The head of U.S. Africa Command General Stephen Townsend has revealed that it is way riskier for their troops assigned to Somalia to operate from Kenya.
While appearing before the US Senate on Tuesday, March 15, the Army General noted that a recent move to remove the troops from the war-torn nation by the former US President Donald Trump was making it hard for the troops to effectively fight the al Shabaab militia group.
He further explained that the al Shabaab, which is an affiliate of the global terror group al Qaeda, was among the ‘fastest-growing, wealthiest, and deadliest terrorist groups.’
He also explained that the withdrawal, which then reduced the US troops to commuters into the war-torn country put Americans in neighboring countries at risk and that the combat was insufficient.
Head of US Africa Command speaks to US troops on February 13, 2020, in Somalia
“My view is that our periodic engagement, also referred to as commuting to work, has caused new challenges and risks for our troops.
“My assessment is that it is not effective, it’s not efficient, and it puts our troops at greater risk,” stated Townsend.
In December 2020, Trump had ordered the withdrawal of up to 700 military personnel from Somalia where the training was taking place.
The troops played a key role in laying ambush on al Shabaab camps. The troops were moved to neighbouring countries including Kenya and Djibouti and were expected to carry out targeted counterterrorism operations.
The US military then confirmed the completion of the withdrawal in January 2021 even though experts cautioned that the move was detrimental since al Shabaab had developed sophisticated bomb-making skills.
Reports also indicate that the United States is considering sending more troops to Somalia to help battle the al Shabaab militia.
“We’re seeing this play out on the ground in Somalia as things get worse and al-Shabaab gains strength,” stated Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma who opposed Trump’s directive.
U.S. Africa Command is headquartered in Germany and provides command and control of military forces in peace and war.
Over the last decade, Kenya has suffered deadly terror attacks carried out by al Shabaab including Westgate mall, Dusit D2 and Garissa University.
Members of the outlawed Al Shabaab sect in Mogadishu on May 19, 2021.
Coucil on Foreign Relations
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