Mogadishu(Mogadishu24)-The African Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) set its strategic priorities for 2024 on Sunday, with a key focus on degrading Al-Shabaab militants and improving the Somali Security Forces (SSF).

These strategic plans were outlined by ATMIS Force Commander Lt. Gen. Sam Okiding and ATMIS Police Commissioner CP Hillary Sao Kanu while giving out their respective end-of-year messages.

“Our primary task next year will be the degradation of Al Shabaab. Al Shabaab must be defeated so that the people of Somalia can live in peace and harmony,” said Commander Sam Okiding.

The Force Commander added that a conference bringing together all ATMIS sector commanders will be held in Mogadishu to refine the current Concept of Operations (CONOPS) to help achieve these aims.

Gen. Okiding revealed that the forces have conducted 236 military operations against the terrorist group in 2023. He stated that 41 percent of these operations were conducted jointly with the Somali Security Forces.

He highlighted that these operations were vital in liberating main areas, including Farqalaal, Gadaan, and Cali Fooldheere Forest, while also safeguarding main supply roads and routes to facilitate humanitarian aid to the affected communities.

“It is important to note that ATMIS also collaborated with Somali Security Forces (SSF) in driving out Al Shabaab in areas like Jubaland, Galmudug, Middle Shabelle, and Lower Shabelle,” added Lt. Gen. Okiding.

ATMIS Police Commissioner Hillary Sao Kanu underlined that the police would focus on providing special training to the Somali Police Forces and promoting community-based initiatives.

“In the new year, we are going to streamline our training on community policing, investigative skills, combating financial crimes, money laundering, trafficking, and public order management,” stated CP Kanu.

She emphasized the importance of community policing in strengthening cooperation between the security forces and the citizens in combating Al-Shabaab militants.

“Community policing has strengthened cooperation between security forces and residents. This is important because we need total cooperation from community members in the fight against Al Shabaab.”

She added, “My message to the people of Somalia is about unity and ensuring that they work together to gain the peace that we have all been fighting for.”

The Police Commissioner further highlighted the important efforts taken by the ATMIS Police in providing training and skills to the Somali Police Forces, as well as aiding them in operational support.

This comes as ATMIS forces prepare for the finalisation of the drawdown which is expected to end in December 2024.

ATMIS has already completed the first and second phases of the drawdown, handing over several forward operating bases (FOBs) to the Somali Security Forces. These bases include the State House (Villa Somalia) and the Parliamentary building.

The first phase featured the withdrawal of 2,000 troops, while the second phase, set to end today, targets 3,000 troops.

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