By Raymond Baguma
The AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) fighting the Al-shabaab extremists has become a victim of its own success.
The Chief of Defence Forces Gen. Katumba Wamala has raised an alarm saying that capturing more territory from the Al-shabaab has widened AMISOM’s area of operation, which has over stretched the troops.
Gen. Katumba said that there is need to raise the troop numbers from current 17,731 up to between 20,000 and 25,000 troops, equipped with force multipliers and enablers in form of helicopters for aerial combat and evacuation.
“We have been stretched and we cannot get more with the present force level. We have reached the limit and cannot expand anymore. We can only consolidate and clean up areas,” Gen. Katumba said.
He was on Tuesday addressing journalists during a press conference at the Ministry of Defence headquarters in Mbuya. He said that with the current troop numbers, AMISOM cannot cover more ground without becoming more vulnerable to the enemy Al-shabaab.
“It’s not a good development as far as defeating Al-shabaab,” he told journalists and added that the African Union should sooner than later intervene to address this issue.
The African Union troops from Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Djibouti are serving in Somalia with authorization from the UN Security Council.
Uganda and Burundi were the first countries to deploy troops in Somalia in March 2007. Presently, Uganda has close to 7,000 troops under AMISOM to fight the Al-qaeda affiliated Al-shabaab insurgents.
“As a commander, I would rather do something short, sharp and finish; than do something which is endless as it has been happening. It’s like giving a patient a dose which keeps him alive but does not cure,” said Gen. Katumba.
Katumba said the other option would be training the Somalis to fill the existing troop gap and overtime, take charge of their country’s security. However, currently, there is no training of sufficient troop numbers for the Somali National Army.
He said that following an Al-shabaab linked terror attack in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, Uganda is prepared to counter any terrorism attack, with national security agencies of Police, the army and JATT working closely to respond to any threat. He advised and called for public vigilance at worship places such as churches, shopping malls as well as places beyond urban centres.