Opinion: AMISOM operations needs review after nine years of Peace Keeping Mission in Somalia

The African peace keeping Mission in Somalia celebrated yesterday the 9th anniversary since the inception of its mission in Somalia.  The total authorized level of uniformed personnel (Police and Military) of the Mission is 22,126 according to the official page of AMISOM.

The mission has so far cost 1 billion dollars since its inception.  Each AMISOM soldier receives $1028 as basic salary plus food, medical care and allowances. The mission has not however translated the manpower and the financial superiority into output which equates the expectations and predictions of the International Community and Somali Public.

In the past nine years AMISOM has been involved in a number of major offensives and battles against Al-shabab fighters mainly in the southern part of Somalia and has significantly managed to drive the group out of many towns and cut off most of its revenue bases including Kimsayu, Barawe and Bardhere.

But Al-shabaab has also been able to hit back thanks to coordinated and meticulously planned attacks to over-run fortified military bases of AMISOM. In the process Alshabab inflicts devastating losses to AMISOM military personnel and seizes a large amount of weapons and ammunition enough to storm other bases. ELade, Lego, Janalle are examples of some of the bases attacked by the group with sizeable loses on the part of AMISOM.

Vanda Felbab-Brown Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Center For 21st Century Security and Intelligency  writes, “AMISOM has weak headquarters to which few member countries pass on any information, let alone intelligence, or bother to coordinate. Some AMISOM commanders maintain highly personalized and sometimes outright subversive agendas: There are credible rumors that AMISOM units have sold fuel and arms to al Shabab or looted humanitarian convoys…….. There is little coordination among the sectors and little planning at AMISOM headquarters; in fact, they are generally only interested in working together when headquarters has something to offer to them, such as logistical support via the United Nations.”

Infact the structural or organizational failures are not only what hinders AMISOM to achieve its assigned mission. Majority of Somali people see AMISOM as occupational force. AMISOM extra-judicial killings and failure to win the hearts and minds of residents under the area of its control complicated the mission onAMISOM in Somalia. The Elade battle between Alshabab and Kenyan troops under AMISOM mission stands prime example of this.

The contributing countries to AMISOM troops like Ethiopia and Kenya have long history of animosity with Somalia and their membership  of the mission only came after they have independently decided to put boots on the ground.

Al-Shabaab does seem to exploit the blunders of AMISOM by one way showing a highly embellished and quality shot films on battle scenes to recruit and retain as well as to send strong message to Somali government and AMISOM.

Somali government which after three years could not manage to provide security to its own institutions -where the president,prime-minister and and parliament speaker are dependent on AMISOM troops for security have little to say on the direction of AMISOM mission in the country.

What is clear now is that AMISOM needs to re-evaluate its polices in Somalia by reclaiming the public trust, comprehensive inside reform which leads to policy that helps Somalia win the security back at specific time and most importantly to review its rules of military engagement to end the collateral damage of its operations.

By Ahmed Hadi


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