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AMISOM commanders raise concerns over Somali army preparedness


A UN security council resolution requiring the African Union Mission in Somalia  (AMISOM) to withdraw by 2021 is causing a lot of debate among the AMISOM commanders in regard to the preparedness of the Somali National Army (SNA) to take on the challenge.

AMISOM started downsizing its troops last year, reducing the numbers from 22,000 to 21,000. 

Brig Paul L'Okech, the commander of the Ugandan contingent in Somalia says the Somali army isn't ready yet to take over. Photo: Nicholas Bamulanzeki

Each of the troop contributing country reduced its presence by at least 250 soldiers according to Col Richard Omwega, the AMISOM force spokesman. Omwega  belongs to the Kenya Defence Forces.

"After 10 years of presence, the UN wants us to power to the Somali National Army but the transition is condition based; that as we move, there must be a stable and secure country," Omwega said.

According to the withdraw plan, another 1,000 troops will be withdrawn in October this year which comes with a closure of a forward operating base (FOB) for each of the troop contributing countries. Besides Uganda and Kenya, AMISOM has troops from Burundi, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

The big debate among the AMISOM commanders is whether the UN wish is achievable within three years.

"The transition must be shaped in such a way that the SNA is well trained and prepared. They are well trained but not well prepared to take over the challenge," said Brig Paul L'Okech, the commander of the Ugandan contingent in Somalia.

"It needs to be well handled otherwise we may go back to square one," he added.


Currently, there are 75 SNA cadet officers undergoing training in Uganda. These will join an earlier force of 4,000 SNA officers who were trained by Uganda.

Turkey is training another force of about 1,000, the United Arab Emirates  (UAE) trained about 500 troops plus some more being trained separately by the  US and European Union.

"Getting fighters is easy but how do you maintain them? Somalia for a quite a long time didn't have an army, we are trying to build one but we need to put a lot of effort in training, re-organisation and preparation," L'Okech said.

AMISOM is also selling to the Somali government the idea of an LDU-like force to manage security in the villages.

This has led to the incorporation of clan militias into the security system although the peacekeepers have to deal with the challenge of underage warriors.

"AMISOM mandate is to support the government; we can't interfere with local arrangement, we can only advise them not to arm young boys below 18 years," said Col Bonny Bamwiseki, the brigade commander of the UPDF force based at Ceeljalle in Lower Shebelle region.

AMISOM created by the African Union's Peace and Security Council of January 2007 with an initial six-month mandate. This mandate has since been extended to date with the United Nations giving the troop contributing nations up to 2021 to withdraw. 


+2 #1 Jama 2018-05-05 14:19
This withdrawal will be a blow to our leader
It will be the disarmament of one the weapons used to twist the arms of western leaders to pay a deaf ear and a blind eye to his authoritarian drift.
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+1 #2 Lysol 2018-05-05 20:32
The AMISOM has not been successful, because it was formed on a false start from day one by different actors with different interests.
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0 #3 Ocaya pOcure 2018-05-07 17:31
The unfortunate I agree with you today that the AMISOM thing was started by wrong interests which were and are for Ugandans.

We do share political border with Somalia like Kenya, Sudan and, or DR Congo.
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0 #4 Ocaya pOcure 2018-05-08 18:15
The unfortunate thing is this time I agree with you that the AMISOM projects was started by wrong interests which were and are not for the goodness of us Ugandans.

In clear language, we do not share political and, or geographical borders with Somalia.

Uganda shares geographical borders with Kenya, Sudan and, or DR Congo and clearly we do not want to send our children to die in numbers.

This means, the children of Uganda must be brought back without any delay.

This, is the period when some of us had gone through Somalia right from Owiny Kibul to Port Sudan to Tanga in Tanzania when we were soon to launch a struggle against dictator AMIN in the 1970s!
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