President Donald Trump has ordered most of the roughly 700 U.S. troops in Somalia to leave the country by early next year, the Pentagon has announced.
“As a result of this decision, some forces may be reassigned outside of East Africa,” a Defense Department news release says. “However, the remaining forces will be repositioned from Somalia into neighboring countries in order to allow cross-border operations by both U.S. and partner forces to maintain pressure against violent extremist organizations operating in Somalia.”
The U.S. military will still be able to carry out counterterrorism strikes within Somalia, the news release says.
While the Defense Department is not saying exactly what prompted this move, Trump has ordered drawdowns in both Iraq and Afghanistan and he has repeatedly vowed to end the U.S. military’s commitments overseas.
Somalia has been a failed state for decades. The U.S. military has been helping local forces fight al-Shabaab, which declared allegiance to Somalia on 2012.
Earlier this month, a CIA officer who had served as a Navy SEAL was killed in Somalia, the New York Times reported.
Read the entire Defense Department news release below:
The President of the United States has ordered the Department of Defense and the United States Africa Command to reposition the majority of personnel and assets out of Somalia by early 2021.
The U.S. is not withdrawing or disengaging from Africa. We remain committed to our African partners and enduring support through a whole-of-government approach.
While a change in force posture, this action is not a change in U.S. policy. We will continue to degrade violent extremist organizations that could threaten our homeland while ensuring we maintain our strategic advantage in great power competition.
As a result of this decision, some forces may be reassigned outside of East Africa. However, the remaining forces will be repositioned from Somalia into neighboring countries in order to allow cross-border operations by both U.S. and partner forces to maintain pressure against violent extremist organizations operating in Somalia.
The U.S. will retain the capability to conduct targeted counterterrorism operations in Somalia, and collect early warnings and indicators regarding threats to the homeland.