Violent Attack at Somalia’s General Gordon Base Exposes Serious Security and Recruitment Flaws

MOGADISHU, Somalia – The recent attack on the General Gordon military base in Somalia has raised serious concerns about the security and recruitment flaws within the country’s armed forces. The attack, which resulted in the deaths of three soldiers from the United Arab Emirates and one from Bahrain, has highlighted the infiltration of extremist groups such as Al-Shabaab within the ranks of the Somali military.

The incident has prompted criticism of the Somali government’s oversight of the security threats posed by such attacks, undermining the trust of international partners in the troops they train. It has been revealed that the recruitment process for soldiers is plagued by inefficiency, corruption, and clan-based bias, leading to a military composition influenced by familial ties rather than merit.

The lack of thorough background checks on recruits to verify their history and beliefs presents a significant security risk, as demonstrated by the attack at the General Gordon base. The incident has also raised concerns about the presence of former Al-Shabaab members within the ranks of the Somali National Army, posing a direct threat to foreign trainers.

Countries such as Turkey, the United States, the EU, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates continue to provide training within Somalia, but the government’s failure to conduct proper vetting of soldiers, including scrutinizing their guarantors, is seen as a critical vulnerability. The entanglement of Al-Shabaab within state security agencies underscores the complex challenge Somalia faces in securing the nation against internal threats and the importance of stringent recruitment and vetting processes to safeguard its future.

In July 2023, a man wearing a military uniform detonated himself at the Jaalle Siyaad Military Academy in Mogadishu, killing 25 soldiers and injuring 70 others. This attack, claimed by Al-Shabaab, has raised questions about the government’s ability to secure highly secured facilities and the need to address security flaws within the military.

Security experts have also identified a significant flaw in allowing soldiers to carry loaded weapons into formations during high-profile visits to military bases, posing a risk not only to the soldiers but also to visiting dignitaries. The government must address the infiltration of extremist groups within its ranks and strengthen its security and vetting processes to ensure the safety and stability of the nation.