An Irregular Warfare Strategy For Somalia

771 words | 3 page(s)

Since 1991 Somalia has been entrenched in a ferocious civil war after the overthrow of their long-standing military regime. There have been several different forms of government in place and various international forces have entered the conflict on behalf of the Somali government. One of these nations has been the United States. In fact, in December 2013 at the request of the Somali government and the African Union (AU) the United States supplied a small military cell of advisers to aid in the cause upon request as Somalia is of strategic importance due to counterterrorism.

The party the United States is especially interested in is Al Shabaab, a militant Islamic group that associated itself with Al Qaeda in 2012 and developed as an off-shoot of the defeated Islamic Courts Union that was subjugated in 2006 by the Somalian Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the African Union Mission To Somalia (ANISOM). This organization has held sway over many areas in the southern and central parts of Somalia, including the capital Mogadishu, by using terroristic tactics and guerilla warfare against the Somali military, their allies and peacekeeping parties.

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As Al Shabaab employs such campaigns, traditional forms of warfare on the part of the United States government to provide aid to the Somalian cause are not the option of choice. This is also a result of this struggle not being classified as conventional warfare where military forces are not pursuing tactical goals against an internationally recognized country. Therefore, the most valid option is to employ irregular warfare to nullify or combat the methods of this Jihadist organization. To buttress the forces of the African Union (AU), the United States is in a perfect position to produce policies of irregular warfare the above mentioned party will implement.

The efforts and goals of Al Shabaab enable it be categorized as a counterinsurgency movement, but at face value it does not seem as if the organization truly is supported by the Somalian people unless they are under duress. In light of this circumstance, the most practical plan of operation is to proceed under counterterrorism and foreign internal defense, which will support the efforts of the coalition presently in place.

What must also be noted is Ethiopia and Kenya are susceptible to the most sizable reverberations from the actions of Al Shabaab. These ramifications could take on various forms, but primarily consist of Somalians fleeing to a place of sanctuary or these nations being arenas for further violence on behalf of Al Shabaab. For example, just this morning, February 12, 2012, a Kenyan court charged 70 people with being members of the group in Mombasa after an attack on a mosque. Therefore, Ethiopia and Kenya would also be prepared to engage in irregular warfare tactics.

Historically the United States has focused on combating civil and intra-state conflicts through the process of conventional warfare. Dedication to this system has enabled the United States to become a world military power with a prowess that knows no peer. In 2005, however, the National Defense Strategy (NDS) advised the Department of Defense of the shifting nature of warfare and that the United States must alter its course to include irregular warfare in its arsenal as the most noteworthy future threats will arise from nations or organizations that utilize multiple forms of warfare, such as those of a catastrophic or disruptive nature, in addition to conventional procedures.

Also coined as “hybrid warfare” irregular warfare activities have already been incorporated in the British and Australian defense mechanisms. This type of warfare can be waged by a state or organization and often includes locales of with a high urban population, situations where civilians are in the direct line of fire and involves intricate security intelligence. These types of situations can encompass terrorist activity that is violent and coercive in nature, criminal disorder and various other irregular tactics.
Therefore, hybrid warfare procedures will combine the procedures of state warfare with the zealous and often subversive elements of irregular warfare. Activities of this nature would include manipulating the use of encrypted military command systems, man-portable air surface missiles and other lethal bombing systems in addition to exacerbating prolonged uprisings whose mainstays are ambushes of this variety. These ambushes entail improvised explosive devices and coercive assassinations. Other war tactics would embrace the use of the most advanced technology in the form of anti-satellite weapons with terrorism and cyber techniques targeted against selected financial institutions. An example of a foe that uses hybrid warfare extremely successfully is Hezbollah and it is imperative the Department of Defense adjusts its efforts to thwart this type of warfare for the future, because this is the new manifestation of modern conflict.

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