The Netherlands extends its participation in EU training mission for Somali army

In a letter to parliament on behalf of the government, foreign minister Bert Koenders, defence minister Jeanine Hennis and development minister Lilianne Ploumen announced that the Netherlands’ participation in the European training mission in Somalia (EUTM Somalia) would be extended until the end of 2016. The Dutch contribution was initially set to conclude at the end of this month. The main purpose of the mission is to train the Somali army, which is not yet capable of operating without international assistance. In the ministers’ view, this means that the work of the EUTM remains necessary.

The Netherlands has taken part in the training mission since 2013, with a contribution varying between 6 and 15 service personnel. The total size of the mission is 120 people from 12 countries. Over the next several months the mission is scheduled to increase to 150 people.

The Dutch contribution to the mission is part of a broader effort on the part of the Netherlands to combat piracy in the Horn of Africa. Somalia needs an effective security apparatus on land to tackle the underlying causes of piracy.

The mission has to do its job in exceptionally difficult circumstances. At the start of EUTM Somalia in 2010 Somalia’s security institutions had to be rebuilt from the ground up. After 20 years of civil war the country was completely without any formal security structure.

To date, EUTM Somalia has trained 4,500 members of the armed forces. At the initiative of the Netherlands and other countries, the EU decided that the mission would have to implement changes in the months ahead to improve the sustainability of the results achieved. In addition to providing training, the mission will also pay more attention to assisting senior defence personnel and advising managers in the security sector. These changes are expected to better enable the mission to continue its much-needed work of building up the Somali security sector.