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Somalia reports food diversion involving US-trained soldiers

By Harun Maruf
Saturday April 27, 2024

FILE - Recruits of the Somali National Army Danab Advanced Infantry Brigade mark the completion of their intensive basic training program at Baledogle Military Airfield, Somalia, April 9, 2023.

The Somali government has admitted that rations for the elite Somali soldiers trained by the United States have been diverted within a unit of its forces.

In a statement issued late Thursday, the government said it had conducted an investigation, which resulted in the suspension and detention of officers. The number and identity of the officers suspended and detained have not been disclosed.

“The Somali National Armed Forces over the past few years have enhanced their accountability measures in line with its reform agenda,” the statement read.

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

The Somali government has not reported when the diversion took place and type of rations diverted, but it said it “notified the incident to its stakeholders and will share the outcome of these investigations in due course.”

Contacted by VOA, Somalia Defense Minister Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur would not comment on the matter. The U.S. Embassy in Mogadishu also did not immediately respond to a VOA query.

But the statement says the Somali government will “assume” responsibility for the Danab rations from the United States, a hint Washington has been providing the support.

“In recent bilateral discussion, the FGS in consultation with the United States Government will assume the responsibility of providing rations to Danab and is currently working closely with USG in the gradual transition of Danab support to the FGS as Somalia is focusing on its ability for the longer term sustainability of its Forces,” statement said.

Somalia’s Ministry of Defense said it appreciates the support of the United States government for its strategic partnership with the Somali people and government in its fight against al-Shabaab as well as the provision of critical humanitarian and development support.

“The investments of the United States Government in SNA Danab build program have resulted in a capable strike force that has been the tip of spear of SNAF [Somali National Armed Forces] offensives against al-Shabaab,” it said.

The U.S. has been advising and assisting Danab “Lightning” forces for many years to build their capability to fight al-Shabab. Somali officials previously told VOA Somali that the target for Danab forces 3,000.

Last month, Danab forces participated in a U.S.-led military exercise in east Africa.

In February this year, the U.S. and Somali governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the construction of up to five military bases for the Danab Brigade.

In addition, the United States twice last year gave weapons, including heavy machine guns and ammunition, to Danab forces to use for their operations against al-Shabab.

Somali officials have been recruiting extensively since late 2022 in order to generate enough forces to take over from the African Union peacekeepers in the country who are expected to leave Somalia by the end of this year. The Somali government is negotiating with the international partners for a “leaner” multinational forces to continue to operate in the country for an additional year.


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