Military of Somalia

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The Somali National Army was made up of the army, navy, air force, and air defense command. The Somali Government's demise led to the de facto dissolution of the national armed forces. Efforts by the Transitional National Government to reestablish a regular armed force have made little progress. Various groups and factions control militias ranging in strength from hundreds to thousands. These militias are in general poorly trained and lightly armed, although some groups possess limited inventories of older armored vehicles and other heavy weapons and small arms are prevalent throughout Somalia.

A Somali National Army is currently being re-formed under the interim government; numerous factions and clans maintain independent militias, and the Somaliland and Puntland regional governments maintain their own security and police forces. An agreement was reportedly reached "in principle" on September 5, 2006, but in practice, much rests on reaching a political agreement during talks schdualed to take place on October 30 in Khartoum, Sudan. [1]


[edit] Military Expenditures

Dollar figure: $15.3 million (FY01)
Percent of GDP: 0.9% (FY01)

[edit] Air Defense Forces

The Air Defense Forces consisted of 7 brigades.

The serviceability of the equipment is poor and status is unknown.

  • SA-3 Goa surface-to-air missiles (not operational)
  • SA-2 Guideline surface-to-air missiles (not operational)
  • Strela 2 portable surface-to-air missiles (operational status unknown)
  • P-12
  • P-15 Termit - coastal defense surface to surface missiles
  • P-30
  • P-35

[edit] Air Force

[edit] After Independence (1960-1969)

The air force, or Somali aeronautical corps, was established right after independence, and was first equipped with small numbers of mostly old western aircraft, such as the Beech 18, and (possibly six) C-47 Dakotas for transport tasks, a few Piaggio P. 148 and P-51D Mustang used as fighters, and a pair of Bell 47 Sioux helicopters. As with every air arm, the air force evolved along the lines off Somalian politics, and when Siad Barre, on 21 of October 1969 took over power ending the Igaal reign and proclaimed Somalia to be a socialist state, a rapid modernisation took place.

[edit] Soviet Influence (1969-1978)

In the beginning of the 1970s, Somalia and the USSR signed a friendship deal, which included the provision of a large number of modern weapons, advisors, training and maintenance. The air force expanded rapidly, and was at the time one off the most advanced air arms in eastern Africa. The first squadron of jet fighters was equipped with the Mig-15 'Fagot' (Nato codename), along with some Mig-15UTI 'Midget' double seaters for conversional training. Also provided were small numbers of transport aircraft: some An-2 'Colt' biplanes, a few An-24 'Coke's, some Il-18 'Coot's and at least one An-26 'Curl'. Yak- 11 'Moose' trainers and a few Mi-4 'Hound' piston-engined helicopters were also added to the inventory. The respected Il-28 'Beagle' was also rumored to have been in service, albeit in very small numbers. Later on, the Soviets sold more modern jets: a large number (at least two fully equipped squadrons) of Mig-17 'Fresco' subsonic jet fighters, and a smaller number of Mig-21F and Mig-21MF 'Fishbed' supersonic point defence fighters, and possibly 12 Mi-8 'Hip' turbine powered transport helicopters. The advanced Mig-23 is also rumored to have visited Somalia in the seventies, but it's very unlikely they were actually in use off the Somali aeronautical corps, which by now had changed its name to 'Somali air force' or SAF.

[edit] The Ogaden War (1978)

During the 1970s the SAF or Somali air force had proven to be useful to suppress the many violent uprisings that took place in Somalia, but its achievements in a first 'real' war turned out to be a disappointment. Dreams of a 'bigger Somalia' and Somalian support of the WNLF-rebels, active inside the Ethiopian part of the Ogaden, led Siad Barre's regime to start an invasion of the Ethiopian Ogaden province, in 1978. The territory had always been a disputed part of Ethiopia, and its mostly nomadic inhabitants were closely related to the Somalian people. Aided by more than 250 tanks and 300 armoured vehicles (the largest armoured army in sub Saharic Africa at the time), some 23000 soldiers marched towards the west and at first brought allmost 90% of the Ogaden province under Somalian control. The SAF was ordered to protect the forces and to offer close air support on the battlefield. By this time however, Ethiopia itself had sought assistance of the Soviet Union, the latter being forced to drop Somalia as a client state because of the Ogaden war. The SAF, not only strongly reliant on Soviet equipment but moreover on Soviet assistance, training and maintenance (even some pilots), suffered badly from these recent political changes. At first it had at least been able to provide the army with close air support, but by the time the invasion was halted by the regrouping Ethiopian forces, the SAF lost momentum. Worst of all, after the souring of Soviet-Somalian relations, Cuba had joined the Ethiopian efford to reclaim the Ogaden province, and modern Mil-24 'Hind' attack helicopters, flown by Cuban pilots, proved to be devastating to the old and relativily thin-armoured Somalian T-34 and T-54/55 tanks. The SAF was unable to stop the onslaught, and shortly after, the Somali army was defeated and driven out of the Ethiopian part of the Ogaden in the end of 1978. Tensions remained however, and some three years later the conflict rekindled for another round of Ehtiopian-Somali bloodshed. By this time the SAF was degraded to the extent that it played allmost no significant role in the area anymore.

