Somali: Up to 30 percent of national forces unarmed

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Up to 30 percent of Somalia’s national military is unarmed, according to the government’s “Operational Readiness Assessment”.

The study comes as Somalia prepares to lead the fight against militant group Al-Shabaab as troops participating in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) pull out of the country. Experts warn that Somalia’s national army isn’t ready to take on the nation’s civil conflict alone.

Soldiers manning bases unarmed

In the latter part of 2017, Al-Shabaab has targeted a number of government military bases. The extremist group has overrun four bases since September, killing more than 60 troops and seizing large amounts of weapons in the process.

According to the government’s military assessment, as many as 30 percent of soldiers are manning bases completely unarmed. While some units lack the medium and heavy weaponry they need and some are also undermanned.

The findings support claims from various experts who warn that Somalia’s army is not capable of leading the fight against Al-Shabaab on its own.

‘Gaps’ in national army’s defences

On Tuesday, Defence Minister Mohamed Mursal Sheikh Abdirahman admitted that there are “gaps” in the country’s national defences.

“There are some who are not armed. We are working to complete their equipment but a majority of them have weapons,” he told VOA. “When we were conducting this assessment we did not announce and say people have to report for this assessment, we only went there and assessed those ready in their bases, their training and equipment.”

“There are gaps, there are brigades which are undermanned,” he said.

Featured image: “Somali National Army Passout Parade 17” flickr photo by AMISOM Public Information https://flickr.com/photos/au_unistphotostream/7786584356 shared into the public domain using (CC0)

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.