President Joe Biden returns US troops to Somalia

The Biden administration announced on Monday it was restarting a “persistent” US troop presence in Somalia, citing the threat from al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab and reversing the Trump administration’s withdrawal of US troops from Somalia. the region.

“The President has authorized the Department of Defense to bring a small, persistent US military presence back to Somalia,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in a Monday press briefing.

He said the decision was based on a request from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin with the advice of senior military commanders and was also based on concerns for the safety of US troops who have “entered additional risk” by deploying to inside and outside Somalia on an “episodic”. ” for the last 16 months.

Lloyd Austin

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin holds a briefing in Tbilisi on October 18, 2021. (Photo by VANO SHLAMOV/AFP via Getty Images)

The US military presence in Somalia will have an estimated ceiling of 500 soldiers, according to a US official during a briefing, the New York Post reported.

“We are proud, above all, to support Somalis’ own efforts to rebuild their own state and we are working closely with other international partners,” the official said.

Kirby said US troops will continue their missions to train, advise and assist partner Somali forces to “disrupt, degrade and monitor” al-Shabaab.

“Our forces are not currently or will be directly engaged in combat operations,” he said. “The aim is to enable a more effective fight against al-Shabaab by local forces.”

He said al-Shabaab had increased in strength and posed an “increased threat”, but denied that there was any specific threat or tipping point that prompted the decision now.

“The secretary’s view was that this model of episodic engagement was ineffective and increasingly unsustainable,” he said, adding that by deploying inside and outside Somalia , the forces had lost the critical situational awareness necessary to detect and disrupt an attack.

Kirby said he had no further details on the composition of the Persistent Presence troops or when it would begin.

According to To post, the Biden administration justifies the continued presence of US troops in Somalia with the authorization for the use of military force passed by Congress after 9/11, which authorized the presence of US troops in Afghanistan to fight al-Qaeda.

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