The United States government presented the Somali National Army with a $9 million donation of military equipment at a ceremony on Sunday, as the country’s military continues to fight against al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda linked group.
The donation included weapons, vehicles, medical supplies and other equipment for Somalia’s armed forces. The ceremony was attended by Somalia’s Minister of Defense and Chief of Defense Forces Forces Brig. Gen. Odowaa Yusuf Rageh, according to a U.S. Embassy in Somalia statement.
“Allow me to convey the appreciation of the Federal Government of Somalia to the Government of the United States of America for the continued support to Somalia’s peace-building process and the support for the fight against terrorism,” Somalia’s Minister of Defense Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur Jama said during the ceremony. “This support comes at a critical time for our forces as we boost their capabilities to combat al-Shabaab.”
The weapons donation included light and heavy machine guns — and were purchased by Defense Department funds, according to the embassy. Other equipment provided included construction vehicles, explosive ordnance disposal kits and maintenance equipment for weapons and vehicles.
Danab Brigade, the SNA’s highly-trained commando force, will receive the weapons, including battalions currently executing operations in Hirshabelleand Galmudug, according to the embassy statement.
Somalia’s military forces have engaged in counterterrorism operations aided by U.S. Africa Command and the African Union. In 2022, the United States conducted 15 airstrikes against the terror group — an uptick compared to 2021. The Biden administration stationed a few hundred U.S. troops in the country to train Somali government forces — and conduct airstrikes on al-Shabab targets.
Aside from U.S. soldiers in the country, the African Union Mission to Somalia currently has more than 20,000 troops deployed there to increase government control over the country and curb al-Shabab’s influence.
Al-Shabab has between 5,000 and 10,000 fighters currently operating in the country. On Jan. 4, the Associated Press reported that 10 people were killed by suicide bombers attacking a military facility in the capital city of Mogadishu.
“We cheer the success achieved by Somali security forces in their historic fight to liberate Somali communities suffering under al-Shabaab,” Ambassador Larry André said. “This is a Somali-led and Somali-fought campaign. The United States reaffirms our commitment to support your effort.”
Zamone “Z” Perez is a rapid response reporter and podcast producer at Defense News and Military Times. He previously worked at Foreign Policy and Ufahamu Africa. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he researched international ethics and atrocity prevention in his thesis. He can be found on Twitter @zamoneperez.