US signs deal to continue training Somalia's special forces
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The United States has signed an agreement with the federal government of Somalia on strengthening of Danab Brigade, a move which comes at the time the elite forces are fighting to reclaim most parts of the country from Al-Shabaab.
Al-Shabaab militants have been fighting to topple the fragile UN-backed federal government of Somalia for almost two decades but their penetration to most parts of the country has often been thwarted by security forces. The militants, however, control most parts of central and southern Somalia.
Thursday's agreement will enable Somalia to benefit from advanced training of the national army particularly the Danab Special forces which are critical in the fight against Al-Shabaab. The Danab Special forces are trained by the US Africa Command in the Ballidogle Airfield in Lower Shabelle.
Defense Minister Abdikadir Mohamed Nur witnessed the signing of the agreement which also featured US ambassador to Somalia Larry Andre. The US has been financing the training of Danab forces besides giving the troops about a $300 monthly stipend as motivation.
The new agreement gives the US authority to equip, feed and fuel the Danab forces, which would help the to swiftly respond to Al-Shabaab threats across the country. Nur lauded the US for its support while recognizing immense progress made by Washington in training and equipping the Somali troops.
"The common goal is to train and equip Danab to respond to immediate threats and to build SSF capacity to progressively take more responsibility for force development, operations, and sustainment. FGS is keen to ensure the long-term sustainability of Danab. Thankful for US support," he said.
Ambassador Andre insisted that the US will continue working closely with Somalia to realize a "stable" and "safe" nation. He said the US is keen to help in the elimination of the terrorists who pose a "danger to US citizens and our partners in East Africa and the Horn".
The Deputy Commander of the Somali Armed Forces General Abbas Amin witnessed the signing of the deal between the two countries. The United States has been at the forefront in helping Somalia build the capacity to counter security threats posed by the Al-Shabaab militants.
A senior commander within the US Africa Command recently conceded that Somalia has been making numerous requests to the command to increase the number of drone strikes in pursuit of Al-Shabaab but such advances are scaled down to reduce the number of civilian casualties in the country.
For the last seven months, the Somali National Army [SNA] in collaboration with US Africa Command, the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS], and local militia has managed to kill over 600 Al-Shabaab militants. In the process, several strategic towns have also been captured by the militants.