Country Listing

Somalia Table of Contents


People's Militia

In August 1972, the government established the People's Militia, known as the Victory Pioneers (Guulwadayaal). Although a wing of the army, the militia worked under the supervision of the Political Bureau of the presidency. After the SRSP's formation in 1976, the militia became part of the party apparatus. Largely because of the need for military reserves, militia membership increased from 2,500 in 1977 to about 10,000 in 1979, and to approximately 20,000 by 1990. After the collapse of Siad Barre's regime, the People's Militia, like other military elements, disintegrated.

The militia staffed the government and party orientation centers that were located in every settlement in Somalia. The militia aided in self-help programs, encouraged "revolutionary progress," promoted and defended Somali culture, and fought laziness, misuse of public property, and "reactionary" ideas and actions. Moreover, the militia acted as a law enforcement agency that performed duties such as checking contacts between Somalis and foreigners. The militia also had powers of arrest independent of the police. In rural areas, militiamen formed "vigilance corps" that guarded grazing areas and towns. After Siad Barre fled Mogadishu in January 1991, militia members tended to join one of the insurgent groups or clan militias.