AFRICOM Chief Pushes for US Troops to Return to Somalia

Says mission in Somalia is complex without ground troops

US troops capped off their return to Somalia with a pullout at the end of the Trump Administration. This doesn’t appear to have ended the US mission there, however, and AFRICOM seems to be hoping to use that as a justification for going back.

AFRICOM chief Gen. Stephen Townsend didn’t want to detail his “options,” but did say that the training advise and assist missions are a lot harder when US troops aren’t in Somalia.

That’s not surprising. US operations in Somalia, to the extent they were seen, seemed mostly limited to assassinating suspected militants in rural Somalia and fueling complaints of civilian deaths, which they constantly dismissed.

It doesn’t seem that much consideration was given to how the US would keep doing that, such as it is, without troops present in Somalia. Whether they should be doing it at all, too, clearly isn’t something the US spent any time on.

For now, US troops will fly in and out to conduct training, and the upcoming posture review is probably going to be followed by more proposals to return to Somalia. AFRICOM doesn’t have a lot of direct presences, and seems to want this one back.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of