REPORT: How to revive fractured Somali national army
MOGADISHU, Somalia - For over three decades, Somalia has struggled to rebuild a security force that is free from clan antagonism and Al-Shabaab infiltration, but these efforts seem to be facing hurdles, and consequently, could delay the project which has been going on for years.
There are three categories of Security Forces in Somalia; the Somali National Army [SNA], the Somali Police Force, and the National Intelligence Security Agency [NISA] which are mandated to take care of the country's security and stability.
Research done by the Heritage Institute of Policy Studies [HIPS] established some of the issues bedeviling Somalia Security Forces, notably political irreconcilability among Somalia’s cantankerous political elite who has failed, quite spectacularly, to find a common ground on the outstanding state-building issues such as the architecture of the security forces.
The politicization of the security forces, HIPS noted, is rampant and leaders of the FGS and federal member states [FMS] tend to prioritize regime security over national security.
Instead of fighting Al-Shabaab and enforcing the rule of law, the report adds, "some or many of the country’s disparate security forces are subjected enforcing the law of the ruling elite, deepening the mistrust that many Somalis and international partners harbor about Somali security forces".
Also found as an impedance to the restructuring of Somalia's Security Forces is corrosive misgovernance. Although commendable progress had been made over the past few years in the fight against corruption through the purging of ‘ghost soldiers’ and the introduction of biometric registration and electronic salary payments, the underlying corruptive cultures remain entrenched.
The report established that officers are promoted through nepotism and clan affiliation to buy loyalties and consolidate power, destroying the morale of the security forces. High turnover of the top brass is also destabilizing the security forces and weakening command and control, resulting in poor accountability, adds the report.
The persistent financial crisis is another major impediment limiting the security sector’s ability to recruit, train and equip officers. Together with high attrition rates, the FGS is struggling to generate adequate forces to achieve its goal of “clearing, holding, and rebuilding” communities.
By and large, the security sector is heavily reliant on few, highly trained special forces, notably the US-trained Danab Brigade and the Turkish-trained Gorgor and Haram’ad units. By one estimate, Danab leads 80 percent of all operations and 100 percent of counterterrorism operations.
With the anticipated drawdown of AMISOM forces in the coming years and the geopolitical rivalry among external actors, the years ahead could be defining for Somalia’s fledgling security forces. Perhaps one silver lining is that Al-Shabaab no longer poses an existential threat to the FGS, although it remains a deeply disruptive and potent force across the country.
It has proven to be adept and agile under intense US airstrikes and ground operations. Relying on a sophisticated underground network, the militant group has morphed into a criminal-like syndicate and is collecting as much revenue as the FGS from Mogadishu, Bossaso, and other major cities note the report.
Rebuilding of Somali Forces
The Somalia-based Think Tank notes that structural impediments to rebuilding Somalia’s security sector can seem like a "prohibitively daunting" task, but with committed leadership, these challenges can be addressed.
According to the HIPS, FGS and FMS leaders need to return to the London Security Pact as an interim cooperative framework with the National Security Architecture as a foundation. In this regard, it said, the FGS and FMS [at senior officials level] should open an urgent dialogue within the National Security Architecture aimed at de-escalating the conflagrations in Gedo and Hiiraan and recommitting to the London principles.
Moreover, the leaders should commit to depoliticize security forces during [and afer] the federal election, in line with article 127 of the provisional constitution. The politicization of security forces at federal and state levels is having the most adverse effect on the long-term rebuilding of an able, accountable and acceptable security force.
Secondly, within the framework of the National Security Architecture, FGS and FMS leaders should establish the National Security Commission as stipulated by article 111G of the provisional constitution. This council should be the permanent replacement of the National Security Council and should be able to set broad policy guidelines for the provision of security in a post-conflict and federal Somalia.
Thirdly, the FGS should immediately implement the recent policy on promotions and demotions of the security sector, in line with article 111G of the provisional constitution.
This would make it harder for politicians to incentivize promotions based on loyalty or clan affiliation. It would also lead to the professionalization and institutionalization of the security sector.
Fourthly, the FGS and FMS leaders must discuss and compromise on the 15 outstanding articles in the review of the provisional constitution. The continued rivalry over long-term constitutional issues is a key factor of all political contestations in Somalia. Even if the opposing sides can’t finalize the discussions on all 15 articles during this electoral cycle, they should at least agree on the relatively easier ones with a patriotic spirit.
Fifthly, the United States should seriously consider returning its troops to Somalia. President Biden was a vice president when these troops were sent to Somalia, and many of his senior officials understand the strategic importance of their role in the long-term stability and security of Somalia. The investment put in Danab Brigade is too big to fail.
Sixthly, leaders of the FGS and FMS should [afer elections] objectively review the role of external actors in the rebuilding of a competent security force. Within the National Security Council, an effort must be made to end duplicity and streamline training and equipping efforts by partners.
The NSC should also review the continued presence of Ethiopian and Kenyan forces in Somalia. If they determine that they’re not helping the nation in its earnest attempt to revive its forces, they should order them out of the country immediately. There is plenty of evidence to support our neighbors’ bad intentions. However, the FGS should maintain a good neighborly relationship with both.
Somalia almost depends on security backup from AMISOM troops whose mandate is set to expire upon full implementation of the Somali Transition Plan [STP] which is projected to be completed in December 2021. There are close to 22,000 AU peacekeepers in Somalia.
The Mogadishu-based Think Tank, in most of its scientific studies, revers Garowe Online and in appreciation, quotes our articles. The articles are well researched and balanced due to editorial independence.