Technology

U.S. sends more troops to Somalia

U.S. sends more troops to Somalia”

The training mission arrives at a rare moment of opportunity for Somalia, as its newly elected president, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, a dual US-Somali citizen, has pledged close ties with the US in an effort to retake the capital, Mogadishu. Meanwhile, fighters pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group have emerged in the northern part of the country.

The new deployment, which US African Command (AFRICOM) is presented as a simple training operation, will be the first time US ground troops are officially deployed to Somalia, though of course the US has had some special forces present on the ground on and off, conducting occasional operations and spotting for US airstrikes.

The soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division, a light infantry unit trained for air assaults, will mainly train and equip Somalia's army "to better fight Al-Shabab", an Al-Qaeda linked extremist group, the spokeswoman for the US Africa Command based in Germany, Samantha Reho, told AFP.

Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Rudy DeLeon, who is now a senior fellow with the leftist Center for American Progress, told VOA in an interview that the USA team will help instill the "professionalism and discipline" that the local force can use to create the terms for security.

The 101st Airborne Division has been extensively used in US-led military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It gives them the tools to help themselves", DeLeon said in an interview with VOA.

CNN reported on March 30, citing the Pentagon, that President Trump had approved an increase in the frequency of counterterrorism strikes in Somalia.

Who are Somalia's al-Shabab?

"The additional support provided by this authority will help deny al-Shabab safe havens from which it could attack United States citizens or USA interests in the region", CNN quoted U.S. Navy Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, as saying. Following those deaths, the American public was shocked and support for the operation evaporated.

A U.S. military official told CNN that the new contingent would consist of about 40 soldiers.

But Africa Command made it clear that there was no link between the two.

They will join the United States forces already there providing counterterrorism support to local forces battling the al Qaeda affiliate al Shabaab. The BBC did report on the presence of USA forces in Somalia after the March 2016 airstrike. This has included drone and missile attacks undertaken remotely by the US.



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