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Republic of Yemen Armed Forces

  (Redirected from Yemen Army)

The Armed Forces of Yemen includes the Yemen Army (including the Republican Guard), Navy (includes Marines), 1st Armored Division, and the Yemeni Air Force (Al Quwwat al Jawwiya al Yamaniya, which includes the Air Defense Force) (2008). A major reorganization of the armed forces continues. The unified air forces and air defenses are now under one command. The navy is concentrated in Aden. The Yemen Arab Republic and the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen joined to form the Republic of Yemen on May 22, 1990.

Republic of Yemen Armed Forces
القوات المسلحة اليمنية
Yemeni Armed Forces Emblem.svg
Emblem of the Armed Forces of Yemen.
Flag of Yemen Armed Forces.svg
Flag of the Armed Forces of Yemen
Service branchesYemen Army
Yemen Navy
Yemen Air Force
Commander-in-chiefAbdrabbuh Mansur Hadi
Deputy Minister of DefenseBrig. Gen. Saleh Ali Hassan
Chief of StaffMajor Gen. Mohamed Ali al-Makdashi
Military age18
Active personnel66,700 (2014)[1]
30,000 (2019)[2]
Reserve personnel0[2]
Budget$1.4 billion (2019)[3]
Percent of GDP8%
Domestic suppliersYemen's military industry
Foreign suppliers NATO
 United States
 United Kingdom
 Czech Republic
 North Korea
 Saudi Arabia
 United Arab Emirates
Related articles
HistoryMilitary history of Yemen

Saudi–Yemeni War
1948 Arab–Israeli War
North Yemen Civil War
NDF Rebellion
Yemenite War of 1979
1994 civil war in Yemen
Hanish Islands conflict
Shia insurgency in Yemen
South Yemen insurgency
2011 Yemeni revolution

Yemeni Civil War (2015–present)
RanksMilitary ranks of Yemen

The supreme commander of the armed forces is Field Marshal Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, the President of the Republic of Yemen.

The number of military personnel in Yemen is relatively high; in sum, Yemen has the second largest military force on the Arabian Peninsula after Saudi Arabia. In 2012, total active troops were estimated as follows: army, 66,700; navy, 7,000; and air force, 5,000. In September 2007, the government announced the reinstatement of compulsory military service. Yemen's defense budget, which in 2006 represented approximately 40 percent of the total government budget, is expected to remain high for the near term, as the military draft takes effect and internal security threats continue to escalate.

Yemen used child soldiers between 2001 and 2004.[5] Child soldiers were also used by organized forces and tribal militia as of 2011.[6]

Since the 2014 civil war, the armed forces have been divided to loyalists of the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and pro-government forces of president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.


North Yemen Civil WarEdit

Fighting during the North Yemen Civil War

The North Yemen Civil War began in 1962 and ended in 1970. It took place between the northern Yemen Arab Republican forces and the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen. The Royalists received support from Saudi Arabia and Jordan while the Republicans received support from Egypt and the Soviet Union, using about 55,000 Egyptian troops. The Royalists used local tribesmen.

The Royalists were commanded by Muhammad al-Badr of the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen.

The Republican commanders were Gamal Abdel Nasser and Abdel Hakim Amer from Egypt and Abdullah al-Sallal from the Yemen Arab Republic. During the conflict over 50,000 of Egypt's troops were tied down in Yemen, which proved to be a disadvantage to Egypt during the 1967 Six-Day War with Israel. Egyptian troops were withdrawn to join the Six-Day War. The civil war concluded when the Republican forces won, and resulting in the transformation of the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen into the Yemen Arab Republic. Over 100,000 died on both sides during the conflict.

Chemical warfare during North Yemen Civil WarEdit

The first attack took place on June 8, 1963 against Kawma, a village of about 100 inhabitants in northern Yemen, killing about seven people and damaging the eyes and lungs of twenty-five others. This incident is considered to have been experimental, and the bombs were described as "home-made, amateurish and relatively ineffective". The Egyptian authorities suggested that the reported incidents were probably caused by napalm, not gas. The Israeli Foreign Minister, Golda Meir, suggested in an interview that Nasser would not hesitate to use gas against Israel as well.

