According to a report from The New York Times, the Pentagon is preparing a proposal to send dozens of special forces trainers back to Somalia, a partial reversal of the Trump administration’s withdrawal of approximately 700 troops from the country.
The report said the proposal has not yet been presented to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and that it’s not clear if President Biden would approve the move. So far, US Africa Command (AFRICOM) has reported no US airstrikes in Somalia since Biden came into office, marking a sharp decline in the US drone war in the country.
It’s possible that the CIA could still be conducting strikes in Somalia, but the Times report cited unnamed US officials who said Biden had rejected a handful of requests from AFRICOM to bomb Somalia. By AFRICOM’s count, there have been no airstrikes in Somalia for nearly five months. The last US drone strikes in Somalia conducted by AFRICOM were on January 19th, Trump’s last full day in office.
While President Trump removed most US troops from Somalia, he was the one who sent them there in the first place. Trump’s escalation in Somalia started with a small deployment of dozens of soldiers in 2017, the first time regular US troops were sent to the country in decades.
The Trump administration loosened the rules of engagement in Somalia and dropped a record number of bombs on the country. In 2020 alone, the Trump administration bombed Somalia more than George W. Bush and Barack Obama combined.
Most of the 700 US troops pulled out of Somalia have been repositioned in neighboring Djibouti or Kenya, where US drones are based. In April, the head of AFRICOM said US troops have been “commuting to work” for training missions in Somalia.