Somali National Army

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Somali National Army
Xooga Dalka Soomaaliyeed
Coat of arms of the Somali Army.svg
Country Somalia
Allegiance Somalia
TypeLand force
RoleLand warfare
Part ofCoat of arms of the Somali Armed Forces.svg Somali Armed Forces
Garrison/HQTaliska Xooga Dalka Soomaaliyeed
Motto(s)Isku Tiirsada (Lean together)
ColorsGreen   Red (piping)  
Anniversaries12 April (Armed Forces Day)
President of SomaliaHassan Sheikh Mohamud
Minister of DefenceHassan Hussien Haji
Chief of DefenceBrigadier General Odowaa Yusuf Rageh
Flag of the Somali Armed ForcesSomali Army Flag.svg

The Somali National Army (Somali: 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 the largest ground forces on the African continent. The Navy's infantry and tank-landing crafts often were used in tandem with the Army, allowing the Army's armoured battalions to engage in maritime conditions.

After the fall of the republic in 1991, the first branch of the Armed Forces to be re-established was the Army.


The Trust Territory of Somalia established a national army 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.

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 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.[1]


Army equipment, 1981[edit]

The following were the Somali National Army's major weapons in 1981:[2]

Type Description Country of manufacture Inventory
Centurion Main battle tank; 105 mm gun United Kingdom 40
T-34 Medium tank; 85 mm gun Soviet Union 60
T-54/55 Main battle tank; 100 mm quick firing gun; most transferred 1974–1976 Soviet Union 40
Armoured personnel carriers
BTR-40 9-passenger wheeled APC Soviet Union 50
BTR-50 12-passenger tracked APC Soviet Union
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 200
Fiat 6616 Armored car; 20 mm gun Italy
130mm Field gun, towed Soviet Union 80
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 weapon France/West Germany 100

Army equipment, 1989[edit]

Previous arms acquisitions included the following equipment, much of which was unserviceable ca. June 1989:[3] 293 main battle tanks (30 Centurion from Kuwait,[4] 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 Field/senior officers Junior officers Officer cadet
Somali National Army[5]
16-Somali Army-MG.svg 15-Somali Army-MG.svg 14-Somali Army-BG.svg 13-Somali Army-COL.svg 12-Somali Army-LTC.svg 11-Somali Army-MAJ.svg 10-Somali Army-CPT.svg 09-Somali Army-1LT.svg 08-Somali Army-2LT.svg
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[5]
07-Somali Army-CWO.svg 06-Somali Army-WO3.svg 05-Somali Army-WO2.svg 04-Somali Army-WO1.svg 03-Somali Army-SGT.svg 02-Somali Army-CPL.svg 01-Somali Army-PFC.svg 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)


  1. ^ Metz 1993, p. 201.
  2. ^ "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)
  3. ^ IISS 1989, p. 113.
  4. ^ "Arms Trade Register". SIPRI. Archived from the original on 14 April 2010. Retrieved 24 June 2012.
  5. ^ 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]