U.S. government donates new aerial surveillance system to AMISOM

The surveillance system being prepared to launch PHOTO COURTESY

Baledogle,(AMISOM) The Special Representative of the African Union Commission Chairperson (SRCC) for Somalia Ambassador Francisco Madeira has commended the United States for its continued support to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in its fight against terrorism.

Ambassador Madeira made the remarks on Monday during the unveiling of a new U.S. government-funded Aerial Surveillance System at the Baledogle Military Airfield, in Lower Shabelle region. The system, which will serve as a force multiplier, is expected to enhance the effectiveness of field operations conducted by AMISOM troops in various parts of the country.

“It (the aerial surveillance system) is of critical importance to AMISOM forces as it will go a long way in addressing one of AMISOM’s capability shortfalls. What we are launching today is a force enabler, which we have been requesting for, over a period of time, which has now come to fruition,” the SRCC said.

AMISOM has on numerous occasions appealed for force enablers to enable it launch successful military operations against Al-Shabaab and liberate areas under the control of the militants. The Mission plans to intensify operations to secure the country as the gradual transfer of national security responsibilities to Somali national security forces continues as planned.

Ambassador Madeira, who was accompanied by senior AMISOM officials, noted that the platform will provide troops with much needed real time intelligence, which will help detect and monitor armed groups.

He appealed to other development partners to emulate the U.S., which not only supports AMISOM troops but also the Somali National Army (SNA). The SRCC said strengthening Somali security forces was critical in achieving long term peace and security in the country.

“We are being empowered this way but it is important that Somalis themselves are empowered; because we and the Somali national security forces are like two sides of a coin. We might be strong; but if the Somalis are not strong, it won’t work,” the SRCC observed.

The Charge d’Affairs of the U.S. Mission to Somalia, Martin Dale, reiterated the commitment of the U.S. government to aiding the African Union, the AMISOM Troop Contributing Countries and the cause for peace in Somalia.

Mr. Dale expressed hope that the new surveillance system will go a long way in executing successful military operations in the country.

“We are here to facilitate not only the safety of your troops (AMISOM soldiers) but also to help put increasing pressure on the terrorists so that the people of Somalia can have a better life. Now is the time for everybody to work together in unison. We all need to be working together to facilitate increasing pressure,” he added.

The U.S. official called for continued cooperation in the fight against Al-Shabaab, while supporting the Somali national security forces to develop their capacity to fight terrorism and keep the country safe.

“It is a critical component,” Mr. Dale said. “The Somalis want to invest in their own security, in their own prosperity and we are here to facilitate that.”

The ceremony was also attended by the Force Commander, Lt Gen Jim Owoyesigire; Deputy Commanding General for the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) in Somalia, Brig General Miguel Castellanos, and AMISOM Acting Police Commissioner, Christine Alalo, among others.