In 2009, the Libyan Army consisted of 25,000 volunteers with an additional 25,000 conscripts (total 50,000).
At that time, the army was organised into 11 Border Defence and 4 Security Zones, one regime security brigade, 10 Tank Battalions, 10 Mechanized Infantry Battalions, 18 Infantry Battalions, 6 Commando Battalions, 22 Artillery Battalions, 4 SSM Brigade and 7 Air Defence Artillery Battalions.
These regions appear to have included the Western Military Region (Tripoli), the Middle Military Region (Sirte), the Eastern Military Region (Tobruk), the Mountain Military Region (Gharyan), and regions headquartered at Kufra and Benghazi.
Though the Libyan army had a large amount of fighting equipment at its disposal, the vast majority was bought from the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s and eventually became largely obsolete.
A high percentage remained in storage and a large amount of equipment was also sold to various African countries.
No major purchases of equipment had been made in recent years largely due to the decline of the economy and military sanctions experienced throughout the 1990s.
The Free Officers' coup of 1952 in Egypt led many Libyan officers to be disenchanted with Idris and become great followers of Gamal Abdel Nasser.
This situation reached the stage that the British Army officers retained by Idris to train and advise the new armed forces deemed the force entirely untrustworthy.
In 2009, it emerged that a British Special Air Service team were training Libyan special forces.They increasingly saw their role as to watch the army rather than to raise its effectiveness.He placed loyal but often unqualified Cyrenaicans in all senior command positions, limited the armed forces to 6,500 men, kept the army lightly armed, and built up two rival paramilitary units, the National Security Force and the Cyrenaican Defence Force which was recruited from Cyrenaican Bedouin loyal to the Sanussi.This and various other internal factors had seriously decayed the strength of the whole of the Libyan Armed Forces over the years and it lagged behind its major neighbours in terms of its military capabilities and real war fighting capability.In the spring of 1979, after the Arab League had extended the mandate of the Arab Deterrent Force, the Sudanese, the Saudis and the UAE troops departed Lebanon, the Libyan troops were essentially abandoned and had to find their own way home, if at all.