President Donald Trump has moved in recent weeks to pull increasing numbers of U.S. forces out of countries like Afghanistan and Iraq — and now, he’s given yet another order to draw down American troops.
The Defense Department released a statement Friday revealing that, on orders from the president, “the majority of personnel and assets” deployed to Somalia will be repositioned elsewhere by early next year.
The Department of Defense made clear, however, that “[t]he U.S. is not withdrawing or disengaging from Africa.”
According to the Pentagon’s statement, “some forces may be reassigned outside of East Africa,” while “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.”
“We remain committed to our African partners and enduring support through a whole-of-government approach,” the statement added.
Countries where troops could be restationed include Djibouti and Kenya, from which missions to train and assist Somali military forces and operations of drone surveillance and targeted airstrikes can continue, according to ABC News.
In Somalia and the broader East African region, the main threat is posed by al-Qaida affiliate Al-Shabaab and a small offshoot of the Islamic State group, both of which threaten U.S. allies and partners in the region.
The fight will go on
According to ABC, acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller had consulted with members of Congress as well as regional partner nations and the impacted combatant commands prior to the announcement that U.S. troops would be leaving Somalia.
As part of that effort, Miller recently returned from a visit to the Horn of Africa and the Middle East, where he met and spoke with troops and command staff about the situation on the ground.
“While a change in force posture, this action is not a change in U.S. policy,” the Pentagon said in its Friday statement. “We will continue to degrade violent extremist organizations that could threaten our homeland while ensuring we maintain our strategic advantage in great power competition.”
The statement also noted that, following the repositioning of assets and troops, “[t]he U.S. will retain the capability to conduct targeted counterterrorism operations in Somalia, and collect early warnings and indicators regarding threats to the homeland.”
With that, it appears President Trump has kept yet another one of his promises to the American people.