Trump orders withdrawal of most US troops from Somalia
US President Donald Trump has ordered the US Department of Defense to withdraw nearly all of the hundreds of American troops deployed to Somalia, which is part of a global pullback by the outgoing president that will also see him drawdown forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Pentagon announced that the majority of the approximately 700 troops in Somalia will leave the area by January 15. Many are expected to be relocated to neighboring Kenya.
Trump “has ordered the Department of Defense and the United States Africa Command to reposition the majority of personnel and assets out of Somalia by early 2021,” the Pentagon said in a statement issued on Friday.
The Pentagon claims US troops in Somalia are helping local forces defeat the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab insurgency.
“While a change in force posture, this action is not a change in US policy,” the Pentagon said.
“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.
In November, Trump ordered 2,000 US troops to be pulled from Afghanistan and 500 from Iraq by mid-January.
It was reported on November 16 that “there's been a verbal order from the White House to cut the number of troops in Afghanistan from about 4,500 to 2,500 by January. The cut in Iraq would drop the level from about 3,000 troops to 2,500. A formal order is expected this week and could come as early as tomorrow.”
The announcement came after Trump declared in October that all US troops would be home from Afghanistan by Christmas (December 25).
He was challenged later in the month, however, by US Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley, who insisted that troop withdrawal would be conditions-based, further noting that the US was still awaiting a cease-fire and planned “peace deal” between the Taliban and Afghan government.