U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) announced on Sunday that the United States has effectively completed “repositioning” troops from Somalia in accordance with a directive issued by President Donald Trump in December.
According to an AFRICOM spokesman, only a “very limited” U.S. military presence remains in Somalia.
In early December, President Trump ordered the withdrawal of nearly all American troops from Somalia by January 15. The Pentagon said much of the U.S. presence would be redeployed to neighboring countries and would still be capable of conducting cross-border operations into Somalia as needed.
AFRICOM spokesman Col. Christopher P. Karns told Voice of America News (VOA) on Sunday that while he could not discuss the specifics of “roles, responsibilities, locations, or the very limited remaining U.S. presence for force protection and operational reasons,” he stated President Trump’s directive regarding Somalia “has been carried out.”
Karns said he could not disclose where U.S. forces have been relocated to, citing the need to protect “ongoing operations.” He said the U.S. remains engaged with Somali security forces and is still “fixed and focused” on al-Shabaab, the largest and most dangerous militant group in Somalia.
“It would not be wise for them to test us,” he said.
AFRICOM’s commander, U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, struck a similar note in his statement about the “directed re-positioning” of American forces in December: “We remain committed to helping our African partners build a more secure future. We also remain capable of striking al-Shabaab at the time and place of our choosing – they should not test us.”
“AFRICOM said the repositioning was finished a couple of days early while still applying pressure to al-Shabaab in the process. On January 13, the day of the completion, AFRICOM reported the third airstrike against al-Shabaab this year. The strike in the vicinity of Buulo Falaay in the Bay region killed one al-Shabaab member and destroyed a compound, according to AFRICOM,” VOA noted.