Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Somali and African Union Forces Train to Tackle Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) Threat


Eighty officers from the Somali Security Forces (SSF) and the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) have concluded a three-day training on countering Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) used by illegal armed groups, including Al Shabaab.

The training, facilitated by the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and the United Kingdom Mission Support Team (UK-MST), aimed to enhance the operational efficiency of SSF in dealing with IED risks in the Federal Member States (FMS). The comprehensive programme covered various aspects of IED detection, disposal, and post-blast investigation techniques.

“This training will be pivotal in the actualisation of the ATMIS mandate to degrade Al Shabaab in support of the Somali-led peace and security process,” said ATMIS military Chief of Staff, Brig. Gen. Kindu Gezu.

Brig. Gen. Gezu emphasised the importance of continued vigilance in countering the threats posed by IEDs, which are the primary weapon of choice for Al-Shabaab in its asymmetric warfare.

The Chief of UNMAS, Justin Smith, highlighted the successful collaboration between ATMIS, SSF, and UNMAS over the years, which has enabled the troops to detect and neutralize a significant number of IEDs planted by Al Shabaab militants in various parts of the country.

He said since 2017, ATMIS Counter-IED teams have managed to discover and safely detonate 439 devices, preventing an estimated 1,756 potential casualties.

“In 2023 alone, ATMIS Search and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams found and cleared 74 percent of devices assessed as targeting ATMIS troops, preventing a potential 150 ATMIS casualties,” said the UNMAS Somalia Chief.

ATMIS Military Chief Engineer, Col. Suleiman Ibrahim, urged partners to effectively tackle the IED menace to minimize threats to livelihoods, infrastructure, and humanitarian relief efforts.

“An effective counter-IED effort requires ingenuity, adaptability, and application of basic tenets. The fight against the IED menace is not easy and requires concerted efforts by all stakeholders,” Col. Ibrahim observed at the closing ceremony on Thursday.

The Chief Engineer for the Somali National Army, Col. Adan Abdullahi Ali, expressed his gratitude to ATMIS, UNMAS, and UK-MST for providing the Somali Security Forces (SSF) with the relevant skills and equipment to ensure Somalia’s peace and stability.

The theme for this year’s training workshop was ‘Working towards a sustainable SSF Counter-IED capacity development in preparation for the Somalia security transition’.

During the training, participants discussed Somalia’s IED threats, the Somali National Army’s threat assessment, and ongoing counter-IED operations.

UNMAS and ATMIS have been working together to improve the capacity of SSF personnel, equipping them with the necessary skills and facilities to detect and destroy IEDs that pose a threat to civilian safety.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).

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