Biden set to redeploy troops to Somalia, reversing Trump withdrawal

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President Biden will redeploy troops to Somalia to counter al Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab, reversing former President Trump’s decision to withdraw forces from the country near the end of his administration.

“President Biden has approved a request from the Secretary of Defense to reestablish a persistent U.S. military presence in Somalia to enable a more effective fight against al-Shabaab, which has increased in strength and poses a heightened threat,” a senior administration official told The Hill in a statement.

“This is a repositioning of forces already in theater who have travelled in and out of Somalia on an episodic basis since the previous administration made the decision to withdraw in January 2021,” the official continued.

The official didn’t say how many troops would be sent to Somalia. The New York Times, which first reported the move, cited officials saying the number would be no more than 450 troops.

The Times also reported that Biden had signed off on the proposal from the Pentagon earlier this month.

In December 2020, Trump ordered the 700 troops stationed in Somalia to withdraw by early 2021. Those troops were helping to quell al-Shabaab by training local forces and carrying out airstrikes.

At the time, the then-president said it was part of his efforts to end “forever wars,” and his administration stressed that the move did not signal that the U.S. was disengaging from Africa.

The plan was for those troops to be reassigned to neighboring countries to allow the U.S. to still conduct operations in Somalia.

In early March, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Pentagon wanted Biden to send troops back to Somalia to stop the spread of al-Shabaab.

At the time, a senior intelligence official told the outlet that it had seen an uptick in activities from the group and that because there was no pressure on them, there were fears that the group would become a wider threat.

Tags Donald Trump Joe Biden President Joe Biden Somalia

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