Somalia’s federal and regional leaders have agreed to increase the number of armed forces and police officers to meet security demands as African Union forces leave the country by the end of next year.
According to the agreement obtained by VOA Somali, the leaders have agreed on the strength of the national armed forces to be at least 30,000 soldiers and at least 40,000 police personnel.
According to an agreement known as the “national security architecture” signed by Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre and the leaders of federal member states last week, the new number of armed forces does not include navy, air force and special commando units that have been trained Has gone. United States and Turkey.
The agreement modifies a 2017 deal between Somali leaders, which called for the army and police to be at least 18,000 and 32,000, respectively. The minimum age for registration in the army will be 18 years and 62 years is the new retirement age.
According to the new agreement, the country’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) will continue to have special armed agents until the current security situation ends. Federal member states, which currently have their own intelligence agencies and armed agents, will no longer have these agencies once the country is stabilized.
The new agreement also allows for the Custodial Corps to number 5,300 – including 4,500 federal and 800 prison guards.
Leaders of the Puntland semi-autonomous region did not attend the meeting held in the southwestern city of Baidoa between March 15 and 17. In January, Puntland’s leaders said they would govern their affairs as an “independent government” until a federal constitution was completed.
Somali government officials said the new agreement aims to prepare the country’s military to take over security responsibility from AU forces.
Kamal Dahir Hassan Gutale, National Security Advisor to Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre, said, “The Somali government is today focused on transferring security responsibilities from ATMIS (African Union Transition Mission in Somalia), which has been in the country for at least 15 years.” Is.” VOA Somali.
“The target is that on December 2024, the last AU soldier will leave the country. This is vital for Somalia to meet its security responsibilities.
Gutale said paramilitary forces belonging to the areas would be used for stabilization and holding forces in areas captured from al-Shabaab militants.
Soon after the agreement was reached, Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud flew to Uganda to attend a convocation ceremony for the newly trained troops.
Somalia’s National Security Adviser Hussein Sheikh-Ali confirmed to VOA in January that the government was training 3,000 soldiers in Uganda.
Ali recently confirmed that troops from neighboring countries would participate in the next phase of military operations against al-Shabaab.
Gutale told VOA that the new attack would begin during Islam’s holiest month of Ramadan, which begins this Wednesday.
“During Ramadan rigorous preparations are made by the Somali National Armed Forces and all other forces for major operations,” he said.
“God willing, we hope that the Somali army will achieve [a] Big Win.