Must read: A Proposal for Security-Sector Program Development in Somalia: Weaponizing Moral Authority

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Must read: A Proposal for Security-Sector Program Development in Somalia: Weaponizing Moral Authority

by Doyle Quiggle

March 3, 2018| Arlaadi Online

Small Wars Journal

Doyle Quiggle (PhD, Washington University) has had the honor and privilege of being a professor to US Troops downrange, at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Africa and at FOB Fenty, Jalalabad, Afghanistan. He researches the anthropology of war from within the battlespace, focusing on counter-terrorism and counterinsurgency.

Since the end of the Barre era, no Somali leader or group of leaders has managed to de-clan the Somali National Army, which is why it remains dysfunctional today.

In his Summary of Recommendations on the Way Forward on a Somali National Security Architecture, the Somali Secretary of Defense (in 2017) laments that, despite the best efforts of the U.S. Government, the Somali National Army remains an incoherent, militia-style force, loyal to clan and region and not to nation, with little will to defend its citizens from violent extremists.[i]

Somali regional analysts can remember the properly trained and equipped, well-disciplined and well-paid professional, even proudly nationalistic Somali military of the Said Barre regime. Former commanders of the Somali National Army, such as General Adaad and General Samatar, among many others, can recall the days when Somalia’s army was the gem of Africa, an era when the SNA was admired by and even trained other regional military forces, such as Uganda’s. Those Somali commanders and other regional experts can also recall the exact turning point when the SNA witnessed its first mass defectors: The 1977 Ogaden War with Ethiopia. Many commanders and rank & file soldiers were outraged and alienated by Barre’s invasion of Ethiopia, a war that had Somali soldiers shooting to kill their own clan members on the other side of the border. AFRICOM trainers of the SNA today appear to be completely oblivious to the Somali past.

At the beginning of US training operations with the SNA last year, a Somali Commander posed an interesting question: “In 1969 the Russians built the Somali Army. Will the U.S. do so in 2017?” He was coyly asking US Commanders whether today’s United States military can do better for Somalia than did the Soviet army. One year later, the Somali Commander has reason for seriously doubting we can or will do better than the Red Army. What has AFRICOM achieved in Somalia after a year of training programs other than park a few of its vehicles in Mogadishu, where they’re targets for Al Shabab’s suicide bombers? Logistical build up does not and will not bring about the integration or professionalization of the SNA. We made the grave mistake of parking and sitting in Afghanistan. Why are we repeating it in Somalia?

Regional experts have long agreed that Somalia is best served by a national army, regionally deployed, and interfacing with regional police forces. It’s only too obvious to these experts that, in order to mitigate the cultural pull of clan and sub-clan issues, a sense of national pride must be instilled in soldiers to unify the SNA. Pride of station comes, in part, from being treated with equality, especially being paid on time, every time. The Somali soldier who stands with empty pockets for extended periods of time while foreign troops receive soldier pay will not remain committed to the cause of national security. Paying one’s army is a no-brainer. But clan loyalty is not the only issue.

Read more: A Proposal for Security-Sector Program Development in Somalia: Weaponizing Moral Authority

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