Dozens of USA troops secretly deployed to Somalia
- Author: Desiree Holland Apr 16, 2017,
Apr 16, 2017, 2:14
While a nominal US military presence in the country has persisted, last June the United States named its first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years, a signal the central government was viewed as legitimate and has the backing of the West.
Despite inflicting military setbacks and territory loss upon al-Shabab, the militants continue to create chaos in the country, as fears grow that al-Shabab and Islamic State are too much for the country to handle.
USA military officials told the Voice of America (VOA) overseas radio broadcast that "dozens" of American soldiers have been deployed to Mogadishu to train and equip Somali and AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) forces fighting the linked al-Shabab militant group in Somalia.
The U.S. Africa Command on Friday said this deployment is for logistics training of Somalia's army, which is battling the extremist group al-Shabab.
The about 40 troops are to be deployed from the 101st Airborne Division.
They will also conduct "security force assistance", she said, confirming a report by Voice of America.
"It gives them the tools to help themselves", DeLeon said in an interview with VOA.More news: Boris Johnson calls off Russian Federation visit
The U.S. troops were sent at the request of the Somali government and are tasked with a train-and-equip mission, which is expected to last until the end of September.
CNN reported on March 30, citing the Pentagon, that President Trump had approved an increase in the frequency of counterterrorism strikes in Somalia.
Al-Shabab has denounced Somalia's new leader as an "apostate" and vowed to further destabilize the country.
The US troops will join the small number of US special operations forces already there providing counterterrorism support to local forces battling the local al Qaeda affiliate, al Shabaab. The battle, which claimed the lives of 18 USA special operations personnel, was memorialized in reporter Mark Bowden's nonfiction book "Black Hawk Down" and a movie by the same name.
The new arrivals from the 101st Airborne Division will not be added to the mission of those Americans now on the ground in Somalia, a military official said, "but there will be some overlap".
Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Rudy DeLeon, a senior fellow with the Center for American Progress, said the US team will help instill the professionalism and discipline that the local force can use to create the terms for security. This has included drone and missile attacks undertaken remotely by the US.