The Somali Minister of Defense Mohamed Sheikh Hassan Hamud in an interview this week outlined the challenges the government faced in rebuilding the Somali National Army.
He mentioned continuation of the arms embargo, the difficulty of building an army during conflict, the lack of funds and the difficulty for a transitional government to enter into bilateral agreements and receive financial and technical support.
Things were, however, better now he said. He told the Sabahi news agency that the military commanders and the government were working together to rebuild the army; the people wanted to see the army stand on its own feet, and the world wanted to help.
The Minister said there were about 20,000 registered soldiers including recently enlisted recruits but, he added, it was difficult to keep track of exact numbers as soldiers were quickly sent out to fight after training. There was a lack of standard military bases for specific units.
The Minister said that a committee had been created to organize a credible ranking system for the army and standardize ranks and promotions. He said there was no basis to the UN Monitoring Group's allegations that weapons purchased by the government had been stolen or fallen into the wrong hands. He said the army had shown the Monitoring Group the armories in which weapons were stored.
They had also received another group from the UN on March 16 for further investigation, and he said the report would be re-evaluated in June. The Minister insisted that there were fewer incidents of soldiers selling weapons this year and the issue was being controlled. Referring to the current operations, Minister Hamud noted that the Government stabilization plans for recaptured towns and areas included the military remaining in an area and participating in the stabilization for several weeks to ensure security.