The international community is beginning to grapple with several questions regarding whether one or more countries contributing troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)—which has been key to successes against al-Shabaab in recent years—will prematurely withdraw their troops from the mission due a confluence of regional and international factors.1 What is the likelihood that one or more troops contributing countries (TCCs)—Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda—withdraw from AMISOM? How would AMISOM’s operational effectiveness be impacted if a TCC left the mission? Would another country or countries be willing and able to fill the void created by a TCC’s withdrawal? This paper attempts to provide answers to these questions to inform policy discussions related to the long-term commitment of the TCCs to the mission. It also seeks to provide some actions or policies that the international community could undertake to reduce the likelihood that a TCC leaves AMISOM early.
This study utilized the Delphi method of survey research—a longstanding and reliable research technique that identifies consensus and/or lack thereof among experts on critical policy issues—to provide answers to these questions.2 A two round Delphi survey found that a panel of 14 AMISOM scholars generally believed that Burundi is the only TCC that might leave AMISOM before 2018. Moreover, panelists thought that there would be substantial negative impact on AMISOM’s operational effectiveness if a TCC left the mission, except for Djibouti, and were skeptical that countries other than current TCCs would be willing and able to fill the void created by a departed TCC. That said, the survey results also indicated that the departure of just one TCC would not be catastrophic to the mission’s day-to-day operations. The panel recommended three policies or actions the international community should undertake to shore up the TCCs commitment to AMISOM and improving Somalia’s future: stop reducing and potentially increase donor funding, increase the focus on improving Somali governance, and build a credible Somali security sector.