"Black Hawks Rising" tells the story of the formation and deployment of the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) in March 2007. Initially confined to peacekeeping within the Mogadishu enclave, it transformed into a peace-making mission. Many - including the author, who predicted the mission was DOA (Dead on Arrival) - gave the mission little chance of success. As a fighting force, however, AMISOM took on the Somali insurgents in 2010; expelled them from Central Mogadishu on Saturday, 6 August 2011; and expanded control of territory under the Somali Government in the succeeding years to most of Somalia. The opening chapters of the book take the reader behind the scenes to highlight the inconsistent - and sometimes disastrous - US policy in the Horn of Africa generally, and in Somalia (specifically dating back to the Kennedy administration in the early 1960s). Under President George Bush, the US strongly and vigorously opposed deployment of regional African troops in Somalia - instead sponsoring Somali factions to fight against each other and, when that flopped, egged on Ethiopia to invade Somalia in December 2006, which caused the rise of violent insurgency that spilled across borders. Young jihadists streamed from the heart of USA to fight the invaders. To clean up the mess, the Bush administration finally supported the deployment of regional troops. Black Hawks Rising captures intimately the stories of the men and women who made up AMISOM: their triumphs, setbacks and victories. The spotlight focuses on the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF), whose Herculean efforts supported by Burundi National Defence Forces (BNDF) - and later the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), Forces Armées Djiboutiennes (FAD), Ethiopian National Defence Forces (ENDF) and Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) - were pivotal to the success of the mission. Their dedication, professionalism, ideological commitment, hard work and humanity turned Somalia from a wasted nation to one with hope for peace, stability and a better future for the Somali people. Like Heru - the Hawk-God of Ancient Egypt - AMISOM's new breed of African peace-warriors have demonstrated the capacity to work across borders regionally, continent-wide and globally to help resolve conflicts whenever and wherever they arise - protecting lives and property, and preventing genocides before they happen.
Opiyo Oloya is an educator, researcher and published author. Born and raised in Gulu in Northern Uganda, he became involved in national political activism for democratic reforms during the early 1980s. As President of the Makerere University Student Guild, he publicly condemned the 1980 National Election as fraudulent. He was asked to surrender, but he chose exile: first in Kenya, and subsequently as a refugee in Canada. He completed his BA Hons and Bachelor of Education at Queen's University, Kingston; M.ED at the University of Ottawa; and PhD at York University. Opiyo Oloya's areas of interest include child-inducted soldiers; conflict and war in Africa; regional, continental and global security; and counter-terrorism and international affairs. He currently works with the York Catholic District School Board, north of Toronto. His book, Becoming A Child Soldier (University of Toronto Press, 2013), was the culmination of research conducted in the war zone in Northern Uganda - and for which he was awarded his aforementioned PhD in October 2010. Beginning in August 2010 to the present, he has travelled every summer to Somalia as a war and peace researcher - working alongside the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops based in the country. In April 2013 York University awarded Opiyo Oloya an Honorary Doctorate of Laws (LLD) for work in Africa generally and Somalia specifically. His popular column, 'Letter from Toronto', has been published weekly since 1996 in the New Vision Newspaper, Uganda. His writing informs on security and defence; education; social and scientific issues on Continental Africa; and global politics. Many of his articles are used as teaching tools in major universities across East Africa. He is married to Emily and they have two sons, Oceng and Ogaba