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AU forces and SNA pledge to crush Al-Shabaab in Somalia

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - The Somali National Army [SNA] and the African Union Mission Forces [AMISOM] have pledged to work closely together in coordinating joint military operations against the Al-Shabaab militants, with the liberation of several strategic towns within the country being a major priority.

On Thursday, Force Commander Lieutenant General Diomede Ndegeya, SNA Land Forces Commander Brig Gen Abas Amin Ali, and AMISOM and SNA sector commanders, agreed as a matter of importance to establish a Joint Operations Coordination Cell.

The team signed a requirement by the United Nations Security Council [UNSC] Resolution 2520 of 2020 which allows AMISOM to reconfigure and enhance operations in the war-torn nation. The resolution is also in line with the African Union communique 923rd and the Head of Mission’s directive to the Force Commander to establish mobile and quick reaction forces within AMISOM’s Area of responsibility.

The agreements allow the SNA troops and AU forces to conduct joint operations against the Al-Shabaab militants ahead of full implementation of the Somali Transition Plan [STP] which is currently being undertaken. Under the plan, AMISOM will hand over security responsibilities to SNA in 2021.

“The mission is taking a new direction as we get to the end stage and prepare the transfer of security responsibilities to the Somali security forces. The reconfiguration will enable us to maintain operational effectiveness, conduct offensives, and respond to threats in our area of responsibility," Ndegeya said.

Ambassador Francisco Madeira, who is the de facto head of the mission, noted the reconfiguration of AMISOM was necessary for the mission to adapt to the AMISOM troop reductions as part of the phased drawdown recommended by the UN Security Council.

He also thanked Somalia’s international partners for their support in establishing a quick reaction force for the Somali National Army. The AU forces control six sectors across the country and have been working closely with the local forces to eliminate Al-Shabaab militants.

“I’m happy that each sector commanders have committed to looking for their Somali counterparts. The Somalis have also committed to looking for their AMISOM counterparts to coordinate, discuss, and experience the action together,” said Madeira, a Mozambique national.

The signing of the agreement marked the conclusion of a three-day sector commanders conference where AMISOM and SNA commanders reviewed progress in conducting operations and planning future operations in line with the revised Concept of Operations [CONOPs] 2018-2021.

The SNA Commander Land Forces, Brig. Gen. Abas said it was significant to collaborate with AMISOM. He outlined the plan of the Somali National Army, adding that the plan was working following the liberation of many regions from the Al-Shabaab.

“We hope that our collaboration continues and succeeds against the enemy [Al-Shabaab] and liberating the remaining territories,” said Brig. Gen. Abas, who was elevated by President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo recently amid an ongoing offensive against Al-Shabaab.

The AMISOM Force Commander, Lt. Gen. Ndegeya pledged the AMISOM military component’s readiness to support the National Electoral Security Task Force to safeguard Somalia’s upcoming electoral process. The elections are set to start in December and would conclude by February 2021.