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Turkey unveils military academy in Somalia

Storyline:National News, Security
Prime Minister Hassan Khaire (L) and Turkish Ambassador to Somalia Olkar Bekar cut the ribbon to officially open the Somali Military Academy in Mogadishu Sept 30, 2017. Photo: SONNA

The Turkish built military academy in Mogadishu, billed as Turkey’s largest military base overseas opened its doors Saturday marking a major milestones in Somalia’s bid to rebuild its military and entrenching relations between the two countries.

The training facility made of three military schools and dormitories adds to the already existing United Arab Emirates run military academy in Mogadishu and is expected to train 1,500 Somali soldiers at a time.

Somali Prime Minister Hassan Khaire termed the unveiling of the facility as historic and a step towards reclaiming Somalia’s once powerful military. “This military school is important to us in the sense that it is the right step towards rebuilding the Somali military. This military school is part of the progress that we are having as a vision to build our forces.”

Khaire said the military training facility is a reminder of Somalia’s recovery and determination to reclaim its past glory. “We have to remind ourselves that one time Somalia had the largest and best trained soldiers in Africa. There was a time when Somali soldiers used to keep peace in foreign countries like our brothers who are here.”

$50 million facility

The $50 million facility lies on a 4 square Kilometre land some 13 Kilometres south of the capital Mogadishu and is already hosting the first batch of students.

Chief of Defense Forces General Mohamed Ahmed Jim’ale said the training package will also include weapons for the graduates once they complete the training. Gen. Jima’ale noted several countries were offering training to Somali forces but did not provide any weapons. “We have many countries training our army but when they finish they say you can arm yourself. You know we don’t have an arms factory nor guns.”

Arms embargo
An arms embargo imposed on Somalia 25 years ago is still in force but allows the country to import restricted types of weapons to support its military but the Horn of Africa country has variously protested the restriction terming it an impediment to fighting the militant group Al-Shabaab.
Turkey’s Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar who graced the occasion said his country will “continue to support our Somali brothers until their country becomes militarily stronger.”

The training facility which has been under construction for the last two years is expected to boost Somalia’s military development which currently stands at an estimated 10,000 force strongly. Somalia presented a proposal under the National Security Architecture to donors in May during the London conference which aims to establish a 22,000 strong military composed of 4,000 Special Forces. The Architecture also envisages the formation of a police force made up of 32,000 officers to serve at Federal and State Level.

Donors are expected to meet in October to make financial commitments to jump-start the Architecture. The Architecture is also informed by the need to build capacity ahead of Amisom’s exit which starts this December with the reduction of 500 soldiers and a further 1,000 by October 2018.

About 200 Turkish military officers arrived in the training facility last month.