U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), and U.S. Ambassador to Somalia Donald Yamamoto met with senior Somali officials during a visit to Mogadishu, Somalia, on 20 March.
During the visit, Waldhauser and Yamamoto met with Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire and key Somali defense officials.
“Somalia is critical to the security situation and the long-term stability of East Africa,” said Waldhauser. “Alongside our partners, we are dedicated to Somali-led progress and we continue to partner with, train and equip Somali security forces who assume and sustain security within the country.”
U.S. Africa Command’s primary security force assistance effort in Somalia is the development of the Danab Advanced Infantry Brigade. The brigade will consist of 3,000 member forces, across each of the six Somalia National Army sectors, reporting to the Danab Brigade Headquarters at Baledogle Military Airfield. Last May, the U.S. Mission to Somalia officially opened the primary Danab Camp. Khaire attended the official ceremony and remarked that the Danab soldiers present were the most professional and disciplined he had met.
After Danab soldiers complete basic training U.S. forces train them on advanced warfighting techniques, tactics, and procedures. U.S. instruction includes how to conduct effective unit-level operations, resulting in the Danab emerging as Somalia’s most advanced infantry units.
“We’ve learned the importance of factoring in cultural and region-specific considerations,” said Waldhauser. “We work closely with our Somali partners ensuring the composition of specific Danab companies is appropriate for the security sector where they’ll be employed.”
Because the Somali government remains committed to ensuring the appropriate Danab members are assigned to the proper area, reports from the ground indicate the Somali people have confidence in Danab units, and view them as an effective fighting force.
The Danab, along with other Somali National Security and African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) forces, continue to make incursions into territory previously held by al-Shabaab. These Somali-led operations are necessary to advance government objectives and development in these areas. This approach is particularly relevant in the Lower Juba River Valley.
Two years ago, al-Shabaab maintained a level of freedom of movement in the Lower Juba River Valley that allowed the al-Qaida-aligned group to terrorize and displace the local populace. Today, Somali and AMISOM partners have pushed al-Shabaab back up the river valley, establishing multiple combat outposts along the way in order to ensure our partners can hold the territory they have retaken.
More important than just building outposts and creating security in the valley, the Somali government has stepped in and restored services to the region, providing for the population. Reinforced by agencies across the U.S. government, this Somali-led effort allowed more than 1,000 previously displaced families to return to the Lower Juba River Valley since May 2017.
“We have seen incremental progress in Somalia,” said Waldhauser. “Our partners must continue to make progress in order to maintain positive momentum and maintain the hard-earned confidence of the Somali people.”
Yamamoto agreed with Waldhauser, stressing that the U.S. whole-of-government approach in Somalia is designed to promote governance and development.
“Our AFRICOM and U.S. Mission teams work in collaboration to promote goals in Somalia to create a stable region and country through the defeat of al Shabaab,” said Yamamoto. “Together with the government and people of Somalia, we can create conditions for peace, stability, development, and prosperity in Somalia.”