Friday, September 28, 2012

From the Sea

After all the maneuvering to the inland side, Kenyan forces swept ashore in Somalia with an amphibious landing to surprise the jihadis holding out along the coast in their last important redoubt.

Kudos to the Kenyans:

Kenyan troops invaded al-Shabab's last stronghold in Somalia, coming ashore in a predawn assault Friday. Other African Union forces were traveling overland to link up with the Kenyan forces in the port city of Kismayo.

Col. Cyrus Oguna, the Kenyan military's top spokesman, said the surprise attack met minimal resistance but al-Shabab denied that the city had fallen and said fighting was taking place. Oguna said that al-Shabab has incurred "heavy losses" but that Kenyan forces have not yet had any injuries or deaths.

Residents in Kismayo contacted by The Associated Press said that Kenyan troops had taken control of the port but not the whole city.

Jihadis are gathering, in response. But given the importance of the port to financing the jihadis, the Kenyans have achieved a notable success: being able to be on tactical defense in a strategic offensive by seizing ground the jihadis can't afford to lose.

I assume we will contribute firepower to help the Kenyans hold their ground if the jihadis try to assault and drive out the Kenyan troops.

I don't see anything about numbers of troops. Kenya's navy is tiny and they have very few marines (about a company's worth) and only a couple small amphibious craft. Did someone help Kenya lift more troops? Are helicopters ferrying in troops?

Hopefully, the troops on the land side are moving quickly to link up with the amphibious force.

So dig in, Kenyans. If the jihadis try to fight rather than attempt to escape and disperse, this will get hairy.

UPDATE: Huh. The jihadis are abandoning the port without a fight:

Somalia's al Shabaab rebels retreated from the southern port of Kismayu overnight, the group and residents said, abandoning the last major bastion of their five-year revolt to an offensive by African Union and Somali government troops.

They may well try to use terrorism to deny the Kenyans and local Somali allies full control, but even if successful the jihadis have lost a source of revenue.

More on the operation. But nothing on the size of the amphibious operation. Although with a name like Operation Sledge Hammer, I suspect they are trying to cast a giant shadow. Kenya has little amphibious capability. Unless we or another Western navy helped lift in the troops, of course.