Africom, Somalia leaders meet


U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, commander of U.S. Africa Command (Africom), and U.S. Ambassador to Somalia Donald Yamamoto met with Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire and other key Somali leaders during a visit to Mogadishu, Somalia, on 11 June.

Discussions during the key leader engagement centered on the incremental progress the U.S. interagency team has witnessed in Somalia, as well as U.S. whole of government support for the Federal Government of Somalia, Africom said.

“Employing an integrated interagency defense, diplomacy, and development approach, our efforts in Somalia help contain a potentially broader regional security threat,” said Waldhauser. “The assistance provided in Somalia is truly an international effort and there are encouraging signs of change, progress, and emerging options for Somalis.”

Africom partners with the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the U.S. Mission in Somalia to help the Federal Government of Somalia.

“U.S. security assistance to Somalia is an important part of our efforts to work with the people and government of Somalia for peace and stability,” said Yamamoto. “Peace and stability for Somalia means more stability in the entire region. It also means that the people of Somalia will be able to better focus on building a prosperous future.”

Under the leadership of the Federal Government of Somalia, incremental progress has been achieved as security gains have paved the way for the political progress of the past several years. Somali security forces and their partners continue to apply pressure on terrorist networks in Somalia to create the conditions for further political and economic development, Africom said.

“Groups such as al-Shabaab and ISIS-Somalia seek to create a bankrupt future for the Somali people,” said Waldhauser. “Creating a more secure environment enables the Somali people and government to advance economic and development opportunities in Somalia.”

Somali National Security Forces and their partners continue to make incursions into territory previously beset by terrorists. These Somali-led operations are necessary to advance Federal Government of Somalia objectives, spur economic activity and development, and release Somali citizens from the oppression and coercion of al-Shabaab.

“Somali security forces are demonstrating command and control of their forces, success against al-Shabaab, and are holding ground,” said Col. Charles Bergman, lead integrator for U.S. Africa Command operations in Africa. “They are earning the respect of the Somali people.”

For example, Somali forces recently cleared the south bank of the Shabelle River near the village of Bariire and established a security presence in the area. This mission was the latest in a series of operations designed to force al-Shabaab out of strongholds in Lower Shabelle. Operations such as this enable the Somali government to restore critical infrastructure in places like Bariire, leading to increased economic activity.

“Having a Somali force that is disciplined, looks sharp, and has a Somali flag on their shoulder means something,” Bergman said. “It is important for Somalis to know their military is a force for good and that progress is occurring.”

The desired future state in East Africa is one in which terrorist organizations are not able to destabilize Somalia or its neighbors, nor threaten U.S. and international allies interests’ in the region. It is an environment that advances economic development and advancements in government, Africom said.