Libyan National Army

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Military of Libya
القوات المسلحة العربية الليبية
Libyan National Army.png
Flag of the Libyan Ground Forces.svg
Libyan National Army logo and flag
Current form2011
Service branches Libyan Air Force
Libyan Navy
Commander-in-ChiefAguila Saleh Issa
Chief of General StaffMajor General Abdulrazek al-Nadoori (Tobruk-based government)
Major General Abdel Rahman al-Taweel (GNA)
Military age18
Available for
military service
1,775,078[1] males, age 15–49,
1,714,194 females, age 15–49
Fit for
military service
1,511,144 males, age 15–49,
1,458,934 females, age 15–49
Reaching military
age annually
59,547 males,
57,070 females
Active personnel85,000 +[2] (ranked 74th)
Foreign suppliers Russia
 United States
 United Kingdom

The Libyan Arab Army, also called the Libyan National Army, was the national armed force of Libya, comprising the ground forces, the air force and the navy. It was established by the Libyan government after the first Libyan civil war (2011), as Libya's previous national army was defeated by the uprising and 2011 military intervention by NATO. It was the national army until 2015, when the internationally recognised Government of National Accord was established in Tripoli, and established its own Libyan Army. Since then the LNA has not been recognised as the military of Libya.

In the ongoing Second Libyan Civil War (2014–present), the Libyan National Army is loyal to the legislative body in Tobruk, the Libyan House of Representatives, internationally recognised until October 2015. It fights against the internationally recognized and Democratic Islamist-led Libya Dawn, the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries as well as Islamic State in Libya which is a common enemy for both the Libyan National Army and the Libya Dawn. The internationally-recognised Government of National Accord in Tripoli does not have a regular army, but relies on various militia groups in northwestern Libya.

At the beginning of the Second Libyan Civil War, the army was split between Khalifa Haftar's "anti-terrorist" faction, which acted largely independently, and Abdulsalam al-Obaidi's "legalist" faction which relied on orders from political authorities. In 2014, the Council of Deputies appointed Haftar commander of the whole army, re-uniting the two factions. Abdulrazek Al Nadoori is chief of staff.

In the case of the many armed groups in Libya, they do not belong to the Libyan National Army unless they pledge allegiance to it. Many armed groups that exist in areas outside the control of the Council of Deputies and the Libyan National Army accept government funding and openly exert authority associated with official forces, while not have a commitment to obey the Libyan National Army hierarchy or the government. As the Second Libyan Civil War progresses, armed groups are increasingly condemned by the Council of Deputies and have been branded illegal.

Structure of the National Army[edit]


As of December 2017, Major General Abdul Razzaq al-Nazhuri was the chief of staff of the LNA.[3] A lobbying firm was paid US$450,000 to lobby on his behalf for 12 months, starting 1 December 2017, in Washington, D.C.[3] Mahmoud al-Werfalli, known internationally for his International Criminal Court arrest warrant under Article 8(2)(c)(i) of the Rome Statute, was Axes Commander in the al-Saiqa unit of the LNA as of August 2017.[4][5]

Ground Forces[edit]

Seal of the Libyan Ground Forces

Formations include:

  • 17th Thunderbolt Special Forces Brigade - Tripoli
  • 27th Brigade - Tripoli.[6]

Al-Saiqa is an elite army unit, formed from a mixture of paratroopers and commandos. It numbers a few thousand and reports to the Ministry of Defence. It is popular in Benghazi, particularly in light of its opposition to Islamist Ansar al-Sharia group and because it is seen as a symbol of the reborn Libyan armed forces.[7]



The Libyan National Army was founded in 2011 by the National Transitional Council, after forces aligned to it defeated the previous Libyan Army and overthrew Muammar Gaddafi's regime. Supply depots and bases having been damaged during the civil war, the new army is faced with the challenge of having to rebuild much of the country's military infrastructure.[8] Yousef Mangoush was named as its first Chief of Staff on 2 January 2012 and the force saw its first major deployment on 23 February, when it was deployed to Kufra to intervene in a tribal conflict.[9]

In November 2011, the National Transitional Council began the difficult process of restructuring the army, with military personnel who defected from the Gaddafi government and former rebel fighters of the National Liberation Army forming the basis of the new Libyan Army. Major General Khalifa Belgacem Haftar was chosen as the overall commander of the new Libyan Army due to his military experience and loyalty to the revolution that overthrew Gaddafi.[10]

