A Kenyan prepared the Kismayu battle plan and presented it to military generals during meetings held in Nairobi and Addis Ababa in late July and early this month.
Military sources told the Nation that Kenya’s Maj-Gen Julius Karanja was the architect of the battle to free Kismayu.
“It’s his war (Maj-Gen Karanja’s) because he is the one who will be with the ground troops as they fight. He will be responsible for their lives and as well as the liberation of Kismayu,” Maj (Rtd) Samuel Nyambane said.
Maj-Gen Karanja is one of the key men in Amisom, whose Force Commander is Ugandan Lt. Gen. Andrew Gutti. The other top man is Maj.General Karanja’s fellow Deputy Amisom commander Brig. Gen. Nduwumunsi.
Other key decision makers include regional army chiefs of Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia and Djbouti.
They include Chief of Kenya Defence Forces, Gen Julius Karangi, Chief of Defence Forces Uganda, Gen Aronda Nyakairima and the heads of the Burundian and Djbouti military.
There is also the chairman of the AU Commission for Somalia, Boubacar Diarra and head of the UN Political Office for Somalia Augustine Mahiga.
Somalia has been divided into three sectors, with Uganda controlling Sector One in Mogadishu, while Kenya operates within Sector Two (south Somalia). Burundi was given Sector Three, also in Mogadishu.
The Kenyan Forces and TFG are now at Biibi — 75 kilometres from Kismayu — and are backed by Ethiopians. The KDF will be the primary players in the taking of the port city of Kismayu, the last stronghold of the Al-Qaeda affiliated group.
According to the Kismayu battle plan, the Kenyan forces will lead the onslaught that will involve KDF’s “secret weapon”, the Special Forces and Rangers Strike Force as well as ground, aerial and sea assault teams.
The strikes will also be aimed at Jilibi Beach District where senior Al-Shabaab commanders live. KDF has established a defence base at Buale district, Juba region, where the assault will start – they have moved several battle wagons, tanks.
Uganda and Burundi contingents will provide three to four infantry battalions, moving from Afgoye and Mogadishu. It’s not clear how they will move the fighters, but its suggested they will be moved in cargo planes.
The Ugandan contingent will handle operations and logistics, and will provide three to four battalions for the assault on Kismayu, according to military sources.
Burundi will deal with communications and planning, while Djibouti will be in charge of civil-military relations. Sierra Leone will deal with training, especially for SNA troops and the militias who will play a key role in the pacification of the town.
As many military experts argue, August presents the Horn of Africa and East African countries with the defining moment of an extraordinary war in the history of the region. This is the first time that some “chocolate soldiers” like the Kenyans have tasted real war.
Amisom forces have weakened the Al-Shabaab in Somalia, but they still have one major fight left — kicking the group out of its major bastion in Kismayu.
The capture of Kismayu is likely to be the boldest step of dealing with some of the last fighters who have ensured that Somali has never known peace since the early 1990s when its dictator president Said Barre was toppled.
The troops in Somalia have hardly made a secret of their desire to be involved in the fight for Kismayu. Friendly forces are also warming up to what is considered as the war trophy.
The involvement of Western nations, though not large scale, is becoming more pronounced in the war against the Al-Shabaab as the capture of Kismayu nears.
Just this month, the British Army defended the presence of British Special Forces in Somalia, saying that they were there to offer medical attention and humanitarian assistance.
About three weeks ago, the US said it would give eight hand-launched Ravens to KDF for use in their fight against the Al-Shabaab. The US has placed a bounty on the heads of several top Al-Shabaab commanders.
The Pentagon has been supplying Ravens to other Amisom troops.