May 17, 2021
US President Biden has approved a request from the Pentagon to reestablish a persistent presence of US troops in Somalia, reversing a decision made late in the Trump administration.
The White House on Monday confirmed Biden’s decision, which was based on a request made by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Biden “approved a request from the Defense Department to reposition US forces in East Africa in order to reestablish a small persistent US military presence in Somalia,” a senior American official told reporters Monday.
According to the official, fewer than 500 US troops will be deployed to the country.
Biden’s order marks a reversal of former US President Donald Trump’s decision in December 2020 to withdraw 750 US troops, who had been stationed there.
The official said Biden’s decision was aimed to reduce the security risks to US troops rotating into the country since January 2021.
Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby said Monday that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin viewed the current form of operations as “inefficient and increasingly unsustainable”.
“The purpose here is to enable a more effective fight against al-Shabaab by local forces… Al-Shabaab has increased in their strength and poses a threat,” the spokesman said.
Kirby also insisted that the US forces would focus on training and advising Somali forces, stressing that the American troops would not be directly engaged in combat operations.