Colonel Ricardo Gonzalez Elul's interview (14/10/2010)
1. Facts. What is the training about, how many people are to be trained by whom, etc?
The European Union Training Mission – Somalia (EUTM Somalia) aims to provide specialized training to up to 2,000 Somali soldiers in two periods of six months each. The Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) stated its need to have, in the short term, some 5,000 well-trained soldiers, that’s to say eight battalions. This level of ambition was endorsed by the international community in the Naivasha Conference in 2008 and in the Nairobi conference, in July 2009. As some 3,000 Somali soldiers have already been trained, and delivered to the TFG, through different bi-lateral initiatives, there is a need for training the other 2,000 left. Each six-month period will see the training of up to 1,000 Somalis. The first one runs May to October 2010 and the second one December 2010 to May 2011. November 2010 will be used to reach the needed cohesion for the first intake as well as for the selection and movement of the second one.
EUTM Somalia training is organized in seven different modules, as agreed with both AMISOM and the Uganda Peoples Defence Force (UPDF) Authorities. These modules are: Fighting in Built-Up Areas (FIBUA), Mine awareness and Counter Improvised Explosive Devices (C-IED), Communications, Combat Life Saver, Infantry, Non Commissioned Officers (NCOs) and Junior Officers. Out of the 1,000 Somali soldiers, 670 would follow the general training provided by the UPDF and the other 330 the one provided by the EU Trainers. EUTM Somalia members also provide limited training to the UPDF-trained Somali soldiers in the specifics of FIBUA and C-IED.
2. Your personal impressions after 5 months in the training camp?
Despite the normal logistics difficulties we faced upon arrival and the initial delay in receiving the trainees, thanks to the commitment and flexibility from all of the Mission’s staff, we managed to adapt our programs to the changing situation. We even took advantage of those delays for further coordination with our colleagues from the UPDF, to improve the HQ infrastructures and communication systems, introduce a better induction and acclimatization period and provide time for Team Building purposes, resulting in a compact and well balanced HQ staff. We are confident that this will bear results for the second intake.
3. How do you see the future of Somalia?
I am optimistic about the future of Somalia. I believe that the people of Somalia, after 20 years of fighting, are yearning for peace. The international community, in particular, the European Union, has a very important role to play both in the political and security areas.
EUTM Somalia is part of the comprehensive action conducted by the EU in the Horn of Africa to deal with the Somali crisis, which has political, security and humanitarian aspects. The EU and its Member States continue to help stabilize Somalia by providing support to vital and priority areas such as the security sector.
But the problem of Somalia has to be dealt with from a comprehensive point of view. The security issue is key, that’s true, but other measures must be taken. Look for example at the International Conference on Somalia held in Istanbul last 21-23 of May. At the end of it, a task force has been set up to devise a mechanism to bring together development partners and agencies to respond to Somalia’s critical needs pending the stabilization of the country. This is a very important step in the right direction.
As I have already said to the men and women of EUTM Somalia, hopefully, in a not too distant day and once the situation in Somalia returns to normality, we will proudly state that we collaborated to make it possible by providing our two cents in the overall international effort.
For more informations:
Ricardo Gonzalez Elul
Col (OF-5) ESP A