The U.S. will be giving $9 million in new military aid to help Somalia’s ongoing campaign against al-Shabab militants.
It’s the first such direct military support since U.S. forces returned to Somalia and President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud announced an “all-out war” against the militants.
The U.S. embassy in Mogadishu handed over military equipment to the government Sunday. According to a tweet from the embassy, the weapons and vehicles will support the campaign by the Somali National Army to liberate communities from al-Shabab control.
According to Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur, Somalia’s Defense Minister, the military donation from the U.S. was a show of confidence and testimony that the Somali military can be trusted to manage the weapons without it falling into the wrong hands. He added that the weapons will play an important role in fighting the Khawarij.
Khawarij is a derogatory term which Somali officials use to describe al-Shabab.
Somali forces have been engaged in an offensive alongside local clan militias against al-Shabab since July.
The pro-government forces have captured many villages and towns, mostly in the Hirshabelle state. However, the militants continue to mount counterattacks against government forces and civilian targets.
The U.S. is among the largest contributors of support to the Somali National Army, especially for its commando wing, the Danab Special Forces, which is trained for close-range fighting with al-Shabab in urban areas.
The Danab Brigade (or “Lightning Brigade”) is a highly trained Somali National Army infantry/commando force.
In July 2021, United States African Command (AFRICOM) delivered six Puma M36 Mk 6 armoured vehicles to complement Somali security forces in the fight against al-Shabaab.
The Puma M36 Mk 6 armoured vehicles and it’s associated equipment were turned-over to SNA-Danab forces July 6 in a ceremony attended by leaders in the Somali Defense Forces.
The U.S. also planned to deliver at least 100 light combat vehicles to Somalia in order to support it’s war against Al-Shabaab and counter Turkish growing influence in the country.
Meanwhile, in May last year, United States President Joe Biden authorized the deployment of hundreds of Special Operations forces inside Somalia.
The authorization largely reverses the decision by President Donald J. Trump to withdraw nearly all 700 ground troops who had been stationed there by January last year.
The size of that force will number fewer than 500, down from the approximately 750 personnel removed from the country.