View Full Version : Somalia (land & sea) 2018 onwards

01-16-2018, 08:06 PM
A new thread for 2018, to be fair this forlorn country gets little posting nowadays, although the 'small war' has not ceased and at sea the piracy has declined.

There are two previous threads, which are both closed, divided between piracy and non-piracy:More Piracy Near Somalia (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/More Piracy Near Somalia) with 714 posts and 227,852 views - since 2005. Plus Somalia: not piracy catch all thread with 231 posts and 145,261 views since 2007.

There is a small, separate thread Somaliland: a peaceful place (catch all)

01-23-2018, 03:38 AM
Washington (CNN)US troops helped Somalia's security forces rescue approximately 30 child conscript soldiers Thursday during a raid on an al-Shabaab camp, a US military official tells CNN.
The team of US Special Operations Forces was advising local Somali troops during the raid on the militant camp in the Middle Shabelle region of Somalia, the official added.
The US military also carried out an airstrike against al-Shabaab militants Thursday, "killing four terrorists," approximately 50 kilometers (about 30 miles) northwest of Kismayo, according to a statement from US Africa Command, which oversees US troops in the region.


01-25-2018, 11:47 AM
Jason Burke, from The Guardian and SME on terrorism, has this article 'Somali citizens count cost of surge in US airstrikes under Trump', which reports on the human cost of more aerial attacks, mainly by the USA.

There is an element of balance as he does refer to the 500 dead in an IED attack in Mogadishu in October '17.

I would speculate that the strikes are very lethal, even if a civilian survives the strike will their injuries and the lack of medical help mean within days they die.

01-31-2018, 09:59 PM
Two articles on Somalia.

The first is an interview with a PhD research student, Christopher Azalone, who I recall hearing explain his work and study time in parts of Somalia:
Expert on jihadi-insurgent groups Christopher Anzalone talks about the recent activity and future of the jihadist group Al-Shabaab.Link:https://sustainablesecurity.org/2018/01/31/the-survival-of-al-shabaab-an-interview-with-christopher-anzalone/

The second is a six page report based on anonymous interviews of European and UK staff who have served in Somalia; the author is not an admirer of 'remote warfare'. I expect few would disagree, PR staff aside, with part of her conclusion:
Long-term prospects for security in Somalia aren’t looking particularly promising. This is not least because there remain real concerns about the viability – and the acceptability – of the SNA as a long-term security provider in the country. As one soldier remarked, the Somali National Army are “just another militia, albeit an apparently legitimate militia”. When they run out of ammunition, there are no procedures in place to resupply them. In many cases, there are no funds to pay them either.Link:https://remotecontrolproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/RWP-Jan2018-Somalia-FINAL-2.pdf

02-11-2018, 12:11 PM
In this SWJ article are some details and insight into the Somalia National Army, so I cite that part in total:
Clan politics and corruption dominate an operational environment in which most western-aligned powers are trying to either improve security and stability, fight terror, or a combination of the two. Any time expensive vehicles purchased by the US State Department were being moved for the Somalis it was amazing how many people showed up to see “what was happening.” When it comes to equipment given from foreign governments to Somalia many in the Somali Army have trouble understanding the difference between “for me” versus “for my army.” The Somali military, like its government, is newly established and immature in its development. Somalia’s conventional force, the Somali National Army (SNA), exists but the health, discipline, and organization of its force varies greatly. For example, when trying to muster a group of 80 SNA soldiers for training Somali military coordinators were not sure where some soldiers were coming from and if they were even in the military.
Many SNA soldiers have received training from foreign militaries. SNA soldiers that have received formal basic military training, either at home or abroad, are not anywhere near the majority of the force. Generally speaking, the SNA requires foreign military assistance to be combat ready.
Furthermore, the Huawiye tribe dominates the military forces while the Darod tribe dominates the government. This creates external and internal conflict within the military. There is some disdain towards the government due to clan differences. There is also disdain towards Darod officers in the military. During our mission I chose to discontinue an officer’s only small-group training program because SNA leadership would only send Huawiye officers to the class despite there clearly being capable officers from other clans.
The SNA is not the only military force in Somalia. “Elite” Danab force are a subset of the Somali military in which the United States has invested heavily in compared to the rank and file SNA. While the Danab see themselves as the Somali version of special forces, a more accurate assessment of them would be better equipped SNA soldiers. However, one notable difference is that Danab units integrate members of all clans into their ranks. Another component of Somali military forces are the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA). Conflict between these different military organizations can often be as violent as their clashes with Al Shabab. There are multiple instances of NISA getting into firefights with Danab.[v] (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/logistics-at-the-edge-of-the-empire-us-army-logistics-trainers-in-somalia#_edn5) While deployed, my team was able to hear the gunfire between the two by a checkpoint near Mogadishu’s airport.Link:http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/logistics-at-the-edge-of-the-empire-us-army-logistics-trainers-in-somalia

