Somalia Peacekeeping was challenging- Col. Conteh
Commander of LEOBATT 1 of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces Peace Keeping Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Colonel Abubakarr Conteh and 2nd In Command Lieutenant Colonel Talieu Michael Brima have in an exclusive interview described the Somalia war as challenging and complex.
Recently returned from the peace keeping mission, Col A. Conteh said his experience in Somalia as a commander of LEOBATT 1 was outstanding and difficult because the war he said is a complex one with regards to the climate, environment and the people.
He explained that RSLAF Advance troops left the shores of Sierra Leone on 2nd April 2013 and from their transit points in Kenya they arrived in Somalia on the 4th.
“Somalia as a nation is a gossip society and information relating to the war spreads around quickly and Al-Shabab was fully aware of our arrival in Somalia” Col Conteh noted.
He explained that RSLAF troops travelled by road from Kenya to Somalia and were attacked by Al-Shabab militia with land mines planted on the road to stop the Sierra Leonean army from entering into Somalia. He added that the attack was unexpected but with the determination and preparedness of RSLAF, they were confident in moving to Somalia with much more readiness.
He described the Al-Shabab militia as an organized institution with different military tactics. However he said the RSLAF was able to refute the Al-Shabab attack with their experience and training.
He described the war in military terms as a war without a defined edge of battle area, meaning that in the Somalia war, one cannot ascertain where the enemy line is because the Militia group lives with the local residents and identifying them is impossible. He added that most likely everyone you meet and talk to is an Al-Shabab member.
Col. Abu also maintained that despite the difficult situation in Somalia, RSLAF was able to make a mark as a diligent and well trained army as they (RSLAF) were able to command a whole sector in the Kissmayo region which involves other African Union contingents.
“It’s a worthwhile experience every commander will like to experience and I’m glad to have been part of the peace keeping and made me have more confidence in the army.”
He said with the time spent in Somalia, Al-Shabab knows that the RSLAF is a force to reckon with in terms of military experience therefore the AL-Shabab was not able to destabilise them. He recalled that they only lost one soldier in a confrontation with the militia.