There were no reports of gas during 1964, and only a few were reported in 1965. The reports grew more frequent in late 1966. On December 11, 1966, fifteen gas bombs killed two people and injured thirty-five. On January 5, 1967, the biggest gas attack came against the village of Kitaf, causing 270 casualties, including 140 fatalities. The target may have been Prince Hassan bin Yahya, who had installed his headquarters nearby. The Egyptian government denied using poison gas, and alleged that Britain and the US were using the reports as psychological warfare against Egypt. On February 12, 1967, it said it would welcome a UN investigation. On March 1, U Thant said he was "powerless" to deal with the matter.

On May 10, the twin villages of Gahar and Gadafa in Wadi Hirran, where Prince Mohamed bin Mohsin was in command, were gas bombed, killing at least seventy-five. The Red Cross was alerted and on June 2, it issued a statement in Geneva expressing concern. The Institute of Forensic Medicine at the University of Berne made a statement, based on a Red Cross report, that the gas was likely to have been halogenous derivatives - phosgene, mustard gas, lewisite, chloride or cyanogen bromide.

The gas attacks stopped for three weeks after the Six-Day War of June, but resumed on July, against all parts of royalist Yemen. Casualty estimates vary, and an assumption, considered conservative, is that the mustard and phosgene-filled aerial bombs caused approximately 1,500 fatalities and 1,500 injuries.

1994 Civil WarEdit

During the 1994 Yemeni Civil War almost all of the actual fighting in the 1994 civil war occurred in the southern part of the country despite air and missile attacks against cities and major installations in the north. Southerners sought support from neighboring states and received billions of dollars of equipment and financial assistance, mostly from Saudi Arabia, which felt threatened during Gulf War in 1991 when Yemen supported Saddam Hussien. The United States repeatedly called for a cease-fire and a return to the negotiating table. Various attempts, including by a UN special envoy, were unsuccessful to effect a cease-fire.

Southern leaders declared secession and the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Yemen (DRY) on 21 May 1994, but the DRY was not recognized by the international community. Ali Nasir Muhammad supporters greatly assisted military operations against the secessionists and Aden was captured on 7 July 1994. Other resistance quickly collapsed and thousands of southern leaders and military personnel went into exile.

2011 Yemeni RevolutionEdit

Yemeni soldiers from the 1st Armoured Division on 60th Street in Sana'a, 22 May 2011

In March 2011, a month after the beginning of an uprising against President Saleh's rule, Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, the commander of the 1st Armoured Division, defected to the side of the protesters taking hundreds of troops and several tanks to protect protesting citizens. Rival tanks of the 1st Armoured Division and the Republican Guard faced off against each other in Sann'a.[7]

The Yemeni Army's 119th Brigade, which had defected to the opposition, launched a joint operation with 31st and 201st Brigades which were still loyal to Saleh and retook the city of Zanjibar on 10 September from Islamist militants who were exploiting the chaos in the country to expand their influence. The offensive relieved besieged army units in the process.[8]

On 17 September, at least one rebel soldier was killed in clashes with loyalists in Sanaʽa near the city's central square, trying to protect the protest camp there from security forces.[9] After anti-government tribesmen overran a loyalist army base north of Sanaʽa on 20 September, capturing 30 soldiers, the government responded with airstrikes killing up to 80 civilians.[10]