There is a comprehensive, if dated Wiki:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somali_Armed_Forces

02-13-2018, 01:47 PM
A CTC report which in summary says:
al-Shabaab has deployed at least 216 suicide attackers who carried out a total of 155 suicide bombing attacks, killing at least 595 and as many as 2,218 people. Their data indicates that al-Shabaab’s suicide attacks are highly targeted, aimed at degrading the Somali state and members of the international community (United Nations, African Union, or African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)) that are combating it. Unlike certain other terrorist groups, al-Shabaab’s suicide attacks tend to attempt to avoid targeting non-combatant civilians, and thus do not seem to be undertaken simply to engender shock and awe.

04-16-2018, 02:34 PM
The UAE has fallen out with Somalia:
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has stopped supporting Somalia's army, including training its soldiers and paying their salaries, after a diplomatic fall-out between the two nations.The government in Mogadishu has been angered by Emirati plans to train security forces in the breakaway region of Somaliland and four days ago told the UAE that they no longer needed its help. Since 2014, the Gulf state has been involved in training hundreds of troops from Somalia's army. The UAE says it has been paying the salaries of 2,407 soldiers and has built three training centres and a hospital.
Link (rolling news item and entry timed 9.04:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/world-africa-43781532?

(http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/world-africa-43781532?ns_mchannel=social&ns_source=twitter&ns_campaign=bbc_live&ns_linkname=5ad45622ef3fb7066729ac90%26UAE%20stops %20paying%20Somali%20soldiers%26&ns_fee=0#post_5ad45622ef3fb7066729ac90)

05-03-2018, 07:11 PM
Beyond the title this article by a reporter based in country is a glimpse into the Somali insurgency:
U.S. Africa Command now has more than 500 U.S. military personnel in Somalia, according to a spokeswoman, a dramatic increase from 2016, when AFRICOM only acknowledged 50 American troops on the ground.....And since January 2017, U.S. forces have conducted at least 48 airstrikes in Somalia, compared to 14 in 2016 and 11 in 2015
Today, U.S. operators are training the Somali National Army’s special forces known as Danab and the Somali National Intelligence Security (NISA) known as Gaashaan and Waran... Waran has grown to over 300 agents, while Gaashaan now counts roughly 400...The U.S. has similarly expanded the ranks of Danab into several battalions operating across the country. Somali officials told VICE News that Danab is now composed of several battalions..

05-09-2018, 10:31 AM
Once more charcoal is a cash source for Al-Shabaab and others I would add. Plus that much vaunted weapon, an international conference in Mogadishu. The main export port ebing Kismayo, which reportedly has an ANISOM garrison, who IIRC were accused of having a role in the trade.

06-02-2018, 10:32 AM
A short backgrounder from a Somali think tank. It ends with:
AS has successfully managed to manipulate the clan system to its advantage. By relying on a combination of appeasement and brute force, it has bent clans to its will. Clan elders who are against it are discarded and replaced at will. Its harsh policies have created a culture of fear and resentment that has resulted in mass defections by oppressed communities. On the other hand, it is seen as a keeper of peace by some clans; clan conflicts are managed and rarely become violent in areas under AS control.

