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Reversing Trump, Biden moves to deploy US troops to Somalia to help counter extremist group

Reversing Trump, Biden moves to deploy US troops to Somalia to help counter extremist group


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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has signed an order to redeploy hundreds of U.S. troops to Somalia to counter the Islamic extremist insurgent group al-Shabab.

It is an effort that American navy leaders mentioned had been hampered by then-President Donald Trump’s late-term decision to withdraw forces from the nation.

U.S. troops might be repositioned from elsewhere in Africa to coach and supply different assist to Somali forces of their battle towards the insurgent group. Al-Shabab is taken into account the most important and wealthiest affiliate of the al-Qaida extremist group.

The announcement is a reminder that the U.S. stays engaged within the lengthy battle towards Islamic extremists even when that battle has been eclipsed by the conflict in Ukraine and different issues.

The choice to station forces once more in Somalia, relatively than rotate them out and in, is meant “to maximise the security and effectiveness of our forces and allow them to supply extra environment friendly assist to our companions,” Nationwide Safety Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson mentioned in saying the redeployment.

U.S. forces in Somalia will whole “below 500” and should not being despatched to have interaction in direct fight, in line with a senior Biden administration official who spoke on situation of anonymity to transient journalists on the rationale behind the choice.

As a substitute, the troops will work with Somali forces and supply safety to personnel from the State Division and the U.S. Company for Worldwide Growth as they work with the federal government to emerge from years of turmoil, the official mentioned.

Trump abruptly ordered the withdrawal of roughly 700 troops from Somalia on the finish of his time period in January 2021, an extension of a broader coverage of searching for to drag the U.S. out of what he derisively known as “limitless wars” all over the world.

However navy leaders mentioned that got here at a price, losing time, cash and momentum as troops needed to rotate in and overseas.

Gen. Stephen Townsend, head of U.S. Africa Command, advised Congress in March that the rotations, which he known as “commuting to work,” weren’t environment friendly or efficient and put American troops at higher threat.

“For my part, we’re marching in place at greatest. We could also be backsliding,” Townsend advised the Senate Armed Forces Committee.

Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin requested the deployment “to reestablish a persistent U.S. navy presence in Somalia to allow a simpler battle towards al-Shabaab, which has elevated in power and poses a heightened menace,” mentioned an administration official mentioned, talking on situation of anonymity to debate the plan earlier than the White Home announcement.

Extra: Trump orders most U.S. troops out of Somalia, continuing post-election drawdown

Biden’s determination to signal the order was first reported by The New York Instances, which additionally mentioned the the president had accepted a Pentagon request for standing authority to focus on a few dozen suspected leaders of al-Shabab.

The group has killed greater than a dozen People in East Africa, together with three in a January 2020 assault on a base utilized by U.S. counterterrorism forces in Kenya. Later that 12 months, the U.S. charged a Kenyan who had been retreating classes within the Philippines with planning a 9/11-style hijacking assault on behalf of al-Shabab.

The insurgent group has made territorial positive aspects towards Somalia’s federal authorities in latest months, reversing the positive aspects of African Union peacekeepers who as soon as had pushed the militants into distant areas of the nation.

Phrase of the deployment determination got here after Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who served as Somalia’s president between 2012 and 2017, was introduced on Sunday because the winner of a protracted election.

Somalia started to collapse in 1991 when warlords ousted dictator Siad Barre after which turned on one another. Years of battle and al-Shabab assaults, together with famine, have shattered the nation which has an extended, strategic shoreline by the Indian Ocean.

American troopers deployed there in 1992 to stave off a nationwide famine on a peacekeeping mission that lasted till their 1994 withdrawal — about 5 months after the humiliating “Black Hawk Down” debacle in late 1993 when Somali militiamen shot down two U.S. helicopters; 18 servicemen had been killed within the crash and subsequent rescue try.

Related Press author Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report.

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