U.S. military commanders have been deploying U.S. troops in Somalia on short rotations since Trump ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops in the final days of his tenure.
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden signed an order Monday to redeploy hundreds of U.S. troops to Somalia to confront an Islamic-extremist insurgent group al-Shababefforts that U.S. military leaders said were thwarted President Donald Trump’s decision recently withdraw troops from the country.
US troops will be relocated from other parts of Africa to train and provide other support to Somali forces in their fight against al-Shabab, which is considered the largest and richest branch of the extremist organization Al Qaeda.
It is a reminder that the United States remains involved in a long struggle with Islamic extremists around the world, even as efforts have been exiled by the war in Ukraine and other affairs.
The decision to re-deploy forces in Somaliainstead of twisting them inward and the conclusion is designed to “maximize the security and effectiveness of our forces and allow them to provide more effective support to our partners,” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said, announcing the redeployment.
U.S. forces in Somalia will number “less than 500” and are not heading for direct combat, according to a senior Biden administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to inform reporters about the rationale for the decision.
Instead, troops will cooperate with Somali forces and ensure the security of staff of the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development as they work with the government to get out of years of turmoil, the official said.
Trump suddenly ordered the withdrawal of about 700 troops from Somalia at the end of his term in January 2021, as an extension of a broader policy aimed at removing the United States from what he mockingly called “endless wars” around the world.
But military leaders said it was becoming more expensive, wasting time, money and impetus as troops had to flee to and from the country.
General Stephen Townsend, head of the U.S. African Command, told Congress in March that the rotations, which he called “commuting”, were not effective or efficient and put US troops at greater risk.
“In my opinion, we are on the spot at best. Maybe we’re retreating, ”Townsend told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called for the deployment to “restore a permanent US military presence in Somalia to enable a more effective fight against al-Shabaab, which has grown and poses an increased threat,” a spokesman said on condition of anonymity to discuss the plan. White House proclamations.
Biden’s decision to sign the order was first reported by The New York Times, which also said the president had approved the Pentagon’s request for permanent authority against a dozen alleged al-Shabab leaders.
The group killed more than a dozen Americans in East Africa, including three An attack in January 2020 on a base used by US counterterrorism forces in Kenya. Later that year the United States accused the Kenyan who took flight lessons in the Philippines with a September 11 attack planning on behalf of Al-Shabab.
In recent months, the rebel group has achieved a territorial victory against the federal government of Somalia, canceling the conquests of African Union peacekeepers who once pushed militants to remote areas of the country.
The announcement of the decision to deploy came after Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who served as President of Somalia from 2012 to 2017, was declared the winner of a lengthy election on Sunday.
Somalia began to fall apart in 1991 when military leaders overthrew the dictator Siad Barre and then turned to each other. Years of conflict and al-Shabab attacks along with famine have devastated a country that has a long strategic coastline in the Indian Ocean.
Associated Press writer Lolita Baldor contributed to this report.