The Pentagon on Friday said that it is pulling most US troops out of Somalia on US President Donald Trump’s orders, continuing a post-election push by Trump to shrink US involvement in counterterrorism missions abroad.
Without providing details, the Pentagon said in a short statement that “a majority” of US troops and assets in Somalia would be withdrawn early next year.
There are about 700 troops in the Horn of Africa nation, training and advising local forces in an extended fight against the extremist group al-Shabaab, an affiliate of al-Qaeda.
Trump has ordered troop drawdowns in Afghanistan and Iraq, and he was expected to withdraw some or all troops from Somalia.
Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley had said on Wednesday that the structure of the US military presence in Somalia was still in debate.
The adjusted US presence would amount to “a relatively small footprint, relatively low cost in terms of number of personnel and in terms of money,” Milley said.
He provided no specifics, but said that the US remained concerned about the threat posed by al-Shabaab, which he called “an extension of al-Qaeda.”
“They do have some reach and they could if left unattended conduct operations against not only US interests in the region, but also against the homeland,” he said. “So they require attention.”
Noting that Somalia remains a dangerous place for Americans, he said that a CIA officer was killed there recently.
Acting US Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller last week made a brief visit to Somalia and met with US troops.
Depending on what remains of the US presence in Somalia when he takes office Jan. 20, US president-elect Joe Biden could reverse Trump’s drawdown or make other adjustments to reflect his counterterrorism priorities.
The US military also has a presence in neighboring Djibouti on the Bab al-Mandab Strait.
US Army General Stephen Townsend, head of US Africa Command, said in a written statement that the US contingent in Somalia would “decrease significantly,” but he offered no specifics.
“US forces will remain in the region and our tasks and commitment to partners remain unchanged,” he said.
“This action is not a withdrawal and an end to our efforts, but a reposition to continue our efforts in East Africa,” he added.
US Representative Jim Langevin, a Democrat, criticized the pullback in Somalia as a “surrender to al-Qaeda and a gift of China.”
Langevin is chairman of the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee’s Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee.
“When US forces leave Somalia in response to today’s order, it becomes harder for diplomats and aid workers to help people resolve conflicts without violence and loss of life,” Langevin said. “With upcoming elections in Somalia and conflict raging in neighboring Ethiopia, abandoning our partners could not come at a worse time.”
China would use the opportunity to build its influence in the Horn of Africa, Langevin said.
The Pentagon said the drawdown in Somalia does not mark the end of US counterterrorism efforts there.
“As a result of this decision, some forces may be reassigned outside of East Africa,” it said. “However, the remaining forces will be repositioned from Somalia into neighboring countries in order to allow cross-border operations by both US and partner forces to maintain pressure against violent extremist organizations operating in Somalia.”
“The US will retain the capability to conduct targeted counterterrorism operations in Somalia, and collect early warnings and indicators regarding threats to the homeland,” it added.
The nature of the threat posed by al-Shabaab and the appropriate US response has been a matter of increasing debate in the Pentagon, which has been looking for opportunities to shift its focus toward China as a greater long-term challenge.
A US Department of Defense watchdog report last week said that US Africa Command has seen a “definitive shift” this year in al-Shabaab’s focus to attack US interests in the region.
Al-Shabaab is Africa’s most “dangerous” and “imminent” threat, it said.
On the Chinese microblogging platform Sina Weibo, enthusiastic slackers share their tips: Fill up a thermos with whiskey, do planks or stretches in the work pantry at regular intervals, drink liters of water to prompt lots of trips to the toilet on work time, and, once there, spend time on social media or playing games on your phone. “Not working hard is everyone’s basic right,” one commenter wrote. “With or without legal protection, everyone has the right to not work hard.” Young Chinese people are pushing back against an engrained culture of overwork, and embracing a philosophy of laziness known as “touching
‘STUNNED’: With help from an official at the US Department of Justice, Donald Trump reportedly planned to oust the acting attorney general in a bid to overturn the election Former US president Donald Trump was at his Florida resort on Saturday, beginning post-presidency life while US President Joe Biden settled into the White House, but in Washington and beyond, the chaos of the 45th president’s final days in office continued to throw out damaging aftershocks. In yet another earth-shaking report, the New York Times said that Trump plotted with an official at the US Department of Justice to fire the acting attorney general, then force Georgia Republicans to overturn his defeat in that state. Meanwhile, former acting US secretary of defense Christopher Miller made an extraordinary admission, telling Vanity Fair that
Boeing set a target of designing and certifying its jetliners to fly on 100 percent sustainable fuels by 2030, amid rising pressure on planemakers to take climate change seriously. Regulators allow a 50-50 blend of sustainable and conventional fuels, and Boeing on Friday said it would work with authorities to raise the limit. Rival Airbus is considering another tack: a futuristic lineup of hydrogen-powered aircraft that would reach the skies by 2035. The aircraft manufacturers face growing public clamor to cut emissions in the aviation industry, which added more than 1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in 2019, according to
Mongolian Prime Minister Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh on Thursday resigned following a protest over a hospital’s treatment of a new mother who tested positive for COVID-19. Khurelsukh, whose Mongolian People’s Party holds a strong majority in the parliament known as the State Great Khural, stepped down after accusing Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga of the Democratic Party of orchestrating a political crisis. A small protest broke out in the capital, Ulan Bator, on Wednesday after TV footage appeared of a woman who had just given birth being escorted in slippers and a thin robe from the maternity ward to a special wing for COVID-19 patients