U.S. Diplomat: "We Do Not Plan, Direct or Coordinate" Military Ops for Somalia Government

The United States has “no desire to Americanize the conflict in Somalia” and "does not plan, does not direct, and does not coordinate the military operations" of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government, Ambassador Johnnie Carson, U.S. envoy to Africa, told reporters March 12, 2010, in Washington, D.C. Also, U.S. Africa Command officials said they are not in Somalia and are not providing training or direct support for Somali government forces. U.S. AFRICOM support consists of training for African Union countries that provide peacekeepers for the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Meeting with reporters March 12, Carson addressed recent news reports suggesting the United States is providing direct military assistance to Somalia's Transitional Federal Government. Carson is assistant secretary of state for Africa. “We have provided limited military support to the Transitional Federal Government. We do so in the firm belief that the TFG seeks to end the violence in Somalia that is caused by al-Shabaab and other extremist organizations," Carson said. "However," he added, "the United States does not plan, does not direct, and does not coordinate the military operations of the TFG, and we have not and will not be providing direct support for any potential military offensives. Further, we are not providing nor paying for military advisors for the TFG. There is no desire to Americanize the conflict in Somalia." General William Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command, was asked about U.S. military activities with regard to Somalia during congressional testimony March 9 and March 10. Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government is “for now, our best potential for helping to turn around some of the instability and lack of governance that we’ve experienced there," Ward told the Senate Armed Services Committee. "What’s going on in Mogadishu with respect to the desires of the transition government to reclaim parts of Mogadishu is a work in progress." Ward said he does not have day-to-day knowledge of the military activities of the Transitional Federal Government. "But to the degree the TFG, the transitional federal government, can, in fact, re-exert control over Mogadishu with the help of AMISOM and others, I think it’s something that we would look to do and support." Responding to a media query March 4, a U.S. Africa Command spokesman said AFRICOM's main support to Somalia is through bilateral support to nations that contribute peacekeeping forces to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). "Right now, U.S. Africa Command is not involved in direct training of the Somali Transitional Federal Government forces," the spokesman said. "To date, our involvement has been to provide limited support to African countries that have been providing training for the Somali TFG forces. For example, we recently provided logistical support, in the form of tents and other similar equipment, to the Djiboutian military while it was training a TFG group. Our principle contribution has been in providing peacekeeping training for the forces deploying on the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), whose largest donor countries are Uganda and Burundi." For more information, see: Transcript of Ambassador Carson's remarks March 12 on U.S. policy in Somalia. Transcript of General Ward's testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.