Last year saw the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) conduct more than 200 operations against al-Shabaab in furtherance of a mission priority to “degrade” the Somalia-based Sunni Islamist military and political organisation, which is also active elsewhere in East Africa.
ATMIS Force Commander Lieutenant General Sam Okiding said this would continue in 2024 along with ongoing efforts to improve the capability of the Somali Security Forces (SSF).
Forty-one percent of last year’s 236 operations were joint ones with SSF participation.
All were, according to Okiding, “instrumental in securing population centres, safeguarding main supply routes, liberating key towns and villages such as Farqalaal, Gadaan and Cali Fooldheere Forest and facilitating distribution of humanitarian aid to distressed communities”.
“It is important to note ATMIS also collaborated with SSF in driving out al-Shabaab in areas like Jubaland, Galmudug, Middle Shabelle and Lower Shabelle.
“Our primary task this year  is the degradation of al-Shabaab. The organisation must be defeated so that the people of Somalia can live in peace and harmony”.
This year will see ATMIS intensify its mentorship programme for Somali National Army (SNA) personnel and advise government on capability development to ensure resilience of the forces left when the mission exits the East African country.
Okiding singled out the successful conclusion of the first phase of ATMIS troop drawdown in June and consolidation of gains made under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the precursor to ATMIS, as another 2023 achievement.
“Throughout the year our focus has been transfer of security responsibilities to the Federal Government of Somalia which concluded with the successful phase one of ATMIS troop drawdown,” he said.