Military chiefs from Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs) of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) have called for more support to enable the Mission effectively execute its mandate of securing Somalia.
The Chiefs of Defence Forces made the appeal at the on-going TCCs meeting in Kampala, Uganda, hosted by President Yoweri Museveni.
"AMISOM continues to contend with the challenge of the mismatch between the Mission's tasks and the requisite resources and measures to cause a desired effect within the desired timelines. This includes boots on the ground, force enablers, efficient Mission support, and of course the building of the SNA (Somali National Army)," said UPDF Chief of Defence Forces, General David Muhoozi.
Muhoozi expressed concern that AMISOM had to contend with reduced troop levels despite the expanded military operations and the extended lines of communication.
The Kampala gathering is a follow-up to a meeting by the Heads of State from TCCs, held in September 21, 2017, in New York, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to exchange views on the future of AMISOM, following the adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 2372/2017.
The resolution, adopted in August last year, authorises a gradual troop reduction in Somalia and transfer of national security responsibilities from AMISOM to Somali national security forces.
The military chiefs' meeting discussed ways of coming up with a robust strategy to address challenges, improve coordination to enable AMISOM effectively execute its mandate.
Those in attendance included Chiefs of Defence Forces and representatives from Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda as well as from the Federal Government of Somalia.
Also present was Ambassador Francisco Caetano Madeira, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia, who is also the head of AMISOM, and AMISOM Force Commander Lt. Gen. Jim Owoyesigire.
Muhoozi hailed the leaders of TCCs, the African Union Commission and AMISOM partners for the commitment showed in fighting Al-Shabaab and securing Somalia.
He emphasized that insecurity still remains a concern in the region, adding that the countries concerned must work together to arrest the situation.
"I do reiterate that insecurity still remains at our doorstep as a region. Being peace enforcers, this is the correct time to review the Mission's progress, taking into account the political, cultural and other factors at play in order to realign our strategies correctly, both to the current; but (also) in response to other emerging conflict situations within our operating environment."
Muhoozi noted that AMISOM's strength has since reduced from 22,126 uniformed personnel to 21,626, following the UN Security Council resolution, despite the increased tasks and responsibilities of the force.
He, however, noted that in spite of the challenges encountered, there is political progress in Somalia, with relative stability restored and reduced criminal acts of piracy and use of the Indian Ocean by the terrorists to destabilise Somalia.
Muhoozi praised the Federal Government of Somalia and the SNA for supporting the Mission's activities; but added that AMISOM would not be in the country forever, noting that the security of Somalia lies in the hands of the Somalis.
He reiterated the need to support the Federal Government of Somalia to build a strong national security force that will respond to the country's security challenges.
Speaking after the conclusion of the meeting, Ambassador Madeira said the recent reduction of AMISOM troops should be accompanied with the provision of force enablers and force multipliers to capacitate the peace support operations by AMISOM.
Ambassador Madeira said; "The drawdown and reduction of AMISOM troops is a source of concern particularly if it is not accompanied by the requisite force enablers and force multipliers. We need to be able to effectively contain, disrupt and destroy Al-Shabaab. For that, we need the forces that are required, we need the force enablers and force multipliers so that this work is done properly."
The SRCC said he understands the concern of the Ugandan CDF, adding that it is important his concerns are responded to in terms of expediting the effective training of Somali national security forces, so that the effect of the reduction of AMISOM forces, does not impact negatively on the Mission's transition efforts.