Houthi takeover in YemenEdit

During the revolution of 2011, large crowds of Houthis participated in the protests. When the armed uprising started the Houthis used this as a chance to take over northern Yemen. When Ali Abdullah Saleh was replaced by Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi as president, Hadi was to take over as president for two years. The Houthis also participated in the national dialogue conference, brokered by the United Nations and the Gulf Cooperation Council to increase Hadi's term by 1 year and allow him to introduce sweeping reforms in all civilian, economic and military authorities alike. This was to purge all authorities of Saleh loyalists. But the National Dialogue conference also allowed Hadi to convert Yemen into a six-region federal system. The Houthis withheld their support from the federal region system. After Hadi's decision to increase fuel prices and remove diverse subsidies the Houthis now began an advance on all Yemeni provinces to complete the take over of Yemen. Hajjah and Amran were the first targets followed by their siege of the Sunni-majority town of Dammaj. After problems in Egypt, Saudi Arabia was forced to declare the Moslem Brotherhood a terrorist organization and withdraw their support from the Islah party in Yemen. This allowed the Houthis to overrun the 310th armored brigade in Amran and execute its commander and replace him with a Houthi. After this, the Houthis advanced on Sanaʽa and aligned themselves with the Saleh-loyal General People's Congress (GPC). As the Yemeni special forces and republican guard were loyal to the GPC, this allowed the Houthis to overrun several of their bases in Sanaʽa. This was the first of the Houthi presence in Sanaʽa. As a result, the Yemeni Air Force (YAF) launched heavy airstrikes on columns of Houthi forces outside Sanaʽa, this caused them a large number of casualties but didn't stop their advance. The Houthis pushed on and captured the High command of the Yemeni army. Hadi panicked as the presidential compound was besieged by the Houthis. Finally, the fighting ended as the Peace and partnership agreement was signed between the Houthis and Hadi. This included Hadi replacing his whole cabinet. The Houthis saw this as a chance to track down and arrest Islah Party's allies in Sanaʽa. They also tried to impose their control over the whole Yemeni Military, but when the officers refused to obey them they replaced them with the Houthi favorites and with this they even took over the restive Yemeni Air Force. After this, the surviving elements of the Islah party's militia, the presidential guard and remnants of military units loyal to Hadi decided to fight. Violence reached its peak in the capital when the Houthis launched their last power grab when they drove out the presidential guard from the presidential compound and secured camp Bilad Al Rus, the main base of the MBG (Missile Batteries group) as well as Al Daylami Air Base and the Ministry of defense building in Sanaʽa.[citation needed]

Saudi Arabian-led intervention in YemenEdit

Pro-Hadi forcesEdit

Beginning in October 2015, the Saudi-led coalition transitioned from direct fighting to providing support and training for Yemeni forces loyal to President Hadi's government. They helped form a new Yemeni National Army (YNA), which they trained at the Al Anad Air Base in the Lahij Governorate. These consisted of Hadi loyalist units, popular mobilization militias and Eritrean and Somali recruits. They also include large parts of the former Yemeni military that are based in the southern, eastern and central parts of Yemen. Eight brigades were trained in total. The Gulf coalition-trained YNA order of battle is as follows:[11]

  • "Salman Decisiveness"
  • 1st Infantry Brigade
  • 2nd Infantry Brigade
  • 3rd Infantry Brigade
  • 4th Infantry Brigade
  • 19th Infantry Brigade
  • 22nd Infantry Brigade
  • 14th Armored Brigade

Parts of the former Yemeni army also joined Hadi including:

  • 35th Armoured Brigade
  • 115th Armoured brigade
  • 312th Armoured brigade
  • 123th infantry brigade
  • 3rd mountain infantry brigade
  • 2nd border guards brigade
  • 11th border guards brigade
  • 310th Armoured brigade
  • 3rd Presidential guard brigade

The Hadi government forces are organized into military districts, as established by the Presidential Decree No. 103 dating back from 2013, dividing each of the country's provinces into military regions. As of 2016, four are in active service under President Hadi, but the other three are areas under Houthi control. They include the following:[12]

In addition to ground forces, the UAE air force trained pilots to form a new Yemeni Air Force using Air Tractor AT-802 light craft. By late October these were reported to be in operation and assisting Hadi loyalist army units near Taiz.[11] Yemeni Army troops fought in Taiz against the Houthi forces, seizing control of several districts in the city in late April 2017. A renewed offensive was launched by the Yemeni national army which received plentiful air support from the Yemeni air corps\Saudi-led coalition, secured the whole of the city and installed the Hadi government in overall control of Taizz.[13]

The Yemeni army has been reinforced by thousands of volunteers under Tareq Saleh's national resistance forces. Elements of the republican guard and the Giants brigade have joined the Yemeni army against the Houthis.


Yemeni soldiers, August 2011

Yemen's military is divided into an army, navy, air force, and the presidential guard.

