In January 1992, the Macedonian Assembly approved the formation of a standing army of 25,000–30,000 troops. However, the actual size of the military was estimated to be 12,300 active personnel in 2002, with reservists numbering 60,000. The army was equipped with 125 main battle tanks, and had a marine wing with five patrol craft and an air division with four combat air craft. The paramilitary consisted of an armed police force numbering 7,600. Opposition forces in the National Liberation Army (NLA) numbered between 500 and 1,000. There were approximately 4,700 UN and NATO peacekeeping forces stationed in Macedonia. Defense-related expenditures amounted to about $200 million in 2001–02 or 6% of GDP.
In March 1997, rioters in neighboring Albania looted government armories, making off with hundreds of thousands of AK-47 assault rifles. Substantial numbers of those weapons were smuggled into Macedonia and sold to ethnic Albanians.