The Pentagon is asking President Biden to sign off on sending hundreds of special operations troops to Somalia, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
Citing unnamed US officials, the report said US military leaders want Biden to reverse President Trump’s December 2020 order that withdrew 700 Army Green Berets, Navy SEALs, and Marine Raiders from Somalia. Most of the special operations troops were relocated into neighboring Djibouti and Kenya.
The Pentagon wants Biden to put the commandos that are in Djibouti and Kenya back into Somalia to train government troops, and officials told the Journal that they expect Biden will agree to their request. “I believe we will be given permission in the near term to be able to have a more persistent presence in Somalia,” a military official said.
Since Biden came into office, the rate of US airstrikes against al-Shabaab in Somalia has significantly declined. US Africa Command (AFRICOM) launched five airstrikes in Somalia under Biden, including one on February 22. In comparison, AFRICOM launched 52 airstrikes in 2020, 63 in 2019, 47 in 2018, and 35 in 2017.
Pentagon officials are warning that al-Shabaab has grown since the US troops were pulled out. The US uses al-Shabaab’s al-Qaeda affiliation to justify intervention in Somalia, but the group only declared loyalty to al-Qaeda after years of fighting the US and its proxies.