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Somali government probes corruption in U.S.-backed Danab Special Forces unit


Friday April 26, 2024



A Somali Danab soldier receives practice munitions from a British Army soldier from the 1st Battalion Irish Guards, 11th Security Forces Brigade during Justified Accord 2024 (JA24) in Nanyuki, Kenya, Feb. 28, 2024

A Somali Danab soldier receives practice munitions from a British Army soldier from the 1st Battalion Irish Guards, 11th Security Forces Brigade during Justified Accord 2024 (JA24) in Nanyuki, Kenya, Feb. 28, 2024

Mogadishu (HOL) — The Somali government has confirmed corruption in the food supply chain for the elite Danab Special Forces, which are supported and trained by the United States. The ration theft could undermine the unit's effectiveness against al-Shabaab, a major security concern.

An American official told Reuters that the U.S. is taking the allegations seriously and is committed to ensuring future safeguards. The official did not specify if any U.S. aid had been suspended.

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Following the disclosure, Somalia's Ministry of Defense announced a probe into the misdirection of food supplies, part of broader military reforms. 

"During these investigations, the Somali National Armed Forces reported a diversion of Danab rations within a unit of its forces. FGS [Federal Government of Somalia] takes these incidents seriously and has immediately launched an investigation which resulted in the suspension and detention of officers within the ranks to ensure accountability and transparency."

Security sources say over half a dozen officers have been suspended to maintain accountability. The results of the ongoing investigation will be shared upon its completion.

In response to the scandal, the Somali government has taken over responsibility for providing food to the Danab forces and has consulted with the U.S. to discuss further steps.

The U.S. has reiterated its support for the Danab as a critical component of Somalia's strategy against the militant insurgency group al-Shabaab. In February, the U.S. committed $100 million in funding the construction of up to five bases across Somalia for the Danab forces and agreed to increase troop numbers. A 2017 agreement also included training and equipping 3,000 Danab soldiers to combat al-Shabaab threats.

Analysts believe the incident might push necessary reforms within the Danab forces but also highlight concerns about the army's morale and public image. "When authority figures are implicated, it impacts the morale and community support for the Danab army," Mohamed Mukhtar, an analyst of Somali affairs, told the BBC Somali Service.

The corruption issue strikes at a time when the Danab forces are central to the military operations reclaiming territories from al-Shabaab in central Somalia. Effective military operations and maintaining public trust are deemed crucial for ongoing success.

It is not the United States' first suspension of aid to Somalia's military due to corruption concerns. In December 2017, the United States suspended food and fuel aid to most of Somalia's armed forces. According to private correspondence between the two governments, the United States suspended aid after the Somali military repeatedly failed to account for food and fuel. Despite the suspension, the State Department stated that Washington would continue to support small Somali special forces units mentored by U.S. personnel, such as Danab.

The Danab Brigade was established in 2013 and trained by Bancroft Global Development, a private military contractor based in the U.S. The initial cohort of 150 recruits completed a six-month training program in February 2014. The commando unit is based at Balidogle Air Force Base. Command leaders receive extensive training at the Defense Language Institute in Texas to ensure their English proficiency and leadership capabilities.



 





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