ATMIS Troops To Continue Supporting Somali Forces In Ongoing Offensive Against Al Shabaab

The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) has reaffirmed its commitment to supporting the ongoing Somali-led military offensive against Al Shabaab militants to ensure peace and security in Somalia ahead of its exit in December 2024.
“Our goal, as ATMIS and all stakeholders in this mission, is to see a more secure, stable, and prosperous Somalia at peace with itself and the rest of the world,” ATMIS Force Commander Lt. Gen. Sam Okiding told Somali journalists during a media briefing at the ATMIS Force Headquarters in Mogadishu on Tuesday.

The Force Commander said the focus of ATMIS is to enhance the capabilities of the Somali Security Forces (SSF) to take over the country’s security responsibilities as ATMIS gradually withdraws its troops.
“One of our key roles is to make sure that we mentor the Somali Security Forces so that when we exit Somalia, there will be no security vacuum,” Lt. Gen. Okiding explained.
In the first phase of the drawdown completed in June, ATMIS withdrew 2000 troops and handed over six Forward Operating Bases in compliance with UN Security Council Resolutions 2628 and 2670 (2022).
Together with the United Nations and the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), ATMIS has already completed a technical evaluation of the first phase and is now preparing to withdraw a further 3000 troops.

The recommendations of the technical evaluation will be presented to the UN Security Council by 31 August, with a further update on preparations for the second phase expected by 15 September. The withdrawal of 3000 AU troops in the second phase is expected to be completed by the end of September as per the UN Resolution 2687.
Lt. Gen. Okiding commended ATMIS forces for conducting joint military operations with SSF in the Galgaduud region after successfully degrading Al Shabaab in the Lower Juba, Lower Shabelle, Hiraan and Middle Shabelle regions.
ATMIS forces have maintained the gains made over the years by not losing any territory to Al Shabaab across all sectors, hence, achieving the mandate of protecting civilians, UN Agencies, and humanitarian agencies among others,” said Lt. Gen Okiding. He added that, “It is one thing to capture, but it’s also another to maintain. ATMIS has consolidated all those gains.”

The Force Commander urged the international community to continue supporting the peacebuilding process in key areas among them Force generation, lifting of the arms embargo, capacity building, deployment of critical force enablers and provision of predictable and sustainable funding for ATMIS and FGS.
He lauded the Somalia National Army (SNA) for successfully taking over six Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) handed over in June, noting that ATMIS will continue to support the Somali-led transition process which will culminate in the handover of full security responsibilities by the end of next year.
Lt. Gen. Okiding was accompanied by senior ATMIS military officials among them; ATMIS Military Chief of Staff – Brig. Gen. Tegegn Kindu Gezu, the acting Deputy Force Commander in charge of Operations and Plans – Col. Milton Katarinyeba, and ATMIS Chief Military Information Officer (CMIO) – Col. Mohamed Sirat Yusuf.