SoA recently supported US forces in Somalia to better connect their partners with the surrounding population and address endemic insecurities.
The recent designation of Somalia by the US Government as “an area of active armed conflict” hasn’t slowed down efforts to curb violence and support the Somali population; a significant challenge in a country struggling to return to normalcy after years of civil strife, unrest, and violence. US forces and their partners are working to redefine normal in a way that includes peace, safety, and security in Somalia. However, al-Shabaab works to counter US and Somali progress toward this new normal at every opportunity and keep the country firmly rooted in conflict.
Partnering with local Somali forces, a Special Operations team is reaching out to communities for help. They know that to establish real and lasting security, more than just the military must be involved; however, this is easier said than done. The process of building trust between villages and clans that have previously distrusted each other has been slow and, until recently, very frustrating. With assistance from SoA donors and creative thinking by our US military partners, community events are bringing together village elders and Somali security forces to talk about how to collectively form solutions to the many challenges they face.
These meetings not only provide an opportunity for frank and open discussion about issues and how to fix them, but also build relationships and a sense of common purpose that has not existed for years. Sharing a meal and shaking someone’s hand breaks down barriers and creates an intangible yet priceless connection. These strong relationships between security forces and community leaders will ultimately cure Somalia of the cancer that is al-Shabaab and allow villages to once again focus on raising a family and earning a peaceful living.
Until next time,