Trump’s Somalia Withdrawal Is No Such Thing
Another fake sadly
The Defense Department’s December 4 announcement that American troops in Somalia are being repositioned out of the country was praised by Trump supporters as a promise kept to bring servicemembers back home, and lambasted by opponents as a threat to U.S. national security. It is neither.
The Defense Department specifically stated that the move is “not a change in U.S. policy,” and that troops aren’t going home. Instead, they will redeploy to nearby Kenya and Djibouti to continue the counterterrorism fight from the air.
The current train-and-equip efforts, focused on Somalia’s elite unit, Danab, could be more immediately impacted by the move because this is done on the ground, in country. As this is a key element of the military’s counterterrorism efforts in Somalia, it is unlikely the military would be abandoning it wholesale, so there would be gaps to fill. U.S.-paid contractors are already involved in the training program and could pick up the slack, or temporary military deployments out of neighboring countries could do so. Using either patch-up would take time to organize and will be even less efficient, less effective, and more costly than those exercises already are. It would be a sorry price to pay for a feigned reduction in military operations.
With no actual intent to reduce our lethal activity from the sky, which has increased dramatically under Trump’s command, this move is unlikely to make Americans more, or less safe. As I explained recently, our ongoing military activity in Somalia is what makes Americans an al-Shabaab target in the first place. This is why I’ve advocated for a smart, thoughtful withdrawal, but over a planned period of years, not an unplanned period of weeks. Even so, with the drone war ongoing from neighboring states, Trump’s smoke-and-mirrors move won’t reduce that risk either.
Source: Responsible Statecraft
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