Guarding Somalia: UPDF Tales From Frontline

The battle successes registered by UPDF against al-Shabaab militants in Somalia is at a higher cost than officials previously disclosed, Daily Monitor has learnt. The hardships, according to multiple interviews with frontline soldiers in Lower Shabelle region, about 120 km South of the capital, Mogadishu, range from delayed or delivery of rotten food stuff, lack of necessities such as toilet paper and soap.

One soldier, who preferred anonymity due to sensitivity of the matter, says they venture into hostile terrains to collect firewood for preparing meals. Death for every living being is a given, but not in the eyes of combatant charged with fighting Al-Shabaab in the Lower Shabelle. Here, death is always a minute away because one fights without clearly understanding the enemy, he says. “There is nothing as dangerous as fighting the enemy you do not know,” he adds. Livingstone Odongo (not real name) stands on a cliff in one of the AMISOM forward operating bases, overlooking strategic locations of the enemy. He thinks deeply about home (Uganda) and tears roll down his cheeks. For a trained soldier at a battle front, this is weird. “Tosha!” a commanding voice blows his mind back to normal senses. He wipes his face and lifts his submachine gun, walks a few steps further and disembarks.

Darkness is already falling and Odongo’s day on duty ends. He walks back to his shelter, a makeshift of military camp tents. Dinner is served but Odongo remains in his camp, locked in fresh memories of war and the unknown life of his family back home. He was paid three months ago and his salary was trimmed without explanation.

Source: Daily Monitor