ATMIS’s Fight Against IEDs in Somalia: Key Achievements and Training Highlights

The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) announced on Friday that since 2017, it has successfully neutralized 439 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Somalia. This effort is part of a larger collaboration with the Somali Security Forces (SSF) and the United Nations (UN) to reduce the threats from IEDs planted by al-Shabab militants.

Cooperation between ATMIS, SSF, and the UN has been crucial in saving lives. According to Justin Smith, the Chief of Mine Action in Somalia for the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), these joint efforts have prevented an estimated 1,756 potential casualties. He noted that in 2023 alone, ATMIS Search and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams detected and cleared 74% of devices assessed as targeting ATMIS troops, preventing around 150 potential casualties.

A significant part of these efforts included a recent three-day training session held in Mogadishu, supported by the UN. The training gathered 80 officers from SSF and ATMIS and focused on enhancing their skills in IED detection, disposal, and post-blast investigation techniques. The program’s goal was to improve the operational efficiency of the SSF in dealing with IED threats across Somalia’s federal member states.

ATMIS military chief of staff, Kindu Gezu, emphasized the importance of continued vigilance in countering IED threats, highlighting that these devices are the primary weapon of choice for al-Shabab in their asymmetric warfare. During the training, participants also discussed Somalia’s IED threats, the Somali National Army’s threat assessment, and ongoing counter-IED operations.

Overall, these initiatives are critical in supporting the Somali-led peace and security process and in degrading the capabilities of al-Shabab militants.

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