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Libyan Army - Order of Battle

The Army under Qadaffi was organized into armored, mechanized, artillery, and surface-to-surface missile (SSM) brigades, armored, anti-tank, artillery, and commando battalions. It also appears that there are other units (type unknown) that are probably directly subordinated to Qadhafi. Army units are well equipped with modern weapons obtained from a variety of sources. However, the army has major deficiencies because Libyan soldiers lack the technical competence to operate these systems.

The Libyan Army had undergone extensive reorganization since 1982. At least three organizations emerged that appeared to be division sized mechanized infantry units. All other Libyan Army units are independent units of brigade and battalion size. This independent structure was probably developed because of Qadhafi's paranoia concerning coups/assassinations. Qadhafi took power in a coup and he probably does not want any commander gaining too much power/influence.

Although the pattern of equipment purchases and the creation of divisional headquarters units suggested that a transition to a more integrated structure of mobile armored and mechanized infantry was contemplated, by the late 1980s the shift to such an organizational form had not yet occurred. During specific deployments, as in Chad, units were brought together on an ad hoc basis. If the tank and mechanized battalions were to be consolidated into a more unified command structure, this would most likely be designed for planning territorial defense rather than for desert combat operations; the system existing in 1987 of independent battalions afforded more flexibility for desert combat.

By 1987 the army -- by far the largest and most developed branch of the military forces -- was organized tactically in battalion formations. These included twenty tank battalions, thirty mechanized infantry battalions, ten artillery battalions, and two special forces groups comprising ten paratroop battalions. Air defense was organized into two antiaircraft battalions and six surface-to-air missile battalions. Two surface-to-surface missile brigades were equipped with free rocket over ground (FROG) and Scud missiles acquired from the Soviet Union.

The army eventually abandoned its effort to organise by divisions and fell back upon its old battalion structure. By 2002 the Libyan Army numbered some 45,000 men, including 25,000-40,000 draftees. Recent years saw the Army undermined by the rise to power of the 40,000-strong Revolutionary Guard. The Army had been further weakened by having been disorganized into the "People's Guard." The Libyan Army was organized into seven military districts and as many as five Presidential Guards units had been created - a product of the 1994-1995 restructuring process.

By 2010 the Libyan Army numbered some 50,000 men, including 25,000 draftees. It also possesses some 40,000 reserves organized into a People's Militia.

Since the first Gulf War, Colonel Ghadaffi placed a renewed emphasis on preparing the average Libyan for guerrilla warfare to thwart an 'imperialist invasion'. After two decades of such rhetoric, few believed such an invasion would materialise. Ghadaffi's enthusiasm for popular struggle did not translate into serious preparation, although opposition elements probably welcomed even the rudimentary military training provided free of charge.

LOCUS ArmyOrbat.comJanesIISS
Higher Headquarters
Border Defense Zones1111
Security Zones44
Division Headquarters-3--
Presidential Guard Regiment111
Armored Brigade1--
Mechanized Infantry Brigade1--
Artillery Brigade1--
SSM Brigade234
Special Forces 15-66
Security Battalions8
Para-Commando Battalions10-5
Armored Battalions208-121081010
Mechanized Infantry Battalions3010-1581010
Infantry Battalions2151818
Air Defense Battalions88777
Artillery Battalions101022 5-62222

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 07-07-2012 19:27:31 ZULU