The “growing capabilities” of the Somali National Army (SNA) are cited as reasons for the success of an ongoing military offensive in the east African country which has seen cities and towns “recovered” from Al Shabaab.
This opinion comes from Lieutenant General Diomede Ndegeya, outgoing ATMIS (African Union Transition Mission in Somalia) force commander.
“The Somali people need peace because they have suffered for far too long,” he is quoted as saying in an ATMIS statement which adds that since September under the leadership of the new government, the local population “joined hands in the fight against Al Shabaab”.
“There is political will to defeat terrorism in Somalia,” said the three-star, whose tour of duty after arriving in Somalia in August 2020 to take over from Lieutenant General Tigabu Yilma of Ethiopia, is over.
In a farewell message, Ndegeya said SNA’s ability to attack, defeat the enemy and hold ground was a critical indicator it was growing into a force capable of taking full responsibility for national security as well as the protection of the country and its citizens.
During his tenure, the African Union (AU) and the Somali government adopted a plan putting in motion reconfiguring the mission, previously AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia), under which some forward operating bases (FOBs) in Afgoye, Marianguwaay and elsewhere were handed to Somali authorities.
The base handover was part of the implementation of a gradual but steady transfer of full security responsibilities to the Somali authorities under the Somalia Transition Plan, supported by the Somali government and its international partners, the statement has it.
As outgoing force commander Ndegeya hailed the international community for providing financial and logistic support to AU troops.
“We wouldn’t be able to achieve as much in Somalia without our partners. I thank them for their support and appeal to them to do more and not become fatigued,” the statement has him saying.
During his tenure, ATMIS established joint operations centres to enable ATMIS and Somali security forces to plan joint operations and strengthen command and control structures. This collaboration was important in securing the election of 329 members of the two houses of Parliament earlier this year, and the election of a President in May 15 in Mogadishu.
“With ATMIS and Somali Security Forces working together Somalia held what was, in the end, largely fair, peaceful and credible elections.”