Trump Relaxes Combat Rules for US Troops in Somalia

Removes Rules Designed to Protect Civilians

At the request of African Command leaders, President Trump has relaxed combat rules for US troops and operations inside Somalia today, giving the generals more leeway in how they conduct their offensives and removing several restrictions in place which were aimed to prevent civilian deaths in US attacks.

In this case, the rule change is being achieved by the president signing a directive which designates large portions of Somalia to be “areas of active hostilities,” where the rules are significantly more lax than they are in the ordinary places the US is regularly attacking.

This is the latest in a string of moves to relax past restrictions on operations, with Trump Administration focus on giving commanders in the field more autonomy and very little restriction on the nature of operations in populated areas.

Generals expressed gratitude for being given more power, but the timing is likely to cause some controversy, coming in the wake of several recent US military operations elsewhere around the Middle East which killed large numbers of civilians. This is not, it would seem, a very opportune time to place civilians in even more danger.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.