WASHINGTON – President Trump’s surprise tweet last week that he would pull all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by Christmas is not the only important military mission that could end with a sudden shrink or election day approaching.
Mr Trump has told senior advisers he also wants to see plans to withdraw all American troops from Somalia, despite warnings from senior military and counterterrorism officials that doing so would promote lethal law enforcement and lead East Africa’s strategic region to China Russia.
The president sent mixed signals last month when he announced that US troops were “out of Syria” except to protect the region’s oil fields. The Pentagon said it was sending Bradley fighter jets, more fighter jet patrols and about 100 additional troops to northeastern Syria after a Russian armed vehicle crashed into American ground patrols in August that day, injuring seven soldiers.
“We’re at all these different sites fighting in countries that no one has ever heard of, and it hurts us because we are – you wear your army,” Mr. Trump said in an interview with Fox Business last week. “And we must always be ready for China and Russia and these other places. We have to be prepared. ”
But even senior military commanders are urging their commander to stay away from predicting the withdrawal of the chief’s jawans, which has made him a guard. And critics say the president is exposing the country to even greater national security threats in an effort to fulfill a campaign promise to bring American troops home from “endless wars.”
“There is no strategy; Said Corey Shake, director of the American Enterprise Institute’s study of foreign and defense policy.
The latest headlines about possible troop withdrawals came this week, when senior administration officials said Mr. Trump told senior aides he wanted to withdraw U.S. troops from Somalia, confirming an earlier report by Bloomberg News and more details. Added.
An idea is now under consideration for those who are training and advising the Somali army – and removing most or all ground troops from the country, including fighting al-Shabab, al Qaeda’s largest and most active global ally, or ending the strike with the intention of discrediting it Included. Targeting individual Shabab members believed to be plotting a counter-terrorism strike, the use of drones, the presence of troops in nearby countries and a terrorist attack outside Somalia will obviously still be allowed.
Mr. officials called a small internship meeting of senior officials by the White House late last week to discuss Mr. Trump’s demands for tougher troop withdrawal options.
Among the officials involved in the discussion was Defense Secretary Mark T. General Mark A., chairman of Asper and Joint Chiefs of Staff. No decision was made, Mille added.
Continue with Election 2020
A Pentagon spokesman addressed the debate at the White House National Security Council, where the spokesman declined to comment.
There are now about 700 American troops in Somalia. Most are Special Operations Forces deployed on a small number of bases across the country. His missions include training and advising Somali army and counter-terrorism troops, and killing or capturing raids against Shabab.
Shabab has issued certain new threats against Americans in East Africa and even in the United States in recent months. U.S. counterterrorism and intelligence officials say that since the break this year, it has stepped up its campaign of car bombings in Somalia.
Many ominous signs indicate that Shabab is trying to expand its lethal operations beyond its home base and attack Americans wherever it can – threats that have so far this year sought to speed up the plotters for the 46 American drone strikes. . Last year, there were 63 Islamic drone strikes, almost all against Shabab militants, some against the Islamic State branch.
In recent years, American intelligence analysts estimate that Shabab once held between 1,000 and 10,000 fighters, losing many of the cities and villages they once controlled. Despite facing a record number of American drone strikes, the group is carrying out large-scale attacks against civilian and military targets in Somalia and neighboring countries.
Withdrawal of US troops from Somalia would give Shabab a decisive strategic advantage in the Somali conflict and significantly increase the threat of terrorism in East Africa, including American and American targets, said Tricia Becken, an expert at Somalia at American University. Washington in Washington and a former State Department counterterrorism analyst.
Col. Christopher P., chief spokesman for the Army’s Africa Command. Kerns declined to comment on Mr. Trump’s pressure to withdraw troops from Somalia. Instead, Colonel Curse offered defense for the current mission.
He said in a statement that the US Africa Command continues to train the Somali army, monitor al Shabaab and disrupt and derail the dangerous al Shabaab terrorist network, whose long-term ambitions include attacking the United States.
Colonel Kerns also noted the Pentagon’s comprehensive strategy to deal with global threats from Moscow and Beijing. “When you look at global power competition in Africa, it’s a place where China and Russia continue to be great and prioritize activity, especially on the economic front.”
Some of Mr. Trump’s staunch Republican allies in Congress are also warning him against a deep cut of troops in Somalia.
The chairman of the Oklahoma Republican and Armed Services Committee, Senator James M. “This strategy is working, and our relentless presence there has prevented al Shabaab from expanding into its footsteps,” Inhof said. Mr. Inhoff expressed the hope that Mr. Trump would “not take any action that would cause us to lose the land we gained, thank you for his strategy.”
Military pressure on large troops in Somalia came back when General Mille withdrew from the White House last week with abrupt and contradictory announcements about the withdrawal of Afghan troops.
Without warning the Pentagon, National Security Adviser Robert C. O’Brien told an audience in Las Vegas last Wednesday that the United States would cut its military presence in Afghanistan to 2,500 early next year. This came as a surprise to Defense Department officials and top military commanders, who said that by this fall, they are working under orders to reduce the level of troops to 50,000.
Mr. Trump then added to the confusion when he confronted Mr. O’Brien hours later and suggested a timeline via Twitter to bring all the troops home as early as Christmas.
“We should have the number of our brave men and women left to serve at home in Afghanistan by Christmas!” He Wrote.
General Mille, cautious of upsetting the good working relations he had established with the President, however, voiced frustration with the timeline of the momentum and the messages of the contradictory troop withdrawal. He did not criticize the commander-in-chief, but did discuss the national security adviser’s remarks.
“I think Robert O’Brien or anyone else can guess as they see fit,” General Mille said in an interview with NPR on Sunday. “I am going to engage in a rigorous analysis of the situation based on the terms and plans that I am familiar with and my conversations with the President.”
In northeastern Syria, the army’s Central Command sent troops into a hotly contested area last month after the Russians deliberately sabotaged an American vehicle.
White House and Pentagon officials criticized the Russians for the reckless attack by American officials. But Mr. Trump kept silent on the episode, citing Democrats as a recent example of the president’s failure to challenge Russia’s growing hostility to the West, including interfering in the election and rewarding American troops in Afghanistan.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential candidate, reprimanded Mr. Trump for failing to publicly address the situation in Syria: “Have you ever heard the president speak a single word? Has he raised a finger? He said in a speech on August 31 in Pennsylvania.
U.S. Army commanders expressed cautious optimism that the president would not withdraw any of the more than 100 troops in Syria, at least for now. Those troops are helping Syrian Kurdish allies carry out counter-terrorism missions against the remnants of the Islamic State.
But those same commanders are surprisingly reminiscent of all those who took to Twitter to block Mr. Trump’s new policy change, such as announcing the withdrawal of previous troops from Syria in 2018, without informing the Pentagon. The move prompted Jim Mattis to resign as defense secretary.
With election day less than three weeks away, Pentagon officials are trying to meet the predictions of other possible presidential troops.
“How will we reduce the risk of withdrawing U.S. troops from these locations?” Said Seth G. Jones, director of the Transnational Risks Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank. “I am listening to cricket. That sound is no recipe for foreign policy. “
Charlie Savage contributed to the reporting.