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The Camouflage From Somali Republic
- May 21, 2018 -

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The country is today officially known as the Republic of Somalia (جمهورية الصومال‎). During the classical period many city states arose along the coast, inviting trade from Phoenicia, Egypt, Greece, Persia, Saba, Nabataea and the Roman Empire. Present day Somalia was an integral part of the ancient Silk Road. Islam began to influence Somali culture in the 7th century, with Mogadishu becoming the Islamic cultural center of East Africa. Yet the region remained a scattered collection of city states and minor kingdoms well into the 16th century, when dynasties such as the Gerad, Bari and Gobroon began carving out larger territories to govern. During the 19th century, as various European powers began the "Scramble for Africa," Britain and Italy were both competing for control of what would eventually become Somalia. Each successfully established its own colony or protectorate, British Somaliland (est. 1884) in the north and Italian Somaliland (est. 1889) making up the bulk of the coastline. This prompted the creation of the Dervish State (established by Somali religious leader Muhammad Abdullah Hassan), which successfully repelled several British incursions and would eventually be recognized as an ally by Germany and the Ottoman Empire during the First Wworld War. The Dervish State finally fell in 1920 following a British campaign of aerial bombing.

British Somaliland was captured by Italy in August 1940, thus bringing all of present day Somalia under Italian control for a brief period, until retaken along with the rest of Somalia by the British in February of 1941. After the war, the League of Nations returned control of Italian Somaliland to Italy. Thus it was not until June of 1960 that Somalia would achieve its independence as the Somali Republic.

Democratic government would be short-lived, however, when in October 1969 President Abdirashid Ali Shermarke was assassinated and the Somali Army siezed power in a military coup d'etat. The constitution was subsequently suspended and the country renamed the Somali Democratic Republic, effectively under a communist government (embracing scientific socialism and Islamic tenets). During the Ogaden War (July 13, 1977 to March 15, 1978) Somali forces attempted to sieze control of the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, but were repelled by that nation (with Soviet and Cuban military assistance). Somalia would until 1988 be adopted as a Cold War client state by the United States.

Since 1991, Somalia has been in a constant state of civil war, with numerous militia groups such as the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF), United Somali Congress (USC), Somali National Movement (SNM) and the Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM) taking shape. Supported and supplied by Ethiopia, these militia groups toppled the long-standing regime of Major General Mohamed Siad Barre, but essentially led the nation down the path of civil war, as various rival groups have refused to compromise or recognize any authority. In 1992, the United Nations authorized a limited peacekeeping presence (UNOSOM I) which was largely ineffective, thus leading the United States to organize a military coalition (UNITAF) to stabilize the nation. When the United States withdrew in 1993, the second UN peacekeeping mission (UNOSOM II) replaced it, remaining in the country until 1996 but never succeeding in the restoration of government rule. Although a Transitional Federal Government was established in 2004, Somalia remains in a state of civil war between warring militias, and as a result hundreds of thousands of civilians have fled as refugees.

There are officially eighteen administrative regions dividing the nation, each region consisting of one or more subdivisions. Several of these regions now exist as autonomous states, including Somaliland, Puntland (Buntlaand), Awdalland, and the Khatumo State.

Until 1991, the armed forces of Somalia consisted of the Army, Navy and Air Force, with a National Police Force being tasked with internal security. At the outbreak of civil war, the national armed forces were dissolved, but there have been efforts to rebuild it under the present Transitional Federal Government. The Somalia National Army (SNA) traditionally adopted camouflage patterns worn by other nations, although in recent years a number of variant patterns have emerged in Somalia that appear to be unique to the nation.

Camouflage Patterns of Somalia

  • In the 1980s the Egyptian "rocks" pattern camouflage was worn by some members of the Somali National Army.

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  • The Pakistani produced "arid brushstroke" pattern camouflage saw extensive use among Somalian troops during the 1980s as well.

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  • A three-color brushstroke camouflage design, known to be worn also by Iraq, has seen some service with Somalian personnel during the 1980s.


  • Originally appearing in the 1980s, the US m81 woodland camouflage pattern has seen extensive use with the SNA, various militias, and the newly constituted army of the Federal government. Various uniform styles and fabric types have been documented over the years. This pattern has continued to be used into the present era.


  • Another Egyptian camouflage design that has seen sporadic use with Somali forces is the "sparse desert" design.

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  • At least some use of the US six-color "chocolate chip" desert pattern has been documented in the current era.

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  • Additionally, the US tricolor desert pattern has seen increasing usage with Somali forces.


  • One recent pattern unique to Somalian forces is a two-color desert pattern having wide swathes of reddish-brown on a sandy background.


  • Limited use of a leaf camouflage design similar to that worn by Syria has also been documented.


  • Recently reorganized and trained by European instructors, members of the new Somalia National Army have been documented wearing a DPM variant seen here.


  • Another curious pattern that has shown up in use by the current Somalia National Army is the Iranian "panther" pattern seen below.

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  • Established in 2013, the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) or Hay'ada Sirdoonka iyo Nabadsugida is the national intelligence service of the Somali Federal Government. The agency replaced the old National Security Service, which had dissolved by 1990. The Gaashaan or "Shield" Force is a counter terrorist unit consisting of three elements: Alpha Group (which received training in the USA from 2009-10), Bravo Group (which was trained at the Mogadishu Airport in 2011) and Danaab (Lighting) Group, which has been trained separately by US security personnel and is modeled after the US Army Rangers. Elements of the Gaashaan have worn several types of camouflage since its creation, including standard US woodland, the US-designed A-TACS arid pattern, a copy of the USMC MARPAT, and the All-Terrain Tiger design created by Tiger Stripe Products:

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  • Somali troops trained by Turkey in 2017 received new uniforms in the Turkish Armed Forces pattern camouflage.


Camouflage Worn by Autonomous States


Puntland State of Somalia

  • In addition to standard woodland fatigues, members of the Puntland Security Force (PSF) have been documented in 2014 wearing the desert tiger stripe pattern first developed in the USA by Tiger Stripe Products.



Republic of Somaliland

  • Members of the Somaliland Armed Forces wear a woodland-derived camouflage camouflage similar to some previously produced in Thailand.


  • Some officers have been documented wearing Chinese-made uniforms in the same patterns worn by Yemen.

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