The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) has opened Joint Operations Centres (JOCs) across its areas of responsibility, to enhance coordination and planning with Somali Security Forces (SSF) during operations against Al-Shabaab.
A formal inauguration of the JOCs was held on Saturday at the ATMIS Force Headquarters by officials from ATMIS, United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS), the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), and the Somali National Army (SNA).
At the JOCs, ATMIS personnel, Somali Security Forces, and partners will coordinate, and plan operations as contained in the ATMIS Concept Of Operations (CONOPs).
The JOC at the ATMIS Force Headquarters will coordinate with the sector headquarters, ATMIS Police, Mission Headquarters, SSF, and other security agencies to provide updates regarding Al-Shabaab threats and progress on operations.
ATMIS Force Commander, Lt. Gen. Diomede Ndegeya, said the JOCs support the implementation of the various UN resolutions requiring the Somali security forces to gradually assume full responsibility for the country’s security.
“Consultative meetings have been held between ATMIS and Somali Security Forces to reconfigure ATMIS taking into consideration the operational priorities of Somali Security Forces,” said Lt. Gen. Ndegeya.
He continued, “Accordingly, Joint Operations Centres will be functional in all sectors to coordinate operations and I urge all sector commanders to ensure that they are fully effective in their areas of operations in the regions.”
The Somali Deputy Minister of Defence, Abdifatah Qassim Mahamud, who officiated the opening, said recent joint operations between ATMIS and Somali security forces in Hiiraan and Galgaduud regions have been successful. He highlighted the importance of such coordination.
“I congratulate ATMIS for implementing the Joint Operations Centres, which will improve coordination between the SSF and ATMIS. The officers embedded and working together will ensure effective operations,” said Minister Abdifatah.
JOCs are positioned at the ATMIS force and sector headquarters, as part of a gradual strategy to prepare the Somali security forces to take over security operations after ATMIS exits.
The Director for the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS), Harjit Dhindsa, noted that the centres support the implementation of the new ATMIS mandate by the UN Security Council, which requires ATMIS troops to be highly mobile and able to deploy quickly.
“For mobile forces and quick reactions to be really quick, there is a need for information availability at a very short notice. And for the forces to be deployed effectively, it is important that there is a control centre from where they can operate,” he said.