Barre was born into the Somali Marehan clan near Shilabo in the Ogaden, although he later claimed to have been born in Garbahaarreey in order to qualify for the Italian colonial police force. Before joining the police force, Barre had been an orphaned shepherd. He had no formal education but attended some military courses in Italy, eventually becoming Vice Commander of Somalia's Army when the country gained its independence in 1960. After spending time with Soviet officers in joint training exercises in the early 1960s, Barre became an advocate of Soviet-style Marxist government.
DeathAfter leaving Mogadishu in January 1991, Barre temporarily remained in the southwestern Gedo region of the country, which also happened to be the power base of his Marehan Clan. From there, Barre launched a military campaign to return to power. He twice attempted to retake Mogadishu, but in May 1991 was overwhelmed by General Muhammed Farrah Aidid's army, forcing him into exile.