The Pentagon on Monday denied reports of a looming drawdown in Somalia, saying there is no plan to cut back the mission in a country where U.S. Africa Command continues to carry out airstrikes.
“There have been no recent policy changes regarding U.S. operations in Somalia,” Pentagon spokeswoman Cmdr. Candice Tresch said in a statement. “We continue to support the Federal Government of Somalia’s efforts to degrade al-Shabab.”
The denial comes after NBC reported Friday that planning is underway to pull back in Somalia, where U.S. special operations troops have been a steady presence for several years. The U.S. also conducts regular airstrikes against the militant group al-Shabab.
Jan. 4, 2019, 2:02 PM CSTBy Dan De Luce and Courtney Kube
WASHINGTON — The U.S. military plans to scale back its role in Somalia and curtail airstrikes against al-Shabab insurgents after having taken out many of the group’s senior operatives, two senior U.S. officials told NBC News, the latest signal the Trump administration is looking to cut the number of troops deployed around the world. NBC
The network reported that the Pentagon wants to curtail airstrikes and hand the mission off to the CIA. “I would say we’re running out of targets,” an unnamed U.S. defense official told NBC.
The Pentagon says it has about 500 military personnel in Somalia, where AFRICOM conducted 47 airstrikes in 2018 and 35 the year before.
AFRICOM launched its first airstrike of 2019 in Somalia on Wednesday.
A failed coup attempt in the central African nation of Gabon hasn’t yet changed the mission of U.S. troops deployed there last week in response to potential violence in the nearby Democratic Republic of the Congo, U.S. Africa Command said Monday.
“At this time there is no change in the status of our forces in Gabon,” AFRICOM spokesman John Manley said as events were unfolding Monday. The troops are not currently tasked with securing diplomatic assets there, he said.
Chris “Badger” Thomas is a Veteran who served our country as an Army Combat Medic.