As of January 1991, Somali National Army (SNA) and all related military and security forces disbanded; an indeterminate number of elements reconstituted as clan militias and irregular regional forces.
Until January 1991, Army ground forces organized into twelve divisions composed of four tank brigades, forty-five mechanized and infantry brigades, four commando brigades, one surface-to-air missile brigade, three field artillery brigades, thirty field battalions, and one air defense battalion.
Military equipment was a mixture of old weapons of Soviet and United States origin, none of which could have withstood an attack from the better armed Ethiopian forces. The equipment was outdated and of poor serviceability, largely because of inadequate maintenance capability. As a result, foreign military advisers or technicians performed nearly all maintenance tasks.
Included in the SNA inventory were Centurion, M-41, M-47, T-34, and T-54/T-55 tanks; BRDM-2 and AML-90 reconnaissance vehicles; BTR-40/-50/-60/-152, Fiat 6614/6616, and BMR-600 armored personnel carriers; 100mm, 105mm, 122mm, and 155mm (M-198) towed artillery; 82mm and 120mm mortars; Milan TOW anti-tank guided weapons; 89mm rocket launchers; and 106mm recoilless rifles.
Somalia was exclusively supplied by the Soviet Union until 1977 when the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation was terminated. Subsequently Somalia improved relations with United States and received average of US$36 to $US40 million per year of United States military assistance between 1983 and 1986. Levels of military aid during 1980s were insufficient to avert deterioration and collapse of Somali armed forces by 1991.
In the early 1980s, the Somali armed forces were organized and deployed to prevent an Ethiopian attack. By the end of the decade, however, the military concentrated its activities on maintaining internal security. Antigovernment resistance originated from various clan-based guerrilla groups that defended their interests against outsiders, each other, and Siad Barre's soldiers. The availability of weapons in the Horn of Africa and the ability to obtain military aid from foreign nations and Somali expatriate communities enabled the rebels to wage a protracted guerrilla war against Mogadishu.
Beginning in the early 1980s, many Somali officers started attending one of two military schools in Mogadishu. The Siad Barre Military Academy offered general instruction, and the Ahmad Guray War College was a staff school for senior officers. Noncommissioned officers attended the General Daoud Military Academy in Chisimayu. The Weapons School provided courses in specialties such as field artillery, transportation, and communications. The Somali armed forces also maintained instruction centers for personnel from the engineering, railway, and paratroop-commando corps. Despite the existence of these academies and schools, the Somali military relied on foreign training to maintain sophisticated weapons systems and to improve the technical and leadership skills of its personnel. After the breakup of the Somali-Soviet alliance, the SNA largely depended on the United States, Saudi Arabia, France, and Italy for such training. Following the fall of Siad Barre in January 1991 and the disintegration of the armed forces, military training ceased.
Paramilitary forces, which reported to the president via the minister of state, supplemented the SNA. These included a 1,500- man elite border guard; the 20,000-man People's Militia; and the 8,000-man Somali Police Force (SPF), which had an air unit based in Mogadishu consisting of two Dornier Do-28D2 aircraft, neither of which was believed to be operational in early 1992. The Somali Police Force, People's Militia, and National Security Service disbanded as of January 1991.