WASHINGTON (AA) – President Joe Biden has reauthorized the deployment of US forces to Somalia, the White House announced on Monday in a major policy reversal conducted at the Pentagon’s request.
Former US President Donald Trump pulled roughly 700 American troops out from the east African country during the final month of his presidency, but al-Shabaab, a US-designated terrorist organization, has grown considerably in the interim, most recently claiming an attack on an African Union base in early May that killed several troops.
White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin requested the redeployment “to enable a more effective fight against al-Shabaab, which has increased in strength and proposed poses a heightened threat.” She acknowledged the inherent risk of the deployment, but said it is “manageable.”
The troops that will be sent to Somalia will come from current deployments in the region, and will have conducted what the White House called “episodic” missions in the country following Trump’s January 2021 withdrawal.
By reinserting US troops, Washington will reduce the risks involved in back-and-forth mobilizations of forces that have been conducting counterterrorism operations inside Somalia.
Somalia’s support for US cooperation in the fight against extremists has been a constant in recent years, and Washington remained confident of such support from the new administration in Mogadishu.