Thursday, October 27, 2011

Keeping Chaos at Bay

Jihadis in Somalia are trying to rally Somalis against the Kenyan "invaders:"

Somalia's al Shabaab rebels vowed on Thursday to fight Kenya after its troops entered the Horn of Africa nation and called on sympathizers to carry out major attacks in east Africa's biggest economy.

The call to arms came 12 days after Kenya sent soldiers into Somalia to battle the al Qaeda-linked rebels Nairobi blames for a string of kidnappings on Kenyan soil and frequent border incursions threatening state security.

The Kenyans aren't on a punitive mission. They just want to keep the chaos of Somalia a decent distance away:

Kenya admitted that its invasion of Somalia was not just in response to recent Somali kidnappings in Kenya. The invasion had been planned for years, but mainly as an option if the Somali violence spilling over into Kenya became intolerable. The recent kidnappings of foreign tourists and growing flood of Somali refugees was the trigger. Kenya plans to establish a buffer zone along the border, protected by clans that will be supplied and subsidized by Kenya. In addition, Kenyan troops will be available to move into the buffer zone if the pro-Kenyan clans come under major attack.

Kenya can't afford to act as if the formal state of Somalia exists. So they will cut deals with enough locals to give them a shot at calming the border areas down. I hope this works. We might want to do the same thing in Pakistan's wild west border areas.

UPDATE: We sure are active nearby. But nothing to see:

The United States acknowledged Friday it was flying drones out of Ethiopia under a counter-terrorism campaign in the Horn of Africa but said the aircraft were unarmed and not carrying out raids.

If we aren't carrying out raids with the drones, it's because we don't need to. I find it hard to believe we aren't providing backing to local friends willing to go after jihadis. It's a sad day when other countries are so sensitive about killing jihadis from their soil.

But we did carry out strike missions from Ethiopia when Ethiopia had a go at the jihadis inside Somalia. So we've done it before.

Oh, and the drone in question is the Reaper, according to the article, which is not one we'd use for pure recon missions:

The MQ-9 Reaper is a 4.7 ton, 11.6 meters (36 foot) long aircraft with a 21.3 meters (66 foot) wingspan that looks like the MQ-1. It has six hard points, and can carry 682 kg (1,500 pounds) of weapons. These include Hellfire missiles (up to eight), two Sidewinder or two AMRAAM air-to-air missiles, two Maverick missiles, two 227 kg (500 pound) smart bombs (laser or GPS guided.) Max speed is 400 kilometers an hour, and max endurance is 15 hours. The Reaper is considered a combat aircraft, to replace F-16s or A-10s.

If the name alone wasn't a dead give away, the capabilities should tell you what we are using them for. But we aren't using Reapers for strike missions. Heaven forbid.