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Sierra Leone to Command AMISOM by February

Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Thursday, Janaury 16 , 2014 

Sierra Leone will take up the leadership and command of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) Sector 5 in Kismayo from the current Kenyan Commander on the ground.

This was according to Brigadier General David Baburam, Chief of Peace Support Operations of the African Standby Force who made this announcement during a consultative meeting convened by the African Union Commission for Chiefs of Defence Staff of Troops and Police Contributing Countries in Addis Ababa on AMISOM's operations on Sunday 12th January 2014.

Maj. Gen. David R. Hogg (center), commander U.S. Army Africa and Lt. Col. A.B. Conteh, AMISOM Battalion Commander, RSLAF, inspect Sierra Leone troops during a deployment ceremony.

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The aim of the meeting was to specifically discuss important operational issues arising from the development of the revised AMISOM concept of operations.

The proposed change in the leadership of Sector 5 is in line with the sectorization and reconfiguration of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia. The change is necessitated against the back drop of the transformation of Sector 5 into a multi-national force with a battalion of a Sierra Leonean contingent, a company of Kenyan and Burundians and a Reform Police Unit from Nigeria.

Brigadier General Baburam's statement came after Major General Samuel Omarr Williams, Chief of Defence Staff of the Sierra Leone Army, observed that since the latter would have the largest troops on the ground, it would be pivotal for Sierra Leone to take over the leadership and command of the Sector.

The Experts' Meeting for the 10th Meeting of African Chiefs of Defence Staff and Heads of Safety and Security and the 6th Ordinary Meeting of the Specialized Technical Committee on Defence, Safety and Security, which preceded the Troops and Police Contributing Countries meeting, was attended by the Assistant Chief of Defence Staff of the RSLAF in charge of Operations and Plans, Brigadier General Mamadi Keita.

Meanwhile, shortly after the Sierra Leonean contingent was deployed last year in Somalia, they captured two Al-Shabab fighters after the troops pursued them. One of the Al-Shabab captives is believed to be working for a Non-Governmental Organization and has been an arms dealer for the Islamist group. The captured fighters were handed over to the Somali National Army for further investigation.

Also in November last year, Sierra Leonean peacekeepers repelled an Al Shabaab attack in Kismayo. The troops were taking food supplies from Dhobley to Tabda when they were attacked by the Islamist fighters. Al Shabaab suffered heavy and serious casualties. During the attack the peacekeepers did not suffer any casualty nor sustain any injury. They delivered the food ration and returned safely to their base in Dhobley. Sierra Leone joined AMISOM in 2013, becoming the first country outside East Africa to deploy its troops in Somalia. The Sierra Leone battalion constitutes AMISOM's sixth contingent after Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia.

This unprecedented success record is coming at a time when His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has boosted the moral, confidence and respectability of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) after years of war and political instability. No President in Sierra Leone's history has ever increased the capability of the military in that country like President Koroma.


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