Washington (People's Daily) – The US Department of Defense announced on Friday that the president of US has ordered the Department of Defense and the United States Africa Command to withdraw the majority of personnel and assets out of Somalia by early 2021.
Pentagon said some forces may be reassigned outside of East Africa, and the remaining forces will be withdrawn from Somalia into neighboring countries in order to allow cross-border operations to maintain pressure against violent extremist organizations operating in Somalia.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the US has roughly 700 troops stationed in Somalia. These troops would move to bases in Kenya and Djibouti. The decision is the latest by US President Donald Trump to reduce US participation in distant wars.
The move, supported by the new acting defense secretary, Chris Miller, effectively reverses the course set by his predecessor, Mark Esper. Esper favored drawing down US forces operating in the Sahel region of West Africa while maintaining the American presence in Somalia, according to a senior US official.
The initial troop deployment was in 2007. The main mission of American forces in Somalia has been to train local soldiers, especially the country's commando units, to fight al-Shabaab on their own. US forces also carry out airstrikes against the terror group. The Somali government has signaled its concerns about the decision. They are worried that this will worsen the local security situation.
According to a previous report by the New York Times, decisions about whether to alter American counterterrorism operations in Somalia will be an early national security challenge for President-elect Joseph Biden, as he reviews Trump's policies.