The Biden administration is deploying less than 500 troops to Somalia to counter the threat from the terrorist organization al-Shabab, a senior administration official told reporters on a call Monday.
President Joe Biden approved Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s request for “a persistent presence” of troops to be deployed from their posts in East Africa over time, the official said. The president’s decision was made in early May, according to The New York Times.
The announcement is a reversal of the Trump administration’s decision to pull troops after the Obama administration’s efforts in the African nation. The country has been long under threat from al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab terrorists.
“This administration inherited a challenging situation in Somalia. And this proposal was put forward by the Department of Defense as a way to help us improve things,” the official said.
Consistent with its stance to bring many troops home from overseas, the Trump administration ordered the withdrawal of 700 troops on Dec. 4, 2020, assuring that the U.S. would still be able to conduct counter-terrorism efforts and thwart threats to the U.S. homeland.
However, al-Shabab “has unfortunately only grown stronger it has increased the tempo of its attacks, including against US personnel,” the official said.
— U.S. Mission to the UN (@USUN) May 6, 2022
In 2021, al-Shabab was responsible for “most of the severe human rights abuses, particularly terrorist attacks on civilians and targeted killings, including extrajudicial, and religiously and politically motivated killings; disappearances; cruel and unusual punishment; rape; and attacks on employees of nongovernmental organizations and the United Nations,” according to the State Department, which designated the group a foreign terrorist organization in 2008.
“We don’t plan to be there forever. We plan to be there in a persistent way, though, rather than a rotational way,” the official said.
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