The United States should assist Somalia in defeating the Al-Queda affiliated group, Al-Shabaab, while sponsoring infrastructure development to develop Somali youth. The primary driver of instability in Somalia is the excluded youth population. The United States should sponsor infrastructure projects to bolster health and education development in order to integrate the youth populace into society. Additionally, the United States should partner with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to maintain security and transition to stability operations. These actions support U.S. interests by denying safe haven to terrorist groups. To gain a Somali perspective, I contacted six Somalia ambassadors and ministers to ask for their recommendations on lines of effort to support stability in Somalia. They all declined to respond. As such, I will focus solely on the interests of the United States.
What Not To Do
The United States should not attempt to further national interests through manipulation of the Somali economy, physical environment or political environment. The nascent Somali economy is fragile and external influences might provoke unintended consequences. The United States should allow the Somali economy to grow naturally, guided by the invisible hand of the market. The physical environment, especially untapped natural resources, should be left for future development by Somalia, lest the United States repeat the “war for oil” media circus. Somalia has become one of the few war-torn countries in recent memory to establish a democratically elected federal republic. Given the poor track record of the United States in grooming international leaders, Somalia should be left unimpeded to choose their own politicians.
Empower the Youth
The key to stabilizing Somalia is the peaceful integration of the large youth populace into society through expanded infrastructure and increased security. Currently, Somali youth are disenfranchised due to a bleak job market with an unemployment rate exceeding 67 percent. The lack of education opportunities complicates the problem of youth integration by preventing adolescents from attaining the skills necessary to enter the job market. The poor health infrastructure compounds the problem by exposing a vulnerable populace to recruiting efforts from Al-Shabaab.1 United Nations Development Programme, Somalia Human Development Report 2012 2 Maslow, A theory of human motivation, Psychological Review, (1943)
The United States should adopt the recommendations of the United Nations’ 2012 Somali Human Development Report, particularly by supporting peace-building efforts. 1 The United States should aid Somali youth indirectly by improving health and education infrastructure and by increasing the security by partnering with AMISOM. The security and infrastructure first approach follows from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Before youth can ascend to adulthood and enter the job market, Somalia must provide the environment to satisfy basic physiological and safety needs. The improved security will allow Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to operate freely within Somalia to improve health and education access. 2 The improved integration of youth into Somali society will deny key terrain, the populace, to recruiting efforts by terrorist groups.
![Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs](../Maslow.pdf)
Military Partnership3 African Union Mission in Somalia, Somalia National Army and AMISOM liberate coastal city of Baraawe
The United States should partner with AMISOM to degrade and destroy Al-Shabaab and assist in the transition into stability operations. After the United Nations Security Council expanded the AMISOM mandate to 22,000 personnel, AMISOM forces have experienced continuing success against Al-Shabaab. On 5 October, 2014, AMISOM took Al-Shabaab’s last stronghold, the port town of Barre. 3 To continue this success, I recommend that the United States deploy a small task force to Somalia. The AFRICOM regionally aligned force is 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. The task force will partner with the approximately division sized AMISOM force to offer advice during the transition to stability operations. The presence of the United States would offer legitimacy to the fledgling Somali republic, thwarting the machinations of Al-Shabaab and denying them safe have within Somalia.
The United States should improve health and education infrastructure to secure the populace and reintegrate youth into society. The United States should focus on providing security to NGOs as a stop-gap measure until permanent infrastructure improvements are completed. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), known in the United States as Doctors Without Borders departed Somalia in 2013 after several kidnappings. The improved security situation arising from military partnership will coax aid groups like MSF back to Somalia. The benefits of an improved healthcare systems in Somalia are made apparent by the recent outbreak of Ebola. If an outbreak can be contained in Somalia, there is no chance it can spread to the United States. Similarly, improved infrastructure secures the population by increasing their resilience to terrorist recruiting efforts. As with military partnership, increased resilience denies Al-Shabaab a base of operations to plan attacks against the United States. By improving health and education infrastructure in Somalia, the United States will safe guard its borders from epidemics and terrorist attacks.
The youth are the key terrain in Somalia. The increased security from military partnership allows improvements in health and education for the the youth population. Education and health infrastructure improvements increase the population’s resilience, denying Al-Shabaab a base of operations. The United States supports its national interests by ensuring terrorists cannot launch attacks against the United States from Somalia.
African Union Mission in Somalia, Somalia National Army and AMISOM liberate coastal city of Baraawe
Maslow, A theory of human motivation, Psychological Review, (1943)
United Nations Development Programme, Somalia Human Development Report 2012