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Libyan National Army


Libyan National Army

Military of Libya
Flag of the Libyan National Army
Founded 1951–1969
Current form 2011
Service branches Libyan Ground Forces
Libyan Air Force
Libyan Air Defense Forces
Libyan Navy
Commander-in-Chief Aguila Saleh Issa
Minister of Defense Abdullah al-Thani
Chief of staff Major General Abdulrazek Al Nadoori
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 personnel 35,000[2]

The Libyan National Army is the national armed force of Libya, comprising a ground army, an air force and a navy. It is currently being re-established by the Libyan government, as Libya's previous national army was defeated in the 2011 Civil War and disbanded. As of May 2012, an estimated 35,000 personnel have joined its ranks.[2]

Since the beginning of the 2014 Libyan Conflict, most of the Army has been split between Khalifa Haftar's "anti-terrorist" faction and Abdulsalam al-Obaidi's faction, which has not followed Haftar.

In the case of many armed groups in Libya, it is not clear whether they belong to the Libyan National Army or not. Many armed groups accept government funding and openly exert authority associated with official forces, while avoiding any clear commitment to obeying the Libyan National Army hierarchy or the government. As the 2014 Libyan Conflict progresses, armed groups with suspect loyalties groups are increasingly condemned by the Council of Deputies.


  • Structure of the National Army 1
  • Ground Forces 2
  • History 3
  • Equipment 4
    • Small arms 4.1
    • Technicals 4.2
    • Tanks 4.3
    • Armoured personnel carriers 4.4
    • Artillery 4.5
    • Helicopters 4.6
  • See also 5
  • References 6

Structure of the National Army

Ground Forces

Seal of the Libyan Ground Forces.

Formations include:

  • 17th Thunderbolt Special Forces Brigade - Tripoli
  • 27th Brigade - Tripoli.[3]


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.[4] 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.[5]

In November 2011, the National Transitional Council begun the difficult process of restructuring the army, with military personnel who defected from the Gaddafi regime 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.[6]

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.[7]

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.[8]

In December 2011, Italy agreed to provide training the Libyan Army as it attempted to reorganize in the aftermath of the civil war.[9][10]

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-Juwali, the defence minister: "The idea is to inject new blood in the army which was marginalised by the tyrant (Gaddafi)"[11]

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 militas that were not part of the new army. National Army commander General Khalifa Hifter said later that it could take between three and five years for Libya to field a capable enough army to protect its borders.[12]

On 7 May 2013, Libya’s Defense Minister Mohammed al-Barghathi resigned on Tuesday 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.[13]

Under an agreement reached at the Lough Erne G8 summit in June 2013, NATO countries the United Kingdom, Italy, Turkey and the United States are to help train up to 15,000 personnel from Libyan National Army units over a two-year period. They will take units from newly formed brigades for 10-week stints of intensive infantry training. The 27th Brigade is due to start at Bassingbourn in eastern England in January 2014.[3]

Al-Saiqa is an elite army unit, formed from a mixture of paratroopers and commandos. The group emerged from a militia with the same name in 2010. It now 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.[14]


Whilst it is known to a degree what equipment the Libyan army uses, the exact numbers of the below equipment currently in use is not known.

Small arms

Name Country of origin Type Caliber Notes
NATO Standard
CZ99[15]  Serbia Pistol 9x19mm
Zastava M21[16]  Serbia Assault rifle 5.56×45mm
FN F2000[17]  Belgium Assault rifle 5.56×45mm
Zastava M07  Serbia Sniper rifle 7.62×51mm
Zastava M93 Black Arrow[18]  Serbia Sniper rifle 12.7×99mm
Soviet Standard
TT-33  Soviet Union Pistol 7.62×25mm
AK-47[19][20]  Soviet Union Assault rifle 7.62×39mm
AKM  Soviet Union Assault rifle 7.62×39mm
RPK  Soviet Union General-purpose machine gun 7.62×39mm
DShK  Soviet Union Heavy machine gun 12.7×108mm
PK machinegun[21]  Soviet Union General-purpose machine gun 7.62×54mmR
Degtyaryov machine gun  Soviet Union General-purpose machine gun 7.62×54mmR
Zastava M84  Yugoslavia General-purpose machine gun 7.62×54mmR
SVD Dragunov  Soviet Union Sniper rifle 7.62×54mmR
Zastava M91[22]  Yugoslavia Sniper rifle 7.62×54mmR
Zastava M02 Coyote[23]  Serbia Sniper rifle 12.7×108mm


A variety of pickup/utility vehicles, called technicals and gun trucks, often Toyota and other makes, armed with a variety of different weapons, including heavy machineguns, grad rockets and anti aircraft guns.[24][25]


Armoured personnel carriers



See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Country Studies.

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  4. ^ "Libya's new military chief to disarm former rebels". USA Today. 2012-01-04. Retrieved 24 May 2012. 
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  24. ^ "A rebel fighter celebrates as his comrades fire a rocket barrage toward Gaddafi forces west of Ajdabiyah, Libya, April 14, 2011.". Atlantic Council. 2011-04-14. Retrieved 2013-02-05. 
  25. ^ a b c d "Libya: How the opposing sides are armed". BBC News. 2011-08-23. Retrieved 2013-02-05. 
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  36. ^ "Libya has received 20 Italian-made Puma wheeled armoured vehicles personnel carrier Italy 0303131 - Army Recognition". Retrieved 2013-12-07. 
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