Somali leaders hosted in Pentagon for security cooperation

US Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work met Somali prime minister and defense minister in their first meeting at the defense department Pentagon.

In a statement summarizing the meeting, Defense Department officials said Prime Minister Omar Ali Sharmarke and Defense Minister Gen. Abdulkadir Sheikh Ali Dini met with Work to discuss the importance of U.S.-Somali security assistance and counterterrorism operations.

US Deputy Defense Secretary praised the success of Somali forces in fighting the Al-Shabab militant group in the past two years, officials said.

The leaders discussed how taking the fight to Al-Shabab requires integrating regional militia forces into the Somali National Army deliberately, but without delay.

The leaders also discussed successes of the Danab special force companies, which could serve as a good model for the rest of the Somali army.

Bob Work underscored the Defense Department’s strong commitment to supporting both the African Union Mission in Somalia and the development of Somali security forces, the statement said.

“The deputy secretary noted it is imperative that Somalia completes the state formation process in advance of holding elections next year, in line with the agreed timeline,” the statement said.

“Progress on the political front is a necessary foundation for the development of Somali security forces.”

The leaders said they look forward to working together well into the future, the statement said.