British Army Operation TANGHAM Somalia (Crown Copyright, 2017) [880]

Operation TANGHAM: The British Army in Somalia

British Army Training Somalis in Fight Against Al-Shabaab

The British Army is helping fight Islamic extremism in Somalia by training members of the Somalia National Army. This week, the British-led Baidoa Security Training Centre in Somalia has marked its 500th graduate, as part of the UK’s ongoing commitment to bring peace and security to a region riven by Islamic extremism, according to the Ministry of Defence.

Crown Copyright

The British Army are currently deployed to Somalia on Op TANGHAM (Crown Copyright, 2018).

British personnel have been delivering training to the Somali National Army (SNA) since January 2017, focussing on medical training, leadership development, intelligence, equipment care, logistics and human rights.

Somalia has not had an effective central government in 25 years as drought and Islamic insurgency take their toll on regional security and stability. Al Qaeda affiliated extremists Al-Shabaab continue to pose a real and current danger to the people of Somalia, with the Islamic State re-focusing its attention after military defeat in the Middle East. In 2017, the 14 October and 28 October Mogadishu bombings killed more than 500 and injured more than 400 people.

Armed Forces Minister Mark Lancaster said:

The training we have provided will help build a more stable and prosperous Somalia.

The Somali National Army have been motivated, keen to learn and professional and we remain committed to their country’s development.

The long-term aim of the programme is for Commanding Officers in the SNA to take what they have learned and become self-sufficient in training their own troops.

This training forms just part of the UK’s work in the country, the UK is also the third-largest donor to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

In 2017, the British government that Somalia would be the beneficiary of £21million in additional backing from the Conflict, Security and Stability Fund. In conjunction with the EU, the UK is also supporting the development of a joint funding mechanism for policing.

The British Army currently has around 85 personnel deployed on Op TANGHAM under the command of Colonel John Wakelin. Earlier in his career, Wakelin was a Major with the 4th Battalion, The Rifles Regiment (4 RIFLES).

Further Reading on Conflict in Africa

Timothy Stapleton, Africa: War and Conflict in the Twentieth Century (2018).

Charles G. Thomas and Toyin Falola, Secession and Separatist Conflicts in Postcolonial Africa (2020).

Paul Williams, War and Conflict in Africa (2016).

Sources: MOD and additional sources.

Image: a British Army trainer mentoring Somali soldiers. British Forces are deployed in Somalia on Operation TANGHAM in order to support both the United Nations (UN) and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to develop the Somali forces. The British Army’s work includes advisory and mentoring roles in Mogadishu as well as directly training the Somali National Army in Baidoa.