African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) sets Degrading of Al Shabaab and Improving Somali Security Forces (SSF) as Top Priorities for New Year

Degrading Al Shabaab and improving the capability of the Somali Security Forces (SSF) are top priorities for the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) in 2024. 

These New Year challenges were laid out by ATMIS Force Commander Lt. Gen. Sam Okiding and ATMIS Police Commissioner, CP Hillary Sao Kanu in respective end-of-year messages. 

“Our primary task next year will be the degradation of Al Shabaab. Al Shabaab must be defeated so that the people of Somalia can live in peace and harmony,” the ATMIS Force Commander declared. 

To help achieve these aims, a conference bringing together all ATMIS sector commanders will be held in Mogadishu to refine the current Concept of Operations (CONOPS) to effectively counter Al Shabaab’s asymmetrical warfare. 

The Police Commissioner highlighted that the police component would focus on imparting specialist skills to the SPF and enhancing community-based initiatives. 

“In the new year, we are going to streamline our training on community policing, investigative skills, combating financial crimes, money laundering, trafficking and public order management,” stated CP Kanu. 

She noted that community policing had proven to be successful in fostering cooperation between security forces and residents, strengthening the fight against Al Shabaab. 

“Community policy has strengthened cooperation between security forces and the residents. This is important because we need total cooperation of community members in the fight against Al Shabaab,” added CP Kanu 

Reviewing the achievements of 2023, Lt. Gen. Okiding pointed to the completion of 236 military operations, with 41 percent conducted jointly with the Somali Security Forces (SSF). 

The operations he noted were instrumental in securing population centres, safeguarding main supply routes, liberating key towns and villages such as Farqalaal, Gadaan and Cali Fooldheere Forest and facilitating the distribution of humanitarian aid to distressed communities. 

“It is important to note that ATMIS also collaborated with Somali Security Forces (SSF) in driving out Al Shabab in areas like Jubaland, Galmudug, Middle Shabelle and Lower Shabelle,” added Lt. Gen. Okiding. 

The Force Commander disclosed that ATMIS will intensify its mentorship programme for the Somali National Army (SNA) personnel and regularly advise the government on capability development to ensure resilience of the forces left behind. 

The Force Commander also singled out the successful conclusion of the first phase of ATMIS troops drawdown in June and the consolidation of gains made under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the precursor to ATMIS, as one of the major achievements. 

“Throughout the year our focus has been the transfer of security responsibilities to the Federal Government of Somalia and we successfully concluded phase one of ATMIS troops drawdown,” he observed. 

Other activities conducted by the military component included the provision of clean water to local communities, medical care and outpatient services, food donations and infrastructural development. 

CP Kanu highlighted the significant achievements of the ATMIS Police component in terms of training and providing operational support to the Somali Police Force (SPF). 

“We (ATMIS Police component) conducted numerous joint patrols together with the SPF and we also deployed our officers to secure different government installations, namely the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Justice, and also at General Kahiye Police Academy,” she explained. 

Lt. Gen Okiding and CP Kanu, praised the dedication of troops and police officers serving with the Mission, urging them to remain vigilant and avoid complacency. 

“Our officers should remain vigilant in the new year and avoid unnecessary mistakes that give Al Shabaab an advantage,” said the Force Commander, while urging Somalis to foster and embrace unity in the New Year. 

Concurring with Lt. Gen. Okiding’s sentiments, CP Kanu urged the residents to selflessly guard national unity even after ATMIS’s departure. 

“My message to the people of Somalia is about unity and ensuring that they work together to gain peace that we have all been fighting for,” added the Police Commissioner. 

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).

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