The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) said Sunday it has opened joint operations centres (JOCs) to enhance coordination and planning with Somali security forces (SSF) during operations against al-Shabaab.
ATMIS Force Commander Diomede Ndegeya said the centres, which were opened across the AU mission's areas of responsibility, will enable the allied forces to work together.
“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," Ndegeya said in a statement issued in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.
He said ATMIS personnel, Somali security forces, and partners will coordinate, and plan operations at the centres as contained in the ATMIS Concept Of Operations (CONOPs).
The CONOPs provides a framework to guide the implementation of the gradual transfer of security responsibilities to the Somali security forces and the eventual exit of AU troops from Somalia. Ndegeya said the JOC at the ATMIS force headquarters will coordinate with the sector headquarters, ATMIS Police, mission headquarters, Somali security forces, and other security agencies to provide updates regarding al-Shabaab threats and progress on operations.
He said the centres support the implementation of the various UN resolutions requiring the Somali security forces to gradually assume full responsibility for the country's security.
The ATMIS official said consultative meetings have been held between ATMIS and SSF to reconfigure the AU mission taking into consideration the operational priorities of SSF.
Somali Deputy Minister of Defence, Abdifatah Qasim Mahamud, said recent joint operations in the Hiran and Galgaduud regions of central Somalia have been successful.
“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,” Qasim said.
Harjit Dhindsa, the Director of the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS), 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,” Dhindsa said.