On December 16th, 2020, President Donald Trump ordered all U.S. troops out of Somalia. The Pentagon announced that virtually all of the almost 700 troops in Somalia — most Special Operations forces who have been conducting training and counterterrorism missions — would leave on 15JAN21, five days before President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is scheduled to be inaugurated. However, shortly after President Biden took office, the Pentagon began weighing its options in getting those troops back into the war torn country.
by June 2021, the Pentagon began drafting the secret requests to the President which were shelved amidst the Afghanistan debacle. However, steam for the redeployments began picking up again in March 2022 after several high profile Al-Shabaab attacks targeted African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) bases and Somalia government officials. Those AMISOM troops were actively being advised by U.S. operators before the Trump pullout.
French Vice Adm. Herve Blejean, director-general of the E.U. military staff, said “the war is far from over” in Somalia, as al Shabab moves relatively freely about the country.
“We have to help the Somali armed forces gain mobility” in the fight,” he said, adding that “face-to-face” contact is the best way to assist.
Blejean said trends “are not going in the right direction” across Africa’s Sahel region to the Horn of Africa, as the effects of climate change are felt in growing deserts in some parts of the continent and wild floods in others. “Terrorists can easily recruit” as economic conditions worsen and their success is not based on ideology, but by offering steady pay and food. This issue has also been exacerbated by the expulsion of French soldiers from Mali and increasingly anti-French protests in Chad, undermining the Operation Barkhane attempts to curb Islamic extremist violence in the region.
These developments caused the Pentagon to officially request that President Biden reverse the troop pull out, which he has apparently done according to the New York Times today. According to their sources, President Biden signed a secret order in May to deploy hundreds of Special Forces operators into Somalia, with the support of the newly elected President, to target a dozen Al-Shabaab leaders. This renewed deployment and election of a legitimate President in Somalia may be just the push that AMISOM forces need to regain control of Mogadishu and bring Puntland Security Forces (PSF) back into the fold. Since the U.S. withdrawal, these C.I.A. trained militants have resisted integration into the Somali military.