[edit] The Difficult Decade (1978-1991)

After the loss of Soviet assistance, and the loss of equipment in the Ogaden, the SAF tried to maintain itself by getting help from other sources. First of all, relationships with the U.S. improved in the wake of the Cold War conflict in the Horn of Africa, and with Ethiopia getting a lot of Soviet military assistance, the SAF received in turn some American assistance as well, but not nearly enough to rebuilt the squadrons. A Bell AB204B Iroquois and some AB206 Jet rangers and maybe a CH-47 Chinook were provided and a couple of unarmed Cessna trainers, but the SAF had to turn to other sources. A lot of Italian equipment reached Somalia: at least two Aelitalia G.222L medium transport planes and some twelve SIAI SF. 260 Warriors light trainers/coin aircraft. Also, China provided a number of F-6 'Farmer' jet fighters (Chinese Mig-19 copies), and FT-6 double seat fighter trainers in 1983. Zimbabwean private contractors overhauled and repaired some Mig-21 jet fighters, and maybe a few Chinese F-7's 'Fishbed'(Mig-21 copies) fighters were provided. Also, Abu Dhabi gave 6 or 8 used Hawker Hunter FGA.76's ground attack fighters and one Hawker Hunter T.77 double-seat trainer, witch were flown by South African and Rhodesian mercenaries, while the Zimbabwean repair crews provided their maintenance. New transport aircraft were also added from a number of western European sources: 6 C-212 Aviocars and some 4 BN-2 Islanders were acquired. In the 80s the SAF consisted of: -one fighter squadron equipped with Mig-21s (or F-7s) -two fighter squadrons equipped with some 20 remaining Mig-17s (spare parts from China F-5 or through cannibalization of grounded Mig-17s) -one ground attack squadron equipped with the 7 or 9 (ex Abu-Dhabi) Hawker FGA.76 Hunters -two ground attack/fighter squadrons equipped with some 20 Chinese F-6s -one training/counter-insurgency squadron equipped with 12 SIAI SF.260 Warriors -one helicopter squadron equipped with a mix of remaining Mil-4s, Mil-8s and western Agusta Bell AB 204B and AB 206 helicopters -one transport squadron equipped with a mix of remaining An-2s and An-24s, and 6 new C-212 Aviocars and a few BN-2 Islanders The national carrier airline, Air Somalia, equipped with 5 707s, could also provide some transport capacity.

However, due to the costs of the first and second ongoing Ogaden conflict, the worldwide economic problems, and some severe droughts in the Horn of Africa, the Somalian economy collapsed halfway the '80s and funding for the rather large air force dried up. Still the SAF managed to deploy some squadrons to fight rebels in the north of Somalia in the late '80s.

[edit] The End of the SAF (1991)

With the fall of the Siad Barre's regime in 1991, a civil war ignited and chaos roamed free in Somalia. Funding for any government activity, including the SAF, ended immediately, and the remains of the SAF were photographed in a derelict state at Mogadishu airport in 1993.

[edit] Army

The army is organised into 12 divisions which comprise of 4 tank brigades, 45 mechanized and infantry brigades, 4 commando brigades, surface-to-air missile brigade, 3 artillery brigades, 30 field battalions, and an air defense battalion.

The serviceability of the equipment is poor and status is unknown.

[edit] Navy

As of 1991, the navy was not operational

  • Osa-II missile-armed fast attack craft (2)
  • Mol PFT torpedo-armed fast attack craft (4)
  • Polnocny-class landing ship

[edit] See also

[edit] References

This article contains material from the CIA World Factbook which, as a US government publication, is in the public domain.

-The history of the Somali air force contains information from several sources: 1. 2. 3. 5. ; country studies (political history) / plus several written sources; use maybe restricted.

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