U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Berets) troops are heading to Mozambique to train Mozambican marines for a two-month Joint Combined Exercise Training (JCET) in counter-insurgency tactics as al-Shabaab’s attacks rise. There are additional reports that Portugal is also going to furnish training support for Mozambique’s marines.
“U.S. Special Operations Forces… will support Mozambique’s efforts to prevent the spread of terrorism and violent extremism,” the U.S. Embassy in Mozambique said in a statement released on March 15.
The terrorist group, which is aligned with al-Qaeda in Somalia, has a splinter faction in Mozambique that has aligned itself with the Islamic State (ISIS). The U.S. designated it a terrorist organization on March 10, as part of its overall anti-terrorism effort against al-Qaeda and ISIS.
Al-Shabaab’s insurgency began in 2017. The group has conducted more than 600 attacks on the population as well as government officials and facilities. More than 2,000 people have been killed and half a million have been displaced due to the violence, according to the United Nations.
Last November, the terrorist group resorted to beheading over 50 people on a soccer field.
Tens of thousands of the displaced have been fleeing to Niassa province to the west. Officials are concerned that al-Shabaab terrorists will mix with refugees and spread instability to Niassa.
The ongoing violence in Mozambique’s northern province of Cabo Delgado has been getting out of control and government officials are concerned that it will spread south to other provinces.
Cabo Delgado, located in northern Mozambique, is home to the strategic port of Mocimboa da Praia. Cabo Delgado is plagued by extreme poverty, income inequality, and low government presence, i.e. all of the tell-tale signs of an area ripe for an insurgency.
The Cabo Delgado province is among the poorest, most illiterate provinces in the country with extremely high unemployment, yet, the government is trying to keep control of it.
Mozambique initially invited Russia and the Wagner Group into the country in 2019 and it was a disaster as covered by SOFREP. Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi had met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and came to an agreement for the Russians to support the Mozambican military in return for massive natural gas concessions.
The Wagner Group deployed shortly after, in October 2019, with 200 contractors to the area of Cabo Delgado. Although there exists a number of African security firms with a wealth of experience in the area, President Nyusi opted to go cheaper, and it ended up costing the country dearly. In the end, you get what you pay for.
The Russians were an overconfident bunch planning on using their “Syrian Model” of success. Yet, they were completely out of their element, with no knowledge of the terrain, people, and customs. And by bullying Mozambique’s troops, in true Soviet fashion, they quickly lost any hope of building rapport with them.
The Russians retreated to their main base at Nacala after suffering heavy casualties. Mozambique’s government then reportedly hired the South Africa-based Dyck Advisory Group (DAG), to fight the insurgents. But DAG’s presence in the country has also been problematic. Amnesty International has received reports of extrajudicial killings tied to the group and Mozambican military.
Mozambique has gone the cheap route with mercenaries and proxy forces of the Russian government that had no training in building rapport with a host nation force (no Robin Sage) and has now turned to the United States.
So as the old television show once said, “if you have a problem if no one else can help, maybe you can hire… the A-Team.”
As MG Dagvin Anderson said on Wednesday in a conference attended by SOFREP, “when countries have a problem (natural disaster, terrorism), they call the United States.”