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Combat engineering in Somalia

Vehicle checkpoint (VCP) rebuild; inner security ring Mogadishu International Airport.

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Protection upgrade of a National Intelligence Security Agency (NISA) checkpoint in Somalia

NISA checkpoints form an integral part of the security ring around Mogadishu International Airport (MIA), and as such they are a prime target for Al Shabab terrorist attacks. 

This case study shows how the combined efforts of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), a humanitarian organisation and SafeLane mentors upgraded one of the inner security ring checkpoints in 2018.

In the South-Central Area of Somalia, the number of improvised explosive device (IED) and complex attacks remains high.  Due to this threat state, it was deemed necessary to upgrade several NISA checkpoints around the airport.

The upgrades have given greater protection and confidence to the NISA personnel manning these checkpoints.

Mentors and combat engineer assistance

SafeLane Global mentors and the a combat engineer advisor were tasked with mentoring the AMISOM MEU engineers in the rebuild and enhancement of NISA Checkpoint 2.

Earlier in 2018, SafeLane personnel and its humanitarian client carried out reconnaissance on four NISA checkpoints around MIA.

Technical drawings were created for each and a plan was developed and put into action to commence the upgrades.  While civilian contractors would complete checkpoint 1, it fell to the AMISOM engineers from the MEU to tackle the checkpoint 2 rebuild.

Armed with heavy plant equipment and operators, combat engineering tool boxes and an abundance of enthusiasm, the task began.

The plant operators made short work of the existing checkpoint, removing the barriers and preparing the ground for the new bastion structures to be built upon.  Next, it was the turn of the engineers, a daunting task for some who had never used the bastion system before.  With some instruction and mentoring from the SafeLane team on site, work progressed smoothly.

Building blast walls to protect against IED attacks

Blast walls were constructed on either side of the roadway to ensure proper protection for NISA personnel and any civilians in the area should the worst happen, and an IED be detonated.  Then the ground mounted sanger at the front of the checkpoint was constructed and finally the beast that was the elevated sanger was constructed at the rear.

Covering twenty square meters and standing nearly four meters high, this gives the checkpoint good ground domination in all directions.

A tidy up of the site and the placement of the reclaimed barriers to form slow down areas leading into the checkpoint completed the task.

Combat engineering to protect personnel

From the very first visit to these NISA checkpoints, it was clear that they were extremely basic and offered little to no protection for the personnel manning them.  Checkpoint 2 had possibly the lightest amount of traffic passing through the four planned upgrades.  Previously this checkpoint could have been considered a soft target, and it is now an imposing, well-constructed area for NISA to operate within.

With the good working relationship shown between NISA, AMISOM and SafeLane Global's humanitarian client there is no reason that more checkpoints cannot be upgraded to allow NISA personnel to carry out their roles and responsibilities in a safer environment.

The MEU engineers have and could again produce top quality work to complete the upgrade of the security ring around MIA.

The work carried out by AMISOM troops shows they have learnt the skills required to produce an excellent example of Force Protection work, something they can be proud of, and that should inspire others around Somalia to rebuild or enhance their protective measures.

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