With the African Union Peacekeepers expected to exit from the country by the end of 2016, Somalia has started to prepare the army that will take over responsibility for security nationwide, says a Somali military commander.
AMISOM, which was established by the African Union’s Peace and Security Council in January 2007, operates in Somalia’s Southern territories, assisting the federal government in fight against the al-Qaeda-linked extremists, with over 20,000 troops contributed by Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Burundi and Kenya.
Speaking at a military academy in Mogadishu where the forces are being trained by European Union military trainers, General Abdirisak Khalif Ilmi, the Deputy army Chief said that the Somali troops will be ready to handle the security issues when the foreign troops vacate.
‘’Our security and defense forces will be able to handle the security nationwide and takeover from AMISOM. We currently preparing the forces.’’
Once one of Africa’s largest militaries under former dictator Siad Barre, toppled in 1991, Somalia’s national army was been torn apart by decades of clan rivalries and the absence of any effective government to actually serve.
However doubts remain over the ability of the Somali forces to thwart the al-Shabaab threats, who have staged a string of assaults in their fight to overthrow the country’s internationally-backed government in the capital, Mogadishu and other cities though losing major territories in recent years.
With the Defense Minister General Abdulkadir Dini recently pledging to focus on rebuilding the army, the Federal government faces profound challenges reforming its security sector. Issues include an underdeveloped national command and control system, competing clan-based loyalties, limited equipment and resources, and discipline concerns.
Military experts believe that Somalia’s security forces have a long road to travel before they can take charge of the country’s security, but with the commitment to change and the significant funding pledged, they may be marching in the right direction.
Last month, the United Nations Security Council authorized the Member States of the African Union to maintain the deployment of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) for an additional 10 months, until 30 May 2016.
Somalia hasn’t had an effective central government since 1991, when warlords overthrew former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre, making it a haven for terrorists, pirates and illicit arms dealers.
Published: August 29, 2015