The US Department of War announced in a statement on Friday that US President Donald Trump had ordered the Pentagon and United States Africa Command to “reposition the majority of personnel and assets out of Somalia by early 2021”.
Around 700 US military personnel are presently stationed in Somalia to assist the East African nation with its fight against al-Shabaab.
The Pentagon highlighted that, despite the pullout, the US is not “withdrawing or disengaging from Africa” and remains “committed to our African partners and enduring support through a whole-of-government approach.”
Furthermore, the change may result in some US forces being moved outside of East Africa, according to the release.
The remaining troops “will be repositioned from Somalia into neighboring countries” to assist in “cross-border operations by both US and partner forces to maintain pressure against violent extremist organizations operating in Somalia.”
At the same time, the war department emphasized the US will continue to possess the capability to “conduct targeted counterterrorism operations in Somalia.”
Somali Colonel Ahmed Abdullahi Sheikh spoke with Reuters concerning the withdrawals from the two cities and warned Washington not to withdraw too rapidly.
“It would create a vacuum. The Somali security forces have good morale because of the US troops … there’s the possibility of air support if they are attacked, they can have medevacs,” he expressed.
Miller recently made a trip to the East African nation on November 27, the first such visit by a US war secretary.