06-09-2018, 06:12 AM
A member of U.S. Special Operations forces was killed in Somalia on Friday and four other U.S. service members were wounded, marking the first time an American has died in action in Africa since four U.S. soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger late last year.
The Americans were conducting an operation against the al-Qaeda-linked extremist group al-Shabab alongside partner forces from Somalia and Kenya when they came under enemy mortar and small-arms fire, U.S. Africa Command said in a statement. The incident occurred Friday afternoon .
The Pentagon did not identify the U.S. commando who was killed, pending notification of next of kin.
The U.S. service members were assisting approximately 800 local troops as the group conducted a multiday operation to liberate villages from al-Shabab control in the Jubaland region and clear the extremists from contested areas, according to the U.S. military.
The forces were also setting up “a permanent combat outpost” to help expand the Somali government’s control over the region, where the Islamist militant insurgency for years has destabilized the East African nation, particularly in rural areas.


06-12-2018, 09:21 PM
Recommended by a Forum member and on a very quick read some good points I can see from my armchair:
In an interview with the Africa Center, Simon Mulongo, deputy to the AU Commission in Mogadishu, says that AMISOM’s gains could never have been realized if it had continued to rely on the traditional peacekeeping template.

07-27-2018, 02:58 PM
Long War Journal on latest fighting

Somali military says it has launched joint offensive against targets held by Al Shabaab group in southwest of Somalia, killing senior leader and five other fighters. The attack happened in Ufurow area, after Somalia forces and regional troops conducted operation, a military officer, who asked to be anonymous said.

Helpful maps for orientation.


07-27-2018, 03:13 PM
Somalia's al-Shabab detonated a suicide car bomb then stormed a military base in the country's south, claiming at least 27 soldiers were killed. An official said the military repelled the attack and killed 87 fighters in fighting, dismissing the claim on Monday that dozens of Somali troops were dead. Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabab's spokesman, said attackers overran the base in Baar Sanguni village - about 50km from the port city of Kismayo.

BBC repeats the claims verbatim, w/o question. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-44923575 as does Reuters.

Al-Shabab has posted a video showing their fighters walking around an over-run position.

Meanwhile, some revenge -

The United States executed an air strike against Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia early this week, Garowe Online reported today. “In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, US forces conducted an air strike targeting Al-Shabaab militants approximately 50 kilometres north of Kismayo, Somalia,” Major Karl Wiest, a spokesman for US Africa Command, said.

Al-Shabaab was seen moving tactically and carrying a variety of weaponry in an area close to the attack. The place of attack is located in Jubaland, approximately 350 kilometres southwest of the capital Mogadishu.


07-27-2018, 03:57 PM
Article appears to have been published July 27th. Interesting in that the second attack (Elasha Biyaha village) was more sophisticated, targeting leadership. That sort of tactical growth pattern with IEDs happened in the 1st & 2nd Chechen Wars.

At least six government soldiers were killed, while several others wounded when a roadside blast targeted a military convoy on Wednesday in Somalia's Lower Shabelle region, officials said.

"The attack took place on the road between Afgoye and Wanlawayne when the convoy was traveling from Mogadishu to Balidogle airport," Mahad Abdirahin, a military official in the region, told Anadolu Agency over the phone.

Meanwhile, another roadside blast targeted a Senior military official in Elasha Biyaha village, located on the outskirts of the capital Mogadishu on Wednesday.

Local media reported that four Somali government soldiers were wounded in the attack.


07-27-2018, 09:43 PM
Somalia’s al Qaeda affiliate, al Shabaab, released aftermath photos showing themselves inside a burning joint US-Kenyan firebase on July 23, 2018, which contradicts the Somali government’s statement claiming that the attack was repulsed.

09-03-2018, 07:47 PM
A short commentary on the situation, leaving aside it is written as a comment on the UK's role; hence the sub-title: Challenges facing Theresa May’s engagement in the fight against Al Shabaab.

He ends with this, which IMHO could apply to all external actors:
The potential of the British involvement in fighting Al Shabaab is large, and Theresa May’s engagement is commendable, but in order for it to work effectively in the future, Britain needs to learn from the mistakes of the past.

The author is a Norwegian academic, who has written on the region before, hence the link to his publisher's blog.

09-15-2018, 01:13 PM
U.S. forces in Somalia came under attack earlier this week, prompting a defensive air strike against a militant group aligned with al-Qaida, U.S. Africa Command said Thursday. It said that U.S. troops were on a mission on Tuesday with Somali partner forces about 40 miles west of Mogadishu when they came under attack. No U.S. military personnel were injured in the clash, but one member of the partner force was killed and two others were injured.


