Somalia’s new Defence Minister General Abdulkadir Sheikh Ali (Diini) has revealed that his main priority during his tenure will be rebuilding Somalia’s army, which has endured more than 20 years of chaos and war.
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.
‘’ The rebuilding of an army is not something that can be done overnight. You have to equip the army and rebuild the barracks. We will focus on that and make sure we build a national force,’’ he said after being sworn-in.
General Diini, who served as Military chief from 2011 to 2013 added that this will enable Somalia army to take control of the country’s security without any assistance from foreign troops.
In recent months the Somali army has helped drive the extremist Al-Shabaab fighters from a series of strongholds, although the bulk of heavy fighting was done by African Union peacekeepers, alongside powerful local militia forces.
Somalia 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.
Currently, the Somali military now follows an annual training programme in Mogadishu which is carried out by the EU Training Mission.
Analysts 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.
Published: February 10, 2015