Trump Further Entrenches US Military Involvement in Somalia

The AU force will begin withdrawing in 2018, "and if this departure begins prior to Somalia having capable security forces, large portions of Somalia are at risk of returning to al-Shabab control or potentially allowing ISIS to gain a stronger foothold in the country", the head of the U.S. Africa Command, Commander General Thomas Waldhauser, said last month. Meanwhile, fighters pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group have emerged in the northern part of the country.

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump approved a request for additional precision airstrikes in Somalia to help the African Union and Somali ground troops "increase pressure" on al-Shabab.

While a nominal USA military presence in the country has persisted, last June the United States named its first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years, a signal the central government was viewed as legitimate and has the backing of the West.

The about 40 troops are to be deployed from the 101st Airborne Division.

The deployment was first reported by Voice of America.

"It gives them the tools to help themselves", DeLeon said.

In 1993, 18 U.S. special forces personnel were killed in the incident dramatised in the Hollywood film Black Hawk Down.


The report said that the White House had granted more authority to the military's head of Africa Command to wage a campaign against al-Shabab. Following those deaths, the American public was shocked and support for the operation evaporated.

A report in The New American back in 2015 quoted information from the online journal Foreign Policy (FP) exposing an expanding US military presence in Somalia, including not only drone bases but boots on the ground.

The troops' arrival marks the first presence of American military forces in Somalia, other than a small unit of counterterrorism advisers, since March 1994 when the USA pulled out of the United Nations intervention operation in the war-torn state, five months after 18 US special forces personnel were killed in a battle with Somali militiamen that inspired the movie Black Hawk Down.

But Africa Command made it clear that there was no link between the two.

Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Rudy DeLeon, a senior fellow with the Center for American Progress, said the USA team will help instill the professionalism and discipline that the local force can use to create the terms for security.

Since then, the United States has restricted most of its activities in Somalia to drone and missile attacks against Islamist militants.


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