The army is organized into eight armored brigades, 16 infantry brigades, six mechanized brigades,[14] two airborne commando brigades, one surface-to-surface missile brigade, three artillery brigades, one central guard force, one Special Forces brigade, and six air defense brigades, which consist of four anti-aircraft artillery battalions and one surface-to-air missile battalion.[15]

"A military takeover could only realistically be launched by one of the five Area Commanders.[16] Having himself come to power by coup, Saleh has been extremely careful to select Commanders whose loyalty is ensured by tribal bonds. Members of Saleh's Sanhan tribe control all military districts and most high security posts, with the commanders enjoying blood and/or close ties to Saleh. The Commanders report directly to the President, outside the normal channels of the Ministry of Defense and without constitutional mandate. They are the final authority in nearly every aspect of regional governance. In practice, they behave like tribal sheikhs and super-governors, parceling out new schools, water projects, and money. Despite periodic efforts to integrate military units, the Commanders recruit largely from regional tribes."

As of September 2005, "Brigadier General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, Commander of the Northeastern region, is the most powerful of these military elites. The commander of the Eastern Area is BG Mohammed Ali Mohsen. The Eastern Area includes the governorates of Hadramawt and Al-Mahrah. Ali Faraj is commander for the Central Area, which includes Al-Jawf, Ma'rib, al-Bayda, and Shabwa, while the Southern Commander, controlling the Aden, Taiz, Lahij, al-Dhala and Abyan, is Abd al-Aziz al-Thabet. Finally, BG Awadh bin Fareed commands the Central Area, including the capital Sana'a. With the exception of Ali Mohsen, all of these commands are subject to periodic change or shuffle."

The air force includes an air defense force.[15] Yemen recently placed an order for TOR air defence systems, which will be far more advanced than the current air defense systems in place. The TOR order has been completed. The Yemeni Army has a total strength of 43,500 troops.[17][better source needed]

In 2001, Yemen's National Defense Council abolished the existing two-year compulsory military service, relying instead on volunteers to fill posts in the military and security forces. In 2007, the Yemeni government announced that it would reinstate the draft to counter unemployment; approximately 70,000 new recruits were expected to join the military.[citation needed]

Defense budgetEdit

Yemen's defense spending has historically been one of the government's three largest expenditures and is expected to remain high as a result of the reinstatement of conscription and security threats posed by terrorism and tribal conflict. The defense budget increased from US$540 million in 2001 to an estimated US$2 billion–US$2.1 billion in 2006, to which it is probably $3.5 billion by 2012. According to the U.S. government, the 2006 budget represents about 6 percent of gross domestic product.[4]

Paramilitary forcesEdit

In 2009, Yemen's paramilitary force had about 71,000 troops. Approximately 50,000 constituted the Central Security Organization of the Ministry of Interior; they are equipped with a range of infantry weapons and armored personnel carriers.

20,000 were forces of armed tribal levies.

Yemen was building a small coast guard under the Ministry of Interior, training naval military technicians for posts in Aden and Mukalla.[18]

Air ForceEdit

(Number of equipment needs to be verified)

Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service[citation needed] Notes
C-130 Hercules   United States of America tactical transport C-130H 3+2 on order
Antonov An-12   Soviet Union tactical transport 2
Antonov An-26 tactical transport 6
Yakovlev Yak-40 tactical transport 35
Aero L-39 Albatros   Czechoslovakia jet training/light attack L-39c 12
Agusta-Bell AB204   Italy utility AB204B 2
Agusta-Bell AB206 utility 6
Agusta-Bell AB212 utility AB212 2
Agusta-Bell AB214 utility AB214 6
Bell UH-1H   United States of America utility UH-1H 4
Kamov Ka-27   Soviet Union utility 25
Kamov Ka-32 ASW KA-32 T\S 3
Mil Mi-8 transport/attack Mi-8T \ Mi-17 10
Mil Mi-14 transport/anti-submarine 36
Mil Mi-24 attack Mi-35 15
MiG-29 fighter MiG-29SMT/ MiG-29UB 44
Mig-21 fighter Mig-21MF Fishbed-J / Bis Fishbed-L 72
Mig-23 ground attack Mig-23BN/ML/UB/MS 44
F-5E Tiger II   United States fighter F-5E
Su-22   Soviet Union bomber Su-22M-2
Yakovlev Yak-11 trainer 14
Zlin Z 142   Czechoslovakia trainer Z 142 6
Casa CN-235   Spain transport CN-235M 1+3 on order
Cessna 208 Caravan   United States of America transport 2
Ilyushin IL-76   Russia transport 3
Sud Alouette III   France utility SA-316B 2
RQ-11 Raven   United States of America Mini-UAV 4


