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ATMIS Force Commander assesses UPDF troops readiness for final phase of offensive against al-Shabaab

Wednesday June 28, 2023

Mogadishu (HOL) - The Force Commander of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), Lt. Gen. Sam Okiding, on Monday, visited Qoryole and Janaale Forward Operating Bases (FOBS) in the Lower Shabelle region to assess the combat readiness of ATMIS troops ahead of the final phase of a military offensive against the Al-Shabaab.

Qoryole and Janaale FOBS are located in Sector One, under the Area of Responsibility of ATMIS Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) troops.

During the visit, the Force Commander inspected facilities at the two FOBS and held a meeting with the military leadership and later addressed the troops. He urged them to be more vigilant to ensure the safety of local communities during the transition period.

“My visit here today is to boost your morale and check on your readiness to face the enemy and safeguard the people of Somalia. Our main focus is to deliver on our mandate and leave behind a safe and secure Somalia when ATMIS exits in December 2024,” he said.

Lt. Gen. Okiding later held a meeting with area leaders, including the local administration officials and clan elders, to deliberate on collaborating with ATMIS forces to defeat the threat posed by Al-Shabaab.

He was accompanied by Sector One Commander Brig. Gen. Peter Omola and Col. Charles Asiimwe Kibaate, the Commander of Battle Group 37, in charge of Qoryole and Janaale FOBS.

ATMIS is currently handing over seven Forward Operating Bases and withdrawing 2000 troops by June 30 2023 in compliance with UN Security Council Resolutions 2628 and 2670 that require ATMIS to gradually hand over security responsibilities to Somali security forces.

The impending drawdown comes just a month after the deadly dawn attack by the Al Shabaab militants on May 26 at a forward operating base in Buulo Mareer manned by Ugandan troops.

President Museveni revealed that 54 UPDF soldiers were killed in the attack, citing panic and deployment of personnel that were not fit for purpose, as the reason the terrorists managed to overrun the base, but he also took issue with Americans and Turks who have the technology, including unmanned aerial vehicles but “did not help us.”

The AU peacekeeping forces and the Somali National Army (SNA) are expected to launch a fresh round of a military offensive in a final push to degrade the Al-Shabaab and liberate the remaining territories under their hold. The Somali- led joint operation will target the Lower Shabelle and Jubaland regions as the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) continues to extend its authority.

Earlier this month, the Somali government said that it is ready to take over security responsibilities from the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS). The Ministry of Defence lauded the sacrifices made by ATMIS over the past years in pursuit of peace in Somalia and in the region, noting that their sacrifices made to secure Somalia will forever be remembered.