahdi Al-Barghathi from 2016[6] to 2018, at which point Sarraj took over as defense minister.[7]

The original army under the Libyan monarchy of King Idris I was trained by the United Kingdom and the United States. Since Muammar Gaddafi rose to power in 1969, Libya received military assistance from the Soviet Union. The Libyan military has fought in several wars, including the Libyan–Egyptian War (1977) and the Chadian–Libyan conflict (1978–1987). Since the 2011 civil war and the fall of Gaddafi, the armed forces have remained fragmented among the various competing political factions in the country.


Kingdom of Libya (1951–1969)[edit]

The Kingdom of Libya gained its independence from Italy on 24 December 1951.[8] Under the Libyan monarchy there existed a federal army and local provincial police forces. The U.S. State Department reported in 1957 that the army numbered 1,835 men, while the police forces had around 5,000–6,000. King Idris of Libya and his government relied on the police for internal security and were anxious to increase the size of the national army to 5,000 troops. The United Kingdom had the primary role of training the Libyan Army, but the United States also contributed to training a 1,035-man contingent and was considering taking responsibility for training the entire army.[9] The U.S. also supplied the Royal Libyan Air Force, coming to an agreement in May 1957 to supply Libya with 10 Northrop F-5s.[10]

Libyan Arab Republic and Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (1969–2011)[edit]

A group of young officers and soldiers led by Muammar Gaddafi overthrew King Idris in a coup d'etat on 1 September 1969. The King spent several years under house arrest.[11][12][13]

The new Libyan Army under Gaddafi's Libyan Arab Republic fought a short border war with Egypt in July 1977, sent several thousand troops to support Idi Amin during the Uganda–Tanzania War in 1972 and again in 1978, and spent a decade trying to annex parts of northern Chad in 1978–1987.

The Libyan army was estimated to have 50,000 total troops as of 2009.[14]

Transition period (2011–2014)[edit]

Second civil war (2014–present)[edit]


  1. ^ Libya – The CIA World Factbook
  2. ^ Africa :: Libya -- The World Factbook. CIA.
  3. ^ Serraj appoints military chief of staff. Libya Herald. Published 1 September 2017.
  4. ^ Delalande, Arnaud (4 August 2016). Great, Now There Are Two Competing Libyan Air Forces. War is Boring.
  5. ^ PC President forms joint military operations room as war rocks Tripoli yet again. Libya Observer. Published 6 April 2019.
  6. ^ Ayyub, Saber.Opposing reactions to appointment of unity government’s defence minister Archived August 18, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. Libya Herald. Published 21 January 2016.
  7. ^ Libyan Presidential Council gives its Defense Minister the sack. Libya Observer. Published 29 July 2018.
  8. ^ Libya (1951-present). University of Central Arkansas.
  9. ^ Shaloff, Stanley, and Glennon, John P. (1989). 173. National Security Council Report (U.S. POLICY TOWARD LIBYA). Foreign Relations of the United States, 1955–1957, Africa, Volume XVIII. Report originally published 29 June 1957.
  10. ^ "The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast Page". Archived from the original on 18 August 2011. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
  11. ^ Administrator. "The Senussi Family". Retrieved 2017-09-21.
  12. ^ Filiu, Jean-Pierre (5 October 2017). "From Deep State to Islamic State: The Arab Counter-revolution and Its Jihadi Legacy". Oxford University Press – via Google Books.
  13. ^ Pukas, Anna (2011-04-04). "Kings without a country". Retrieved 2017-09-21.
  14. ^ IISS, The Military Balance 2009, p. 256