African Union opens joint operation centres in war against Al-Shabab

By Xinhua News

The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) says it has opened Joint Operations Centres (JOCs) to enhance coordination and planning with Somali security forces in their war against Al-Shabaab.

ATMIS Force Commander Diomede Ndegeya says the centres opened across the AU mission’s areas of responsibility will enable the allied forces to work together more efficiently.

“Joint operations centres will be functional in all sectors to coordinate operations and I urge all sector commanders to ensure that they are fully effective in their areas of operations,” Ndegeya said in a statement issued on Sunday in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.

He said ATMIS personnel, Somali security forces, and partners would coordinate and plan operations at the centers as contained in the ATMIS Concept of Operations (CONOPs).

The CONOPs provides a framework to guide the implementation of the gradual transfer of security responsibilities to the Somali forces and the eventual exit of AU troops from the Horn of Africa country.

Ndegeya said the centre at the ATMIS headquarters would coordinate with the sector headquarters, ATMIS Police, mission headquarters, Somali security forces, and other security agencies to provide updates regarding Al-Shabaab threats and progress on operations.

The stations, he added, support the implementation of the various UN resolutions requiring the Somali security forces to gradually assume full responsibility for the country’s security.

The ATMIS official said consultative meetings had been held between ATMIS and Somalia forces to reconfigure the AU mission, taking into consideration the operational priorities of the latter.

Somali Deputy Minister of Defence Abdifatah Qasim Mahamud said recent joint operations in the Hiran and Galgaduud regions of central Somalia had been successful.

“I congratulate ATMIS for implementing the Joint Operations Centres which will improve coordination between the Somalia forces and ATMIS. The officers embedded and working together will ensure effective operations,” Qasim said.

Harjit Dhindsa, the Director of the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS), noted that the centers would support the implementation of the new ATMIS mandate by the UN Security Council, which requires ATMIS troops to be highly mobile and able to deploy quickly.

“For mobile forces and quick reactions to be really quick, there is a need for information availability at a very short notice. And for the forces to be deployed effectively, it is important that there is a control center from where they can operate,” Dhindsa said.