Senior African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali National Army (SNA) military commanders have wrapped up a five-day meeting by agreeing to set up a joint technical team to implement rules of operations for the new peace mission.
The joint team which will also include the United Nations officials will work on implementing the Concept of Operations (CONOPS) for the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) that will be replacing AMISOM effective April 1.
“Discussions should continue within the theatre of operations to agree on which forward operating bases (FOBs) to hand over, to relocate or to collapse,” said AMISOM Force Commander Diomede Ndegeya at the end of the conference in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, according to a statement issued Friday evening.
CONOPS 2022-2024 is a comprehensive document that will, together with the Somali Transition Plan (STP), give direction to the operations of the ATMIS.
Ndegeya reiterated that al-Shabab is still a security threat to Somalia and degrading the armed militants remains a key priority going into the new mission. He thus called upon the sector commanders of the SNA and ATMIS to continue conducting targeted joint operations, as well as operationalize the joint operation coordination centers that AMISOM set up recently to aid intelligence coordination and action.
The conference was attended by representatives from the Somali government, AMISOM and Somalia’s international partners.
Somali Minister of Defense Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur said the achievements of AMISOM since it started operating in Somalia in 2007 should be consolidated under ATMIS through further capacitation of the Somali security forces in preparation for their takeover of Somalia’s security responsibilities from ATMIS in 2024.
“The government is committed more than ever to ensuring its security forces are capacitated and equipped to the standard required for the achievements of the implementation of the CONOPS and to meet the Somalia Transition Plan benchmarks,” Nur said.
The minister called for more civil-military coordination (CIMIC) activities under ATMIS so that local communities can feel the positive impact of the peacekeepers’ involvement in their day-to-day lives, and work with them toward peace and stability in Somalia.
Odowa Yusuf Rage, the Somali chief of the armed forces, stressed the need for the international partners to channel logistical support to not only the joint operations between SNA and ATMIS, but also operations independently carried out by the SNA.