Shortly before the end of his term in office, US President-elect Trump reorganizes the deployment of US soldiers abroad. The announced force reductions in Afghanistan and Iraq are followed by a far-reaching withdrawal order from Somalia.
Washington (AP) – US President-elect Donald Trump has ordered the withdrawal of nearly all US troops from Somalia. The Pentagon announced on Friday that the majority of soldiers stationed there must leave the East African country by early 2021.
The Ministry of Defense has not provided figures on current and future military forces. About 700 US soldiers are currently stationed in Somalia, according to US media.
So far, the US has supported the Somali government and local security forces in the fight against the Sunni terror group Al-Shabaab. The group has been fighting for supremacy in the country in the Horn of Africa for years and controls large parts of the center and south.
Some soldiers could be transferred to countries outside of East Africa as part of the decision, the Pentagon said. The rest, however, are said to be stationed in Somalia’s neighboring countries to keep pressure on violent extremist organizations. The United States is not withdrawing from Africa, the Pentagon emphasized.
Trump emerged as the loser in the presidential election against Democrat Joe Biden in early November. In the remaining weeks, the elected president reorganizes the deployment of American soldiers abroad, which he criticizes. In mid-November, he announced that by January 15, he would reduce the number of soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq to about 2,500 each. The partial withdrawal would be implemented immediately before Biden’s scheduled inauguration on January 20.
The withdrawal order from Somalia comes a week after a historic troop visit by Pentagon director Christopher Miller, who has only been in office for a few weeks. He traveled to Mogadishu on the American holiday of Thanksgiving. A United States Secretary of Defense had never visited the country in the Horn of Africa.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, soldiers are being moved from Somalia to Kenya and Djibouti. “The US will continue to be able to conduct targeted counter-terrorism operations in Somalia,” the Pentagon said. In addition, evidence of threats against the US could be collected.