United States AFRICOM (Africa Command) Commander, Marine General Thomas Waldhauser stated via conference call in Germany that although the US is sending Somalia 40 personnel to help train the army there, it doesn’t signal a shift in strategy.
The US, along with other partner nations involved in helping the Somali army get off the ground all agree that it is time for the Somali army to stand on its own. However, the other organizations involved won’t be leaving for at least another year but will be there to help.
The US contingent will train the Somali logistical units to help create better supply networks for the fledgling military.
“Our goal from the United States’ perspective, in conjunction with our partners who are there doing the training, is that the Somali National Security Forces will be prepared to provide for their own security sometime in the 2020/21 timeframe when the next series of elections go,” Waldhauser said. “We all have to pull together to make sure that we’re very effective and efficient in the training now.”
Ambassador Francisco Madeira, the civilian head of AMISOM, said the AU intends to begin drawing down its forces in 2018.
“We were not intending to stay there forever,” he said. “Somalia is for the Somalis. We, like all other Africans, we have our own countries.”
“We are in solidarity with the Somali people, we need to support Somali people. We have interests to have a stable Somalia,” Madeira said. “But surely, the Somalis, the country, can only be best defended by the Somalis themselves, who understand better their dynamics, their reality and their priorities and their objectives.”
In early April, President Mohamed announced that he would offer amnesty to members of al-Shabab who renounce extremism and agree to undergo demobilization and reintegration training. Mohamed declared war on all extremists who rejected the offer.
The Somali military is trying to rid itself of the al-Shabab terrorist organization that hides in plain sight among the civilian populace. That makes their job more difficult but not impossible. They’ll use sophisticated means to identify them by intelligence gathering and aerial surveillance.
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Photo courtesy Voice of America