Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Fall of Kismayo

The Somalia Report has an interesting article discussing some of the naval aspects of the long-awaited defeat of al Shabaab in Kismayo.  Over the course of nearly a year, Kenya's small Navy has hit above its weight during the campaign to defeat al Shabaab's strong-holds in southern Somalia.  While AMISOM forces, largely composed of Ugandans trained and equipped via the U.S. ACOTA program squeezed al Shabaab from Mogadishu in the North, the Kenyan Defense Forces entered Jubaland last fall and moved deliberately northward. Although KDF ground-forces reflagged under AMISOM command a few months ago, the navy has remained under Kenyan control throughout the campaign.  Naval operations have included maritime interdiction and naval gunfire support, and culminated last Friday in a roughly company-sized amphibious landing into the vital port of Kismaayo.  Among the vessels participating in the assault was Kenya's newly-acquired Jasiri OPV (see below video).

Al Shabaab's fighters had largely retreated from the city in anticipation of the assault, some to their few remaining strongholds in the south and mountains in Puntland, some dissolving away to fight again, and others reintegrating with local clan militias.  Fighting continues though, and the security situation is fragile.  As we've discussed, a peaceful transition in Kismaayo, either to friendly clan-based militias or more legitimate Somali security forces, will be the KDF's next major milestone.

The KDF, including Kenya's Navy, should be commended for their staying power and the effectiveness of Operation Linda Nchi.  The unilateral advance initially surprised and offended the UN and Western diplomats who apparently intended for the well-entrenched al Shabaab forces to magically disappear by sheer dint of verbal discourse.  However, in the face of political opposition, a robust but largely untrue social media driven information operations campaign...
and numerous terrorist attacks against their own population, the Kenyans stuck with it to achieve their military objective.  Hongera!

The opinions and views expressed in this post are those of the author alone and are presented in his personal capacity. They do not necessarily represent the views of U.S. Department of Defense, the US Navy, or any other agency.

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