Somali National Army (SNA) - Personnel
Somalia will have a 22,000 strong defence force with ground troops contributing a majority - 18,000 while special forces, Danab will be made up of 4,000 forces, under a revised plan 02 May 2017 following talks between the Federal Government and Parliament. Following the conclusion of three days talks in Mogadishu in April 2017, the Federal Government and the Federal Member states leaders proposed Somalia will have an 18,000 strong military excluding the navy and air force. Somali National Army and Federal Member States leadership will participate in the distribution of forces, article 7 of the architecture reads. Another article, 20 notes, ‘In consultation with the Federal Member States presidents, the chief of defense forces will propose SNA sector commanders to the Ministry of Defense for approval’. The architecture also proposes the the five Federal Member States- HirShabelle, Puntland, Galmudug, Jubbaland and South West will each be allocated 3,000 slots. Banaadir region will also contribute 3,000 troops.
The Transitional Federal Government (TFG), formed in 2004, controlled several thousand trained army soldiers. Other various TFG-allied groups throughout Somalia were estimated to control militias ranging in strength from hundreds to thousands. In April 2013 Somalia’s defense minister, Abdihakim Haji Mohamud Fiqi, said integrating soldiers from clan militias into a national army was the military's biggest challenge as it tried to take control of internal security. He said new soldiers are being recruited into the ranks from across the country to be trained together and top command posts also will be reformed to represent the diversity of the country. “We are transforming a clan-based militia into a national defense force, trained and equipped and well disciplined to fight a counter-insurgency and counterterrorism also that will [become] in one or two years [an] international standard army," said Fiqi.
Somalia's new leaders aim to train and equip a professional army of about 28,000 soldiers within three years, but they are hamstrung by a lack of cash, Abdihakim Fiqi said during a trip to London to drum up donor support. Somalia's armed forces have not received "a single bullet" despite the partial lifting of a United Nations arms embargo because the East African country lacks funds, its defense minister said May 08, 2013. The arms embargo was lifted almost two months ago and we haven't received a single bullet or one single AK-47 or gun. Nothing. Because of lack of resources," Fiqi told the Royal United Services Institute defense think tank in London.
Lack of pay has also been a key contributor to low morale. Major General Dahir Adan Elmi, head of the Somalia National Army, said in 2014 that “The Somali government is now ready to pay all Somalia military soldiers their monthly wage. This has really helped us to manage the force because they feel they have a sense of responsibility to their country and for the first time, we can easily relocate the soldiers across the country," said Major General Elmi. Challenges aside, he insisted: “We are a small force that has just been reborn, but our morale is steadfastly growing, and if the challenges we are facing are to be addressed, then we can do a lot."
In light of the United Nations Report that alleged the presence of child soldiers within the Somali National Army (SNA) and militias allied with the army, the Somali Government and the United Nation Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) begun the screening of recruits hoping to join the military The recruitment exercise which began at the Jazeera Training Camp in Mogadishu saw over 800 candidates turn up to be screened before they can be attested into the military.
On 26 March 2015, the Defence Working Group under the New Deal structure held its first meeting since November 2014. Discussions focused on the Guulwade (Victory) Plan of the Federal Government, developed with technical assistance from UNSOM. Under the Guulwade Plan, a total of 10,900 national army troops, comprising units from the regions, would receive support from international partners for participation in joint operations with AMISOM and capacity-building as part of development of the army. The figure does not include the 3,000 troops from Puntland due to be integrated into the national army, which are fighting Al-Shabaab in the Galgalo mountains. Alternative arrangements will be needed to enable those troops to receive international support.
UNSOM provided advice on a recruitment strategy for female officers, a general order prohibiting the recruitment of underage personnel, legal frameworks governing the defence institutions, and a Ministry of Defence development plan. UNSOM also coordinated international assistance for the Somali national army, and continued to urge security sector donors to align their offers of assistance with the priorities of the Federal Government.
A total of 13,829 Somali national army and 5,134 Somali police force personnel were biometrically registered in the human resources system. The payment of 9,495 army stipends, funded by the United States, began in April 2015.
