East AfricaMissions OperationsReport

The EUTM Somalia mission starts (Reportage)

(BRUSSELS2 in Kampala) That’s it! The first Somali soldiers – who will be trained as part of the European EUTM mission – arrived at Kampala (Entebbe) airport on Monday. In complete discretion (the Ugandans do not want to arrive with fanfare).

Full operational capacity declared

Most of EUTM's European workforce has already arrived, too. And the “Full Operational Capability” (FOC) was reached on May 5, according to a document presented to the press by the head of the mission, Spanish Colonel Ricardo Gonzalez Elul. They come from 14 nationalities (1). Everyone is more or less there, with only one exception: the Belgians who are still waiting for authorization from their Parliament (delayed with the fall of the Belgian government) and the Luxembourger (who was supposed to leave with the Belgians).


The mission HQ – staffed by 25 people – was set up in Kampala; a hotel in the capital was rented for the needs of the operation, “simpler”, “more practical”, “faster”. The other trainers are directly on site in Bihanga. The SOFA – status of forces agreement – ​​has not yet been signed. It should be signed in the coming days (maybe May 20, probably by the end of the month). A liaison officer as well as a political advisor are present at the unit in Nairobi. Another liaison officer is present in Brussels responsible for coordination with the political authorities, the CMPD and the EU General Staff.

A one-year mission

As Colonel Elul had already clarified in Brussels: “The EUTM mission is expected to last around 14 months. The 2000 Somalis will be trained in 2 sessions of six months each. » (with a break of 1 month between the 2 sessions). Each contingent will include a third of non-commissioned officers (330) and 2/3 of soldiers (670). They will be trained in the following months, jointly, by Europeans and Ugandans.

The Ugandans will provide most of the basic training (“learning to work together”); Europeans providing specialized training according to a defined schedule.

Nb: in blue the training made by the Ugandans, in red, that made by the Europeans

Teams of trainers

Around ten training teams were formed: 3 Spanish teams (including one with the Greeks), 2 French teams, 1 Belgian-Luxembourger, 1 Hungarian and German, 1 Irish and Maltese, 1 Swede and Finnish. The specialized training modules are supported by a Member State: non-commissioned officers by the French, mines and actions against IED as well as medical evacuation (MEDAC) by the Italians, communications by the Germans, Fibua (Fighting in Built-Up Areas – or fighting in inhabited areas) by the Portuguese.

Europe completes an effort already made

The TFG believes “need the forces of 10.000 people. 6000 must be trained; 4000 have already been trained by various bilateral training courses. There are 2.000 left to train » Didier Lenoir, who monitors military missions at the CMPD, the EU's military-civil planning department (which will be integrated into the EU diplomatic service), said recently in Brussels. Clarification: more than 500 were trained by the French in Djibouti, 1200 by the Ugandans in Bihanga, around 1000 others by the Americans in Djibouti in particular.

Selection process

La exclusive soldiers on the basis of criteria defined by the Europeans (1) is made, on site, by the Somali transitional government (GFT). The past of each of the “students” was scrutinized by the Americans to avoid having terrorist apprentices. “ Bad guys will be immediately excluded from the process explains Colonel Ellul.

Recruits come from all over Somalia. The Somalis were transported by C130 first then by larger carrier (Boeing 737) later. Planes chartered by DynCorp International, which is one of the private contractors of the US State Department in Somalia and was mandated by the EUTM operation, in close liaison with the Americans (1). The Somalis are gathered at Jazeera camp, in Mogadishu (Somalia) before leaving for Entebbe (Uganda). There they are equipped and the selection process is completed, in particular to check that the main conditions, such as age, are respected. Then they are transported by civilian bus to the Bihanga camp. A Ugandan forces (UPDF) camp located more than 200 km from the capital, 7 hours drive from Kampala, in the east of the country. (*)


(*) A road that the European Union is currently renovating. EU Ambassador Vincent De Visscher confirmed yesterday that the EU would finance the Masaka-Mbarara road, which is one of the busy routes, to the tune of 335 million Ugandan shillings (around 122 million euros). of the country (and the road to Bihanga). The largest project that the EU has financed in the country – which was already included in the indicative program defined several months ago – and a contribution to the development of Uganda. The “global” aspect of the EU's foreign policy, in the “Lisbon format”, is already in play even if the EU diplomatic service is not yet in place.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

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Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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