Somalia : General Gordon Base Attack Exposes Security and Recruitment Flaws
MOGADISHU, Somalia- In a shocking breach of security, the General Gordon military base became the scene of a violent attack that has sparked widespread fear and raised serious questions about the confidence in foreign trainers assisting Somalia in rebuilding its armed forces and their training programs.
The incident, resulting in the death of three soldiers from the United Arab Emirates and one from Bahrain, has unveiled the persistent issue of Al-Shabaab’s infiltration within the Somali government’s ranks. This connection facilitates the extremist group’s access to military installations and operations.
Critics have pointed out the Somali government’s habitual oversight of the dangers posed by such attacks, which undermines the trust international partners place in the Somali troops they train.
Reliable sources indicate the recruitment process for soldiers is plagued by inefficiency, corruption, and clan-based bias. Often, recruits are vouched for by Members of Parliament and Ministers, leading to a military composed of individuals with familial ties rather than merit.
The absence of thorough background checks on recruits to verify their life history and beliefs poses a significant security risk.
The attack at the General Gordon base has not only caused unprecedented security concerns but also heightened worries over the presence of former Al-Shabaab members within the ranks of the Somali National Army, posing a direct threat to foreign trainers.
Countries such as Turkey, the United States, the EU, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates continue to provide training within Somalia. The Ministry of Defense is responsible for the registration of individuals wishing to join the national forces.
In July 2023, a man wearing a military uniform detonated himself at the Jaalle Siyaad Military Academy in Mogadishu, killing 25 soldiers and injuring 70 others. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for this attack. The government has been criticized for not disclosing how the attacker managed to enter the highly secured facility.
Security experts have identified a significant flaw in allowing soldiers to carry loaded weapons into formations during high-profile visits to military bases, even endangering the President, who regularly visits these sites.
Given the ongoing security challenges, the government’s failure to conduct proper vetting of soldiers, including scrutinizing their guarantors, whether they be politicians, ministers, or traditional elders, is seen as a critical vulnerability.
Al-Shabaab employs various strategies for its attacks, often with the assistance of insiders within the government, highlighting the group’s infiltration within state security agencies. This entanglement is a major contributor to the country’s security issues and will continue to be a problem until those within the government who support the group are addressed.
The persistence of Al-Shabaab within government institutions underscores the complex challenge Somalia faces in securing the nation against internal threats and the importance of stringent recruitment and vetting processes to safeguard its future.