Irregular Warfare Strategy for Somalia

Somalia is one of the many unstable parts of Africa, where an endless civil war, caused by the fall of the dictatorial regime of President Mohamed Siad Barre, has been going on for more than fifteen years. The Islamic terrorist group Al-Shabaab bids for power and the establishment of its regime. The international organizations do their best to prevent the setting up of a terrorist dictate that threats causing more armed conflicts. This paper describes the methods, logical line of operations, and the keys to the success of irregular warfare in Somalia.

Al-Shabaab is a terrorist organization of radically minded Islamists that was founded in 2006. The group was driven out of many settlements, where it ruled earlier (namely in the central and southern parts of Somalia). Despite this, Al-Shabaab still poses a threat to the country’s inhabitants. The main opponent of the group is a Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which tries to save the state from enemy attacks. Al-Shabaab has about eight thousand people. Moreover, it constantly changes its composition, which complicates the calculations and control of the organization as a whole.

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The organization was founded for “fighting against the enemies of Islam.” The problem is that the radically minded group, causing large-scale terrorist attacks across the country, does not want to find a diplomatic solution to the issue. Its way of conducting irregular fighting, common to all terrorist organizations, makes it impossible to exterminate the enemy. In turn, the United States strongly supports the TFG in the conduct of negotiations and irregular warfare.

The above-mentioned facts show that the new methods must be developed. Terrorist groups that operate in Somalia (including Al-Shabaab) often fight for the conduct of the revolution in the country and the establishment of their regime. However, it does not mean that the methods of dealing with such organizations should be similarly radical. In addition, long-term military operations that take place for several decades do not show their effectiveness and appropriateness. There are more secure and humane methods of the cease-fire.

Firstly, it is possible to conduct negotiations at the diplomatic level for the establishment of agreements on the cessation of fire. Secondly, it is feasible to weaken the terrorist group using the population as a tool. Any terrorist organization recruits from the general population. By depriving the grouping of the support of the people, its strength would be greatly reduced. Thirdly, often, terrorist organizations convey refugees from countries such as Kenya. Banning crossing the border of Kenya and Somalia for refugees will be an effective method of weakening the enemy’s power.

As mentioned above, central and southern regions of the country are under the greatest threat of terrorist attacks. In 2008, Ethiopia held peacekeeping actions aimed at eliminating Al-Shabaab. The operation ended with little success, which is reflected in the partial weakening of the terrorist group. As a result, supporters of the organization had to change location and move to remote areas of the country. Nevertheless, Al-Shabaab is still strong and growing organization.

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Prior to conducting the peacekeeping operation, the capital of Mogadishu was under the control of terrorist groups. Immediately after the expulsion of the radicals, the city faced many economic problems, such as the trade deficit, a number of disadvantages in the industry and in public administration. These issues remain relevant till today. Therefore, the assistance of foreign representatives would be appropriate. Mogadishu needs to receive advisory services, investments, and credits. All this will be reflected in the development of military capabilities of the country and will enable more efficient struggle against the revolutionaries.

It is obvious that the full set of measures should be carried out. Kenya and Ethiopia are the most important strategic partners that can provide a complete military and strategic support to Somalia. Despite this, the total military strength of these three states does not allow to defeat the enemy. Therefore, countries such as the United States, Germany, Russia and other nations with a huge military power should provide military support to Somalia TFG.

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Commanders of military forces of Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia are in need of improving qualification and retraining. At this point, they are unable to keep their borders fully controlled. Because of this, the fight against terrorism has been lasting for many years. In addition to training, the military forces should be provided with a modern outfit and heavy military equipment. Intelligence units will also perfectly complement the above elements. In addition, the implementation of informants among militia of Al-Shabaab will be appropriate.

Private organizations of foreign countries can provide humanitarian assistance to Somalia. Civilians are now in need of food, medicines, and essential commodities. In turn, the humanitarian aid deliveries require the development of international relations at the diplomatic level, as well as the development of infrastructure with the help of foreign investments. This will minimize the dissatisfaction of the nation in the coming attempts to combat the enemy.

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Finally, cooperation between Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and the United States should be maximally close and fruitful. Only joint efforts, accompanied by training of civil servants, modernization of the army, provision of humanitarian assistance, and development of infrastructure, will help the country to destroy radically minded organizations. In addition, TFG should strengthen its influence and enhance its reputation among the population, by increasing its contacts with the civil population.

Speaking about the keys to success, it is necessary to say the following. From the above it becomes clear that efficiency and improvement are the two most important factors for the destruction of Al-Shabaab. The main drawback of the armed forces of Somalia is its outdated army outfits, as well as the inability to fight. After training, the Somali troops will master the tactics of battle, learn to predict the actions of terrorists, and, what is the most important, they will be able to use their native country as a tool to defeat the enemy (as most of the supporters of Al-Shabaab are the refugees from other states). Moreover, factors such as climate, political aspects, and the mentality are an important advantage in the conducting of the military operations.

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In addition to the mentioned improvements, the third key to success can be isolated. This is the flexibility which is an essential characteristic of conducting any successful military operation. It is this feature of conducting the struggle that will minimize losses among both military and civilian populations. Moreover, flexibility will accelerate the process of peacekeeping operations. At this point, due to the deficiencies of military equipment as well as military education, representatives of TFG do not have specific skills to conduct a flexible combat. This creates a big problem with the dislocations, changing the place of fire, evacuation, and many other aspects.

To summarize, it should be said that Al-Shabaab is the radically minded terrorist group, which poses a great threat not only to Somalia, but also to other countries. This does not mean that measures to address this problem should be similarly radical. Methods of dealing with terrorist groups were changing over the decades, but they have not yielded the desired result. As it turned out, there are many ways to achieve peace and certain agreements between Al-Shabaab and TFG without the use of weapons and violence. However, a diplomatic way to solve the problem is time-consuming, which can be used for strengthening the army and increasing its military literacy.


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