BRUSSELS – Training of Somali soldiers by the EU will be shifted from Uganda to Somalia early next year, with an improvement in the security climate there, the EU said in a statement Tuesday.
The EU Training Mission in Somalia (EUTM Somalia), launched in early 2010, has so far trained 3,600 Somali troops, mainly at a camp in Bihanga, 250 kilometres (155 miles) west of the Ugandan capital Kampala where the EUTM headquarters is located.
But, “in the first months of 2014, the mission is set to conduct all its advisory, mentoring and training activities in Mogadishu, Somalia,” the EU statement said.
The training mission underpins the EU’s strategy to see a stable Somalia established after decades of conflict.
It aims to transform what was essentially loosely linked militias into a cohesive armed force under the control of Somalia’s transitional government which took power in August 2012, in the wake of the 2006 fall of an Islamist regime in the country.
The government, which has control only over the capital and some other regions in the country, is bolstered by African Union troops, particularly from Kenya, which are containing the Islamic militia Al-Shabaab, linked to Al-Qaeda.
The EU statement said an Italian officer, Brigadier General Massimo Mingiardi, was appointed to take over as the new EUTM commander from February 15, succeeding Irish Brigadier General Gerald Aherne who has run the mission since February this year.
The EU’s Somalia mission was extended to March 31, 2015 at the start of the year.