Biden returns US troops to Somalia

President Biden has approved a Pentagon request to restore the continued presence of US troops in Somalia, overturning a decision made late in the Trump administration.

Fewer than 500 US troops will be permanently present in Somalia, less than the 750 troops withdrawn by the Trump administration in January 2021, a senior administration official said.

The threat from al-Shabab, al-Qaeda’s largest affiliate, played a role in the government’s decision to move from a rotating deployment to a more permanent presence in Somalia.

“Al Shabab remains a threat, and that threat we’re assessing is not only continuing, but growing,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said at a news conference Monday.

Withdrawal of US troops from Somalia
In this file photo from Wednesday, June 13, 2018, Somali soldiers stand at a Somali military base, near the site of an attack by Al Shabab that killed a US soldier and injured four others in Somalia.

Farah Abdi Warsameh / AP

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin advised Mr Biden that a better way to deal with the threat from Al Shabab would be to have a more sustained military presence in Somalia, Kirby said. Biden approved the plan and now the Pentagon is working on timing the implementation.

When the plan is implemented, the presence will mainly consist of US troops already in East Africa and no significant change in resources will be necessary, Kirby says.

Since January 2021, US troops have taken turns in and out of Somalia to help counter-terrorism, and Kirby said that after several months of reviewing this approach, the Pentagon concluded that this model was “inefficient” and “increasingly unsustainable.” ” used to be. †

He said the decision will help US troops better advise and assist Somali partners in their fight against al Shabab. US troops will not themselves participate in combat operations against al Shabab.

“We believe this is the best way to continue what has remained a very valuable training mission for advice and assistance – it’s just a better way to do it,” Kirby said.

Former President Barack Obama military advisers sent to Somalia in 2014, boots were on the ground for the first time since the Black Hawk Down incident in 1993. In the final days of the Obama administration, the former president extended the war against the perpetrators of the September 11 terrorist attacks to all Shabab , according to The New York Times.

After taking office, President Trump Expanded Airstrikes in the region, but in December 2020 he ordered a troop withdrawal from the region. At the time, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, said the future of the military presence in Somalia was being debated.

The only permanent US military base in Africa, Camp Lemonnier, is located in neighboring Djibouti.

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