The Libyan Army only numbered "a few thousand" trained soldiers in November 2011, and was rapidly trying to train up new fighters who could keep the peace nationwide and deter rogue militias from acting without NTC orders, and was responsible for brokering a ceasefire on at least one occasion in November between warring militas from Zawiya and Al Maya.[11]

On 1 December 2011, it was reported that the National Liberation Army was to integrate up to 50,000 former rebel fighters into the new Libyan national army and police forces, with the aid of French training, with long term aims to integrate as many as 200,000 fighters from the brigades that had fought against Gaddafi during the civil war.[12]

In December 2011, Italy agreed to provide training to the Libyan Army as it attempted to reorganize in the aftermath of the Civil War.[13][14]

Also in December, large numbers of former rebels were being given jobs in the new army, whilst the government also announced that they would be free to join the special forces and the Navy too. According to Osama al-Juwaili, the defence minister: "The idea is to inject new blood in the army which was marginalised by the tyrant (Gaddafi)"[15]

General Yousef Mangoush said on 5 January 2012 that Libya's new army faces major obstacles such as rebuilding bases destroyed during the conflict, as well as disarming militias that were not part of the new army. National Army commander General Khalifa Haftar said later that it could take between three and five years for Libya to field a capable enough army to protect its borders.[16]

On 7 May 2013, Libya's Defense Minister Mohammed al-Barghathi resigned due to a crisis caused by gunmen who have besieged two ministries for more than a week, a ministry official said. He later withdrew his resignation after Prime Minister Zeidan convinced him to stay.[17]

Under an agreement reached at the Lough Erne G8 summit in June 2013, NATO countries the United Kingdom, Italy, Turkey, and the United States undertook to help train up to 15,000 personnel from Libyan National Army units over a two-year period. They were to take units from newly formed brigades for 10-week stints of intensive infantry training. The 27th Brigade was due to start at Bassingbourn in eastern England in January 2014.[6] As a result of disorder and sexual assaults by some Libyan army cadets, the UK cancelled the programme in November 2014. The Libyan trainees were sent back to Libya, with the exception of five who were tried for sexual offenses.[18]

2016 overthrow of mayors[edit]

In late 2016, Major-General Abdul Razzaq al-Nazhuri of the LNA replaced several of the elected municipal mayors in eastern Libya by unelected people, mostly military.[19][20]


Whilst it is known to a degree what equipment the Libyan National Army uses, the exact numbers of the below equipment currently in use is not known. What is certain is that a reasonable quantity of their equipment probably came from ransacked stocks of the original Libyan Army and from defectors as well.

Small arms[edit]

Name Country of origin Type Caliber Notes
NATO Standard
FN P90[21][22]  Belgium Personal defence weapon FN 5.7×28mm
Beretta 92FS[23]  Italy Pistol 9×19mm
CZ99  Serbia
Beretta M12[24]  Italy Submachine gun
Zastava M21[25]  Serbia Assault rifle 5.56×45mm Most likely used by special forces.
FN F2000[26]  Belgium Most likely used by special forces.
FN FAL Battle rifle 7.62×51mm NATO
Heckler & Koch G3[27]  West Germany
Zastava M07  Serbia Most likely used by special forces.
Zastava M93 Black Arrow[28] Sniper rifle 12.7×99mm Most likely used by special forces.
Benelli M4[29][30]  Italy Shotgun 12 gauge Used by special forces
Soviet Standard
TT-33  Soviet Union Pistol 7.62×25mm
AK-47[31][32] Assault rifle 7.62×39mm
Dragunov sniper rifle Sniper rifle 7.62×54mmR
Zastava M91[28]  Yugoslavia
RPK  Soviet Union General-purpose machine gun 7.62×39mm
PK machine gun[33] 7.62×54mmR
Degtyaryov machine gun
Zastava M84  Yugoslavia
DShK  Soviet Union Heavy machine gun 12.7×108mm
Zastava M02 Coyote[25]  Serbia


A variety of pickup/utility vehicles, called technicals and gun trucks, often Toyota and other makers, armed with a variety of different weapons, including heavy machineguns, light MLRS' and anti-aircraft guns, most commonly used is the ZU-23-2 and the ZPU.[34][35]


Armoured personnel carriers[edit]


Portable Anti-Tank Weapons[edit]

Anti-Tank Guided Missiles[edit]

Self-Propelled Anti-Air Gun[edit]


See also[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Library of Congress Country Studies website

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