Obama administration says building an army a top goal in Somalia

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Thomas-Greenfield said the United States has obligated $512 million in support of the African Union Mission in Somalia [AMISOM] between 2007 and 2013, and another $170 million to support the Somali National Army with non-lethal aid. The recognition of the new government by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier this way opens the way for direct military support for the first time in 20 years once lawmakers agree to fund the government, added a Pentagon official.

“Initial training proposals for FY2014 will likely focus on logistics, personnel management, finance and budgeting, and maintenance, all of which were requested by the Somali leadership,” said Amanda Dory, the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for African Affairs.

“DoD has put in place a Senior Military Representative at the Somali Affairs Unit in Nairobi, who performs a role similar to a Defense Attaché,” she testified, “and we will increase our presence in Mogadishu in tandem with the State Department.”

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), the top Republican on the Africa panel, pressed Dory on what shape the Somali military is in. He pointed out that experts suggest the new government is not in control of large swaths of the eastern African nation.

Dory said AMISOM has hurt the terror group's “revenue-generation prospects” by kicking them out of population centers such as Mogadishu and Kismayo. She acknowledged however that swaths of Somalia aren't under government control and that al Shabaab retains sanctuaries such as the port town of Baraawe, site of last weekend's aborted Navy SEAL raid.

“That's really the work ahead both with AMISOM and the Somalian National Army,” she said, “to continue to pressure al Shabaab.”

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