Biden’s decision, confirmed by a senior administration official, comes after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin requested the deployment “to reestablish a persistent U.S. military presence in Somalia to enable a more effective fight against al-Shabab, which has increased in strength and poses a heightened threat.”
The official, who requested anonymity to discuss a decision that has not been formally announced, said American forces already in the region would be repositioned.
U.S. military commanders have been deploying U.S. forces into Somalia for short rotations since Trump ordered American troops out during his final days in office in 2021. But Pentagon officials did not see that as “effective long-term strategy” and had been considering recommending the redeployment for some time, according to a U.S. military official who was not authorized to publicly discuss the matter and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Biden’s decision to sign the order was first reported by The New York Times.
“The decision to reintroduce a persistent presence was made to maximize the safety and effectiveness of our forces and enable them to provide more efficient support to our partners,” said National Security spokeswoman Adrienne Watson. She called the decision by the Trump administration to withdraw troops “precipitous.”
The concern is that Al Shabab poses a threat to US outposts in the region, including an attack on a US airbase in Kenya in January 2020. An official told the Times that the plan with this new deployment is to bring “the threat to a level that is tolerable.”
Al-Shabab, which has ties with al-Qaida, has made territorial gains against Somalia’s federal government in recent months, reversing the gains of African Union peacekeepers who once had pushed the militants into remote areas of the country.
Word of the deployment decision came after Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who served as Somalia’s president between 2012 and 2017, was announced on Sunday as the winner of a protracted election. ✪