Somali soldiers who took cover on the outskirts of Kismayo, a port town liberated from Al-Shabaab in 2012 are the men tasked with ensuring the security of Jubbaland – a federal member state of Somalia that shares a long border with Kenya.
African Union forces have helped Somali forces retake towns and villages from Al-Shabaab, the militant group that has vowed to topple Somalia’s government, but its evident they cannot go it alone.
Ethiopian troops recently abandoned several defensive posts and Al-Shabaab then retook the towns.
Experts blame authorities and it’s partners for failing to strengthen the national army.
“Somali forces have no strength to control towns and villages abandoned by AMISOM forces. Al-Shabaab has proven to be a powerful force over the years. Because if it can storm AMISOM bases, then Somali forces will become soft targets” said Abdirahman Sahal, independent security analyst.
Authorities say they are reintegrating the armies in regional states but it’s a complex process with immense challenges. Experts say it will be a
big challenge for authorities to rebuild an army almost reduced to clan militia.
“The Somali army is not trained and equipped like AMISOM. It has no military strength because of poor training and lack of weapons and manpower.
The Somali military is not fully prepared and an arms embargo is limiting the government from strengthening its forces – so many challenges in rebuilding the national army” added Abdirahman Sahal, an independent security analyst.
Al-Shabaab has overrun a number of army bases in southern Somalia killing scores of government troops and seizing military vehicles. Somali’s efforts to fight Al-Shabaab are facing many challenges including the forces not being paid for months, which experts warn that it will kill troop confidence.
African Union hopes to end its military mission in the country by 2018 believing by then Somali authorities will be in a much better position to prevent attacks from Al- Shabaab.
However, judging from recent pullouts by Ethiopian troops, experts warn that more needs to be done to create a competent force that will be ready to secure Somalia’s borders.