Published On: Thu, Dec 27th, 2012

It’s training men: the Irish building an army in Africa

Our boys are helping these men to become good soldiers, says Declan Power

If you spent a portion of Christmas Day listening to the radio or watching TV, chances are you came across a variety of adverts to help the Third World.

You can buy a goat or donkey for Africa, or do your bit for peace in Palestine by purchasing an olive tree to be planted in the arid earth.

But there is one interesting project being grown in Africa with the help of the Irish taxpayer that isn’t being talked about.

There are no olive trees here in Bihanga, a military training camp deep in the bowels of Uganda.

This form of aid doesn’t involve goats or chickens. Rather it involves planting the seeds of stability for the fractured state of Somalia. And it all begins with Private Osman.

Young Osman stumbles forward, urged on by his instructor. It’s been a long day, his fatigues are damp and sweat glistens on the young Somali’s shaven head.

Taking in a ragged gulp of air, he aims and hits the target, the bullet from his battered AK-47 assault rifle sending splinters flying from the target’s silhouette.

Pvt Osman, aged 19, grins up at his instructor who slaps him on the shoulder and offers words of encouragement.

The words have the gentle burr of a Donegal accent, but it’s not Jimmy McGuinness doing the coaching here, it’s Sgt Declan Gillen (38) from Ballyshannon.

Sgt Gillen is part of a European training team and Osman . . . well, he’s the future of the new Somalian army.

Sgt Gillen checks the weapons of his platoon of recruits and supervises them as they unload what’s left of their live ammunition.

An experienced non-commissioned officer, Sgt Gillen has previously served in Liberia and Chad during his 18-plus years of service.

Sgt Gillen is at ease with his young Somali recruits; he can already speak a good bit of their native tongue and they often respond to him in English.

These men are among the cream of the crop and will go on to become the platoon sergeants and officers of the new Somalian regular army.

As Sgt Gillen sees it: “Somalia has a new government, but a government is nothing without an army that can stand by it. This army will help the Somali government get up off its knees and move forward.”

The eager young Somalis surge around him as the training team commander, Lieutenant Stephen O’Byrne (31) from Rathfarnham, arrives to check up on how the range practice is going.

“They’re basically a clean slate when they arrive and require training from a very basic level, but they’re keen and eager.”

These young men will soon be launched into combat against the Islamist radicals, Al Shabaab, as soon as they return home.

The European Union Training Mission Somalia (EUTMS) is a simple but effective mechanism to create the nucleus of a professional army for Somalia.

The overall mission is due to co-operation between the EU, US, the African Union and the UN.

Consisting of instructors from 12 European nations, the EUTMS is currently being led by Ireland and funded by both the EU and the United States.

Currently, over 500 young, poorly educated Somalis arrive at Bihanga training camp in Uganda’s Ibanda province, near the border with Rwanda, in six-month intervals.

They arrive not knowing how to use a knife and fork or a flush toilet; they leave as trained soldiers taking to the frontline in their country’s fight for stability.

So far, up to 3,000 Somali troops have been trained at the Bihanga facility.

Though the training camp is run by a tough old-school French Foreign Legion Lieutenant-Colonel, the overall mission is commanded by Ireland’s Colonel Mick Beary, a 38-year veteran of numerous overseas missions.

“We’re very pleased with the training cycles. I reckon this is one of the better bunches I’ve seen,” says Col Beary.

Ireland has taken over command of the first stage of the mission from the Spanish. The mission is a prestigious one and the Irish are keen to hold the reins for its next phase, which will see the training camp move to Camp Jazeera in Mogadishu next year.

Col Beary is confident his team can continue to provide the mentoring and training of the standard required.

“The Somalis performed very well fighting against Al Shabaab alongside the African Union forces opening up main supply routes outside of Mogadishu,” he added.

But for now, that’s all a world away for Pvt Osman, as he and his comrades leave the range and head to their dining hall.

- Irish Independent

Displaying 25 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. Buuxiye says:

    The Taliban was trained and was once an ally!

    Sadaam was once a friend and supplied deadly toxin to kill Kurds!

    Mugabe was once a loyal servant!

    The Somali pirates were trained by an Italian company on how to board large ships!

    Dahir Cawys(Father of islamic terrorists) was trained in Gerowe in 1991, armed and funded. We traveled Egypt, Asmara, Addis ababa, Djibouti, Nairobi and many other capitals prior to his fame!

    Arming and fund a government with Zero support from the bulk of the population is a mere proxy-leadership that is going to be sustained until the Resources are drained from the land and once that occurs they will be replaced. Gadaafi, Mubaruk, Saalix, Asad and Sadaam Hassan Mahamoud is former NGO employee and is a Trojan horse.

  2. Ayanle says:

    Pay them regularly and you Will gain the loyalty

    Of a professional somali army !

    Inchallah Somali Army Will be our strongest

    institution like in turkey !

