Helping in the fight against Al-Shabaab

Major Dowdall tells us what it’s like being deployed to Somalia as part of the Training and Advisory Team helping to stabilise the region

In the Horn of Africa the British Army is training, mentoring and developing the Somali National Army (SNA).

The fight against Islamic extremists starts by helping to restore security and stability in the region.

“The mission in Somalia is truly multi-national and it is interesting to see how other nations go about their business, and what one can learn from them.”

— Major Dowdall

Maj Dowdall is a reservist deployed on Operation TANGHAM. He gives an insight into what it’s like to work with the Somali National Army. 👇

Major Daryl Michael Dowdall
Major Dowdall

Can you introduce yourself for us?

“I am Major Daryl Michael Dowdall, an Army Reservist with The Rifles.

“I am deployed with the Somali National Army Training and Advisory Team (STAT) for Op TANGHAM in Baidoa.

“My main role is to advise the Commander of 8 Brigade SNA, and his staff, whilst they conduct Stabilisation Operations in South West State “

Can you tell us about your journey to Somalia?

“I took a hire car to RAF Brize Norton where I got on a military flight to Mogadishu with the rest of the instructor party.

“As soon as we landed, we went into isolation at the UK enclave in Mogadishu Airport. We then received our force protection briefs and in-Theatre kit issue.

“We then started finalising the planning for a four-week Brigade Staff Course we were going to deliver to the SNA the next day. “

Officers from 8 Brigade Somalia National Army conducting planning on the Command and Staff Course.
Officers from 8 Brigade SNA conducting planning on the Command and Staff Course taught by the Somali National Army Training and Advisory Team, Op TANGHAM.

How does the work you do help keep those at home in the UK safe?

“Day-to-day, I advise Commander 8 Brigade SNA and his staff on stability operations and the running of a brigade. I also help advise staff officers, if required.

“Most of this advice consists of helping the brigade achieve its tasks in conjunction with other security actors. This is to support the defeat of Al-Shabaab and bring the primacy of the civil power and the rule of law to reclaimed areas.

Security actors: other organistations such as the Somali Police Force, who are helping restore peace and security in the region.

“More widely, our training team supports the SNA with training, advice, equipment, and accommodation across the South West State.

“This can take the form of delivering trucks and driver training to the SNA. This is so that they can support operations better with more agile logistics and manoeuvre.

“Or the building of accommodation, ablutions, dining facility, and headquarters building to better serve the needs of SNA soldiers.

“Ultimately, make them more operationally effective.”

Major Daryl Michael Dowdall
Major Dowdall

Was there anything that you didn’t expect to happen whilst deployed?

“Days before he was supposed to go into isolation before attending the Brigade Staff Course, Commander 8 Brigade SNA, who I was to train and advise was killed. He was leading his soldiers during a counter-attack on Al-Shabaab when they attacked an SNA Forward Operating Base.

“This hit home as he only had limited options available to him because of a lack of training.

How did you prepare before your deployment?

“We went through the High-Threat Pre-Deployment Training Package at the Mission Training and Mobilisation Centre (Individual).

“We completed our Military Annual Training Tests and qualified as team medics. We underwent further Survive, Evade, Resist, and Escape training, and an advanced live-firing package.

“We also created the structure and drafted lessons for the Brigade Staff Course through remote working.”

Major Daryl Michael Dowdall

What’s your favourite aspect of the deployment?

“The staff officers of 8 Brigade SNA are currently conducting an estimate for the provision of security in and around Baidoa for the upcoming election period.

Combat Estimate: This is the planning process for conducting military (army) activity, anything from an attack, defence or convoy. Everything the army does at a unit level is planned through this process.

“It is good to see that they are using the training and aide-mémoires we gave them.

“They have retained a lot of the information from the course. They are taking their first steps towards producing their own estimates, plans, and orders.

“There is still a lot of work to be done as they only finished the course a month ago and it takes a lot of practice and experience to become proficient with the estimate and planning. But 8 Brigade are now on their way to take more security responsibility from African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and eventually take the military lead in stability operations in their area of operations.”

African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) aims to increase the security and stability in the region. And ultimately stop the threat posed by Al-Shabaab.

Officers from 8 Brigade HQ Somali National Army conducting collaborative training with the Darwish and the Danab.
Officers from 8 Brigade SNA HQ conducting collaborative training with the Darwish and the Danab on the Command and Staff course taught by the Somali National Army Training and Advisory Team, Op TANGHAM.

What’s it like working with other nationalities?

“We work with the Somalis every day. We also do a lot of liaison with the United Nations and its myriad of nationalities.

“In Baidoa, we are based next to the UN and work with them in providing our mutual force protection. In Mogadishu, the UK supports the UN directly with two distinct teams.

“We also do a lot of work with the AMISOM with its eight-nation contingent of Ethiopians, Ugandans, Kenyans, Burundians, Djiboutians. Sierra Leoneans, Nigerians, and Ghanaians.

“The mission in Somalia is truly multi-national and it is interesting to see how other nations go about their business, and what one can learn from them.”

Find out where else the UK Armed Forces are deployed here 👇

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Stories from the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the UK Armed Forces around the globe.

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