US military begins to withdraw troops from Somalia
A US warship and an aircraft have launched an operation to withdraw American forces out of Somalia, the US Defense Department declared this week, following an order by outgoing US President Donald Trump to transfer hundreds of troops to other locations.
The USS Hershel "Woody" Williams, an expeditionary sea base that normally carries a contingent of crisis-response Marines, along with an AC-130W Stinger II warplane are supporting the troop movement, the US military announced in a statement.
Citing security concerns, however, US Africa Command (AFRICOM), declined to elaborate about how many soldiers have so far been moved or when the withdrawal will be completed.
AFRICOM did state that roughly 700 troops will be repositioned to neighboring countries to conduct cross-border operations against the Somali-based al-Shabab militants.
While AFRICOM did not identify the countries, Djibouti and Kenya are likely destinations given that the US maintains military bases in both nations.
A limited troop presence will remain on the ground in Somalia while some forces also could be reassigned to other regions or to the United States, the command added.
Joint Task Force – Quartz, which AFRICOM formed to oversee the mission, dubbed Operation Octave Quartz, said the AC-130W Stinger II is able to provide close air support and air interdiction.