Secretary of Defense Speech

Remarks by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis at the London Somalia Conference in London, England


Many thanks, Secretary Fallon, for your government bringing us together.

For many years Britain has galvanized the international community through the power of its moral voice.

Prime Minister May, through her personal leadership and the strength of her moral argument, has reminded us of our responsibilities. She has fixed our attention, at the right moment, on a challenge we can all do something about.

I am privileged to add my country’s voice to her call to action, each of us together amplifying the voice of everyone else in this room, building support for this mission.

Many have a view of Somalia and some might be forgiven for losing hope. But we hold fast, we have seen the international community improve regions that were once war-torn, the “good news” that Secretary General Guterres referred to in his opening comments

To the AMISOM leaders here today, thank you for your sacrifice and commitment to this mission. I pay America’s respect to the AMISON and Somali soldiers who have fallen in these past years. They died defending the ideal that all people are entitled to peace and the rule of law.

In President Farmaajo, we now have a leader who’s willing to put personal comfort aside and carry the responsibilities and danger of leadership. Mr. President, congratulations on the adoption of the new national security architecture. This agreement is a major step toward unifying the country and armed forces. It serves as a foundation for further agreements and action. As Prime Minister May stated earlier, we need to get behind President Farmaajo and his program.

I welcome President Farmaajo’s pledge to establish security not by arms alone, but by pledging to root out corruption, pursue good governance, and bring about reconciliation. A government that can win the affection and respect of its people is resistant to the siren song of hate and violence espoused by Al Shabaab or like-minded murderers.

I am reminded that problems in ungoverned spaces do not remain in those same spaces. A secure Somalia is in the mutual interest of all our nations. The United States is committed to supporting the security pact before us today, in a “timely manner” as the prime minister of Turkey emphasized in his remarks.

The situation in Somalia has changed since ANISOM’s beginning, and our security assistance has changed as well. Equipment, logistics, and pre-deployment training for AMISOM battalions has been joined by training for select Somali soldiers, the provision of basic equipment to the Somalia National Army, and capacity-building so that army can better sustain its forces in the field.

We will continue to strengthen and evolve our security assistance to Somalia, knowing that a nation’s security enables its prosperity.

We will assist other security partners to coordinate and scale up training and equipment programs, according to the common curriculum within the security pact.

I have asked General Waldhauser, commander of U.S. Africa Command, to take direct role in training specific numbers of proficient and mobile light infantry capable of defeating Al-Shabaab. These forces will also be trained to help protect communities and assist with basic human needs, while respecting human rights and the rule of law.

Additionally, we will provide resources and train Somali soldiers to supply and sustain their comrades in the field.

We should recognize that Somali soldiers who resort to criminality to feed themselves and their families or who abandon their posts because they are ill-armed the best advertisement of Al-Shabaab.

It is our goal to help President Farmaajo to have a proud national force, representative of all Somalis and respectful to all Somalis.

We will frame our support on two principles.

First, we support the new national security architecture, recognizing that it is essential for Somalia to have a professional, trusted military and proper police force that answers to civilian authority.

Second, we encourage Somalia’s international partners to stay the course and work together. A strong and committed partnership is required to provide the resources needed for long-term stability in Somalia.

I have asked Ambassador Schwartz and General Waldhauser to provide recommendations on how best to strengthen donor coordination and achieve results. U.S. Assistance to Somalia will never be one-dimensional. We will pursue integration of all means of support: diplomatic, developmental, and military. Security assistance alone does not bring peace.

Together, ladies and gentlemen, we shall keep the faith. To Her Majesty’s government, thank you for your leadership, and thank all of you here today for your contributions to restoring Somali peace. President Farmaajo, the American people are so proud of you for your commitment to the people of Somalia and we will stand by you.