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EU Trains Somali Soldiers to Counter Militants

Thursday, May 10, 2012

European Union (EU) said it is training Somali soldiers and officers to provide protection to the transitional federal government and also help counter Al-Shabaab attacks, an official said on Wednesday.

EU Representative to Somalia George-Marc Andre said that by the end of 2012 around 3,000 Somali soldiers and officers will have been trained by the EU Training Mission in Uganda in order to help bring stability to the Horn of Africa nation.

"The training is being conducted in close cooperation and coordination with the United Nations, African Union Mission in Somali (AMISOM), the U.S. as well as Uganda," Andre told journalists in Nairobi.

The EU Commissioner for Development Andris Pielbalgs said in Nairobi last month that the European economic bloc is spending additional 100 million euros to support the payment of salaries for the AMISOM.

He also announced that the new money is in addition to the 300 million euros the organization has given to AMISOM for the payment of salaries.

In February, the UN Security Council raised pan African peacekeeping force authorized strength to 17,731 troops.

In January, 14,400 AMISOM troops are deployed in Somalia with the recent arrival of an advance party of 100 troops in Baidoa to be soon joined by a further 2,400.

The increase from the previous 12,000 troops last year was because of additional 5,000 troops from Kenya that were absorbed into the mission after successful discussions of change of Kenya's role in the country from defense of it shared border to that of peacekeeping.

Once the process of integrating Kenyan and Sierra Leonean units in south Somalia is complete, the force will have a presence in the regions of Bay, Gedo and Lower Juba in addition to Banadir and Middle and Lower Shabelle.

Somalia's transitional government, which largely controls the capital, Mogadishu, and has fought a years-long battle against Al- Shabaab, took advantage of the Kenyan invasion in October last year to launch its own offensive, which reportedly was supported by Kenyan air and ground forces.


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