The semi-desert coastal plains of Somalia’s Lower Shebelle province lie to the south and west of the nation’s capital, Mogadishu. This province in Somalia has seen intense fighting over the years between government/AMISOM—the African coalition combating extremism—troops and the al-Qaeda-linked violent extremist group al-Shabaab. Today, the province is more secure and stable but is still tense, vulnerable to extremist attacks and influence. It is here, in Lower Shebelle, that a small team of US military advisers and trainers is helping to build the capacity and professionalism of Somalia’s counter-terrorism unit, the Danab.
The Danab are one of the most elite and professional units within the Somali National Army; trained to strike with precision, targeting the country’s hot spots and terrorist targets. But to do their jobs well, they need more than just tactical skills. They need good relations with the population, who are the key to winning the population-centric fight against extremism and al-Shabaab.
For the Danab, the first step in improving their relationship with the local people in Somalia they seek to help is ensuring that everyone knows who they are. By clearly marking themselves and their units the Danab can set themselves apart and increase recognition and accountability for their actions. By regularly demonstrating their competence, goodwill, and motivation to the people they can begin to build trust and rapport. They will be seen as a positive force and welcomed into communities that may have previously sat on the fence between the government and extremists.
The US military trainers, with support from Spirit of America, are seeking to address this need for accountability and improved relations by providing guidons (military flags) to Danab units and helping them mark their vehicles and equipment with the unit logo. Additionally, in an effort to build unit pride and camaraderie while increasing visibility and accountability, each soldier will receive a unit patch upon graduating from the US training program, much the same way US Army special forces earn their green berets.
With your support, Spirit of America can help the Danab build rapport and trust with local communities.