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For decades, military assistance in southern Somalia focused on building up a central state army. This reflects standard patterns of Western assistance worldwide. Yet the nature of Somali society and clan, greatly affected by the winnowing process of more than 30 years of conflict, means that most sub-clan groupings are more militarily effective than centralised forces deployed to unfamiliar areas. The centralised Somali National Army remains riven by clan itself, thoroughly politicised, and ineffective (with the exception of the Danab special forces). Based on fieldwork and interviews with military personnel who work in Somalia, Colin D Robinson and Jahara Matisek argue that these locally appropriate forces deserve assistance, albeit with some caveats, in the continuing struggle against Al-Shabaab.
BANNER IMAGE: A Somali National Army soldier receives a certificate of completion. Courtesy of US Army/Joe Harwood
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