Throughout his first term in office, President Donald Trump has consistently prioritized winding down America’s involvement in various foreign conflicts and has withdrawn as many U.S. troops as possible from active conflict zones.
In line with that goal, the Trump administration has announced the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Somalia, The Hill reported.
There were approximately 700 members of the U.S. military deployed to the war-torn nation in an ongoing mission largely focused on providing assistance and training to local and governmental security forces that are fighting radical Islamic jihadist groups.
Some U.S. forces in Somalia also took part in targeted airstrikes and Special Operations raids against terrorist targets.
Troops to reposition
While those troops have been ordered out of Somalia by the Trump administration’s new acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller, they likely will be redeployed to neighboring nations within the East African region to continue the mission in a limited fashion from afar, according to a Department of Defense press release.
The Friday press release announced the shift in “force posture” in Somalia and the presidential order to “reposition the majority of personnel and assets out of Somalia by early 2021.”
“The U.S. is not withdrawing or disengaging from Africa,” the press release reads. “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.”
The release also stated that some of the forces currently in Somalia could be “repositioned” outside of East Africa but that the bulk would be shifted to friendly neighboring counties “in order to allow cross-border operations by both U.S. and partner forces to maintain pressure against violent extremist organizations operating in Somalia.”
Resistance at every turn
According to The Wall Street Journal, the neighboring nations that could receive the re-positioned U.S. troops would likely include Djibouti and Kenya, where the U.S. already maintains military bases.
Even though Trump’s order would have troops remain in the region, it has received pushback and resistance from the defense and national security bureaucracy.
Three inspector generals from the departments of Defense and State and the U.S. Agency for International Development joined together to issue a report decrying the planned drawdown. “Somalia’s security forces are unable to contain the threat from Al-Shabaab and ISIS-Somalia, which poses a smaller but still potent threat, without significant international support,” the report reads.
Meanwhile, this shift of troops out of Somalia comes on the heels of reports that Trump has ordered similar drawdowns in Afghanistan and Iraq that, hopefully, will result in several thousand U.S. troops coming home.