Small arms shipped to Somalia

It has been revealed that the US recently shipped 40 tons of small arms and ammunition worth $10 million to supply the Somali government. Reuters reports:

The U.S. government has provided about 40 tons of weapons and ammunition to Somalia’s embattled government in the past six weeks to help it fight Islamist insurgents, a senior U.S. official said on Friday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the United States spent less than $10 million on what he described as small arms and ammunition as well as on payments to other nations to train Somali government forces.

While the State Department confirmed on Thursday that it was providing weaponry to the government, it had not previously provided details on the type, cost or amount.

Since the defeat of the Islamic Courts the impotent government (I use the word lightly as they don’t govern much of the country at all) failed to secure the territory won and another hard-line Islamic group Al-Shabaab rose from the ashes to fill the void. This is the group that recently performed public double amputations (hand and foot) on four thieves in Mogadishu.

The first thing I thought when reading the Reuters article was that Al-Shabaab are sure to try to capture the weaponry. Sure enough, they have just announced that they will. The Associated Press reports:

A spokesman for radical Islamic insurgents says his group will seize weapons the U.S. has supplied to Somalia’s embattled government.

Sheik Hassan Ya’qub of al-Shabab says the weapons shipments will escalate violence in war-wracked country. He was speaking late Sunday in reaction to U.S. officials’ statements last week that the Obama administration was supplying arms and providing military training to the shaky government.

I think training and support from an established foreign conventional force is far more important in a country already swimming in arms that more arms and ammo. It is pretty safe to assume special forces are training government troops, as they are in neighboring Ethiopia. Unfortunately no African countries want to get involved in a war that does directly effect them.

I suspect the US will use the carrot approach to entice Ethiopia to once again enter the country and disrupt the Islamic rebels. Once again Ethiopia will pull out before the government gets a grip on the country. No country want to stick around and suffer from attrition at the hand of insurgents.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Matt Groom

    In the words of Kim Du Toit: “Let Africa Sink”.

  • Sean

    but that attitude’s the problem, matt; ten years ago, how many people would’ve said “let afghanistan sink” and look where they, and we, ended up. one of the lessons of 9/11 is that we can’t afford to be unconcerned with terrorists in remote third-world countries, because thanks to advances in air travel and america’s necessarily loose security situation, those countries and the people in them that wish us harm aren’t all that remote anymore. africa, and somalia in particular, is going to be the next front in the war on terror. there’s certainly a reluctance on the part of the gov’t to involve troops, sort of a post-post-vietnam syndrome, and i don’t think we can blame them; settling issues like this is specifically what the african union is for. but for us, doing nothing is not an option. it’s an open secret that the u.s. has been conducting targeted airstrikes in somalia for a couple years now; the time for a multinational force in somalia may not be long coming.

    sorry; i just wrote a paper on this very subject, and it’s fresh in my mind.

  • Thomas

    I am sorry to disagree here, but Somalia, and much of the African continent, is largely a lost cause. The various radical Islamic groups are actually better at administering the country than the recognized government. The government is unsupported by the populous and would collapse in 20 minutes if military support was withdrawn. And this is the case in most of sub-Saharan Africa. The choice is one group of corrupt thugs or another. Which should the U.S. support? No western nation wants to get involved in Somalia, so the peacekeeping duties are left up to the African Union, another totally ineffective group of Kleptocrats. As for doing something in Somalia, if the U.S. had not decided to support the existing government and recognize its sovereignty even in the areas that it does not control, it would be perfectly legitimate, under international, for the US and the rest of the world to carpet bomb the port cities of that country for harboring pirates. But, the world won’t do that. So exactly what can the U.S. do?

  • Good post.


  • RobM

    So, could this be part of the reason there is an ammo shortage??? The State Dept has been buying small arms and ammo for Africa?? Hmmm.

    • RobM, 50 tons is peanuts! Iraq and Afghanistan are switch to the M16 / 5.56mm NATO platform!!!!

  • How many times is America going to supply weapons to a foreign country or group, only to have them aimed at back U.S. Soldiers?

  • Next shipment should contain weapons with severely underbored barrels, overloaded ammunition, and everything not associated with the cartridge feed path under or oversized by ~5%. Oh, and no security detail.

    Just saying…

  • malikali

    The current government is supported by the populous, but u cannot under rate the amount of support that the rebels got daily from countries like Iran and Eriteria, hope things go better for the government despit the fact that it’s not the perfect one, thanx for the post.

  • Joseph

    I recently wrote a research paper on a similar subject. Counterinsurgency training is the new currency for most third world countries. They demand training and supplies (by way of top of the line U.S. grade weapons) and in return they agree to ally with the United States to thwart off terrorist organizations that are plaguing their country. But who’s to say that the third world country in question does not simply use the training and ammunition for their own gain, or worse against the United States? Not only is this a possibility, it is already in effect, with countless countries that have been trained by Special Operations groups, now conducting genocide in their countries with U.S. military training. There has to be more stipulations on the handing over of U.S. supplies and training to countries that do not have stable governments to keep a close eye rogue militants with U.S. Military training. This is how situations like 9-11 happen, with CIA trained and U.S. funded “freedom fighters” gather and plot to humble superpowers.