Somali National Army

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Somali National Army (الجيش الوطني الصومالي)
Ciidanka Xooga Dalka Soomaaliyeed(CXDS)
FoundedApril 12, 1960; 63 years ago (1960-04-12)
Country Somalia
Part of Somali Armed Forces
Garrison/HQTaliska Ciidanka Xooga Dalka Soomaaliyeed
Motto(s)Isku Tiirsada (Lean on each other)
Colors  Green
  Red (piping)
Anniversaries12 April (Armed Forces Day)
President of SomaliaHassan Sheikh Mohamud
Minister of DefenceAbduKadir Mohamed Nur
Chief of DefenceMajor General Ibrahim Sheikh Muhyadin Adow
Flag of the Somali Army

The Somali National Army (Somali: Ciidanka Xooga Dalka Soomaaliyeed, lit. "Somali Ground Forces") is the ground forces component of the Somali Armed Forces, and is the largest out of the three service branches that make up the majority of the Armed Forces.

Since the nation's independence in 1960, the Army was engaged in various military operations in the Cold War to expand and increase Somalia's sphere of influence throughout the Horn of Africa counter to Ethiopia's and Kenya's ambitions, because of this, Somalia had amassed large ground forces.



The Somali National Army can trace its roots back to troops used by the Ifat Sultanate as the successful conquest of Shewa by the Ifat Sultanate ignited a rivalry for supremacy with the Solomonic dynasty.

The Trust Territory of Somaliland established a national police force to defend the nascent Somali Republic's borders. A law to that effect was passed on 6 April 1960. Thus the Somali Police Force's Mobile Group (Darawishta Poliska or Darawishta) was formed. 12 April 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 1 July 1960, the two territories united to form the Somali Republic.

Following independence, the SNA was created by merging police units in the former trusteeship with the northern Somaliland Scouts from the former British protectorate. Combined, both forces totalled around 1,800 to 2,000 men.[1]


Following its formation, the SNA was equipped with primarily British and Italian WWII era equipment from the two former Somalilands. In 1962 it was noted that the SNA possessed at total of five tanks, all of which were Comet tanks. Other vehicles included six Ferret armoured car and eighteen Universal Carriers.[1]

1964 War[edit]

In February 1964, four years into its formation, the Somali National Army faced its first test during a war short war with the Ethiopian Empire. The conflict highlighted the disparity in military strength between the larger and better equipped Ethiopian Imperial Army and the nascent SNA.The war was preceded and ignited by a rebellion and insurgency in the Ogaden region, inhabited primarily by Somalis, which began in mid-1963. The suppression of insurgents and reprisals carried out by Emperor Haile Selassie's government resulted in a rapid decline in Ethio-Somali relations. Sporadic small-scale skirmishes between border police and Ethiopian airstrikes that began along the border in late 1963 escalated into large-scale warfare in early 1964. In mid-January 1964, border violence escalated and on 8 February both nations declared states of emergency. Regular army units from both militaries were deployed along the northern border, resulting in numerous large-scale military engagements in the Haud, such as the Battle of Tog Wajaale. In the days following, the war spread across the entire 900-km Ethiopian–Somali frontier with most combat taking place on the Somali side. The conflict was characterized by intense fighting around various border posts and villages, such as Dolow, and aerial bombardments by the vastly superior Ethiopian Air Force on major urban centers in Somalia such as Hargeisa and Galkayo. The Organization of African Unity (OAU) attempted to broker several ceasefire agreements, but they repeatedly failed. Despite the continuing hostilities, both nations participated in diplomatic negotiations in Khartoum, Sudan, at the request of various African heads of state and the war eventually concluded in early April 1964.[2]


Following the end of the Ogaden War and coup attempt in 1978, the state of the SNA began to decline,[1]


Army equipment, 1981[edit]

The following were the Somali National Army's major weapons in 1981:[3]

Type Description Country of manufacture Inventory
Centurion Main battle tank; 105 mm gun United Kingdom 40
T-54/55 Main battle tank; 100 mm quick firing gun; most transferred 1974–1976 Soviet Union 40
Armoured personnel carriers
BTR-50 12-passenger tracked APC Soviet Union 50
BTR-60 10-12-passenger wheeled APC Soviet Union
BTR-152 12-passenger wheeled APC Soviet Union 150
Fiat 6614 10-passenger wheeled APC Italy 900
Fiat 6616 Armored car; 20 mm gun Italy
130mm Field gun, towed Soviet Union 250
122mm Field gun, towed Soviet Union
122mm Howitzer, towed Soviet Union
100mm Anti-tank gun, field gun, towed Soviet Union 150
85mm Anti-tank gun, towed Soviet Union
76mm Divisional gun, towed Soviet Union
120mm Heavy mortar Soviet Union n/a
82mm Medium mortar Soviet Union n/a
106mm B-11 recoilless rifle China n/a
Anti-aircraft guns
100 mm air defense gun KS-19 Towed Soviet Union 250
57 mm AZP S-60 Towed Soviet Union
37mm M1939 Towed Soviet Union
23mm ZU-23-2-type, towed Soviet Union
MILAN Surface-to-surface, man-portable, anti-tank guided missile France, West Germany 100
S-125 Neva/Pechora

Army equipment, 1989[edit]

Prior arms acquisitions included the following equipment, much of which was unserviceable as of June 1989:[4]

293 main battle tanks (30 Centurion from Kuwait,[5] 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 100 mm, 100 M-56 105 mm, 84 M-1938 122 mm, and 18 M198 155 mm towed howitzers). Other equipment reported by the IISS included 82 mm and 120 mm mortars, 100 Milan and BGM-71 TOW anti-tank guided missiles, rocket launchers, recoilless rifles, and a variety of Soviet air defence guns of 20 mm, 23 mm, 37 mm, 40 mm, 57 mm, and 100 mm calibre.

Ranks and insignia[edit]


Rank group General / flag officers Senior officers Junior officers Officer cadet
Somali National Army[6]
Lieutenant general
Sareeye Guud
Major general
Sareeye Gaas
Brigadier general
Sareeye Guuto
Gashaanle Sare
Lieutenant colonel
Gashaanle Dhexe
First lieutenant
Laba Xídígle
Second lieutenant


Rank group Senior NCOs Junior NCOs Enlisted
Somali National Army[6]
No insignia
Chief Warrant Officer
Musharax Sarkaal
Warrant Officer Class 1
Sadex Xarígle
Warrant Officer Class 2
Laba Xarígle
Warrant Officer Class 3
Sadex Alífle
Laba Alífle
Lance Corporal
(or equivalent)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Robinson, Colin D. (2019-10-02). "Glimpse into an army at its peak: notes on the Somali National Army in the 1960–80s". Defense & Security Analysis. 35 (4): 423–429. doi:10.1080/14751798.2019.1675944. ISSN 1475-1798. S2CID 211441701.
  2. ^ Metz 1993, p. 201.
  3. ^ "Somalia: A Country Study – Chapter 5: National Security" (PDF). Library of Congress. c. 1981. Archived from the original on 4 October 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  4. ^ IISS 1989, p. 113.
  5. ^ "Arms Trade Register". SIPRI. Archived from the original on 14 April 2010. Retrieved 24 June 2012.
  6. ^ a b Ehrenreich, Frederick (1982). "National Security". In Nelson, Harold N. (ed.). Somalia: a country study (PDF). Area Handbook (3rd ed.). Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress. p. 257. Retrieved 21 October 2021.

Further reading[edit]