The National Integration Commission, inaugurated on 12 May 2015, reached agreement with the Federal Government and the Interim Juba Administration on the numbers of personnel to be integrated into the Somali national army in Jubaland (340 from Gedo, 1,000 from Juba Dhexe and 1,540 from Juba Hoose). The Commission developed a timeline for integration of personnel in 2015 and 2016 on a regional basis. On 26 July 2015, 1,350 personnel were officially integrated into the Somali national army; military training is ongoing. UNSOM and UNSOA continue to provide technical and logistical support to the Commission.
A total of 16,780 members of the Somali national army and 5,200 personnel of the Somali police force were biometrically registered in the human resources system by the end of August 2015. The Security Sector Expenditure Task Force held its first meeting on 17 August 2015. The Task Force is formulating recommendations on the payment of salaries and stipends, recognizing the need for sustainable arrangements for swift disbursement and the importance of a harmonized payroll system for security forces.
While the previously trained and registered 9,157 Somali national army troops continued to benefit from UNSOA logistics support, an additional 1,350 troops received mandatory human rights training in Kismaayo, bringing to 10,507 the total number of troops of the Somali national army who were eligible for UNSOA support.
In January 2015, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud signed a law ratifying the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Through the first eight months of the year, the SNA’s Child Protection Unit (CPU) reported it conducted training awareness campaigns in Baidoa, Beledweyne, Kismayo, and Dinsoor on the importance of preventing child recruitment into the security forces. During screening missions with UN personnel, the CPU identified one child in the SNA’s Jazeera training camp in March and 36 children at the Marina Camp in Kismayo in June. According to a global UN report on children in conflict, in 2014 a mobile SNA/UN team screened more than 1,000 soldiers and the Barre Aden Shire “Hirale" militia that surrendered in anticipation of integration into the national army. No children were found during the screening exercises.
The United Nations provided training on child protection to more than 8,000 SNA soldiers in collaboration with the EU Training Mission (EUTM) in Somalia and AMISOM. In addition, following UN advocacy, the AMISOM force commander issued a directive to reinforce accountability and compliance with children’s rights during operations. The United Nations supported the reintegration of 500 former child soldiers (375 boys, 125 girls) into their families and communities. Reintegration activities included the provision of psychosocial assistance, “back-to-school" support programs, and vocational training. Authorities handed over children separated from armed groups to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Due to the absence of established birth registration systems, it was often difficult to determine the age of national security force recruits. The EUTM provided refresher training to approximately 500 Somali soldiers in Mogadishu in 2015, where they underwent interviews and screening to determine their ages. These screenings did not identify any children among the soldiers.
UN officials documented the recruitment and use of 819 children (779 boys, 40 girls) in 2014, including by al-Shabaab (437), the SNA and allied militia (197), Ahlu Sunna wal-Jama’a (109), and other armed elements (76). There were 133 children abducted: 97 by Al-Shabaab, 25 by the national army and allied militia, and 11 by unknown armed groups. More than half of the children al-Shabaab abducted were used to increase its numbers ahead of joint SNA/AMISOM operations.
Somalia’s Western backers, including the United States, have been effectively paying the wages of Somali government troops. The European Union recently cut the monthly stipend it pays to AMISOM soldiers. Former defense minister Haji-Faqi said 28 April 2016 that it was vital the support continues. “They need support by the international community because the government financially is not in the position to pay their salaries and to arm their military. And also to lift the arms embargo against the Somali national army," Haji-Faqi said.
Militia integration progressed in 2016, albeit slowly, in line with the integration plan of the Federal Government. Both it and the Somali national army have increased support and enhanced training to address these challenges in Kismaayo. UNSOM and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) were seeking to implement a support package as swiftly as possible for the integration of 3,000 Puntland troops into the Somali national army.
The military stipends project, funded by the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, for Somali national army soldiers continued in 2016. During the first half of the year, 18,818 registered soldiers were paid stipends totalling $2.9 million. The regular payment of salaries for security personnel continues to be a major issue, with direct implications for the country’s security situation. Army salaries are estimated to be between 6 and 13 months in arrears, and salaries for the police up to 15 months.
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