12-11-2018, 09:56 AM
From the BBC after a week with the Spanish Navy off Somalia and the graph is the best illustration.

Somewhat odd to read about the local efforts, presumably externally funded:
the Puntland Maritime Police Force, around 800 men strong, and the largest such unit in the country. But its abilities are limited....the force only had two small boats, hardly enough to adequately patrol the vast sea and apprehend suspects.


12-17-2018, 12:00 PM
Good multi-article-cited background piece -

At a time when local fishermen in Somalia are struggling to compete with foreign vessels that are depleting fishing stocks, the government has granted 31 fishing licenses to China. Since assuming power last year, this is the first time that Somali president, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has given fishing rights to foreigners, news site BBC reports.

01-02-2019, 02:12 PM
This paper was produced by the Hiraal Institute, which is based in Somalia and has had recommendations by a "lurker". I noted these two sentences:
At its height in 2010, the Jabahaat numbered more than 8000 men....The total number of the Jabahaat fighters is therefore at least 5000 men. Their decline is both a reflection of the pressures the group has come against and also its reconfiguration away from a conventional posture to a guerrilla strategy from 2011.

01-06-2019, 09:16 PM
Mark Bowden has returned to Somalia and has this commentary. The sub-title gives a hint:
Twenty-five years after the battle chronicled in the best-selling book, the author argues that we’ve learned the wrong lessons about fighting terrorism

01-16-2019, 01:12 PM
A topical commentary on Al-Shabaab in Somalia, two good maps of activity in 2017 and 2018. This comment explains why they retain popular support:
Al Shabaab’s attacks make headlines, but the al Qaeda group offers something real to local Somalis. Perhaps incredibly, the group provides more efficient and less corrupt governance than the Somali Federal Government in some areas. Many Somalis prefer (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/07/06/this-is-why-al-shabaab-wont-be-going-away-any-time-soon/) al Shabaab’s justice over the Somali courts—even traveling (https://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/somalia/somalia-people-warned-against-seeking-justice-in-al-shabaab-courts) from government-controlled areas to al Shabaab-held areas to seek justice (https://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/somalia/somalia-people-warned-against-seeking-justice-in-al-shabaab-courts). Al Shabaab courts deliver a verdict faster and are more likely to enforce it. This benefit allows al Shabaab to maintain support and attack zones, despite U.S. airstrikes.
Link:https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/fight-against-al-shabaab-isnt-over? (https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/fight-against-al-shabaab-isnt-over?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=zimmerman)

This post will be cross-posted on the main Somalia thread:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?26407-Somalia-(land-amp-sea)-2018-onwards

Kenya has its own thread, where thsi thread will e merged one day:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?14771-Kenya-(catch-all)

01-20-2019, 11:42 PM
The U.S. military said it carried out an airstrike in Somalia that killed 52 al-Shabab extremists in response to an attack on Somali forces. The U.S. Africa Command statement says the airstrike occurred on Saturday near Jilib in Middle Juba region. The U.S. says Somali forces had come under attack by a 'large group' of the al-Qaida-linked extremists.

03-07-2019, 06:00 PM
Hat tip to a SWJ item and this optimistic comment. I note AMISOM has been in place since 2007 and is due to leave in 2021; is it me, but the Somali nation-state seems unchanged in either the will or capacity to succeed?
Link:http://georgetownsecuritystudiesreview.org/2019/03/06/assessing-challenges-to-amisoms-exit/? (http://georgetownsecuritystudiesreview.org/2019/03/06/assessing-challenges-to-amisoms-exit/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+GeorgetownSecurityStudiesRevi ew+%28Georgetown+Security+Studies+Review%29)

05-21-2019, 03:28 PM
Hat tip to WoTR for this article, with plenty of links.

07-14-2019, 07:29 PM
A rare article on defection from Al-Shabab and by a SME on the topic. A sample sentence:
The focus of the program continues to be to win back the hearts and minds of those once thought lost to jihadists and hellbent on unraveling Somalia's social, cultural and political fabric.
If you believe the defectors presented there is some insight into Somalia today.