The Loss of Arms And Ammunition In Peace Operations: Mapping And Addressing The Challenge

Jefferson Brehm
Content Type
Working Paper
Global Peace Operations Review
In January 2016, al-Shabaab militants attacked an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forward operating base in El Adde, Somalia. They held the base for several days before the Kenya Defence Forces managed to reclaim it. Media reporting has understandably focused on the loss of life among the Kenyan peacekeepers—widely reported to be upwards of 100 men and women. The loss of materiel has received considerably less attention, but is of great importance. Al-Shabaab potentially put AMISOM’s personnel and local communities in even greater peril by seizing their weapons, ammunition, vehicles, and communications equipment. The El Adde attack resulted in one of the largest recorded single incidents of diversion of materiel from peacekeepers, but was far from an isolated incident. As the Small Arms Survey has documented, the loss of equipment during peace operations is routine and widespread. In fact, thousands of small arms and light weapons, and millions of rounds of ammunition have entered the black market from more than a dozen missions undertaken by the United Nations (UN) and several regional organizations. Logistical challenges to security management are not specific to UN missions but pose challenges for all organizations that engage in peace operations because all peacekeepers who deploy with military hardware face the risk of losses. Small Arms Survey research suggests a number of ways that these losses can be resisted or better managed, including through improved record-keeping, tailoring procedures to the specific operational environment, and respecting the operational limitations of inspection regimes.
Security, Military Strategy, Weapons , Peace
Political Geography
Africa, Sudan, South Sudan