The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somalia’s National Army (SNA) launched a center this week to better coordinate their fight against al-Shabab militants, who have threatened to disrupt Somalia’s elections.
The Joint Operations Coordination Center at AMISOM Sector One headquarters in Mogadishu was officially launched Wednesday at a ceremony presided over by the army chief of defense forces, General Odowaa Yusuf Rageh, and the AMISOM deputy force commander in charge of operations and planning, Major General William Kitsao Shume.
There are currently more than 20,000 peacekeepers in the country, trying to keep Somalis secure from attacks by al-Shabab and Islamic State.
Rageh stressed the need for continuous collaboration between the army and AMISOM. He said he success of the center would depend on the relationship of the two headquarters “and how they coordinate in delegating work to the sectors, which then execute any such directives for a successful execution and implementation. I believe our long cooperation and experiences gained over the years will help us get the best out of this center so we can confront the challenges that are ahead.”
AMISOM’s Shume said the launch of the operations center, or JOCC, was an important step in the effort to establish fully operational centers across the country.
“This event marks a milestone in our endeavor to have all the JOCCs around the sectors fully functioning and operating,” he said. “I am happy to note that the JOCCs in all the other sectors are also already established. We will be jointly planning, coordinating and synchronizing current and future operations together. Therefore, we will be able to optimize the utilization of combat support and combat service support together as we plan for our operations.”
Security analyst Samira Ahmed of the Hiral Institute said creation of the centers was a step in the right direction.
She said there was a need for Somali armed forces and AU peacekeepers to closely work together during this transitional period following political tensions that have slowed the process.
Somalia’s indirect parliamentary and presidential elections have been delayed repeatedly this year by disputes over the process. In addition, al-Shabab has threatened electoral delegates who take part in the elections.
According to the Hiral Institute in Mogadishu, the militant group killed at least 29 people in August.