ATMIS begins third phase of troop drawdown from Somalia, hands over Bariire base

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The third phase of the troop drawdown follows the successful completion of the first two phases, finalised in June 2023 and January 2024, respectively.

The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) commenced the third phase of troop drawdown by formally handing over the Bariire Forward Operating Base (FOB) to the Somali National Army (SNA) on Saturday.

The ceremony marked a significant step in Somalia's assumption of greater security responsibility, aligning with UN Security Council Resolutions 2628 (2022), 2670 (2022), and 2710 (2023).

Brigadier General Anthony Lukwago Mbuusi, Commander of the Ugandan contingent of AMISOM, presided over the transfer of control to Major Muhudin Ahmed of the SNA.

A joint force of the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) and Somali Soldiers captured the town and two other strategic towns from the Al-Qaeda-affiliated terror group Al-Shabaab in 2013.

Under simultaneous operations, the forces faced minimal resistance while securing the towns of Janalle, Aw Dhigle, and BarIire, located southwest of the Somali capital Mogadishu along the Shabelle River.

Colonel Suleiman Ibrahim, representing the ATMIS Deputy Force Commander for Support and Logistics, oversaw the proceedings, ensuring a smooth handover process.

Major Bruhan Nsamba, the outgoing commander of the AMISOM Forward Operating Base (FOB), and Captain Abdisalam Jama, the incoming SNA FOB Commander, were also present, demonstrating continuity and coordination between the outgoing and incoming forces.

The event marking the Ugandan soldiers in the area was also attended by senior officials from both AMISOM and the SNA involved in the transition process, which will see Somali Forces taking full responsibility for their security.

The third phase of the troop drawdown follows the successful completion of the first two phases, finalised in June 2023 and January 2024, respectively.

During these phases, AMISOM reduced its troop presence by 5,000 personnel and handed over a total of 17 FOBs in the first phase and 10 in the second phase.

Brig. Gen. Anthony Lukwago Mbuusi, ATMIS Uganda Contingent Commander, officially transfers control of the Bariire Forward Operating Base (FOB) in South West State to Maj. Muhudin Ahmed of SNA on Saturday. (Photo: ATMIS)

The current phase aims to reduce an additional 4,000 troops by the end of June 2024, further transitioning security responsibilities to the Somali government.

The transition is organised into sectors, with each sector representing a specific geographic area in Somalia.

AMISOM and SNSF collaborate to secure these sectors, gradually transferring control and ensuring that the SNSF can effectively manage security challenges.

This is in line with the Somali Transition Plan, a comprehensive strategy aimed at gradually transitioning security responsibilities to the Somali National Security Forces while fostering stability, governance, and development in Somalia.

It encourages donor countries and international organisations to align their efforts with the objectives of the STP, providing financial, logistical, and technical assistance to facilitate successful transition and stabilization efforts.

The drawdown and total withdrawal of African Union forces in the country come after over a decade of concerted efforts to combat insurgency and stabilize regions across Somalia.

Initially deployed in 2007 with a United Nations mandate to support the Somali government in tackling extremist groups like Al-Shabaab, the AU Troops have played a crucial role in reducing conflict and creating conditions for governance and development to take root.

Over the years, the force, comprising troops from various African nations, has been instrumental in securing key urban centres, training Somali security forces, and providing humanitarian assistance to affected communities.

Their presence has been vital in stabilising regions once plagued by violence, allowing for the gradual return of normalcy and enabling essential services to reach the population.

The drawdown process has been carefully planned in phases, with the aim of progressively transferring security responsibilities to the Somali National Army (SNA) and other local security forces.

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