Somalia: Changes in SNA Strategies in the Al-Shabaab Conflict, Empowers Locals
Somali National Army Takes New Approach in the Fight Against Al-Shabaab, Empowering Locals
The Somali National Army (SNA) has decided to adopt a fresh approach in its ongoing battle against Al-Shabaab, according to information obtained by VOA. This strategy involves granting locals prominent roles on the battlefield, thereby revitalizing efforts to combat the militants who currently control significant portions of rural central and southern Somalia.
Under this new plan, local individuals will now assume important responsibilities in terms of coordination and execution, while the military will remain in auxiliary positions. Already, the SNA has started withdrawing from various frontlines, a move that could potentially compromise the ongoing fight against Al-Shabaab.
Officials have disclosed that local fighters will be registered and rewarded with monthly stipends to incentivize their involvement. In the long run, these individuals will have the opportunity to be integrated into the national army as a token of gratitude for their contributions in eliminating the militants from the country.
To prevent the infiltration of militants, the national intelligence agency has been assigned the task of registering and vetting the fighters. Several months ago, the government successfully utilized local fighters from Galmadug and HirShabelle states during the initial phase of operations against the Al-Qaeda-affiliated group.
Brigadier General Abdirahman Turyare, who previously served as the national intelligence chief and is now assisting in the mobilization of local fighters, verified these tactical changes in an interview with VOA Somali.
“The current mobilization differs from what took place in the past few months, which solely focused on the national armed forces,” stated Turyare.
He continued, “The plan is to reorganize the armed forces, provide some much-needed rest for soldiers who have been on the frontline for a year and a half, replace them with newly trained forces, and reinvigorate the Ma’awisley (local militias) by allowing the local community to take the lead in the fight against Al-Shabaab.”
This change in approach came after a military operation led by the federal army encountered setbacks when two military brigades were attacked by Al-Shabaab. These brigades had been deployed deep into Al-Shabaab-controlled territory in the village of Cowsweyne last month with the objective of capturing it, as reported by VOA.
According to confidential sources, the second phase of operations against Al-Shabaab will commence soon, with the army focusing on Jubaland and Southwest states. The involvement of the US Africa Command and the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) troops is also anticipated in this operation.