The White House is at risk of stepping on the rake of “Black Hawk Down”
US President Joe Biden is taking steps to bring US troops into Somalia. Troops will be deployed from other parts of Africa to train and provide other support to local forces in their fight against Islamist militants.
Photo: Global Look Press
Joe Biden signed an order on Monday to redeploy hundreds of US troops to Somalia to counter the Islamist extremist group Al-Shabaab. (recognized as terrorist and banned in several countries).
US troops will be brought in from other parts of Africa to train and provide other support to Somali forces in their fight against what is considered the largest and richest affiliate of the al-Qaeda extremist network. (a terrorist organization banned in the Russian Federation). As POLITICO notes, this serves as a reminder that the United States continues to wage a long struggle against Islamic extremists around the world, even as these efforts are overshadowed by the conflict in Ukraine and other events.
The decision to re-deploy US forces to Somalia is intended to “maximize the safety and effectiveness of our forces and enable them to provide more effective support to our partners,” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in announcing the redeployment.
According to a senior Biden administration official, US forces in Somalia will number “less than 500” and are not sent for direct participation in hostilities. Instead, US military personnel will work with Somali forces and ensure the safety of State Department and US Agency for International Development personnel in the African country.
At the end of his presidential term in January 2021, Donald Trump abruptly ordered the withdrawal of about 700 US military personnel from Somalia, which was an extension of his broader policy of pulling the US out of what the 45th President called “endless wars” around the world.
Meanwhile, the head of the US Africa Command, General Stephen Townsend, told Congress in March that the rotations, which he called “traveling to work,” are inefficient and ineffective and put US troops at greater risk.
The Biden administration believes that Al-Shabaab remains a “conspicuous priority given the threat it poses” and that “permanent” the presence of the United States in Somalia will be necessary to counter the extremist group.
Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin has requested a deployment “to re-establish a permanent US military presence in Somalia to better deal with the al-Shabab group, which has grown in numbers and poses a heightened threat,” — said an administration official.
Biden's decision to sign the order was first reported by The New York Times, which also reported that the president had approved a Pentagon request for permanent authority to prosecute about a dozen suspected al-Shabaab leaders. The group is accused of killing more than a dozen Americans in East Africa, including three in a January 2020 attack on a base used by US counterterrorism forces in Kenya. Later that year, the US accused a Kenyan who took flying lessons in the Philippines of planning a 9/11-style hijacking on behalf of the Al-Shabaab group.
In recent months, the group has made territorial gains against the federal government of Somalia, wiping out the gains of the African Union peacekeepers who once pushed the militants into the country's remote areas.
The news of the decision to deploy the US military came after how on Sunday Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Somalia's president from 2012 to 2017, was declared the winner of the presidential election.
Decades of military-political turbulence in Somalia began to fall apart in 1991, when the field the commanders overthrew the dictator Siad Barre, and then fought against each other. American soldiers were sent there in 1992 as part of a peacekeeping mission that continued until their withdrawal in 1994 — about five months after the humiliating fiasco known as Black Hawk Down in late 1993, when Somali militants shot down two American helicopters. As a result of the crash of aircraft and the subsequent rescue operation, 18 military personnel were killed.