  3. Kayse says:

    Good to see the Somali National Army recovering and getting the right knowledge and materials. They will soon secure the whole nation including the north as far as Zeila.

    This of course terrifies the separatists who run a small militia that runs around with pickup trucks and few AK47s from the Siad Bare era that they managed to pick up from refugee camps in Ethiopia.

    Once again they on the desperate and vulnerable side. It sucks to be always the losers. They did not even achieve colonel status in 21 years. They just keep themselves busy with elders who fought for SNM 25 years ago.

  4. Dhuxul says:

    The usual from the morning sickness sufferer Keyse/ Alamagan . It is common for some Somalian women to start hating their husbands in the early days of their pregnancy (Walac). I am not surprised to see this to be going on until the twins are born. Congratulations Keyse/Allemegan!

    • Truth1 says:

      Learn how to use the word Somali. There is nothing called Somalian. The other thing, come with a good argument or keep your pathetic childish retarded comments to your self. Clearly you haven't got nothing to defend, that's why you chose to make things personal.

  5. Allemagan says:

    When I read the despicable comments of the haters of Somalia and Somali people, I can not tell whether these comments are from disgruntled disillusioned separatists or whether these comments are from Kenyan and Ethiopian spies. SNA will come back and we will see our traditional military parades in Trabunka.

    Long live Somalia.

    • Buuxiye says:

      Is the Military divided on the 4.5 formula?

      - 5,000 Hawiye
      - 5,000 Darood
      - 5,000 D&M
      - 5,000 Biyomaal
      - 2,500 Bantu+Madhibaan+Barawanees+others

      1-I feel sorry for any group that is not given it's share of the weapons!
      2-Such an army will be a clan army and never loyal to a single leader!
      3-Each man will be in it for the pay check!

      It is also the perfect time for Shabab to infiltrate these forces in large enough numbers to later perform a coup d'etat as soon as Amisom withdraws.

      :) If Siyad barre did it and held power for 21years i am sure it can happen again???

  6. deqa snm says:

    blah blah lets see if they could even keep hamaar safe with the bantu help.
    they already dreaming reaching to zeila what a joke.
    once the hungry waarbeh (hawiyeh) they will eat each other.
    the same song song all over again.
    we all know by now somalilandpress its own wallawyn

    • Truth1 says:

      @deqa snm….. You are sick, pleas do seek some help asap. As for the snm name you carry, pleas leave that name alone. SNM (Somali national movement) were created to fight injustice against a regime. But Is@@q separatism like you hijacked and changed the whole movement into a separatism movement. IF THE FOUNDERS OF SNM WANTED A SECESSION, THEY WOULD HAVE NEVER CHOSE THE NAME ''SOMALI NATIONAL MOVEMENT'', BUT INSTEAD THEY WOULD HAVE CHOSEN ''SOMALILAND NATIONAL MOVEMENT''.

      You should know, creating a pack of lie is easy, but to maintain it for ever is impossible. Big evidence of that is, Khaatumo state and Awdal state who finally broke their silence. On top of that, more and more ''Is@@qs'' are speaking out against the separatism who misled and and brainwashed the ''Is@@q'' people, using as a tool the massacre inflicted by the military regime, and a falls self fabricated history.

  7. deqa snm says:

    we dont hate somalia but i will never forgot our past never ever.

    • Truth1 says:

      Did Somalia massacred your people or did a regime massacred your people? And what history do you remember? The history you been told to?

      By the way, pleas leave the SNM name alone. SNM was created to fight injustice against a regime, and not as a separatism movement. IF THE FOUNDERS OF ''SOMALI NATIONAL MOVEMENT'' WANTED A SECESSION, THEY WOULD HAVE NEVER CHOSEN THAT NAME. BUT INSTEAD, THEY WOULD HAVE CHOSEN ''SOMALILAND NATIONAL MOVEMENT'' Go and seek real knowledge you dumb cow.

  8. deqa snm says:

    inechaalah will your sna parades in hell

  9. Ahmed says:

    The future Somali Army "They arrive not knowing how to use a knife and fork or a flush toilet; they leave as trained soldiers taking to the frontline in their country’s fight for stability."

  10. stuve says:

    we dont hate somalia but i will never forgot our past never ever.
    Generic Names (James Dunn, Samantha Poole, Jonathan Drumm, etc)

  11. Good to see the Somali National Army recovering and getting the right knowledge and materials. They will soon secure the whole nation including the north as far as Zeila.

  12. david says:

    The future Somali Army "They arrive not knowing how to use a knife and fork or a flush toilet; they leave as trained soldiers taking to the frontline in their country’s fight for stability
    photo shoots in new york

  13. smith carlay says:

    Excellent to see the Somali Nationwide Military recuperating and getting the right information and components. They will soon protected the whole country such as the northern as far as Zeila.
    Full Body Workout Routine

  14. Paul says:

    This kind of story should remind us all how lucky we are to not live in these war zones.

    Personal Trainer Courses

Leave a comment

You must be Logged in to post comment.