Yemen's navy was created in 1990 when North and South Yemen united. The navy's major bases are located in Aden and Al Hudaydah; there are also bases in Mukalla, Perim Island, and Socotra that maintain naval support equipment.[citation needed] Yemen's navy uses +2,000 officers and seamen to support their main bases at Aden and Al Hudaydah. A naval fortress is in construction at Al Hudaydah.

Yemen early on had problems with trying to keep drugs from entering Yemen by sea. In 2006, Yemen purchased ten patrol boats based on the Australian Bay class, which were very effective at stopping smugglers from entering Yemen.

In the Hanish Islands conflict, Yemen prepared its navy for an assault on the Hanish islands and on Eritrea. Eritrea accidentally destroyed a Russian ship thinking it was a Yemeni ship. The invasion however never happened since Eritrea made agreements with Yemen which involved Eritrea taking over the islands. Yemen however, later took over Zukur-Hanish archipelago island which created further tensions with the Eritrean government but it didn't lead to another war.

Naval equipmentEdit

(Number of equipment needs to be verified)


Missile boats

Patrol crafts

Utility crafts

Landing ships



  1. ^ "The Military Balance". Archived from the original on 2018-08-19. Retrieved 2018-08-13.
  2. ^ a b "2019 Yemen Military Strength". Retrieved 2019-04-30.
  3. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ a b Yemen was Bulgaria's Biggest Arms Export Partner in 2010 - UN Archived 2011-12-03 at the Wayback Machine, Novinite, 9 August 2011
  5. ^ "President Bush Signs Law on Child Soldiers". Human Rights Watch. 2008-10-03. Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2016-12-04.
  6. ^ United States State Department, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (2011)
  7. ^ Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar
  8. ^ Almasmari, Hakim (10 September 2011). "Yemen army recaptures provincial capital of Abyan". CNN. Archived from the original on 10 November 2012. Retrieved 10 September 2011.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Archived from the original on 2018-05-06. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ a b Mello, Alexandre. Knights, Michael. Gulf Coalition Operations in Yemen (Part 1): The Ground War Archived 2016-10-13 at the Wayback Machine. Published 26 March 2016. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  12. ^ Ali al-Dhahab (30 June 2016). Yemen’s Warring Parties: Formations and Dynamics Archived 2017-08-23 at the Wayback Machine. Al Jazeera Center for Studies. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  13. ^ Yemeni army seizes control of Ghadafi in Taiz Archived 2017-04-29 at the Wayback Machine. Al Arabiya. Published 25 April 2017. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  14. ^ "Critical Threats". Critical Threats. Archived from the original on 2016-12-15. Retrieved 2016-10-15.
  15. ^ a b Country profile: Yemen Archived 2011-05-15 at the Wayback Machine. Library of Congress Federal Research Division (August 2008).
  16. ^ Wikileaks/U.S. Department of State, 05SANAA2766.html Archived 2011-08-08 at the Wayback Machine, September 2005 (United States diplomatic cables leak)
  17. ^ "Yemen Military Strength". Archived from the original on 2015-03-25. Retrieved 2015-03-22.
  18. ^ "Interviews: Commander of Yemeni Coast Guard Forces Ali Ahmed Ras'ee". Yemen Post. 2009-02-09. Archived from the original on 2008-05-17. Retrieved 2011-12-04. The tasks of coastguard forces are stipulated in the establishment decree, and these tasks are varied. The coastguard forces have security and not military functions, including keeping order in Yemeni ports and launching patrols in Yemeni coasts and regional waters. Other tasks are limiting illegal immigration, protecting national waters against indiscriminate fishing, protecting environment against pollution, fighting piracy, rescue and search activities.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)

External linksEdit