A New Beginning
Sometime before 0900 hours on 23 November 2022, General Olol Daud, Supreme Commander of the Somalian Armed Forces, drove his black Mercedes S600 through the gates of the presidential compound. Usually he was chauffeured, but the aging combatant had dismissed his driver that morning at President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s request, and was at the wheel himself as he manoeuvred the car into a space between two tanks. Olol Daud was the last of his contemporaries still holding a senior rank. Some had been killed by warlords, others in civil wars. His friend, Mohamed Bani, had even died while being serviced by his Ethiopian mistress. The others though had just disappeared. In the six years since his unlikely ascent to the top job, M.A. Mohamed had removed men who were born to fight with a new, effete cohort of soldiers, most of whom had never seen blood, let alone war. There was even talk of women joining the army. Not for the first time Olol Daud wondered if he was getting too old.
Guards waved the general through a series of checkpoint until he stood outside the ‘Oval Office’. Two members of the Special Forces stood to attention and crisply saluted. He returned their salutes, nodding at them to be at ease. Both were old enough to have fought in the civil war and had the service ribbons to prove it. General Daud was glad to find some fighting men who hadn’t been pushed out of the military through retirement or worse. It was becoming more and more difficult, he thought, to find men with whom he could reminisce, share the sorts of stories that soldiers have always shared when they meet. Even his old foes would be better company than most of the types he met these days. Maybe there was time to start again. But he knew he wouldn't leave the army; he was old enough to believe that protecting the nation meant something, and that men like him only answered to the call of duty and the loyalty that came with it. He sighed, pushing the door open to greet the president.
President Mohamed A. Mohamed sat at his desk, flipping through folders and barking short commands at half-a-dozen departmental secretaries of various rank. Seeing the general, he pushed everything to the edge of desk, dismissing everyone in the room with a wave of his hand. When they were alone, he sat in his favourite arm chair, requesting the general to sit opposite him.
The time has come, said the president, easing himself back into the chair.
The general reflected that perhaps this is how it ended for all the others, but he showed no outward sign of anxiety. If it were to end here, then it would end with honour from his side at least.
We need a man like you, said the president. A man who can command other men. A man to whom other men will be loyal.
The general groaned inwardly. Now, he thought, with the army all but useless, he wants to fight wars. The president laughed, and leaned forward. I know what you’re thinking, he said, but there’s more here than meets the eye.
With that, a side door opened and an effeminate looking mulatto walked into the room. It took the general a second or two to recognise who it was, but when he did he stood immediately to attention. President Obama, said the general, saluting.
Barack H. Obama told the general to stop with all that, and sat down. Look, he said, we’ve been laying this out for years. Ever since Trump won office.
General Olol Daud looked at Mohamed A. Mohamed. Trump? I’m afraid I don’t understand, he said.
Obama and Mohamed laughed out loud. We’ve been sending our best fighting men and commanders to Ohio, Michigan, Ontario and Quebec, said President Mohamed. It’s taken us six years, but we effectively have twenty divisions, more than 200,000 men on the ground. You’re the last piece, our five-star general.