Amisom to bolster Al-Shabaab offensive ahead of transition

The AMISOM Force Commander, Lieutenant General Jim Owoyesigire, speaks to his fellow commanders, as well as commanders in the SNA, during a capability assessment meeting held in Mogadishu, Somalia, on 14 April 2018. AMISOM Photo

By T.Roble

Annihilation of the militant group Al-Shabaab and capacity building of the Somali Security Forces are key in actualising Amisom transitioning plan, the mission has said reiterating its call for force multipliers and enablers.

Amisom commanders in a week-long evaluation meeting in Mogadishu emphasised the need to ramp up operations flush out Al-Shabaab remnants as the mission cuts down its down troops with a further 1,000 expected to withdraw from Somalia October this year. The first batch of 1,000 left last December in line with the UN Security Council resolution August last year which set out a conditions based transition plan.

“There is need to continually discuss in details how ready AMISOM is, in terms of manpower and logistics, in executing these tasks (training and operations), in the sectors, putting into consideration the operational readiness and the strength of Somali security forces to support the above tasks,” explained AMISOM Force Commander Lt. General Jim Beesigye Owoyesigire.

Critical for Amisom is also the preparedness of Somali security forces which are not only expected to take over upon Amisom’s final exit but continually take charge of recaptured towns. Amisom has in the past faced criticism for withdrawing from towns it had captured but the mission has maintained its role is to create favourable environment for local administrations then proceed to capture other towns.

The transition is also informed by the actualisation of the National Security Architecture unveiled last April. The architecture envisions the creation of 18,000 strong Somali National Army backed by 4,000 special forces and 32,000 state and federal police.

PACIFICATION

With the transition plan in force, the AU Mission says it will place emphasis on tasks that will enable the Force achieve its agenda of complete pacification of Somalia.

“If the transition plan is to be realistic, without losing our hard-earned gains, AMISOM needs to be urgently supported with force multipliers, like attack and retreat helicopters, to conduct pre-emptive operations against Al-Shabaab,” Lt. Gen. Owoyesigire emphasized.

The commanders agreed to re-examine and assess the progress made with the transition plan so far, to enable it plan more effectively. AMISOM’s new mandate, requires it to facilitate a conditions based, gradual hand over of security responsibilities to the Somali security forces, without compromising gains already realized.

“The issue at stake is essentially one; undertaking operations to disrupt, degrade and eventually destroy Al-Shabaab. This is the issue. There is no other issue,” remarked the AU Special Representative for Somalia and Head of AMISOM, Ambassador Francisco Caetano Madeira.

“There are many things that are required but the task is to identify Al-Shabaab, its whereabouts, plan how to reach the enemy and destroy him,” Madeira added.

 

 

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