Biden Approves Plan to Send US Troops to Somalia

President Joe Biden approved a plan to send U.S. troops to Somalia in a bid to counter the terrorist group al-Shabab, several administration officials have said.

Several White House officials confirmed the development at a May 16 briefing, saying Biden approved a request from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to reestablish a new U.S. presence in the war-torn east African country to deal with al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-aligned terrorist group that’s said to have thousands of members.

“Our forces are not now, nor will they be, directly engaged in combat operations,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters on May 16 in confirming the deployment. “The purpose here is to enable a more effective fight against al-Shabab by local forces.”

The troops are already in the region and will soon be redeployed to Somalia, he said. They’ll take part in training and bolstering forces loyal to the Somali government against al-Shabab.

Kirby said intelligence officials “believe it’s the right thing to do,” but “the mission is not changing” by sending hundreds of U.S. troops back into the country. He disputed claims that it’s a new deployment, stating that it’s a “change in the posture” of troops in the region.

NTD Photo
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby holds a press briefing at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, on April 19, 2022. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump withdrew all U.S. forces, numbering about 700 troops, from the country in January 2021, saying that the deployment will lead to the United States being involved in “endless wars” around the world.

“The decision to reintroduce a persistent presence was made to maximize the safety and effectiveness of our forces and enable them to provide more efficient support to our partners,” Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for the U.S. National Security Council, told The New York Times.

Unnamed officials told media outlets on May 16 that several hundred troops will be sent to Somalia as part of the mission.

Al-Shabab has killed more than a dozen Americans in East Africa, including three in a January 2020 attack on a base used by U.S. counterterrorism forces in Kenya. Later that year, the United States charged a Kenyan who had been taking flight lessons in the Philippines with planning a 9/11-style hijacking attack on behalf of al-Shabab.

The rebel group has made territorial gains against Somalia’s persistently weak federal government in recent months, reversing the gains of African Union peacekeepers who once had pushed the militants into remote areas of the country.

Since the early 1990s, after the collapse of Marxist dictator Siad Barre’s regime, various Somali warlords engaged in armed conflict for years, oftentimes leaving the country without a functioning government. Famine and drought, coupled with terrorist attacks, have crushed the country, which has a long and strategic coastline near the Indian Ocean and main shipping routes.

In 1992, U.S. troops were sent to the country to deal with a nationwide famine on a peacekeeping mission. But in 1993, Somali militants shot down a Black Hawk helicopter, killing at least 18 soldiers, which was depicted in the popular 2001 film “Black Hawk Down.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times