Bloomberg published a story on Wednesday that cited anonymous sources who said President Trump is looking to withdraw hundreds of US troops from Somalia, a war the administration has significantly escalated since 2017.
The sources said the Pentagon has begun drafting plans for the president, and discussions have involved Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley.
According to the Congressional Research Service, the US currently has 700 troops in Somalia. Mostly special forces who train Somalia’s army. Most of these troops were sent to the African country by President Trump, according to the Bloomberg story.
The US is engaged in Somalia as part of its war against the militant group al-Shabaab. In 2017, President Trump loosened the rules of engagement for the drone war and his administration has dropped a record number of bombs on Somalia.
In 2019, the US conducted 63 airstrikes in Somalia, the most in a single year. The first seven months of 2020 saw more US airstrikes in Somalia than were conducted during both the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, combined.
The war in Somalia is extremely underreported, and it is tough to know how damaging it has been to the civilians on the ground. US Africa Command usually claims its airstrikes only kill militants and only occasionally have to admit to civilian deaths if there is enough outcry.