The United States is looking to acquire nearly 100 Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles for the Somali military.
In a request for information published on 21 July, the US Army Contracting Command said it has a requirement for commercial Toyota Land Cruiser truck variants with ballistic blankets installed and common spare parts to support the US military’s Africa Command Foreign Military Sales security requirements.
The request for information for the vehicles is “for security assistance for country of Somalia”. A total of 85 Land Cruiser four-door vehicles are required and 11 Land Cruiser ambulance variants along with two spares.
Vehicles will be used 50% on-road, and 50% off-road and will be operated in a hot, humid, tropical environment, the Contracting Command said, and need to be left hand drive.
The ambulance variant needs to be fitted with medical equipment including an oxygen supply kit, wheeled stretcher, litter, first responder kit, power sockets, waste basket, intravenous drip bag hook etc.
The ballistic blankets required need to installed under the floor carpet and behind all door trim and all front, back and side trim panels. They are required to protect against 1.1 gram fragment simulating projectiles (FSP) travelling at more than 600 metres/second per STANAG 2920 ballistic protection standards.
The US military provides a range of assistance to Somalia, including training and mentoring, and fulfilling the Federal Government of Somalia’s requests for airstrikes in support of Somali ground operations, according to the US military’s Africa Command.
An area of focus is Africa Command’s training of the Somali Security Forces, specifically the Danab, a specially trained Somali military force engaged in the fight against al-Shabaab and Islamic State Somalia.
The United States has been building up its military presence in Somalia since 2006. In 2015, it was reported to be operating drones and conducting counterterrorism missions from a base at Kismayo Airport. At the end of 2017, there were 500 US military personnel based in Somalia. A particular focus since 2017 has been the development of Camp Baledogle, located at a former Soviet Union airbase in the Lower Shabelle region of southern Somalia. The base facilities and capabilities have been updated, including a $12 million upgrade to the runway.
The build-up of US forces in Somalia has occurred as attacks against the Islamist group al-Shabab have increased significantly. Camp Baledogle is reportedly the site from which many of these attacks have been launched, alongside ad hoc facilities in Somalia and additional sites in Djibouti. Camp Baledogle is also used to train Somalia’s special forces.
Africa Command last month said it has great concern for Somalia with al-Shabaab driving instability in the region. There is progress, however, in the Lower Shabelle, where Africom has worked with the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), the Somali Armed Forces, the United Kingdom and Turkey to restore stability and provide training and support to allied armed forces.