Somalia: ATMIS and Somali National Army enhance capabilities to counter IEDs

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Mogadishu (Onkod Radio) — Military officers drawn from the African Union Transitional Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) and Somali National Army (SNA) have concluded four days’ training on ways to mitigate threats posed by Improvised Explosives Devices (IEDs).

With the Al-Shabaab losing ground and on the run, the militants have resorted to laying IEDs (their weapon of choice) on Main Supply Routes, leading to civilian casualties and disrupting the movement of people and goods. To mitigate this, ATMIS and SNA forces are enhancing their counter IED capability, which includes the capacity to identify potential hidden devices and apply the elements of speed and surprise when acting on real time actionable intelligence to neutralise them.

The training was conducted by ATMIS and the United Kingdom Mission Support Team (UKMIST), and delivered through a mix of theoretical presentations and practical sessions.

Participants were trained on various aspects including handling of explosives and hazards, IED threat assessment and mitigation, processing of information and actionable intelligence, planning convoy movement and troop protection.

ATMIS Chief Force Engineer Col. Saheed Sadiq, who presided over the training,  said the support by  UKMIST was timely, as ATMIS forces are preparing to begin the handover of security responsibilities to the Somali security forces.

“You have been equipped with practical skills to plan vehicle convoys in an IED threat environment. These are skills which are key especially as ATMIS and SNA conduct joint military operations to degrade Al-Shabaab, as stipulated in the Somalia Transition Plan and the Joint Concept of Operations,” Col. Sadid told the soldiers at the training.

Second Lieutenant, Rachel Herine Anyango, one of the ATMIS soldiers at the training, said the training had equipped her with enhanced counter-IED skills and more knowledge to protect herself and her unit from threats posed by enemy combatant’s IEDs.

“The training was important because we have the fundamentals of IEDs but now we have enhanced our understanding of the terrain in order to detect if a place is safe to pass, and when to employ IED detection capabilities especially when moving in a convoy,” Anyango said.

For 2nd Lt. Shakir Ahmed Hassan of the SNA, said with IEDs being the weapon of choice for Al-Shabaab, the training was key in mitigating this everyday threat.

“I have learnt a lot about countering explosives, their different types and how the enemy normally assembles them. Another important lesson was on how to secure our convoys when we are moving in the field and how to spot IEDS, especially blind spots,” 2nd Lt. Hassan said.

The training was conducted on the back of last month’s conference  convened by the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), and other stakeholders to take stock of the current measures to counter IEDs and develop a comprehensive IED threat mitigation strategy.

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