The Pentagon said Friday it was pulling most U.S. troops out of Somalia at the behest of President Donald Trump, continuing post-election pressure by Mr. Trump to reduce U.S. involvement in counterterrorism missions abroad.
Without giving details, the Pentagon said in a brief statement that U.S. forces in Somalia Most of the troops and property will be withdrawn in early 2021. Horn Africa currently has about 700 troops in the African nation, training and advising local forces in the extended fight against the al-Qaeda-linked, extremist group al-Shabab.
Trump has recently ordered, And he was expected to withdraw some or all of his troops from Somalia. Gen. Mark Mille, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Wednesday that U.S. forces in Somalia The future composition of the military presence is still being debated.
Mille said the U.S.’s adjusted presence is “equivalent to a relatively small measure, low cost in terms of number of employees and in terms of money.” He did not provide any specifics but stressed that the U.S. Concerned about the threat posed by al-Shabab, which he called an “expansion of al-Qaeda,” the terrorist group that carried out the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States..
“They have little reach and if they leave the frontline operations not only against US interests in the region but also against the homeland,” he said. “So they need attention.” Noting that Somalia is a dangerous place for the American people, he said a CIA officer had recently been assassinated.
Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller paid a brief visit to Somalia last week and met with U.S. troops.
U.S. troops in Somalia on January 20. Depending on the status quo, President-elect Joe Biden may oppose Trump’s draw or make other adjustments to reflect his anti-terrorism priorities. The U.S. military also has a presence in the neighborhood of Bab al-Mandab Strait.
Representative Jim Langevin, a Democrat from Rhode Island, called Trump’s pullback in Somalia a “surrender to al-Qaeda and a gift from China.” Langevin is chairman of the Homeland Security Services Subcommittee on Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities.
“When U.S. forces leave Somalia in response to today’s order, it becomes difficult to help diplomats and support personnel resolve the conflict without violence and loss of life,” Langevin said. “In the wake of the upcoming elections in Somalia and the conflict in neighboring Ethiopia, abandoning our partners could not have come at a worse time.”
Langevin said China would use the opportunity to build its influence in Horn Africa.
The Pentagon said the decline in Somalia was not a sign of the end of US counterterrorism efforts there.
“As a result of this decision, some forces may be redeployed outside East Africa,” he says. “However, to allow border operations to maintain pressure against violent extremist organizations operating in Somalia by both the U.S. and partner forces, the remaining forces will be deployed from Somalia to neighboring countries.”
“The U.S. will maintain its ability to carry out targeted counter-terrorism operations in Somalia, and will collect early warnings and indicators about threats to the homeland,” it added.
The form of threat posed by the appropriate response from al-Shabab and the U.S. has become increasingly the subject of debate at the Pentagon, which is looking for opportunities to focus on China as a long-term challenge.
A report by the Defense Department’s Watchdog last week said the US Africa Command had seen a “decisive shift” this year in its focus on attacking US interests in al-Shabab’s territory. The Africa Command said al-Shabab was Africa’s most “dangerous” and “imminent” threat.