Monday, July 03, 2006

Somaliland armed forces; are they fit for purpose?

Somaliland is a fully functioning democracy, but in our part of the world, it is a case of the survival of the fittest. So, how fit are the Somaliland armed forces?The first objective of any government, democratic or not, is the defense of the nation.

With this in mind, I have to ask the question, are the Somaliland government, members of both houses of parliament and the people of Somaliland doing enough for the defense of the nation?

It is no secret that the armed forces in Somaliland receive the lion’s share of the national budget, and so they should, after all, without the manpower or equipment, would there further budgets? Nevertheless, even a well-fed and well-equipped army could be toothless. An army doesn’t only march and fight on a full stomach or a brand new uniform; it requires leadership, direction and motivation.

The Somaliland armed forces not only deserve the support of the nation, but also deserve the nations scrutiny. I say, the scrutiny of the nation, because several incidents over the past two years lead me to the conclusion, that our armed forces are becoming complacent.

It is a fact that the Somaliland armed forces are well manned and well equipped and well fed. Consequently it assumed that all is well. But, assumptions have always given birth to catastrophes. It is a matter of record that Somaliland has managed to amalgamate a liberation movement with a various militias to form a united army, but this statement also begs the question, after almost a decade of peace, are the Somaliland armed forces still motivated? With most of the experienced campaigners of the liberation struggle either shahiiday or marginalized, who is providing the leadership?

Questions of defense are always shrouded in secrecy. As I stated early, the ministry of defense receives the largest share of the government revenues, and I have no problem with that given the current situation in that part of the world. But, I have a problem with fact that this kind of secrecy and unaccountability could lead to corruption, complacency and cronyism!

The infamous three C’s have been cause of destruction for many an army and even nations. Those of us old enough to recall a time when the now defunct Somali state had one of the finest armed forces in Africa; perhaps even the southern hemisphere; and remember the professional soldiers, both commissioned and non-commissioned. There were officers with Master’s and Doctorates in the art of warfare and national defense. Then along came the three C’s, corruption, cronyism and complacency, and the SNM and USC took care of the rest.

It is therefore incumbent on the elective legislators in Somaliland along with all Somalilanders to ensure that armed forcers not only receive support they need, but also scrutiny they deserve.

There will be those who would consider this article impudent and perhaps even treasonous, giving succor to the enemies of Somaliland. I beg to differ, and pose the question, if your enemies already suspect your armed forces of being unmotivated and complacent, will the need for secrecy excuse a multitude of failures now and in the future?

I urge more Somalilanders to take a more active role. They may well be novices, but they have countless other skills to compensate for lack of military skills. I certainly will.

Ahmed Kheyre

London, UK

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