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AFRICOM upbeat on Somali army, says support paying off

Storyline:National News, Security

Senior U.S. military heads in Africa have expressed confidence in Somali National Army noting the forces have made remarkable progress in containing violent extremism in the country and bolstering security in the regions.

U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) commander Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser said during a meeting with Prime Minister Hassan Khaire international support in Somalia was bearing fruit.

“The assistance provided in Somalia is truly an international effort and there are encouraging signs of change, progress, and emerging options for Somalis.” The AFRICOM head added the support by the U.S and other international partners was instrumental in creating a favourable environment for economic growth and recovery in Somalia.

“Groups such as al-Shabaab and ISIS-Somalia seek to create a bankrupt future for the Somali people,” said Waldhauser.  “Creating a more secure environment enables the Somali people and government to advance economic and development opportunities in Somalia.”

AFRICOM lead integrator Col. Charles Bergman highlighted progress made by the Somali forces noting they were now taking charge in most areas.

“Somali security forces are demonstrating command and control of their forces, success against al-Shabaab, and are holding ground,” said Col. Bergman. “They are earning the respect of the Somali people.”

Speaking during the same meeting, U.S. ambassador to Somalia Donald Yamamoto said his country was committed to ensuring stability and peace in Somalia.

“U.S. security assistance to Somalia is an important part of our efforts to work with the people and government of Somalia for peace and stability,” said Yamamoto.  “Peace and stability for Somalia mean more stability in the entire region.  It also means that the people of Somalia will be able to better focus on building a prosperous future.”

AFRICOM has heightened airstrikes against Al-Shabaab and ISIS with about 50 strikes recorded so far since January.