US Signs Agreement to Build Bases for Elite Somali Army Force

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee, Charge d’Affaires to the U.S. Embassy Shane Dixon, Defense Minister Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur and President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud attend the signing of a security pact in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Feb 15, 2024.

The United States and Somalia’s government on Thursday signed a security pact that they presented as a road map toward building a functional Somali army, capable of taking over security responsibilities and the fight against al-Shabab militants.

In a ceremony presided over by Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in Mogadishu, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding for the construction of five military bases for Somalia’s National Army.

According to a statement from Somalia’s National News Agency, SONNA, the bases will be for the Danab Brigade, the U.S.-trained elite unit of the army.

“Within several months we are looking forward to reaching the 3,000 Danab personnel target set in 2017. The Danab also is being prepared to take over many of the essential functions required to sustain and grow the force, and it is already taking on a greater responsibility for recruiting and training,” said Molly Phee, U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs.

Phee, who was at the ceremony, said the U.S. is supporting Somalia so its army can take on al-Shabab.

“We recognize that reliance on temporary and often inadequate camps hamper the Danab’s preparedness and could represent an obstacle to the brigade’s sustainability and growth,” she said. “Our shared goal is to have the [Somali National Army] exercise full control over base operations when the facilities are completed, and the MoU just provides the blueprint to do that,” she said.

She said the memorandum of understanding for construction of the bases “reflects our confidence in the future of the Danab and the scale of our investment in Somalia’s security.”

Speaking at the ceremony, Mohamud thanked the U.S. government for its support.

“U.S. investments in the SNA/Danab have borne fruit, fueling a formidable strike force that leads the offensives of the forces of Somali security against al-Shabab,” Mohamud said.

The signing of the memorandum of understanding comes as tensions in the Horn of Africa simmer over a January 1 deal between Somaliland and Ethiopia. The deal would grant Addis Ababa access to the Red Sea in return for the possible recognition of breakaway Somaliland.

Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi, right, and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed attend the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding that allows Ethiopia to use a Somaliland port, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan. 1, 2024.


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