As a Somalilander it fills my heart will gladness to see all our Defence Forces given ranks. It is a step in the right direction and gives the members of the forces, dignity and decorum. There is no doubt that designation of the ranks gives the forces a professional appearance, however, there are one or two things we need to address.
Firstly, all the execution of military protocol is the hallmark of a professional armed forces. It is imperative to observe and adhere to the professional protocols of an organized and competent force. With that in mind, here are some things we need to pay attention to:
- Military camouflage or fatigues are to be worn by forces at war, at the front or at exercises. They are not ever day dress uniforms, and under no circumstance should they be worn with rank insignia lapels.
- The normal dress uniforms of the Army, Police, Custodial Corps, are the light tan uniforms, in the case of the naval services, the whites.
- Only ranking officers, Majors and above should wear their ranks on their berets, and even then, only if the shoulder lapels are obscured. There is no need to wear the rank insignia in three places. It is very amateurish.
- In the receiving line, ranking officers, must be at the front. It is quite amusing to see a General behind the President, whilst a lowly captain is right alongside the President.
- Somaliland forces wear the military beret They do not wear the peaked cap. Until, the forces are able to designate a number 1 dress uniform requiring a peaked cap. It is the beret or nothing. Besides, the peaked cap reminds Somalilanders of dark period in their history.
- Under no circumstance should an officer wear white socks with their uniforms.
- Dress Uniforms must appear to be pressed and if there is no ironing facility, they must at least not appear crumbled. It is unprofessional to see an officer or soldier in that way.
- Sunglasses are a no-no in a professional army. Normal prescription glasses (tinted) if possible. But, not sunglasses. Please stop this cartoonish fashion.
- Berets should be worn to regulation, snapped to the right side with a badge and rank on the left, not like a fez or keffiyeh.
- finally, no slouching at all times. Armed forces professionals are upright and steady at all times. Let the civilians slouch and contort.
Just a few bug-bears. Rest assured, that this Somalilander has nothing but the utmost respect for our men and women in uniform and would like to see them reach a high standard. There is no doubting the bravery and competence of our armed forces, but, without the proper professional image, something will always seem missing.
Finally, we must tip the beret to the late Somaliland President Mohamed Ibrahim Egal (AUN) who rejected UNISOM’s attempt to place foreign forces in Somaliland back in the 1990’s, a decision that is vindicated with each passing day.
Aside from the daily tragedies in our neighbouring country involving foreign troops, just the other day, the new UN Envoy arrived in Mogadishu, and received a military salute, fit for a “president” from UN Ugandan Forces. Truly, the hallmark of a nation in UN Trusteeship.
When the late Egal told Admiral Howe, to forget about foreign forces in Somaliland, it was vision which has born fruit and in which all Somalilanders are grateful for everyday.
In this day and age, if you cannot get your affairs in order, you will always be a project run by minnows for their own ends and careers.
Allaa Mahad Leh