AU troops hand over more military bases to Somali army
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The Somali National Army (SNA) has taken more Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) from the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) troops, in the latest changes geared towards handing over security responsibilities to homegrown soldiers.
So far, nine bases have been handed over to the local soldiers as ATMIS complies with the Somali Transition Plan (STP) which gives guidelines on the withdrawal. It is anticipated that by December 2024, all foreign troops would have left Somalia.
"The drawdown of 3,000 troops and handover of the seven military bases which conclude Bio Cadale, Raga Ceel, Parliament, State House, Qorillow, Burahache, and Kismayo Old Airport ENDF marks a watershed moment in the ongoing Somalia security transition process," ATMIS said.
Some of the bases closed down are Sarille and the Old Airport which were under the Kenya Defence Forces. Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Uganda, and Burundi contribute troops to the mission and have been helping local troops face the Al-Shabaab.
Alhaji Sarjoh Bah, director of conflict management within the Political Affairs, Peace and Security Department of the African Union Commission who spoke at the event in Mogadishu, said the drawdown marked a significant milestone in Somalia's positive trajectory.
According to him, the Somali forces have demonstrated the ability to fight al-Shabaab, followed by rigorous training by the ATMIS contingent. A total of 5000 soldiers have left the Horn of Africa nation under STP.
"Our collective efforts have enabled us to carry out an orderly and smooth transition of 2,000 troops last year and, this month 3,000 Atmis troops through the handing over of seven key Forward Operating Bases (FOBs)," Bah said.
He noted that the orderly transition has been due to the strong efforts of the tripartite committee of Atmis, the Somalian government, and the UN Support Office in Somalia.
"The successful completion of this drawdown Phase, notwithstanding significant challenges, including the El Nino, is a testament to the will of the Federal Government of Somalia to an orderly transition," he said.
Somalia has intensified the crackdown against Al-Shabaab, with the second phase expected to commence soon within Jubaland and Southwest states. There are close to 15,000 ATMIS troops in the country who are working closely with local troops in the crackdown against the militants.